Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

ISBN: 9780765370624
Released in: 1977
Series: Ender's Saga #1
Page Count: 324 Pages


     GOODREADS.COM SYNOPSIS
"Once again, the Earth is under attack. An alien species is poised for a final assault. The survival of humanity depends on a military genius who can defeat the aliens. But who?
Ender Wiggin. Brilliant. Ruthless. Cunning. A tactical and strategic master. And a child.
Recruited for military training by the world government, Ender’s childhood ends the moment he enters his new home: Battle School. Among the elite recruits Ender proves himself to be a genius among geniuses. He excels in simulated war games. But is the pressure and loneliness taking its toll on Ender? Simulations are one thing. How will Ender perform in real combat conditions? After all, Battle School is just a game.
Isn’t it?"
     REVIEW:

I was drawn into this book immediately by the fact that it was about about a six year old boy. I have a soft spot for small children (who doesnt?) and I kind of had that "aw the poor baby" feeling when I first started reading Ender's Game. Thankfully, Ender isn't six through the whole book, but my brother is 9, so reading about a 10, 11, 12 year old main character was still difficult for me, especially when the author isn't particularly nice to said main character.

Either way, I'm finding it hard to form an opinion of this book. I enjoyed it very much but... I just don't know why. I can list all the pros and cons like I usually do, and what took away from the story, but I just can't put my finger on that thing. There was something about this book that drew me in. The story was perfectly paced and I was interested the entire time. I think Ender himself drove the story, and even though this story was not entirely character driven, I think he is what kept me coming back. The characters and their development were probably my favorite aspect of the story. I really enjoyed the parts at the beginning of each chapter that showed the instructors talking about what they were doing to Ender, and I found myself wondering at the end of the book if they ever really knew him at all - or if they knew him better than he knew himself. Am I making any sense?

This is the first time I've ever read an entirely science fiction book, and to my suprise, I did enjoy it. After reading Across the Universe by Beth Revis (a YA sci-fi novel with minimal romance until the last book), I knew that something with little-to-no romance in the sci-fi genre might be something I would enjoy, but I was wary going into this one. I didn't know how I would feel about aliens and intergalactic warfare - it almost seemed kind of ridiculous. The "buggers" in this book are specifically described as ant-like beings and I almost wanted to roll my eyes at that, but in the end it seemed to work out for the story.

One of the only problems I actually had with this book is that I'm not very good at visualizing certain things, and the intricate happenings in the Battle School didn't exactly help. Many scenes were of Ender and his team doing battles in no-gravity battle rooms, and it was hard for me to imagine every move they were making. It may seem that those movements might not be integral to this story, but at times they were. Oddly enough, many of those scenes could be considered tedious and repetitive (considering there were several battles per day) but I enjoyed every one.

How many times have you come across a book that you just could not describe? Many of us come to a point where we have a hard time writing a positive review, right? I know I do, haha... but even when I get to that point, I can usually at least identify why I enjoyed a book, just not how to put it into words. In this case, I can't tell you why I finished this book in just a few days and couldn't put it down. All in all, when I use the standards I always use when rating a book, I suppose I can understand why I liked it, e.g., pacing, world-building, character development, etc. Usually, though, there is some other driving factor that gives me a reason to give a 4 or 5 star rating and I still am at a loss..

If we're talking about the things I didn't like, besides the fact that I could not visualize many of the battles very well, the ending of the book kind of ruined it's chances for a five star rating. I fully expected and anticipated the book to end the way it did based on the blurb on Goodreads. After the main plot resolved itself in the way that I expected it would, it continued on to give a sort of epilogue, and as I began reading it, I was very satisfied with it until the last couple of pages. In those last few pages, the story took a very strange turn that I think is supposed to set up for the next book in the series. However, I don't think I will continue on with this series solely based on the ending of Ender's Game - too weird for me.

For those of you who have read this book, what did you think about the way it ended? I don't mean the way Ender resolved the main issues - I mean what happened to him after he did. Was it as weird for you as it was for me? I kind of ignored it and am pretending it didn't happen and that the book ended after the main resolution.

I still want to see the movie but I don't think I'm going to go tomorrow for the premiere of the movie, simply because I am not at all confident in the way this book will be interpreted onto the big screen. Usually that kind of thing doesn't bother me and I'm generally very good about understanding the differences between a movie a book and their adaptations. I just can't see myself going in and enjoying that movie, though, when I can't even figure out why I enjoyed the book. Maybe I will wait until it comes out on DVD or even wait for Netflix.

RATING: 

Have you read this one before? What did you think? Do you agree with my points about the pacing, world building, characters and plot? Was it easier for you to figure out why you liked/disliked it? I'd love to know what you think, so maybe I can figure out what it was about this book that had me so hooked.

Thanks for stopping by!

A.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: Dance the Moon Down by R.L. Bartram and Giveaway!

ISBN: 9780755206827
Release Date: November 4, 2011
Series: No, Stand-alone
Page Count: 300
Find it on Goodreads
See my author interview of R.L. Bartram


     GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:
In 1910, no one believed there would ever be a war with Germany. Safe in her affluent middle-class life, the rumours held no significance for Victoria either. It was her father's decision to enroll her at university that began to change all that. There she befriendes the rebellious and outspoken Beryl Whittaker, an emergent suffragette, but it is her love for Gerald Avery, a talented young poet from a neighbouring university that sets the seal on her future. After a clandestine romance, they marry in January 1914, but with the outbreak of the First World War, Gerald volunteeres but within months has gone missing in France. Convinced that he is still alive, Victoria's initial attempts to discover what has become of him, implicate her in a murderous assault on Lord Kitchener resulting in her being interrogated as a spy, and later tempted to adultery. Now virtually destitute, Victoria is reduced to finding work as a common labourer on a run down farm, where she discovers a world of unimaginable ignorance and poverty. It is only her conviction that Gerald will some day return that sustaines her through the dark days of hardship and privation as her life becomes a battle of faith against adversity.
     REVIEW:

I'm not usually the type who likes historical fiction... well... okay, maybe that's a lie. I think I'm actually very intrigued by historical fiction, which I suppose is why I agreed to review Mr. Bartrum's book in exchange for a copy of it. (Do you remember reading those American Girl and Dear America series? I was obsessed) I just wasn't sure that it was the right book for me. I was intrigued by the premise and I knew that I had some experience with historical fiction before as a kid, so I decided to take a chance. I didn't think it would have much of an impact on me. I was wrong.

