favorite book friday

Favorite Book Friday: Vicky from The Outpat Expat

favorite book friday

Hello everyone! Today I’m super excited to share another favorite book with you–this one comes from Vicky! Her blog, The Outback Expat, is definitely worth a visit! Check out her review and comment below to welcome her to the blog!

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I haven’t really written book reviews before, I’ve commented on a couple of books I have liked on Goodreads but that is about all so far.

It’s not news that I love to read and I often ask and am asked for book ideas from a couple of my close friends when we can’t decide what to read.

I chose to write this review of The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult.

Synopsis
Sage Singer is a young woman who has been damaged by her past. Her solitary night work as a baker allows her to hide from the world and focus her creative energies on the beautiful bread she bakes.

Yet she finds herself striking up an unlikely friendship. Josef Weber is a quiet, grandfatherly man, well respected in the community; everyone’s favourite retired teacher and Little League coach.

One day he asks Sage for a favour: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses.
Then Josef tells her that he deserves to die – and why.

What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed horrendous acts ever truly redeem themselves? Is forgiveness yours to offer if you aren’t the person who was wronged? And most of all – if Sage even considers his request – would it be murder, or justice?

My Review
I have enjoyed Jodi Picoult’s books for years and read quite a few of them. I hadn’t read any for a while though so decided it was time to give them a go again. I found I had already downloaded The Storyteller onto my Kindle app on the iPad so it seemed like the perfect choice.

Without giving anything away, the theme of this book is heavy going and at times I wondered whether I could continue reading it because it was harrowing but whilst this is not a true story (as far as I know) these events or similar events really took place.

This book just blew me away to be honest and has stayed with me still several days after I finished reading it. I find myself stopping and thinking about the characters and what happened to them during and after the book ended because it really feels like you lived the story with them. It was definitely one of those stories where you desperately want to know what happens but don’t because then the beautifully written story would end.

I would definitely recommend this book to my friends and gave it 5 stars on my Goodreads rating. You can also read an excerpt of the book here.

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Thanks for the review Vicky! I’ve only read a few Jody Picoult books and have been meaning to read more by her. This is going to the top of my list!

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If you’d like to participate in Favorite Book Fridays, email me @ caughtbetweenthepagesblog at gmail.com!

3 stars · fiction

A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached

 

A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return

author : zeina abirached

pages : [hardcover] 188

summary :

When Zeina was born, the civil war in Lebanon had been going on for six years, so it’s just a normal part of life for her and her parents and her little brother. The city of Beirut is cut in two, separated by bricks and sandbags and threatened by snipers and shelling. East Beirut is for Christians, and West Beirut is for Muslims. When Zeina’s parents don’t return one afternoon from a visit to the other half of the city, and the bombing grows ever closer, the neighbors in her apartment house create a world indoors for Zeina and her brother where it’s comfy and safe, where they can share cooking lessons and games and gossip. Together they try to make it through a dramatic day in the one place they hoped they would always be safehome. Zeina Abirached, born into a Lebanese Christian family in 1981, has collected her childhood recollections of Beirut in a warm story about the strength of family and community.

review :

This graphic novel was very interesting! It taught me about a point of history that I’ve honestly never heard of before and need to learn more about. It isn’t like history classes are fixating on places like Lebanon, even if those conflicts could certainly be learned from. I’m glad that there are writers out there telling these stories so that people  like me can learn a little and then be intrigued enough to research it further.

I think what’s most interesting and confusing about the novel is that Zeina and her brother are presented as the main characters but they’re hardly in the book. They’re simply observers as the adults talk politics, worry about the coming bombs, and wonder why Zeina’s parents haven’t arrived home yet. While I really liked how most of the book was situated in the space of one day, giving a snapshot of life underneath this oppressive war, I think knowing more about the family dynamics would have been an improvement. It would have also been nice to see, perhaps in flashback, more about Zeina and her past as it relates to her perception of the terrible present.

