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Review in a Tweet | Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

REVIEW IN A TWEET is a feature that I need from time to time when I don’t have a ton to say in a review. Sometimes even mini-reviews are too long to write when you finished a book months ago and didn’t write a single note down on Goodreads. But the good news is that I started tweeting and saving very, very mini book reviews thanks to a concept that Lindsey at Bring My Books introduced me to! I’ve saved all of my super duper quick reviews to my timeline and under a hashtag (my 2017 books are under #bookadd17) for my own person way to review all of my books read this year at a glance.

Today’s Review in a Tweet is ALCATRAZ VS. THE EVIL LIBRARIANS by Brandon Sanderson. It’s the first in Sanderson’s middle grade series and I wasn’t planning on reviewing these books since I don’t have a whole ton to say about them, but with this new concept of a review in a tweet, I thought this would be the perfect way to still say a little bit!

I’ve read the first two Alcatraz books so far and they’re very fun! A little bit silly, but it is also middle grade so there’s that younger tone there. It actually reminded me of the tone in the Reckoners series, with some intentional laugh-out-loud moments that are there purely for laughs. The story line is a bit young for me (but again, middle grade) so it’s not as engrossing as I would say his other books are but the Alcatraz books are such quick and easy reads! I’ve been trying to go through them on audio because it’s so fast and they’re easy to listen to at high speeds too!

 

6 Bingeable Series You Won’t Want to Put Down

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Alyssa, Amy, and I read THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER in January for our On the Same Page read and we all pretty much knew once we started it, we’d end up binge-reading the rest of the series. I had heard so many things about the series and we had been waiting until the full trilogy was out for the express purpose of binge-reading. We finally picked it as our January read and I’m so glad I read straight through the whole trilogy!

There are some series you just don’t want to put down and they’re just so easily bingeable. The Mara Dyer Trilogy inspired me to think of some other series that I’ve binged (or wanted to) and I came up with my recommendations for series that you can start and finish one right after the other!

6 BINGEABLE BOOK SERIES

The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (#1) | The Evolution of Mara Dyer (#2) | The Retribution of Mara Dyer (#3)

Being the inspiration for this post, it’s obviously the first on my list. There are so many wacky turns, crazy moments, and questions left for the reader to ponder that I just didn’t want to put this series down. I think it’s always helpful for me to read a series like this back-to-back-to-back so I don’t forget anything from the previous book. When there’s so much going on and so much more to discover, it’s great to be able to pick up the next book right away! Mara Dyer definitely had my mind reeling and I’m so glad I didn’t have to wait to see how this series concluded!

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Mistborn: The Final Empire (#1) | The Well of Ascension (#2) | The Hero of Ages (#3)

Okay, so these books don’t exactly make for a short binge (each one is at least 500 pages long) but this was one of the first true series binges that I had. I started MISTBORN and couldn’t stop thinking about it so when I started THE WELL OF ASCENSION, I immediately had THE HERO OF AGES on stand-by. The books are so good that I zipped through them and really had a hard time actually stopping. This is still one of my favorite series to date and if you fly through these, there’s a whole second era of books that come after them! (And more to come too!)

I’d also recommend Brandon Sanderson’s YA series The Reckoners as a bingeable option since I inhaled those books (and then had to wait for the final book’s release… but it’s out now)!

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
The Raven Boys (#1) | The Dream Thieves (#2) | Blue Lily, Lily Blue (#3) | The Raven King (#4)

While I’m really glad that I’ve been a fan of this series (almost) right from the start, this is definitely the kind of series that you want to binge. These books leave you with so many emotions, questions, and desire for more that it’s hard to stop reading! I first read THE RAVEN BOYS a little after its release date and then I read THE DREAM THIEVES and BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE early as ARCs… The wait for each next book has been excruciating!! I’m both excited and nervous for THE RAVEN KING but the good thing about the wait is that it gave me time to re-read the series… and I binge-read my re-reads haha! If you’re new to the series, it’s one I highly recommend and with THE RAVEN KING coming out in April, you can start reading now just in time for the final book’s release!