Everything about this novel was awesome. I love Bartram's world building, even though he wasn't necessarily building a world. He was setting up a time frame, a real, true time frame - so not creating a world, but showing us one. I realized I have never seen or heard an account of world war anything from other than an American perspective which sounds pretty crappy of me but hey, I'm American after all. Anyway, I found it super interesting reading about it from a British perspective.

For starters Bartram's writing was flawless. It flowed perfectly. I never struggled to picture a scene or understand what he was writing about. The characters were absolutely lovable. I fell in love with every last one of them and cried if one was ever lost. The plot moved along swiftly and there was always something going on in addition to the main story line which was the main character trying to find out what happened to her husband at war.

I'm not big into classics, but this book read like one. And let me tell you, if all classics read like this one then I think I'd read them all. I couldn't put it down, I read it in just about two days. There was only one thing that I didn't love about this novel. The only thing I didn't like was that some of the story telling was more tell than show. This killed me too because every aspect of the story was so strong. It's not like the story would have suffered had there been more "show" because the parts of the novel that did show read just as well.. do you get me? The ending was a little on the tidy side but after everything Bartram puts you through in the rest of the book, I guess you didn't really expect it to go down the way it did any way. Either way, I loved this book!

I found myself laughing crying getting angry, every range of emotion you can imagine within the short 300 pages of this novel. I wish it could've been longer. But I was so satisfied after reading this book that I am patiently anxiously and impatiently awaiting Mr. Bartram's new novel. For just a teeny bit of more information on that one, click here, to the interview I had with Mr. Bartram last week.

     Rating:  1/2
I enjoyed reading this book so much and not only can't I wait for Robert Bartram's next book, but I guess I've figured out that I like historical fiction more than I thought! Definitely check this one out, you won't be disappointed!

Also, for those of you who are interested in reading Dance the Moon Down, i solemnly swear is having a giveaway! Three lucky winners will win a PDF copy of Robert's book, Dance the Moon Down. This giveaway is international. Make sure you enter below! The giveaway will be open until November 8, 2013, so enter below before it's over!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



As an independent author, Robert is currently promoting his debut novel "Dance The Moon Down". He is single and lives and writes in Hertfordshire, England.Visit Robert on:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Author Interview: Robert Bartram and Giveaway!

Good day, all!

Very recently I read a book called Dance the Moon Down. It's a historical fiction with a touch of romance. Not your kind of book? I didn't think it was mine either. I. Was. Wrong.

The author of Dance the Moon Down is Mr. R.L. Bartram - better known as Robert :) It was awesome getting to know him a little after I read his book, and I want to give you all a chance to get to know him too. I hope you enjoy our time here with Robert!

_______________________

Amanda: Robert, welcome to i solemnly swear. Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Robert: At various times in my life, I have been described by others as, fiercely independent, with a dry sense of humor (that's often remarked on) somewhat solitary, although not reclusive, and a little eccentric. Fair enough! I admit to being a rank individualist who doesn't believe in doing anything by half's, my wit is on the desiccated side and I am happy with my own company, but as for eccentric, well, I consider that to be a pre-requisite for anyone who wants to be a writer.

I was born in Edmonton, a suburb of London, in 1951, spent several years living in Cornwall and now reside permanently in Hertfordshire. I own a comfortable house with a huge garden which I have planted exclusively with trees so that it now looks like a portion of Epping Forest (remember, nothing by half's) which makes it wonderfully secluded. I seldom watch television, I don't (can't) drive and I hate going to the barbers, I cut my own hair. It wasn't until 2011 that I, reluctantly, retired my typewriter and bought a computer; that was quite a learning curve! I am absolutely passionate about my writing, but I never take myself too seriously.

Amanda: Wow, I'm amazed. I can't imagine life without my computer.. or cell phone or iPad, now that you mention it. Well, by calling you eccentric, I think we're giving you a compliment! :)
How long have you been writing?

Robert: I started when I was seventeen. There was a long break of about ten years in the 1980's, so that means I've been writing, on and off, for more than thirty years now.

Amanda: That's wonderful! One day I hope to be able to say the same! I just finished reading your novel, Dance the Moon Down. For my friends who haven't read it yet, can you give me a brief description?

Robert: My novel is a historical drama, although it could just as easily be classified as a romance. It's set against the background of the First World War, but it's not a war story. Essentially Dance The Moon Down is a tale of true love, courage and loyalty against almost overwhelming odds. It's the story of Victoria, of one young woman's struggle to survive when her husband, Gerald, the love of her life, volunteers to fight and then goes missing in France. Her vow to wait for his return and her conviction that he is still alive set her on a precarious journey into a world she is totally unprepared for.
Through her eyes we witness the radical changes taking place in the world and in English society. We experience the isolation, heartbreak and loss of all those women who were left behind to carry on alone. Throughout it all Victoria has her own problems to contend with, whilst the burning question remains, will Gerald come back or not?

Amanda: I, for one, couldn't put the book down until I found out the answer to that question! I was so enchanted by Dance the Moon Down, so can you tell me, where did you come up with the idea for your book?

Robert: I think the first seeds of an idea were sown when I passed by our local war memorial. Most people use it nowadays as a point of reference and to be honest it does have a slightly dehumanized element about it, as do most memorials. Then it occurred to me that the names on that stone had once been real people with real lives. Why not weave a tale around a few of them. I began to research that era and came across the letters and diaries of some women who had lived through those times. I can't describe how poignant their writing was, but that's what clinched it for me. Later on I found an article in "The Nation" a now obsolete periodical, written by John Galsworthy, the author of the Forsyte Saga in July 1914. Basically it was a critique of the younger generation, of whom, he wrote, "had been born to dance the moon down to ragtime". With the benefit of hindsight we know now that they in fact fought the bloodiest conflict of the twentieth century and paid a terrible price. The irony of Galsworthy's statement made such an impression on me that I took it for the title of my book.

Amanda: I loved that you used that phrase as the title for your book! I can't even imagine reading those women's diaries and not being able to write something about it afterward. I'm so impressed by how you turned those diaries, those thoughts, into story, one that left me wanting more. You know I have to ask - are you currently working on something else. If so can you tell me anything about it?

Robert: Yes, I'm currently researching for a novel set against the background of the American Civil War. This one will also have a female central character. As with Dance The Moon Down, I think I've managed to find a new slant on an old theme, but that's really all I can say for now.

Amanda: I really just can't wait! Good luck writing with your writing, and I will patiently await the release of your next novel. But anyway, since you're currently working on something now, tell me something quirky about your writing process (e.g. you only use pen and paper when drafting a story, you like to listen to music while you write, etc.).