The art was a little unconventional but I think that it worked for the book. It wasn’t my favorite style but I could certainly appreciate its presence in the narrative as it added a lot to the story.

I’d recommend this book to people who enjoy graphic memoir or are interested in historical accounts. It’s a quick read so even if you’re wanting to read something out of your typical genre, you could pick it up and sample it quickly.

3/5 stars

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5 stars · Fantasy · fiction · romance · series · young adult

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1

author: Laini Taylor

pages [hardcover]: 417

memorable quote:
“It’s not like there’s a law against flying.”
“Yes there is.  The law of gravity.”  

favorite characters: zuzzana & akiva

summary:

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.
And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages—not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

review:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a book that I’ve been itching to get my hands on for ages. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, saw it at the library, and knew that I needed to check it out. With over 400 pages it was a slightly daunting read, but I got through it in a few days! That’s how addicting Taylor’s writing style is. I loved the beautiful extended metaphors, scattered throughout the book and relating in the most beautiful ways. The characters were divine (even when they were demonic) and the plot was so gripping!

I liked the build-up of everything. Karou has no idea who she is and thus neither do we. We’re left to discover her together through the wonderful landscape of Prague. There are so many gorgeous settings described in this book! I liked how we could read about her normal life steadily going downhill so it wasn’t simply action for the sake of action. And she herself was well-defined before any love interest came along.

The world building was amazing and the concept of the creatures, their true purpose, and everything that was happening was magnificent. There were characters I loved to hate and ones I just plain loved. Humans included. Zuzzana was particularly awesome.

I really recommend this book. To everyone! The writing is just brilliant and poignant and sings to my soul. Different writing styles appeal to different people and this, exactly this, appeals to me. I love it! And I hope you’ll love it, too.

BEAUTIFUL. 5/5 stars

5 stars · fiction · romance · science fiction · series · young adult

Everfound by Neal Shusterman

 

Everfound

Author: Neal Shusterman

Book 3 in the Skinjackers Trilogy
Book 2: Everwild

pages: 512

favorite characters: Jix & Mikey

memorable quote:
“Because,” said Mikey. “the Dancing Bear wants us to suffer.”

summary:

While Mary lies in a glass coffin aboard a ghost train heading west, her minions are awaiting her re-awakening by bringing lots of new souls into Everlost to serve her. Meanwhile Jackin’ Jill has met Jix, a fur-jacker—a skin jacker who can take over the bodies of animals, most notably jaguars. Jix serves a Mayan god who collects Everlost coins, and has his own agenda. In the concluding volume of The Skinjacker Trilogy, Neal Shusterman reveals new sides of the characters of Everlost, who are pitted against each other in a battle that may destroy all life on Earth.

review:

I’ve been in love with this series ever since I picked up book one, Everlost, a few years ago, and I didn’t even think then that it’d turn out to be a trilogy. Neal Shusterman is an awesome author-I’ve read other books by him like Full Tilt and Unwind, both equally creepy and fantastic. That’s how the Skinjackers Trilogy turned out to be: Horrifying and exciting.

I love the world of Everlost, down to the vapors of Afterlights and the odd items and buildings that have happened to cross over. Yet Mary, main antagonist in the books, is a great character to read about, while being completely controlling and insane. She’s great in her own way, though I wouldn’t hesitate to sink her into the earth, given the chance. I love a book where even the characters I hate can be completely explored and not just left in the flat bad-guy status.

Every moment I thought I’d figured out exactly where the book was going, it took a completely different direction. These plot twists, coming out of nowhere, kept me on the edge of my seat, hooked until the last page. Every part was filled with action, suspense, humor, romance, tears, laughter . . . I especially liked the “High Altitude Musical Interludes”. Those were hilarious!

The ending…I dreaded. I never wanted it to come to a stop, to have to say good-bye to a bunch of wonderful characters and an invisible world that I can’t say I’d want to visit. But I couldn’t have asked for a better way for it all to conclude. Every minute of it was perfect.