The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski
The Winner’s Curse (#1) | The Winner’s Crime (#2) | The Winner’s Kiss (#3)

These books are filled with so much intrigue and angst (in a good way) that I just didn’t want to step away! There’s this fantastic push and pull between Kestrel and Arin (the two main characters and alternating POVs) that this series was one I just didn’t want to walk away from! Again, this was a series that I read each book as an advanced copy so I made the wait even longer for myself but the conclusion was definitely worth the wait!! With THE WINNER’S KISS coming out, you won’t have to wait like I did!

The Curse Workers Trilogy by Holly Black
White Cat (#1) | Red Glove (#2) | Black Heart (#3)

It took me a while to get from WHITE CAT to RED GLOVE, but that was mostly because I was waiting to see if my library was going to to get the audio for it (they didn’t). These books are fun, easy to read, and really hooked me with a few little twists and surprises. I loved that Cassel is sort of an anti-hero, though maybe not quite all the way to anti-hero status. There’s a lot of gray area with him and the reader is always meant to root for him, even if it means he’s not always doing pleasant things. The sarcasm and deadpan humor was great and I loved the magical ties with mafia spins.

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The 5th Wave Trilogy by Rick Yancey
The 5th Wave (#1) | The Infinite Sea (#2) | The Last Star (#3)

This is a series I wish I could have binged! I started when THE 5TH WAVE came out and there was just so much that went on in both books one and two that I just wish I could have read them all at once! They were SUCH quick reads for me and I totally inhaled them. I’m not even a fan of alien books but these had me hooked!

OTHER BINGEABLE SERIES

I wanted to feature series that I don’t talk about all the time (okay, so I do talk about The Raven Cycle and Mistborn a lot) but obviously you see me raving about series like The Lunar Chronicles and The Grisha Trilogy all the time. Those are definitely on my list of series to binge as well, especially since all of the books are out.

Then there are some heftier series like Harry Potter which I’d also obviously recommend but seven books is a lot and I figure at this point, you’ve either read them, know you want to read them, or know you don’t care so it’s kind of a pointless series to recommend! I binge-read my way through the first three books in the Throne of Glass series and I wish I could just read any of Sarah J. Maas’ series non-stop!

There are also other series that I’d like to binge but only the first books in the series are out, like ILLUMINAE, but I have to be patient and just wait!

Lastly, there are those series that I should have binged and wanted to but got sidetracked on other books, like HOLD ME CLOSER, NECROMANCER, THE DARKEST MINDS, and ALANNA.

If you’re looking for recommendations, you know I’m always up for some! I love a great book and a good series binge so check out any of the lists below for some of my favorites based on some of your favorites!


Do you binge-read any series? Which ones haven’t you been able to put down? Do you like to start series when they come out or wait so you can read them all at once?

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Thanks again for checking out this month’s feature for On the Same Page! We had a blast reading The Mara Dyer trilogy and sharing our thoughts with you! And don’t forget to check out Amy & Alyssa’s posts today too!

Alyssa (Books Take You Places) // Amy (Tripping Over Books)

On the Same Page: Howl’s Moving Castle | On Reading Middle Grade

One of the things I really enjoy about reading books with Alyssa and Amy for our On the Same Page feature is the wide variety of books we read. We try to always choose books we’ll think we’ll enjoy but each one of us differs just a little bit in reading tastes so we also try to challenge ourselves at least one book a year to read a little bit outside of our comfort zone. For me, one of those “comfort zone” boundaries is middle grade. I really don’t read much middle grade at all outside of Harry Potter (which doesn’t count. It’s Harry Potter) and the books I grew up with and read as an actual middle-grader. I’ve seen a few that might look interesting but honestly, I will pick up YA over anything for the most part and adult over middle grade too.