Robert: That's spooky. I do write everything in longhand. The fact is, I write almost as fast as I think. If I had to type it out at the same time I'd just get bogged down. Only the final, ultimate, draft is typed. No, no music, I must have absolute silence, at least to begin with, that way I can hear my thoughts. I prefer to write at night, usually from 11 p.m. to about 3 a.m., that guarantees the quiet. I'm fueled exclusively by tea (I'd die without tea) I have a pint mug beside me and I never let it go empty.

Amanda: I'm not a tea drinker myself, but I get the feeling that tea to you is what coffee is to me. Off the topic of reading/writing a little, what is your favorite non-bookish thing to do? Do you have any other hobbies or interests?

Robert: Yes, many. I love to write, but it is essential to keep the mind fresh with other things. I enjoy all the natural sciences, Astronomy, Geology and particularly natural history. I like to take long walks in the countryside whenever the opportunity arises. I love going to the theater, especially the Globe where Shakespeare is performed at it's best. I also like to eat out, Chinese for preference and I'm partial to low budget Gothic horror films. I also enjoy homemade wine. I make a very innocent looking Elderflower which comes out at about 80% proof. Smashing.

Amanda: Haha, I don't think I'll be having a drink with you any time soon then unless I want to be knocked on my... well, anyway - I love that you're so diverse, and love Chinese, as do I! (Also, I'm glad you didn't say long walks on the beach, and said countryside instead, because I don't think I would've been able to hold that one in, haha).

Robert, it has been so great chatting with you and getting some insight into the mind that created Dance the Moon Down. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you'll come visit and chat often!

_______________

Look for my review of Mr. Bartram's Dance the Moon Down this upcoming week, and make sure to show Robert some love and pay him a visit. He's an awesome guy and an even better author!

Aaaannnddd... because you guys are so stinkin awesome, i solemnly swear is having a giveaway! Three lucky winners will win a PDF copy of Robert's book, Dance the Moon Down. This giveaway is international. Make sure you enter below! The giveaway will be open until November 8, 2013, so get a chance while you can!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


As an independent author, Robert is currently promoting his debut novel "Dance The Moon Down". He is single and lives and writes in Hertfordshire, England.

Visit Robert on:
Goodreads
Amazon




A.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

ISBN: 9781442480612
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Series: Internment Chronicles, #1
Page Count: 356 pages
Find it on Goodreads

     GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:
On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.
Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.
     REVIEW:

I received this book as part of my birthday haul a few weeks ago. I had  been waiting for this book for months and was thrilled when I finally got it. The second I had a chance to read it, I made it happen. About 50 pages in and after realizing I wasn't captivated by the story quite yet, I set it down for a few days to finish up some other stuff and when I picked it back up, it hadn't been any more exciting than it had when I first picked it up. 

This book didn't call to me, but the world did. DeStefano's ability for world building is wonderful and she does a fantastic job of showing me exactly what Internment is all about. The premise for the book has so much potential yet I feel as though DeStefano only touched on some of it. I'm not going to lie, I was somewhat bored with this book. The pacing, while slow, seemed to flow okay, but the plot was almost nonexistent until the last 50 to 100 pages. Distefano spent most of her time building her world and probably setting up for the next two in the series. I have read her previous series, The Chemical Garden Trilogy, and it seemed to follow that same pattern. The first book in that series, Wither, was not very exciting and I didn't love it. The second book was okay, and the third was great.

Something else I like in this book other than the world building was that it does not follow the standard set of rules for romance in young adult novels. There is already a developing romance between Morgan and Basil because they have been betrothed since birth, but I loved them that much more for developing their already established romance rather than throwing in a love triangle or something to spice it up. Add in the fact that Lauren DeStefano's prose is beautiful and regardless of her plot, pacing, world building, or character development, she writes beautifully.

Speaking of character development though, I feel as though I didn't connect with Morgan even by the end of the book. I think I enjoyed Pen her best friend, and Basil much more. I even loved Lex and Alice. Wait, especially Lex and Alice. I'm hoping that I connect with Morgan a little bit more over the next two books, but that girl was lacking some serious character development. In her last series, DeStefano gave us a main character that I didn't necessarily connect with that much either, apparently it's a going trend. 

I've noticed that a lot of people who read this book said that the second half of the book was better than the first. I will admit that it was more exciting than the first half but the book took a turn that I was not expecting at all and I wasn't necessarily sure that I liked it. I surely was not expecting the book to end the way it did -  not that it ended badly - but it definitely was not what I was expecting. I do want to see what happens next and I want to know more about Internment. I hope DeStefano keeps her level of world building while picking it up in all the other areas.

Also, can I vent for a second? I absolutely hated the prince and princess. Not their actual characters, because you barely get to know them at all - but has anyone noticed how awful the dialogue is when the prince and princess are in the scene? It's so overly obvious and obnoxious, and I suppose maybe she wanted them to come off that way, but it didn't work. The scenes where the prince and princess were present and dominating the dialogue seemed almost like they were written by someone else because of how awful they were. For those of you who have read this book or anything by Lauren DeStefano, you know that her writing is not awful. But somehow these parts of the book just stuck out like a sore thumb... I don't know what she was thinking..

On another positive note though, can anyone else tell me if they get the tinglies when they look at the cover and the inside of the book? I marveled over it for quite a while... it is absolutely gorgeous!

     RATING★★★ 1/2
                                                   (3.5 stars)

All in all, I love DeStefano's idea for Internment and I'm so intrigued by the world- she has a talent for the intriguing and amazing. I just wish the plot was more exciting. The pacing, as with her previous novels, is slow. It works for some of them, and it almost worked for Perfect Ruin, but I hope she picks up the pace in the next one. I need some action and this series has so much potential for it.

Though I'm only rating this with 3 1/2 stars, I really did enjoy it and the world-building hooked me. I cant wait until the next one eventually comes out next year!

Have any of you read this one yet? What did you think? Do you agree or did you love everything about it (or hate everything about it)?

A.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Harry Potter Discussion/Read-Along [17]

RECAP - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Chapters 1-9

Harry hasn't heard anything about what is going on in the wizarding world as he spends another dull summer with the Dursleys. His friends' letters are vague and hint at something much more exciting than what is going on in Harry's life and he is becoming pretty upset about that. While Harry is out trying to entertain himself in menial ways, Dudley begins to harass Harry, but before Dudley can strike, Dementors attack them - in Little Whinging! Harry uses a patronus to rid them of the Dementors and old Mrs. Figg comes to "help" Harry... as much as a Squib can help anyway.