BEST IN THE TRILOGY. 5/5 stars

5 stars · fiction · romance · series · steampunk · young adult

Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

 
Goliath

Author: Scott Westerfeld [also wrote So Yesterday, Extras]

Pages [hardcover]: 548

Book 3 of the Leviathan Trilogy
Book 1: Leviathan
Book 2: Behemoth

Memorable Quote:

Favorite Characters: Alek & Deryn

Summary:

Alek and Deryn are on the last leg of their round-the-world quest to end World War I, reclaim Alek’s throne as prince of Austria, and finally fall in love. The first two objectives are complicated by the fact that their ship, the Leviathan, continues to detour farther away from the heart of the war (and crown). And the love thing would be a lot easier if Alek knew Deryn was a girl. (She has to pose as a boy in order to serve in the British Air Service.) And if they weren’t technically enemies.

The tension thickens as the Leviathan steams toward New York City with a homicidal lunatic on board: secrets suddenly unravel, characters reappear, and nothing is at it seems in this thunderous conclusion to Scott Westerfeld’s brilliant trilogy.

Review:

I’ve been in love with Scott Westerfeld’s books for . . . longer than I can remember. Several years. And when I picked up Leviathan, the first book of this trilogy, a few years ago, I never imagined the extreme anticipation I’d have for this conclusion! It seemed to take forever for the buildup to stop and the finale to actually arrive, but it was well worth the wait. This is an end I both loved and enjoyed.

Alek and Deryn are two fabulous characters. Alek, prince of Hohenburg, is wonderfully awkward and courageous at the same time. He’d do anything for his friends and allies, including risking his own life and reputation, and thinks nothing of it. Deryn doesn’t let the limitations society puts on girls hold her back, and decides to follow her passion even if that means dressing as a boy. And that makes her attraction to a certain prisoner a squick awkward . . .

I don’t think I’ll be able to rave about this book enough! First, the pictures, something that attracted me to the trilogy in the first place. The artistry is perfectly wonderful, making everything pop vividly and letting me picture every aspect-both Clanker and Darwinist-of the story precisely. The entire steampunk genre is still new to me, and while I’m not entirely certain where I’ll go next with it, I’m definitely excited to read more like this. It’s not something I’d like to sample and give up on.

I hate it when I get too excited for a book and it doesn’t meet my expectations. I never had that problem with Goliath. From cover to cover-beginning and ending with more pretty pictures!-the action, suspense, romance . . . All worth it. And though I hate to say goodbye, it ended smartly and didn’t leave me hanging.

I shouldn’t have expected anything less from Scott Westerfeld. 😀

I give Goliath 5/5 stars. Go try this trilogy! Now!

5 stars · fiction · science fiction · young adult

Storm Thief by Chris Wooding

Storm Thief

Author: Chris Wooding

Pages [paperback]: 310

Opening Lines: The seabird slid through the black sky beneath the blanket of cloud, its feathers ruffling fitfully as it was buffeted by the changing winds.

Favorite Characters: Rail & Moa

Summary:

The city of Orokos has been lashed by probability storms-violent tempests that change whatever they touch. When a probability storm hits, streets are rearranged, children are turned to glass, rivers break from their banks, and life suddenly becomes death. Nothing is stable. Everyone is vulnerable.

Rail has struggled with the effects of one such storm for years; when he was hit, he lost the ability to breathe freely. Moa has also seen her share of struggle-as the daughter of dead rebels, as an outcast, as a criminal. Now they have uncovered their first taste of fortune: a strange artifact wanted by the most powerful people in the city. As with most fortunes, this one comes with a price.

The mysterious object is a gift to any thief. But could it be more? Rail and Moa will have to run, fight, double-cross, steal, and dodge the storms in order to find out . . . and unlock Orokos’s deepest, most dangerous secrets.

Review:

This was the second book I had to read for my assignment in the YA Best Overlooked Book Battle 2011, hosted by Alyssa over at The Shady Glade. I started the book expecting to like it, just from reading the summary and looking at that awesome book cover. And when it was over, I was happy to see that I was right.

