Thursday, March 19, 2015

Re-Read 2015: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Summary (from Goodreads):
The summer holidays are dragging on and Harry Potter can't wait for the start of the school year. It is his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and there are spells to be learnt and (unluckily) Potions and Divination lessons to be attended. But Harry can't know that the atmosphere is darkening around him, and his worst enemy is preparing a fate that it seems will be inescapable ...With characteristic wit, fast-paced humour and marvellous emotional depth, J.K. Rowling has proved herself yet again to be a master story-teller.
This is my second favorite book in the series. Book 3 promised the most hope, and then this one, ironically demonstrated the darkness that was to come. I remember being so shocked to read some of the things that occurred in this book. I also remember getting into an argument with my mother about this book. She didn’t think I should pack this thing in my suitcase to overnight camp because it took up too much room/weight in my bag and she wanted me to enjoy my time at camp. Needless to say, this monster came with me. I did not wait in line at midnight, to postpone my finishing of it.
I do believe I was the only kid to have brought a book to camp that year at all. And I was certainly the only kid staying up late to read. But, it was well worth it. As I knew would be the case, the events of this book were not as shocking to me now as an adult. But, I have to admit the darkness in this one is pretty intense.
There are death marks, the murder of one student, the realization that another’s student’s parents had been tortured to the point of insanity, cut off hands, torture, dangerous riddles, epic battles with evil, a terrible reporter, and plenty of mystery. To juxtapose the darkness though, there’s also the Qudditch World Cup, a ball, the Tri-Wizard Tournament, Hogsmeade trips, letters to Snuffles, new friendships, a tiny smidgen of romance, and plenty of lessons learned about magical creatures and house elves.
I loved Hermione in this book. She stands up for house elves everywhere. She helps Harry with every clue. She breaks rules now without batting an eyelash. She bridges the gap between Harry and Ron when they are fighting. She stands up for herself when Ron is jealous of her ball date. And she gets her promised revenge on the awful Rita Skeeter. This book is mostly about Voldemort’s rise to power and Harry’s inevitable role in it. But, the side characters really shine too. I loved seeing that Harry and Ron aren’t always perfect friends. I loved the lengths Molly Weasley goes for Harry in this one, even coming to watch him in the tournament and acting as a family member.
I wasn’t surprised by anything, having read this so many times. But I remember my surprise at learning about Moody and Barty Crouch. I remember my shock at what happened to Cedric Diggory. I remember gasping out loud at Dumbledore’s speech at the end. This book was the first of the series to bring a tear to my eyes. It was the first book to teach me that not all of my friends/favorite characters would be safe. I learned that characters would die in this series. And that alone was a huge deal.
This book was so much fun to re-read. I know I’ve said this with the others, but I just feel so lucky to be able to re-read them again. I recommend a good re-read of them all (particularly this one) to anyone. It’s like visiting old friends. Remembering my past reactions to certain moments is such a treat. I give this a 10/10.

(This is my last post for a while. I'm going on vacation. I'll be back soon!)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Waiting on Wednsday (134)

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 Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (9/1/15):

Description on Goodreads:
Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.
Why I’m Waiting:
I am beyond excited for this one. If you like YA fantasy at all and haven’t read this series, what are you waiting for? It has it all: great world, fascinating characters, kick-but main character, politics, magic, romance, and so much adventure. Add the revenge and Celaena’s return to her past, and well, I know this book will be epic. September cannot come fast enough.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Good Week in Books (102)

I had a nice little book week this week. I received two new books for review. Thank you, Macmillan.
I’m posting all my blog posts for the week now (Monday), and then I will have a brief blogging vacation. Technically, I am taking a real life vacation. I will be out of the country for a little bit, so there will be a little chunk of time with no posts. When I come back though, hopefully, I will have plenty of reviews to post and a good week or two of books to gush about.
Until then, here are the lovely books from this week:

Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark
The Riverman by Aaron Starmer
How was your week in books?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

Summary (from Goodreads):
The thrilling third installment to the Edgar-nominated, bestselling series.

Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.

Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they'll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself—and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.
This was amazing. It was kind of like the shows Supernatural, Buffy, and Being Human all combined together and mixed with a great contemporary YA and British setting. Seriously, the plot has thickened in this series. I could never find a good moment to put it down. It was with me as I was filing taxes. It was with me at a restaurant. And it was pretty much glued to my hands all day.
I was a little distraught after the ending of book 2, and I wasn’t sure I was going to like where I was predicting this series would go. I was so wrong. The book did not go the route of two love interests unable to touch each other (thank goodness). This took an entirely different direction that I did not foresee, and for that I am so, so grateful.
This book has it all: ghosthunting, murder, magic stones, evil ghosts, ancient mysteries, disgusting cult rituals, rescue missions, kidnappings, and really creepy London fog. The plot was so good. I thought I’d have trouble remembering characters because it’s been a long time since I read book 2. However, the character development was so good that I never felt at a loss for who was who. Also, the new characters (good and bad) were fascinating.
There’s this super creepy supernatural cult that’s headed by two super creepy twins, who may or may not be dead. And for some reason I kept picturing a certain duo from the Rocky Horror Picture show. The creepiness has taken over this book, and I loved it.
Also, this book has opened up all sorts of new possibilities in regards to the supernatural, to ghosts, and to death. There were some epic Buffy level hell hole moments that made me want to go re-watch some classic Joss Whedon. And then there were some other moments that made me think of the movie, The Labyrinth, with home life flashbacks and the needing to remember bits.
I can’t say too much more without giving some seriously good stuff away. Just know this book did not disappoint me in the slightest. I’m also finally starting to like Rory a bit more. She’s stronger and beginning to think through her actions the slightest bit more. All in all, I loved it. I give it a 10/10. And I can’t wait for more.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (133)

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 Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein (4/21/15):

Description on Goodreads:
Forget everything you thought you knew about genies!

Azra has just turned sixteen, and overnight her body lengthens, her olive skin deepens, and her eyes glisten gold thanks to the brand-new silver bangle that locks around her wrist. As she always knew it would, her Jinn ancestry brings not just magical powers but the reality of a life of servitude, as her wish granting is controlled by a remote ruling class of Jinn known as the Afrit.

To the humans she lives among, she’s just the girl working at the snack bar at the beach, navigating the fryer and her first crush. But behind closed doors, she’s learning how to harness her powers and fulfill the obligations of her destiny.

Mentored by her mother and her Zar “sisters”, Azra discovers she may not be quite like the rest of her circle of female Jinn . . . and that her powers could endanger them all. As Azra uncovers the darker world of becoming Jinn, she realizes when genies and wishes are involved, there’s always a trick.
Finally: a genie story! This sounds like it can be amazing. I love the whole story/mythology behind this. Azra sounds awesome too. I already need to know why she’s not quite like the rest of her circle. The cover could be a little more exciting, but I guess I kind of like that it’s very mysterious. Nothing is given away really by the cover.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Summary (from Goodreads):
In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.
I love this series. I’ve grown to see Meyer as a master storyteller. She weaves together such different stories, characters, romances, and plot lines and she does it all with such sci-fi style. When I learned that the evil Queen Levana was getting her own book, I was really excited. I don’t normally read a lot of novellas or short stories put out by authors between books in their series, but I can’t really think of this as a story or novella; it’s over 200 pages. It’s a book. I also love reading how villains become the way they are. It’s one of the best aspects of the show, Once Upon a Time.
That being said, I did not love this as much as I was hoping to. The plot, the suspense, and the style I have grown to appreciate were all there. And the setting was awesome. I loved seeing how people on the moon lived! What was lacking for me were the characters in this one.
I did get a nice dose of why Queen Levana is the way she is, but I never liked her. I guess I was hoping to like her in the beginning. I was hoping to be able to humanize her and to see a clear moment when she decided to become who she became. I get not all people and stories work this way. And I get that some people are just bad. I guess I was just hoping this would be a different story.
On another note, I felt like she was lying to herself all the time. I wanted certain actions to be clearly defined as revenge, but instead they were kind of hazy and never really taken that way. I also wanted to like the “love” interest, but I never really understood him. I felt bad for him, but I never understood him. And none of the other characters stood out at all. It was clearly all about Levana. That’s okay too. I just wish there was more to her. Because there isn’t that much more to her, I feel like I know how to predict what will happen to her in the last book of the series. And I was hoping for more of a surprise.
I will take any writing Meyer puts out there, and I will read it. This was my least favorite of all the things I’ve read by her so far. And it certainly took me longer to read than the rest, despite it’s smaller size. I wanted more from Levana. Is it weird that I wanted to like the villain more?  Any way, I give it a 7/10. And I’m greatly looking forward to Winter.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Good Week in Books (101)