Harry soon gets a letter from the Ministry declaring that he has been expelled from Hogwarts for using magic in front of muggles, but before he has a moment to be distraught, he gets another letter telling him that he has not been expelled, but will have a hearing on the matter. A guard comes to collect Harry to bring him away from #4 Privet Drive, including Mad-Eye Moody and Remus Lupin, and they fly their brooms in protective formation around Harry to a beaten up old house that is the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix.
Some really freakin awesome illustrations by someone named
Leela Starsky. Her illustration of Bill makes me want him desperately.

Harry has a bit of a meltdown after he arrives about how he was the one who took on Voldemort to begin with and should never have been left out of the loop. Eventually Sirius rallies for him and they fill him in about Voldemort laying low, Dumbledore being kicked off the Wizengamot and other organizations and that the Daily Prophet has been making Harry seem like a nut case.

Mr. Weasley escorts Harry to his hearing a few days later (several hours early, and thankfully so), and they arrive to find out that it's been rescheduled to a much earlier time and has been moved to a hearing room down in a dungeon - before the entire Wizengamot. Dumbledore arrives and proceeds to defend Harry (almost like a lawyer) and has Mrs. Figg testify to the fact that Dementors did indeed attack in Little Whinging. Reluctantly, the Wizengamot cleared Harry and he gets to go back to Hogwarts! Harry is thrilled... until he finds out that Ron and Hermione have been made Gryffindor Prefects and he has not. He tries not to be jealous and tries to be happy for Ron but it is hard to forget that he was the one who did all of those things each year... saving their hides from Voldemort almost every time...

DISCUSSION

Talk about teenage hormones at their worst, ugh. Even though I feel like I am flying through this book way faster than I did every time I've read it before, it does not mean I haven't had enough of Harry's teen angst. He like CAPITAL-LETTER-FREAKS-OUT, often. I do kind of find it hard to believe that Harry can yell and insult his friends multiple times and they would not yell back. They kind of timidly apologize, and its kind of annoying. Where is the person who is going to smack that s*** out of him, because I'm sorry, even my best friend, like a sister to me, if she acted like that, I'd probably hit her. Or at least tell her to snap out of it, don't you think? Yeesh. Maybe I'm just an insensitive ass.

And boy that Cornelius Fudge surely has is out for Harry and Dumbledore. I mean, come on, talk about power hungry. That and fear are the only reasons this is happening and its super frustrating. I've found myself with my jaw dropping open (as if I haven't freakin read this before) at some of the absolute appalling nonsense they come up with, especially later in the book. I mean, I guess with all of this "persecution" going around, Harry has every right to be angsty, doesn't he? Maybe I forgive him.

The Order. I just love getting to re-live the trip through Sirius's house, the secrecy and meetings, Harry and his friends cleaning up all the icky creatures lurking around the house, the crazy Mrs. Black portrait. I was, however, severely freaked out and saddened by the final scene in chapter 9 that has Mrs. Weasley incapacitated by a boggart that was hiding in one of the rooms continually showing her the dead bodies of her husband, children and Harry. Well... I'm sure you can guess why that would be upsetting.

I remember disliking this book a lot the first time around, I actually didn't finish it the first time. The second time was rough and I struggled through it. This time I'm actually enjoying it. It may be annoying and frustrating but those are the emotions Rowling is trying to evoke in her readers isn't it? Well, let me tell you, she surely does a great job of making me want to throw this book across the room, often.

How do you feel about Harry's angst, Fudge's fear and retaliation, and the fun little excursions we get to see in between? I love hearing from you guys!

A.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - Super Cool Names

Happy Tuesday - Its been a while since I posted for TTT, I missed you all! This week's topic is:

Top Ten Nine Unique Character Names in Books

1. Hermione - When I read the Harry Potter series for the first time over a decade ago, I was at a loss as to how to pronounce her name - then in book 4, Viktor Krum gets a lesson after calling her herm-o-ninny - I think that one suits her, haha.

2. Katniss - I love plant/flower names in general, I love how creative you can be with them. I HATE when Gale calls her catnip. Its just dumb. -___-

3. Rhine (from the Chemical Garden Trilogy) - I love this name and spent a few days asking Sean, "Can we name our future daughter Rhine?" (I do this every time I see a unique name I like... he didn't like Rhine :( Boooo! )

4. Lucero-Elisa ne Riqueza de Vega (From the Girl of Fire and Thorns) - Um... just Elisa for short. Its a pretty cool name and I love the entire spanish culture that Rae Carson developed. Sean probably won't let me name our future daughter Lucero-Elisa either though.

5. Magnus Bane (Mortal Instruments) - A bad as name if there ever was one, man. It's a name that commands respect, which is fitting because he is a guy that commands respect. Love him!

6. Ridley (Beautiful Creatures) - Her actual character is kind of crazy, but its a unique name... take a wild guess if I asked Sean about this name or not :)

7. Cinder/Scarlet/Crescent Moon (Lunar Chronicles) - Love Meyer's little play on words here with each of her characters.

8. Qetsiyah (this is not from a book but from a show that came from a book, Vampire Diaries. Pronounced Ket-sia) I love it, I just hate the way its spelled. I begged Sean to let me name our future child Ketsia but he says it sounds ancient. I say, thats why I like it. Geez. I'll never win.

9. Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones) - all I have to say it that Sean said YES to this name (probably because he thinks Dani is hot, but whatever. So do I).

How about you guys? What are your favorite (or least favorite) names in books you've read?

A.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

ISBN: 9780439139601
Released: in 2000
Series: Harry Potter #1
Page Count: 734 pages
Find it on Goodreads
See my past reviews in this series

     GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:
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, potions to be brewed and Divination lessons (sigh) to be attended. Harry is expecting these: however, other quite unexpected events are already on the march ...


     REVIEW:

Am I going to keep saying this about every book in the series after I read it?: "This one is my favorite books in the series". I feel like I'm choosing favorites out of my children/siblings at this point and you start to have to come up with random things to say like "You're my favorite 9-year old brother," or "You're my favorite sister named so-and-so". So um, this is my favorite fourth book in a series ever... does that count? Well anyways, I can't believe how much more I loved this book this fourth time around as compared to the second and third time around. The second time I enjoyed it and the last time I read it, I stopped half way through. Why was I so bored with it? This time, I couldn't put it down. I got so far ahead with the "schedule" I'd set for myself that I could've stopped reading Harry Potter books for an entire four weeks before another discussion post was due.