Storm Thief follows two unlikely heroes, who work against the odds to make their lives better and to survive day by day. Barely having enough to eat, having to steal to live, when they find an old artifact with powers greater than they could have imagined, Rail and Moa think that perhaps their luck has finally turned. Little do they know that their real adventure has just begun.

This book was very easy to read, and I flew through it. It never lacked for twists and turns, pulling out new surprises every so often to keep things interesting and keep me hooked. It worked well, and had me clamoring for more.

Because of this, there was only one thing I didn’t like about the book: the ending. It was vague in some parts, detailed in others, but overall is was unsatisfying. Not enough that it detracted from my enjoyment, but it made me want a sequel, which I don’t think is going to happen, as far as I know. Definitely one of the downsides.

I give Storm Thief 5/5 stars. It was a good read that I really liked and might read again sometime.

5 stars · fiction · history · romance

Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell

 

Song of the Sparrow

Author: Lisa Ann Sandell

Pages [hardcover]: 416

Memorable Quote: Still, I look down, and the grass is so green, I cannot understand how it does not wither and die with sorrow.

Favorite Characters: Tristan & Elaine

Summary:

The year is 490 AD. Fiery 16-year-old Elaine of Ascolat, the daughter of one of King Arthur’s supporters, lives with her father on Arthur’s base camp, the sole girl in a militaristic world of men. Elaine’s only girl companion is the mysterious Morgan, Arthur’s older sister, but Elaine cannot tell Morgan her deepest secret: She is in love with Lancelot, Arthur’s second-in-command. However, when yet another girl — the lovely Gwynivere– joins their world, Elaine is confronted with startling emotions of jealousy and rivalry. But can her love for Lancelot survive the birth of an empire?

Review:

 I was assigned to read this book as part of the YA Best Overlooked Book Battle 2011, hosted by Alyssa over at The Shady Glade. At first I wasn’t sure what to think; I’m just starting to get into historical fiction, and this didn’t sound like something I’d ache to pick up on my own. But by giving it a chance, I was pleasantly surprised.

Song of the Sparrow follows Elaine, the only girl in an army camp full of men. She’s grown up there, away from the limitations that were enforced upon women at that time, free to roam as she pleased, though still not allowed to fight for her country. As a result, she’s often left behind, alone, as everyone she knows and loves marches off into battle.

I loved that this novel was written in verse. I didn’t know that until I began reading, and verse books are something of a guilty pleasure for me. The smooth way the lines flowed, the way each thing that came up was so beautifully described through Elaine’s perspective, kept me coming back for more, wanting to read on and on. I couldn’t get enough of it.

The characters in this book, though the minor ones dimmed in comparison to Elaine, were great. Each held true to their own purpose, and won me over, whether they were good or evil. I liked reading about how Arthur and the other knights were brotherly toward Elaine, working for her best interests and trying to protect her. And I loved how she in turn wanted to protect them, though sometimes this meant disobeying them and doing dangerous things.

The legend of King Arthur is one that I know well, though never before have I read something like this. It was a refreshing take, told from a female perspective, and actually made the women heroic, for once, instead of having the knights take all of the glory. That little ‘girl power’ addition fit in nicely.

All in all, this book was practically perfect to me. I read through it very quickly, loved every moment of it, and wish there was more. The ending was brilliant, the characters witty and captivating. I highly recommend Song of the Sparrow, even to those that do not normally read historical fiction. I don’t, and this only encourages me to read more. Though I may be disappointed; I don’t know what can live up to the standards this has set. I give it 5/5 stars.

3 stars · Fantasy · fiction · romance · series

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Insatiable

Author : Meg Cabot [also wrote Avalon High, Size 12 is Not Fat, and Airhead]

Pages [hardcover]: 451

Favorite Characters:
Mary Lou & Jon

Summary:

Sick of vampires? So is Meena Harper.