I am so excited to read the books I received this week. Thank you Macmillan for providing me with so many lovely books. There’s nothing quite like opening a box of new books to discover some titles you were hoping for.

The Winner’s Crime
by Marie Rutkoski
The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente
Dead to Me by Mary McCoy
Witherwood Reform School
by Obert Skye
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (132)

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 Dumplin by Julie Murphy (9/15/15):

Description (on Goodreads):
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.
Why I’m Waiting:
This sounds unlike any other YA book I’ve read so far. I love the concept. I love that it seems to have such a good message. I also love the cover and I super love that the publishing company didn’t force the cover to be of a skinny girl despite the topic of the story. I almost feel the need to thank the people who let this cover happen. The book sounds brave, funny, and heartfelt and I could use one of those right now. September is awfully long wait.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Re-Read 2015: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Summary (from Goodreads):
Harry Potter is lucky to reach the age of thirteen, since he has already survived the murderous attacks of the feared Dark Lord on more than one occasion. But his hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch are dashed when a maniacal mass-murderer escapes from Azkaban, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard the prison. It's assumed that Hogwarts is the safest place for Harry to be. But is it a coincidence that he can feel eyes watching him in the dark, and should he be taking Professor Trelawney's ghoulish predictions seriously?
This is and always has been my favorite Harry Potter book. There’s Sirius Black. And also, there’s the best teacher: Professor Lupin (I even named my first clunker of a car for this professor). There’s the introduction to the Marauder’s Map. There’s secret Hogsmeade outings, secret passages, dementors, Buckbeack, the time turner, the Firebolt, my favorite quidditch game, werewolves, animagi, and lots of dramatic quarrels among friends. Most of all, though, there is hope.
I loved this one because of the hope it brings to Harry for a different kind of future. There’s the possibility of family that didn’t exist before. There’s Quidditch cups and awesome broomsticks. Really, this is just the most fun book.
Again, I was impressed by the connections I was making here to the final book. I also liked that this book wasn’t as directly connected to Voldemort as the others. I liked that the trio wasn’t perfect in this. They fought and held grudges for periods of time. But, I also liked that they always came together for what was important: helping Hagrid, cheering Harry on in quidditch, and doing what was right.
I forgot about the tidbit of Snape’s backstory that we learn in this book. That also comes into play again later. But, it was interesting learning about it so early. So much happens in this book, but it never feels like it’s too much. Everything about this just had such a nice pace. By this book, readers are used to Rowling’s writing style and there is a bit of a formula to the school year. However, it never feels repetitive.
Everything from the quarrels among friends, to the cat chasing the mouse, to the extreme anxiety of exams just felt so believable. And I guess one of the best things about these books for me is how believable it is. So much of this book is impossible. So, it’s nice to have the characters and character problems feel so real in comparison.
All in all, I love this book to pieces. I’m so happy I was able to re-read it. It’s the book with the most hope. And it’s certainly one of the more fun books in the whole series. I give it a 10/10 of course.