I loved being back in the world again, getting to experience Harry before he becomes severely broody in book 5. Harry deals with a whole load a crap after he finds his name popping out of the Goblet of Fire. I wonder, has Harry ever had a year when the whole school didn't hate him at some point? After reading these last four, the answer is NO.  I thought my sympathy and tears for Harry were over with when he finally didn't have to live in that cupboard under the stairs anymore. But he never gets a break. Harry has suffered some seriously traumatic events, especially at the end of book 4, and now he is a very damaged kid (as if he wasn't already). How can we expect Harry to go on and not be put in the loony bin? But... somehow he does, even thought he Daily Prophet spends most of its time telling people Harry should be in the loony bin.

It's going to start to get old if I point out that the plot, characters, world building, etc. is amazing in this book just as it was in the last book, and the one before that... and the one before that. I feel as though that I can't truly review these books anymore or at least not much longer. I think I'm biased. Forgive me if this was short or if you didn't get much out of it, but I don't have much else to say. Harry Potter has always been my first love in books, and I'm sure many of you can say the same.

I enjoyed the fourth book more than I ever have and I realize that maybe book 3 is a stopping point for the innocence and book 4 is a starting point for the darkness. I think Cedric's death is what really cements it for this series. I watched the movie shortly after finishing this book and cried like a baby, as always, when Harry showed up back at Hogwarts draped over Cedric's body. I will be starting book 5's discussions this week and I think we can all agree that while it might not be a favorite for most of us, it definitely sets up exactly what needs to be set up for the next few books. Every single thing that happens from this point on matters and has some meaning in the eventual resolution in book 7. Every little detail means something and it's a wonderful feeling to read over each book (for the fourth time) and pick out those little details that I missed the first few times around.

     RATING: ★★★★★

Even though I don't feel like I have to ask this questions: have you read this book yet? For the large majority of you that have, was this one of your favorites? I'm always looking for some more insight to this series because which one of us doesn't want to know more or learn more things? In the past couple of months that I've been having discussions about Harry Potter, you would be surprised to hear that as much as I have learned from re-reading the books, I feel as though I've learned just as much from the opinions of my fellow bloggers. I've been able to see things in different perspectives that I never would have thought of if some of you have mentioned them. Well anyway, thanks for stopping by and I'm sure I'll talk to some of you soon on Wednesday when I start book 5.

Mischief managed!

A.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Feature and Follow - Magazine Love

Happy Friday! Is it the end of the week for many of you? I work weekends, so my weeks all just run right into each other, haha. This week's topic on Feature and Follow Friday is:

Q: What are some of your favorite magazines?


Well, I've had a subscription to Cosmopolitan for years now. Actually - quick story - it's the magazine that got me back into reading again. I was 18 and hadn't read for pleasure in years and in the back of every Cosmo there is a section with a book of their choosing, with an excerpt and everything. This one particular month featured a Brenda Jackson book - a romance. I can't remember the name but I still own the entire series. I was back in the game! I read romance non-stop for a while until my cousin turned me on to Twilight (cue eye roll), and since then I've been a YA fan and ever expanding my horizons. So - THANKS COSMO! They're partially to thank for this book blog being in existence, don't you think?

I don't really read any other magazines to be honest. I stick to books mostly, but I don't think I'll ever get rid of my Cosmo subscription.

What are some of your favorite magazines? If you follow, leave me a comment with a link to your blog so I can pay you a visit! :)

A.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review: Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

ISBN: 9780307744432
Release Date: January 1, 2011
Series: No, Stand-Alone
Page Count: 515 pages
Find it on Goodreads

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance."
REVIEW:

This book was too unique for me to just do a standard review on it. It may not have been my favorite book but it was the most peculiar (in a good way) book I think I've ever read. So it definitely deserves something a little bit outside of the box - aka outside of my standard bulleted review style and with pretty colors :)

I got this book from my friend Ashley who read it and absolutely loved it. It wasn't something I had planned to read right away but it just so happened she left it for me right when I had finished one book and hadn't yet picked up another. For those of you who know me, you know I am a creature of habit and planning. I have my reading/posting schedule worked out from now until the beginning of January. Either way, I decided to add a bit of spontaneity to my life and picked it up and started reading it right then and there.

I was enchanted by the first few chapters and patiently waiting for the story to really begin. A few days later and quite a few more chapters in, I was feeling confused and wondering when it was all going to come together. Half-way through and it still hadn't come together. The last one hundred pages, and by this time I was laboring to get through this, were fantastic, of course. That was generally my experience with this book. Overall, this wasn't my favorite book, but I'm actually kind of in awe of the entire thing. Let me tell you why:

The Night Circus was 515 pages of absolutely beautiful, intricate world building. Maybe we can call it "circus building", as the "world" was the circus more often than not. Morgenstern spent much time laying out details of tents that you can almost imagine, except the details are such that you can. You can imagine it thanks to Morgenstern's amazing descriptive passages and the entire premise is amazing. I suppose in retrospect, I'm hard pressed not to like this book because of how amazing it is as a whole. The story itself, while I had some issues with it, was beautiful and haunting and the ending was very satisfying. I suppose you're wondering why I gave this book 3 stars then, if it was so amazing, right?

My biggest issue was that I felt absolutely no emotional connection to the characters for at least 75% of the book. By the end, I barely cared about the main characters and the only characters I was actually rather fond of were the characters Herr Thiessen, Bailey, Poppet and Widget, who kind of took a back seat until at least half way through the book. The plot, while it seems to be extremely well thought out and put together considering the way it jumped back and forth in time, was too confusing to me. I've talked to several people, including my friend Ashley who let me borrow this book, who said they liked how it jumped back and forth. I am not one of those people. Maybe my attention span is too short? In a way I liked that it jumped back and forth because the story was constantly focusing on someone else and never lingered to long on one storyline, and that is good for my short attention span; however, I barely paid any attention to the time frame established at the beginning of each chapter so how was I supposed to remember what year one chapter happened in in reference to the next chapter I am reading, or the chapters I'll be reading next? Even if I had paid attention to the time frames, I was hard pressed to remember what year it was while trying to keep track of everything else that was going on in the story. I couldn't do it. It worked for the story and added to the overall mystery, and the fact that I wasn't completely and totally lost even though the jumps spanned years at a time attests to the fact that Morgenstern really thought this one out and it worked... just not for me.