So far for On the Same Page, we’ve read three middle grade books (The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, Peter and the Starcatchers, and Howl’s Moving Castle) and I’ve actually really enjoyed them all! It’s definitely renewed my faith in reading a middle grade book every now and then and helped me not to worry that I won’t connect with it because of the age level.

That being said, I have had a hard time adjusting sometimes. I think I really need to put myself in a middle grade reading mode and try to adjust for what I’m about to read. That’s really not a bad thing and I hope it doesn’t come off as negative, but the storytelling is just a totally different style and the focus is always different. Being an avid YA reader (and in adult stories as well), there’s almost always a romance. The middle grade that I’ve read of course focuses much more on the plot and also friendships, family, and finding one’s own confidence and personality. YA is so much more figuring out where a character wants to go in the world, the transition from child to adult, and often times that includes first love and romance. I don’t necessarily need a romance in a book BUT I usually do enjoy it and it tends to bring out another side of my emotions that helps me connect more personally.

I’m definitely always open to reading more middle grade but sometimes it’s hard to make it a priority. I’m really a YA girl at heart with some adult books mixed in but it’s hard for me to pick up a middle grade book and really just be in love with it. Aside from Harry Potter and Walk Two Moons (which I read as a kid so I probably already have that connection to it), I haven’t loved a middle grade book since I was that age. I’m still interested in trying more and I’m glad I have opportunities to read them with other people like we do with On the Same Page!

 Are you a middle grade reader? Or strictly YA/adult? If you do read middle grade, do you only forage into specific genres?

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Thanks again for checking out this month’s feature for On the Same Page! We had a blast reading HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE and sharing our thoughts with you! And don’t forget to check out Amy & Alyssa’s posts today too!

Alyssa (Books Take You Places) // Amy (Tripping Over Books)

10 Things I Felt About This Book | Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

10 Things I Felt About This Book is a mini-review feature to give you a quick run-down of a book without those long, lengthy paragraphs. It’s designed to give you a concise impression without bogging you down and a way to keep reviews creative!

10 Things I Felt About This Book | Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley PearsonTitle: Peter and the Starcatchers (Peter and the Starcatchers #1) by Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson
Publishing Info: August 30, 2004 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Children's & Middle Grade, Fantasy, Retelling
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 15, 2015

    Don't even think of starting this book unless you're sitting in a comfortable chair and have lots of time. A fast-paced, impossible-to-put-down adventure awaits as the young orphan Peter and his mates are dispatched to an island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. They set sail aboard the Never Land, a ship carrying a precious and mysterious trunk in its cargo hold, and the journey quickly becomes fraught with excitement and danger.
Discover richly developed characters in the sweet but sophisticated Molly, the scary but familiar Black Stache, and the fearless Peter. Treacherous battles with pirates, foreboding thunderstorms at sea, and evocative writing immerses the reader in a story that slowly and finally reveals the secrets and mysteries of the beloved Peter Pan.

