Thursday, February 26, 2015

Re-read 2015: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Summary (from Goodreads):
The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockheart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls' bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley's younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone--or something--starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects...Harry Potter himself.
Re-reading these books was one of the best decisions I could have made this year. Seriously, I am having so much fun. The weird thing is I remember this book being one of my least favorite in the series, growing up. It wasn’t because I didn’t like it, so much as I remember not liking the re-reading of it. Once you know why Harry is hearing the voices, and who opened the Chamber of Secrets, it was hard to re-read and not want to yell at the characters while they were trying to figure it all out.
However, several years between readings is a sufficient enough amount of time to not want to yell at all the characters. Again, like with my re-reading of book 1, I found myself forgetting how much humor was in this. Everything from Moaning Myrtle, to Ron’s broken wand (and slug curse), to all things Gilderoy Lockhart, had me laughing out loud.
I can see why my younger self had issues re-reading this one. However, it was so interesting for my adult self to re-read and make all the connections in the world to book 7. This had to be the one book loaded with the most foreshadow. Everything from horcruxes, to hints of Voldemort’s history, to Harry/Voldemort connections is here in this one. And again, I’m awestruck at the level in which Rowling had the whole series mapped out.
This one also had wizarding duels and the flying car. How can you not love these things? I forgot that the car comes back to help in the forbidden forest. And I also forgot about Hagrid being taken away. Harry had a lot of help at the end of he book from the hat, the phoenix, the sword, and then a basilisk fang. Yet, not everything came so easy. Azkaban was introduced. And Dumbledore was voted out. Again, with the foreshadow. And I guess what I’m trying to say is that the dark times start pretty early, and this book really begins to put the darkest of all things in motion.
Also, I felt like I really began to know and understand the characters a bit better in this one. After some time at the Burrow, I definitely grew into knowing the Weasley’s more. And it was cool seeing Malfoy a little more too. And I know Lockhart is no one’s favorite character, but he is such a character!
Book 3 was always my favorite. And I’m so excited to start reading it soon. It’s two books away for me at the moment, and I can’t wait to dive back in. I’m wondering if it will remain my favorite. Also, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to give any of these books anything but a 10/10/ But, we shall see. This one certainly gets a 10/10.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (131)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on Off the Page Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer (5/19/15):
Description on Goodreads:
From #1 New York Times bestselling authors Jodi Picoult and her daughter and co-writer, Samantha van Leer, comes OFF THE PAGE, a tender and appealing romantic YA novel filled with humor, adventure, and magical relationships.

Sixteen-year-old Delilah is finally united with Oliver—a prince literally taken from the pages of a fairy tale. There are, however, complications now that Oliver has been able to enter the real world. To exist in Delilah’s world, Oliver must take the place of a regular boy. Enter Edgar, who agrees to take Oliver’s role in Delilah’s favorite book. In this multilayered universe, the line between what is on the page and what is possible is blurred, but all must be resolved for the characters to live happily ever after. Includes twelve full-color illustrations, and black-and-white decorations throughout.

Full of humor and witty commentary about life, OFF THE PAGE is a stand-alone novel as well as a companion to the authors’ bestseller Between the Lines, and is perfect for readers looking for a fairytale ending. Fans of Sarah Dessen and Meg Cabot are sure to appreciate this novel about love, romance, and relationships.
Why I’m Waiting:
Does this not sound super adorable? I love a good fairytale. I also love a good fairytale sequel.  Add that to the fact that book characters are coming to life, outside their pages, and well, this is my fantasy. I enjoyed the first book a lot. It wasn’t my favorite book, but I do remember having a lot of fun reading it. Again, how can I not love the concept that is this story? Also, how wonderful is the cover? It’s one of my new favorite covers of the year.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Summary (from Goodreads):
This exciting new series from NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Ally Carter focuses on Grace, who can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world, and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay--in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.
I am a big Ally Carter fan. I was so excited to see another series by this author. I ate this book up in a day (another snow day). Grace isn’t my favorite character, but I loved the story. Grace is another one of those YA main characters whose sanity you are meant to question. She’s gone through a lot of therapy. And well, has called wolf a few times.
She witnessed her mother’s murder at the age of 13. However, she’s the only one who believes it to be murder. According to all the evidence found, her mother died by accidental fire. Grace can’t get the image though of a scarred man, shooting her mother out of her head. And after a few run-ins with scarred men who ended up not being her mother’s killer, Grace sort of built up a reputation of craziness. Or at least as being the girl who cried wolf.
And while I can get why people might not believe Grace over scientific evidence, the one thing I hated about the book, was how adamant all of Grace’s remaining family was that she was crazy.  Why would she make up a scarred man killing her mother? Seriously, her grandfather, brother, and father all refused to believe her or listen to her or trust her. And I cannot imagine such an awful family dynamic.
On the plus side, I’ve never read a YA book to talk about politics in quite this way. I loved the metaphor Grace made about the teens on Embassy Row acting as a younger, more attractive version of the UN. Each teen in this book represented a different country. I loved the politics between the teens. And I loved the skills and personalities they all developed because of their crazy, amazing life-styles.
I wanted Grace to be stronger, like some of Carter’s other main characters. And I really am tired of the non-trustworthy, possibly crazy main character thing as a whole.  I did enjoy reading about some of the side characters. And I loved the mystery. I was dying to find out what actually happened to her mom. And I needed to know who was in on it, and so much more.
Unfortunately, not all the answers are revealed at the end. If anything, a million more questions pop up. I was also not expecting the ending at all. I’m curious to see where things end up with the mystery and with Grace. I give it an 8/10.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

Summary (from Goodreads):
The epic conclusion to Richelle Mead's New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series is finally here...