I can't deny that the cover is beautiful as well as the
 illustrations for it.
The other thing I couldn't get past in this book was the pacing. Maybe that could be attributed to the jumping back and forth in time also? The copy I had was 515 pages long, and as I mentioned before, things really only started to move around page 375-400. The pacing was just off for me and it was just too long and drawn out in my opinion. For quite some time in the story, nothing really happened. About half way through, we see a plot develop, not just world building, and thats when I was able to get into it more. All in all, having taken me three weeks to read this book, you can see why I dropped two stars on this one.

With that being said, I don't think I've ever read anything as beautifully written as The Night Circus. You'd think I wouldn't want to read anything else by an author who wrote a book I didn't love, but I'm so impressed and in love with Morgenstern's writing style that I hope she writes something else soon, and I'm going to give her another try. This book and the premise has so much potential. I just wish the first 400 pages could've been just like the last 100.

I'm rather glad I read this book because it got me out of my box. I've been reading a lot of YA dystopian novels and I am probably going to read a bunch more after this, but it was nice to read an adult (totally non-smutty) novel once again, and remember why its nice to come out from under the YA rock I've been living under. Thanks to my dear friend Ash for recommending it! I suppose I didn't love it as much as you did, but I surely was able to appreciate it for what its worth.

RATING: 

Have any of you read this book? I know some of you have, and most of you loved it (except for one fellow blogger who has been keeping up with my rants about this book and agrees with a lot of my points). I'd love to know what you thought and if you agree or disagree with me!

A.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Harry Potter Read-Along/Discussion [16]

RECAP - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapters 29-37
Harry soon finds out that Barty Crouch had many secrets, including that he had sent his own son to Azkaban when he was discovered to be a Death Eater. Even still, Mr. Crouch was no where to be found and Harry's third and final task was soon approaching. Inside the maze that is the final task, Harry meets several creatures he'd faced before - skrewts, a boggart, giant spiders. What Harry does not expect is to find out that Viktor Krum was using the Cruciatus Curse on Cedric Diggory - and he'd thought Krum wasn't half bad.

After Harry helps Cedric, the boys are both at the Triwizard cup and neither one wants to take it because the other "deserved" it. They agreed to take it together, a tie, then something strange happens - the boys are transported by Portkey and find themselves in a graveyard, very far from Hogwarts. Someone is approaching and as Harry's scar begins to burn, that someone, Wormtail, kills Cedric and ties Harry up. Harry then realizes the graveyard he is at holds Voldemort's father, Tom Riddle. Wormtail dumps a useless Voldemort into a cauldron, and uses Riddle's bones, Harry's blood and his Wormtail's own chopped off hand to bring back the Dark Lord.

Voldemort is back in all his glory. He summons his death eaters and Harry hears many familiar names - Crabbe, Goyle, Malfoy. Voldemort releases Harry's binds and gives him a chance to defend himself, and when Harry has no other spell to use but "Expelliarmus," Voldemort tries to kill him and their wands do something very strange - they connect. Ghosts of the last people Voldemort murdered begin to spill out of the connection, Harry's parents among them, and they help him get Cedric's body and return to the Portkey. Harry escapes and when panic begins to set in on the part of the crowd and all of the officials when they realizes Harry is draped over a dead Cedric, Professor Moody whisks a sobbing Harry away from the chaos.

As Moody begins to question Harry, it becomes clear that something is very wrong. Moody reveals that he is the traitor, the one who put Harry's name in the Goblet, turned the Cup into a Portkey, the one who helped ensure that Harry would be the one to win. And just when Moody is about to kill Harry, Dumbledore bursts in and knocks Moody out. They use Veritaserum on Professor Moody who is slowly beginning to change into a man Harry doesn't know but has surely seen before - Barty Crouch, Jr. Crouch had been taking Polyjuice Potion and keeping the real Moody locked in a trunk since the beginning of the term.

Barty spills the entire story of how he escaped Azkaban with his parents' help and began to control his father with the Imperius curse, then later helped the Dark Lord capture Harry and return to full power. Harry is taken away to the hospital wing where he later finds out that Fudge does not believe that Voldemort has returned, refuses to believe anything Harry or Dumbledore say, and has let the Dementors perform the Kiss on Barty Crouch without properly interrogating him on the whereabouts of Voldemort.

Harry returns to school for the remaining few days before the year ends and he is quiet and reserved, especially since Dumbledore told the entire student body to leave him be. At the end of year feast, Dumbledore toasts to Cedric and Harry, then he tells the students that although the Ministry does not believe it nor do they want him to tell them, Voldemort is back and he is the one who killed Cedric. At least now they know and can be prepared.

Harry gave Fred and George his winnings on the condition that he not tell Mrs. Weasley and that they buy Ron a new set of dress robes. He is then sent back to his aunt and uncle's house - for the time being, so they say. Its going to be another long, horrible summer...

DISCUSSION

Well.... what can you even say after that? I still cry when Cedric dies every time. Even more so when Harry brings his body back, and he's all cryin' and stuff. Oh, I'm such a sucker. Anyways, I found the whole Crouch, Jr. situation so creative. I think this is the best mystery Rowling has created yet. In the first two books in this series, you could almost guess who the culprit was, how it was happening. She'd dropped enough clues that it wasnt completely far-fetched. Book three - I mean who really expected Sirius Black to be the good guy in it all, but still - we knew Peter Pettigrew was lurking around somewhere and something was seriously wrong. Book 4, there's no way you could've guessed how this all really happened. No one would guess Moody wasn't Moody or that Crouch, Sr. had done something unforgivable.

I tend to wonder sometimes, Barty Crouch was an awfully good Mad-Eye, don't you think? He was nice. I suppose he had to try to be exactly like Mad-Eye so as not to get caught by someone who knew him well like Dumbledore. I find it amusing that the real Mad-Eye seems to be even more paranoid in the next book, if that's possible.

I love that Harry gives his winnings away - its a wonderful thing but... I just wish he'd given it to Mrs. Weasley. Do the twins need it? Not really... And I know, I know, the joke shop would never come about if Harry hadn't done it but somehow I feel like the comfortable living situation that the Weasley's could've had overall was much more important. I dont know, maybe I'm just a big ol' softie. Still nice of him to not keep it though. It shows his maturity even will the hell he's been through.

And Rita Skeeter! I couldn't believe Hermione. Not only is she now blackmailing Skeeter at the end of the book - she's also kidnapped her, basically, and has her trapped in a jar as the creepy little beetle she is. Retribution at its finest! Hermione is becoming more and more of a rebel as the books continue, but maybe a little harsh, Herm? Kidnapping? I mean that is also a crime even if she is an unregistered animagus.