But her boss is making her write about them anyway, even though Meena doesn’t believe in them.

Not that Meena isn’t familiar with the supernatural. See, Meena Harper knows how you’re going to die (not that you’re going to believe her; no one ever does).

But not even Meena’s precognition can prepare her for what happens when she meets—then makes the mistake of falling in love with—Lucien Antonescu, a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side . . . a dark side a lot of people, like an ancient society of vampire-hunters, would prefer to see him dead for.

The problem is, he already is dead. Maybe that’s why he’s the first guy Meena’s ever met that she could see herself having a future with. See, while Meena’s always been able to see everyone else’s future, she’s never been able look into her own.

And while Lucien seems like everything Meena has ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, he might turn out to be more like a nightmare.

Now might be a good time for Meena to start learning to predict her own future . . .

If she even has one.

Review:

 I love Meg Cabot. I’ve been branching out of her young adult fiction and have started reading her books geared more toward adults. Insatiable had an interesting premise, especially because it seems everyone and their mother is writing about vampires these days. My first thoughts were, “Oh, no, not you too.” But then I saw that the main character was as over the blood sucking craze as I am. That redeemed it for me, and made me want to pick it up. I ended up reading it with mixed results.

I really liked the main character, Meena, for a majority of the book. I thought she was very strong, knew what she wanted out of life, and how exactly to get that. She wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself, but she wasn’t above having petty concerns, either. Somewhere before the climax of the novel, she started to change. I can’t exactly put my figure on what was different. But her actions weren’t fitting with her personality that had been established. That distracted and annoyed me.

There were other, odd little bits that didn’t quite mesh for me. The Dracul were stereotypical bad guys, who seemed like they were trying really hard to be intimidating, while working against Lucien, who seemed nearly invincible, most of the time. Characters that I was led to believe were important were killed without another mention of them.

While it didn’t capture my attention the way I’d hoped, it wasn’t a complete disappointment. I might continue on with this series, I might not. Maybe if it comes into the library, but I won’t be going out of my way to buy the sequel. I give Insatiable 3.5/5 stars.

5 stars · Fantasy · fiction · romance · series

The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Queen

Author: Julie Kagawa

Pages [paperback]: 358

Book 3 in the Iron Fey Series
Book 1: The Iron King 
Book 2: The Iron Princess

Favorite Characters: Grim & Puck

Memorable Quote: “But, as no one listens to the cat anymore, I will have to wait until we are completely lost to say ‘I told you so.”

Summary:

My name is Meghan Chase.

I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who’s sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I’m not sure anyone can survive it.

This time, there will be no turning back.

Review:

Every book I read in this series makes me love it even more. The characters are awesome, the plot fantastic, and the entire thing is highly addicting. As soon as I started reading The Iron Queen, I couldn’t put it down. It was non-stop action, romance, and humor. Puck would have me laughing one moment, then Meghan would be in a battle, keeping me on the edge of my seat. I never knew what was going to come next, and I loved that.

I’m Team Puck all the way. He’s adorable, and loveable in every way. The Iron Queen did make me like Ash a lot more-not that I didn’t like him as a character beforehand, but it took until this third installment for me to think of him as someone worthy of rivaling Puck.

I don’t mind books that don’t seem to have any filler space in them, no scenes that sound randomly placed and useless. However, a few points of the novel seemed rushed and not thoroughly explained. I would have liked for things to slow down a bit, just to give me a chance to get used to whatever happened or was going to happen. This didn’t annoy me enough to detract from my enjoyment, it’s just something that I noticed about the book.

The Iron Fey series is one of my all time favorites, and I’m so excited for the fourth book. I didn’t even know there would be another until I reached the end of this one, and that killed me. I can’t stand the wait. I’ve never been the most patient person, and this definitely doesn’t help. But I get to see more of my favorite characters, and that makes it worth it!

The Iron Queen is an awesome book that I really recommend. This is a great series, and the best that focuses on fairies that I’ve ever read. I give this third book 5/5 stars. It was amazing!