10 THINGS I FELT ABOUT THIS BOOK

  • CURIOUS. A Peter Pan adaptation? I’m in! Peter Pan actually isn’t one of my favorite fairy tales or Disney movies, but I really enjoy seeing how people have adapted it. PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS was a sort of prequel.
  • IMPATIENT. The beginning of the book was fairly slow for me. It was good enough but I felt like not a lot happened for a long time.
  • AMUSED. There are some really fun scenes with the pirates out on the water! I really liked seeing Smee and Black Stache’s interactions!
  • ANXIOUS. I wasn’t sure how “faithful” of an adaptation this book was so I kept trying to align the current story with what I knew of Peter Pan. It was both fruitful and pointless all at the same time. Not everything was a parallel but some of those things that didn’t line up turned out to be a good thing!
  • OLD. Not that the story was old but I felt old at times reading it. It’s really hit or miss with middle grade because sometimes I just fall right into the story and other times I feel like things are a bit too silly or unbelievable for me.
  • SENTIMENTAL. I do have fond memories of movies like Hook and the musical version of Peter Pan that carried me through my childhood. Maybe that’s why I enjoy adaptations so much! I wasn’t a huge fan of the Disney version but I keep seeking out other adaptations because they were some big parts of my childhood!
  • CONFUSED. I tried to line things up again! We see characters who are obviously a part of the Peter Pan we know (Peter Pan, Smee) but there are also characters who I don’t (or didn’t) understand (Molly, Black Stache). How does it all come together? Will I find out in future books? Or are they not supposed to be characters from the original Peter Pan? (Some do get explained a bit more towards the end.)
  • IMPRESSED. I really loved how the ending all came together! I actually think I wouldn’t have been as satisfied if the beginning and middle had both been direct retellings of Peter Pan. And again, I’m taking from the movie versions (I know, I know. I haven’t read the book so I can’t really tell you what else might have been there. I’m going off the pop culture knowledge here.) so most of the first half was all brand new to me. I really loved how all of the little things worked themselves out and everything was explained. It was really quite clever!
  • SATISFIED. Again, the ending was really, really great. It just left me feeling so happy and content.
  • INTERESTED. I THINK I want to read the second book in this series. I really didn’t love the first half and I think it would have been a bit hard if I hadn’t been listening on audio, but the way that it ended was really so perfect that I think I want to see where the next part of the story goes!

Have you read PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS? Or another Peter Pan adaptation? Which is your favorite?

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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BOOKS LIKE PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

RED PYRAMID     HARRY POTTER

Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ Fifteen

Naturally at the end of the year, I read a bunch of novellas to help me meet my reading challenge (no shame) but also because I got a bit restless in reading and needed to actually finish a few books. Here are some mini reviews  for a few of those books!


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: October 11, 2012 by Tachyon Publications
Source: Audible
Genres: Fantasy, Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 25, 2014
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot

A heretic thief is the empire’s only hope in this fascinating tale that inhabits the same world as the popular novel, Elantris.
Shai is a Forger, a foreigner who can flawlessly copy and re-create any item by rewriting its history with skillful magic. Condemned to death after trying to steal the emperor’s scepter, she is given one opportunity to save herself. Though her skill as a Forger is considered an abomination by her captors, Shai will attempt to create a new soul for the emperor, who is almost dead.
Probing deeply into his life, she discovers Emperor Ashravan’s truest nature—and the opportunity to exploit it. Her only possible ally is one who is truly loyal to the emperor, but councilor Gaotona must overcome his prejudices to understand that Shai’s forgery is as much artistry as it is deception.
Brimming with magic and political intrigue, this deftly woven fantasy delves into the essence of a living spirit.

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THE EMPEROR’S SOUL took me a while to get into and I’m not sure why. The usual Sanderson genius was there but I think I was just incredibly restless when I started listening to this audio and I just wanted to zip through it. (Always a downfall of mine.) I really did like the different setting and Eastern influence — there’s an afterword in the book too which explains how Sanderson came up with the ideas for this novella’s magic system and it’s really quite fascinating how he pulled that little bit from actual history.

I really enjoyed the characters and how Shai’s story developed. I liked her a lot. I think I was thrown off because I was listening to the audio and although yes, Vin is a main character in the Mistborn books, I’ve only ever listened to male narrators for Sanderson books before (thanks, Michael Kramer!) so it was kind of weird listening to a female narrator.

Things really got going in the end and the action picked up a lot! I love how the story ended and it was definitely riveting. I know that this takes place in the same world as Elantris but Nikki also said it’s not really quite the same concept so I’m doubly excited for Elantris and seeing where that book will take me!