This book was so much fun to read and I can't wait to start discussing the next one which I've already started reading last week. Look for a traditional review of book 4 early next week and discussions of book 5 shortly after. Thanks for stopping by!!

A.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Review: The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

ISBN: 9780062026545
Page Count: 448 pages
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Series: The Girl of Fire and Thorns, #3
Find it on Goodreads
See all my reviews in this series

     GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:
"Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she's never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion-a champion to those who have hated her most."
     REVIEW:
WHAT I LIKED:
  • Rae Carson's writing is 110% better in this book than it was in the first. It flows so well and kept me hooked the entire time.
  • This series is very character driven and the characters all grow so much by the end of this book. I'm amazed at how different Elisa is, but she's still Elisa... does that make sense?
  • The main character, Elisa, is such a strong heroine, even with having her weak points. She is the QUEEN, and she damn sure acts like it. Rule that kingdom girl!!
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
  • I was expecting something awesomely epic and for the first half of the book, I was pretty bored. It just was... not great, not horrible. Just blah. And every time I though it was picking up, something would stop the progression and it'd be back to blah.
  • It felt broken up - the plot I mean. It felt like several different stories all mashed into one, or several different plot points that were supposed to run one right into the other except it didnt work out that way.
  • Just like in all of the books, some big revelation or action-y scene happens and then right after, it falls flat and the characters are not acting the way you'd expect. *sort-of spoiler* e.g. someone is attacking you, you go out, trick them... then tell them to leave? And they listen? Something not right here...*end sort-of spoiler*
RATING: ★ 1/2

I was slightly disappointed by this book after reading Crown of Embers, which I thought was the best book in this trilogy. I was expecting something beyond epic, and don't get me wrong - Carson threw me for a loop a couple of times, but I was just expecting... more. However, the book was still great, even if some of it was "off". I enjoyed seeing Elisa grow and that was one of Carson's strongest points in the series - the monumental growth of her characters. As a whole, the series was great, if not fantastic, and I will enjoy reading it again one day. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Harry Potter Read-Along/Discussion [15]

RECAP - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapters 22 - 28
As if having to fly past a Hungarian Horntail wasn't bad enough added to all of the other drama in Harry's life, now there is to be a Yule Ball where Harry and friends must wear dress robes, find a date and dance. After Ron asks Hermione as a last resort and she says no, Harry and Ron end up going with the Patil sisters and have an awful time because they're being party poopers (especially Ron who is particularly vexed about Hermione showing up as Viktor Krum's date)!

Cedric gives Harry a clue on how to figure out the egg-clue for the task and Harry figures out that he's going to have to retrieve something from the Black Lake from the mermaids that live in it. Harry didn't think he'd have to save his friends, though! Thank goodness for Dobby who gives Harry some gillyweed to help him breathe under water, and Harry finds Ron, Hermione, Cho and Fleur's sister chained underwater. He fights off the merpeople in order to save more than just Ron, who is the only person Harry is supposed to save. Harry comes in after the time limit because he was trying to save the others, but he gets second place for his "moral fiber"!

After a few months of almost peace (except for Rita Skeeter making everyone's lives miserable), Harry finds out that the last task is a maze. While chit-chatting with Viktor Krum about Hermione and the tasks, Barty crouch comes staggering out of the Forbidden Forest mumbling about a mistake he made, Voldemort getting stronger and begging for Dumbledore. Harry goes to retrieve the Headmaster and when they return, Viktor Krum has been knocked out and Mr. Crouch is no where to be found. So much for that so called "peace"... there's definitely something fishy going on...

DISCUSSION

First of all, I'm super disappointed that Harry and Ron were such downers at the Yule Ball. Ron totally had a reason, though he didn't know at that point that he had it bad for Hermione, but I can excuse him. Harry was just annoying though. Fourteen years old or not, I love a good party and was sad that they couldn't have a good time for once. Shoot, when I was fourteen, me and the little boyfriend I had at the time, we had an awesome time! Well, I suppose we also didn't have to worry about someone trying to kill us by entering us into a deadly tournament. Either way, I kind of wish their experience at a once in a life time party where the Weird Sisters were the entertainment was a little different. Happier, perhaps? It does go to show the teen angst setting in which really takes full effect in book 5.

Anyone feel like there's a lack of things to discuss here? Well okay... maybe not a lack of things, but surely not as many things are happening as you would expect in reading so many chapters. I read somewhere that when you're publishing your first (or second...or third... whatever) novel, you should write based on the lenght of a typical book in that genre. Middle grade and young adult books are typically shorter because of the age group intended... etc. I feel like Rowling really took "artistic license" to a whole new level. I wouldnt call it wasting time, necessarily, but she really goes the extra mile to add in the tiny little details we love so much while moving the plot along at a slightly slower pace. And the pace doesn't necessarily suffer from it either, because I absolutely loved this book 100x more than I did the last time I read it and I hardly even noticed except for the fact that I've been taking notes while I read these books and realized after that with each chapter, hardly anything actually happened.

Well, all the action happens in the last chapters coming up, now don't they? I'm excited to talk about the end of the book, you know, where sh*t really hits the fan. Lets just say, after all this time and after how many times I've read it, it still makes me cry like a baby every time. I'll talk to you all soon! Thanks for stopping by :)

A.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Feature and Follow Friday - Blogging Besties!

Happy Friday! This week's Feature and Follow topic from Parajunkee is:

Feature Your Own Favorite Blogger!

Aha, this one is easy. My very best blogging buddy runs one of my favorite blogs out there - Paradise of Pages

Everyone, meet Amber:


Amber and I started out talking about Harry Potter (I know, no surprise there), and nowadays, though we do still talk HP (those tattoos have to happen eventually), we now do the occasional post together and talk via text all the time about a little of everything. She's become more than just a blogging friend and hopefully one day we can finally hang out in real life. :)

You should all pay Amber a visit, check out her awesome reviews, leave her some love and definitely follow her!

You're the best, Amber! <3


Honorable mentions:
Katie at KCross Writing - she is such an amazing writer and downright hysterical! Give her some love.
Elizabeth at so long and thanks for all the fish - she totally gets me and is always willing to talk Harry Potter with me. You should also give her some love.
(You girls are awesome, and I hope we get to know each other better and become better blogging pals!)


Who is your favorite blogger? A friend of yours or someone you admire from afar?

A.