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

After their secret romance is exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series. When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world.
I loved this one. Then again, it would be a huge surprise if I didn’t. I love all the books by Richelle Mead. I was a little hesitant to finish this book because I knew it was the last of the series, and I couldn’t exactly cope with that.
I’m just not really feeling like this story is quite over. I liked the ending. And I liked all that was accomplished in this final installment. I just want more. I want more with Jill. I want more with Lissa. I want more with Sonya. I want more of a new character, Declan. And how can I not want more Rose and Dimitri or Sydney and Adrian? Maybe I’m just not ready to say goodbye. I am kind of hoping that Mead comes out with another side series like she did with this one after the Vampire Academy series.
A lot went down in this final book. A lot of loose ends were wrapped up. Add that to the sizzling romance, the side story with more spirit-use discovery, and the politics of the court, and well this was not a boring book. I also liked how things from book one were tied in too. The illegal tattoos from book 1 came back. So did a certain vampire-hating organization.
There’s a bit of a wild goose chase that happens in the middle that I’m not sure was really that necessary, but I can’t complain. It was more time with all these fantastic characters. And it gave certain other side characters the ability to have some resolution as well.
It was fun watching Adrian’s mother learn to tolerate Sydney. It was also interesting to see so much prejudice and hate on both sides of the couple: the alchemists and the vampires. There were a bunch of little twists thrown in about families, fathers, and spirit dreams.
The book started a little slower than normal. But in no way did this hinder my reading. The only thing that slowed down my reading was my fear of saying goodbye. This was a fun last installment to a fantastic series. I give it a 10/10, and I hope to see more from this author soon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (130)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (9/1/15):

Description on Goodreads:
From Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes the second entry in the New York Times bestselling series that defies what you think you know about the worlds of good and evil.
Why I’m Waiting:
So, I know not everyone loved book 1. But, I did. I loved the world-building. I loved the big twist. I loved the setup for what looks to be a really amazing series. I wish the description could have given the tiniest bit more of information, but that’s okay. I know I will have to read this one no matter what. Also, the cover is a little scary, but, also kind of epic looking for a middle grade fantasy.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Re-Read 2015: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Summary (from Goodreads):
Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He's never worn a Cloak of Invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry's room is a tiny cupboard under the stairs, and he hasn't had a birthday party in ten years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that's been waiting for him... if Harry can survive the encounter.
It feels weird reviewing this book. I can honestly say that this book, along with the 6 others, helped make me become the person I am today. I grew up with them. I first read this book when I was 11, and I have read it many times since. Every kid has those books their parents would wish they’d grow out of. The books they read over and over and refused to stop talking about. These books were that for me. I am a huge fan. I have read and written fan fiction. I was the president of my college’s Harry Potter Club. I have been to the theme park in Orlando. I have also been to one Leaky Con.
I haven’t had the pleasure of re-reading these books since I was in college, which now is 6 years ago. I skimmed over this first book a little last year because I hosted a kids book club that discussed it. But, I have not had the pleasure of really reading it again in so long.
I feel like my appreciation for Rowling has grown to an all time maximum. It was fun re-reading this book now as an adult, and seeing all the foreshadowing and all the hints as to what is to come. I was making all kind of connections from book 1 to book 7. And I’m a bit in awe in how much of this story it appears she planned from book 1.
I forgot how long it took Harry to get to Hogwarts. Half of the book is his introduction to the magical world. And as a kid, I remember skimming a lot of this on re-reads. I didn’t need to be re-introduced. On this re-read though, I enjoyed it. I loved reading about Harry’s first trip to Diagon Alley, and watching him continue to attempt to pick up magical letter after magical letter.
I forgot about Peeves! He was left out of the movies, which I have seen more recently than I have read the books. How could I possibly forget about him? I also forgot about the extent of the Weasley twins’ humor. I laughed out loud while reading this. The long-standing joke of toilet seats never ceased to amuse me. Also, I forgot how Malfoy and Harry really first met. And I loved getting to see the spark of the beautiful friendship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
I never saw this book as my favorite one in the series, but it is so crucial and necessary for the rest of the more intensive plot to come. Not only did this book remind me how much of a master of her craft J.K. Rowling is, but it reminded me what it was like to read this for the first time. Rowling had me remembering and reaching back to my childhood in a way I don’t see any other author quite capable of managing. 
I wish I could read these books again for the first time. And I love seeing kids at my library experiencing this very thing. This re-read though felt as close to reading it again for the first time as I could get. I’m older, wiser, and much more able to pick up on clues in this go-round, but Rowling really had me feeling like a kid again while I read it. And what better praise can a children’s author receive? Seriously, these books are magical and I cannot wait to get on to re-reading book 2. I give it a 10/10.

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Good Week in Books (100)

I cannot believe this is my 100th “A Good Week in Books” posting.  I guess it’s safe to say I’ve been blogging a long time now. I had a nice little book week. I purchased 3 books. One book was a pre-order that pleasantly surprised me when it came. I’m so glad I can purchase books in advance and not have to worry about release dates. I may have also already read it…There was a snow storm, and when a girl’s trapped inside a lot of movies and books happen. One book is an adult book (I do occasionally pick those up too). And one is a sci-fi book 3 I’ve been waiting for.

The Ruby Circle
by Richelle Mead
Collide by Melissa West
Defending Jacob by William Landay
How was your week in books?