Review: Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

ISBN: 9780062026514
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Series: Fire and Thorns #2
Page Count: 410 pages
Find it on Goodreads
My reviews in this series

     GOODREADS.COM SYNOPSIS
Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds.
     REVIEW:
WHAT I LIKED:
  • The plot was so much more interesting and well-paced than the last book. Also, Rae Carson's writing style was a lot better! In the first book, it was hard to get into the rhythm of her writing style and at times it was awkward. In this second installment, I had a few issues, but the writing was smoother and very easy to find a rhythm with as a whole. The plot, pacing and writing together won me over and I'm definitely a fan of this series!
  • Elisa is a much stronger character than she was in the first book, less annoying and constantly growing. I loved her development in both books, but this one especially.
  • Rae Carson is apparently one of those authors who likes to do the exact opposite of what you want to happen, then rip your heart out and stomp on it. I found myself feeling every emotion I could think of throughout this book, extreme sadness, anger/frustration, fear - but at the same time I laughed and cheered the characters on at certain times too! I admire Carson for that :)
  • Hector <3. and Storm. My two favorite characters in the series. I want Hector for myself. Storm had to grow on me a bit because he was so full of disdain for the main character, but his unswerving loyalty to Queen Elisa won me over in the end.
  • Elisa, the MC, started to develop a true sense of humor in this book, and sometimes made me laugh out loud. Her sarcasm, something the character Storm hates about her and her people, made me love her even more.
  • I'm becoming more and more intrigued by the antagonists as a whole, the Inviernos. This book hinted toward some major revelations that may be coming in book three and I'm dyyyying to find out what it is. So kudos to Carson for making it unbearable to go on without this knowledge because I picked up the third and final book shortly after reading this one.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:
  • There wasn't as much "grinning" and "gasping" from every character as there was in the last book; however, it's still there and still annoys me. People don't grin in near death situations! Its just not realistic!
  • Some random scenes, two in particular (but I won't spoil), just felt out of place or unrealistic. The nonchalant reaction of the main character to certain events just kind of threw me off.
  • The ending was kind of boring and also unrealistic. Elisa's reaction once again just doesnt jive with the way things happened. Also, it seemed like Carson intended this to be a bit of cliffhanger, taking away the one thing we have to be happy about - but it wasnt. It was anticlimactic in a sense, but hey, I still wanted to read the next book immediately, so I guess she did her job, right?

     RATING: 

When I read the first book in this series, it kind of fell flat for me, but I'd become fond enough of the characters that I wanted to read the next one. The next one, as it happens, was much more interesting than the first, more action packed with an awesome developing romance, and the pacing and writing was so much better. I enjoyed this one so much and by the this time, I've already read the final installment, The Bitter Kingdom, almost immediately after reading this one (review to come on that one). All in all, while this sequel wasn't perfect, I've fallen even more in love with the characters and am desperate to know more about the world.

Have any of you read this book/series? What did you think? Agree or disagree? Love hearing from you guys!

A.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Birthday Haul!

TODAY is my birthday. I am 24 years young. :) Had a wonderful birthday celebration weekend. Had my party on Friday, my niece's 1st birthday on Saturday, and went to a haunted hayride with a bunch of awesome people on Sunday. Needless to say, I'm exhausted, which is why I took today off: to lay around my house and do nothing all day! :) Mainly I'm here to show off my birthday book haul. I must say Sean did pretty good for himself considering he is not a book guy at all (though I think he may be entering the world of audio books! Who knows... maybe we'll see a guest post from my boo one day... hm..)

He got me:



Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
(isn't that cover freaking gorgeous?!)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

I then purchased for myself, with birthday funds:

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shephard, and

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
(this one is a re-read, I just needed a new copy)

He also got me this:

A pillow to lounge around and read on..

And...

Wait for it...

He got me...



AN IPAD MINI!!!

What's also freaking AWESOME is that my parents got me this:

(my actual copies are at my mom's and I have to go get them later.. boooo)

All in all, a great weekend. And now for some pictures of my weekend! Enjoy! :)


My birthday celebration - before the bar
After the bar!
This brat's actual birthday was yesterday.

Haunted Hayride group


Now I'm off to lounge around with Sean and do absolutely nothing for the entire day! Thanks for stopping by to share in my birthday fun! Talk to you all soon!


A.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Harry Potter Read-Along/Discussion [14]

RECAP - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Chapters 13 - 21

Harry once thought he'd get to sit back and enjoy watching the Triwizard Tournament, but he was wrong. Someone put his name in the Goblet of Fire, the impartial judge that chooses the three school champions. But this time it chose a fourth champion - Harry Potter. Everyone hates Harry, once again, because they think he put his name in and just wanted some extra attention. But when he goes in for the first task of the Tournament, to fly past a Hungarian Horntail dragon to retrieve a golden egg, most of the school realizes he never would have put himself in that kind of danger. He does, however, do the best in this task by summoning his broomstick and using his flying skills to get around the dragon. Way to go Harry!

As if he didnt have enough to deal with with that dragon, now he's got to use the golden egg he caught to figure out his next task, and Hermione won't leave him alone about house-elf rights, Rita Skeeter won't stop writing awful articles about Harry, the school and the Ministry, and he keeps hearing strange things about Barty Crouch and Ludo Bagman... when does Harry just get to be normal?

DISCUSSION

Halfway through the book and things are really just starting to heat up. Harry is in the Tri-Wizard Tournament even though he's not 17, and it was by no trick of Harry's! Mad-Eye Moody is sure someone is trying to kill Harry, but everyone else is just mad that Harry "tricked" his way in as the fourth Champion.

What really kills me is when Ron just flat out doesnt believe him, I mean, Hermione believes him. Is Ron that bitter that he can't see past his jealousy to believe his best friend. I know what you're going to say - they're only 14, of course their jealousy and emotions will get the better of them, but come on. It was beyond frustrating and you know it.

Something I noticed in this book is that Rowling goes hardcore mystery on us here. She drops some serious hints that - I'll admit - I didn't notice when I read them the first three times. I remember reading a post somewhere about how Rowling's HP books compare to her new adult novels, and the writer mentioned how they are actually not all that different. Now, I haven't read her adult novels, though I own both, but the writer mentioned how all of her HP novels were basically a mystery, spending the entire book trying to figure out "whodunnit," etc. I don't know much about The Casual Vacancy, but I've heard that Rowling uses so many of the same elements in Vacancy and in her newest novel, Cuckoo's Calling as she did in her kid's books. At the time I read that post, I nodded my head in silent agreement, but after reading book four, I want to shout out a resounding YES. Its so true and so evident as we get into the darker books that Rowling uses those mystery elements consistently.

As you read this, I am soon moving on to book five and I cant wait to talk about the rest of this book with you guys. Thanks for stopping by :)

A.