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen
Publishing Info: December 12, 2014 by Audible Studios
Source: Audible
Genres: Children's & Middle Grade, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 15, 2014

Audible's 2014 Narrator of the Year Julia Whelan performs one of Hans Christian Andersen's most beloved fairy tales, The Snow Queen. This classic tale is a fantastical fable of two dear friends - one of whom goes astray and is literally lost to the north woods, while the other undertakes an epic journey to rescue him. This charming, strange, and wonderful story is a timeless allegory about growing up and the challenges of staying true to one's self, and it served as the wintry inspiration for the blockbuster hit Frozen.

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Yes, this is “advertised” as the inspiration for Frozen and I know, I know — I knew it wasn’t going to be Frozen. I probably sound totally uncultured by hoping it was going to be like Frozen and it’s not haha! But hey, I love the Disney movie and as most of us know, I don’t do terribly well with original versions of fairy tales.

So THE SNOW QUEEN. It was very short and really not what I was expecting. I knew it wasn’t going to be like a Disney movie, but since that was all I really had to go on, it was a bit surprising in a way. I was thrown off by the fact that it was broken up into seven parts — seven different “stories”. Really it just was not captivating to me at all — and that has nothing to do with the fact that it wasn’t Disney-fied. I tried to focus but my brain was just not having it. I think I could have connected to the story but the way it was told felt roundabout and like it dragged on, and that’s not a good feeling to have for an audiobook that I can finish in a day!

I actually really did find myself interested in the actual story of the magical broken glass but for some reason I just couldn’t get into it. I’m actually really not that into Juila Whelan as a narrator either so that probably didn’t help. This one just wasn’t for me.


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: July 1, 2012 by Independent
Source: Read for free online
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 16, 2014
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot

The Eleventh Metal is a Mistborn short (really not longer than a few pages) originally created for the Mistborn Adventure Game for people who have not read the series. It delves into Kelsier's time shortly after becoming a Mistborn. This sort of begins his obsession with the Eleventh Metal and what it can do, also showing some of his training on becoming a great Mistborn fighter. 

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There is no Goodreads description for this one so that little section up there is my own — I LOVED this short story. Of course after binging the entire Mistborn series, I was dying for more, especially in the original world (I love you, Alloy of Law, but I miss the original crew). I was SO HAPPY to see Kelsier again and it’s almost comical to read a short like this when I know what I do now about the eleventh metal and what comes after that. It was so incredibly nice to spend more time with Kelsier though and I just LOVE getting more backstory from original characters. It’s so cozy to hop back inside of that world again!

This one was really only a couple of pages (if spanned out into pages — I read it on Sanderson’s website) so there’s not a WHOLE lot to say about it but I highly recommending taking the few minutes to read this if you haven’t and you’re a Mistborn fan!


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: Snow White And Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede
Publishing Info: January 1, 1970 by Macmillan
Source: Library
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 28, 2014

THE FAIRY TALE SERIES — Created by Terri Windling — ONCE UPON A TIME... — ...fairy tales were written for young and old alike; it is only in the last century that they have been deemed fit only for children and stripped of much of their original violence, sensuality, and power to frighten and delight. — Patricia C. Wrede, the best-selling author of Caught In Crystal and other beloved fantasy novels, brings Snow White and Rose Red back to an adult audience, in this romantic and magical retelling set in the enchanted forests of England at the time of Queen Elizabeth.
Tor Books is proud to present the latest offering in the Fairy Tale Series -- a growing library of beautifully-designed original novels by acclaimed writers of fantasy and horror, each retelling a classic tale such as Snow White and Rose Red, Briar Rose, and Tam Lin in interesting -- often startling -- new ways.


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I read SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED with Alyssa & Amy for our December On the Same Page read (it’s one of Alyssa’s favorites) and after not liking Amy’s favorite, I was terrified. I got a couple pages into the book and was like, “Holy cow. That’s a lot of thee & thou & thy.” But as I read on, it really wasn’t as daunting as it first seemed. I’m not used to the language so yes, it did affect my read a little bit because I had to concentrate more, but overall, the book was very enjoyable!

SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED is actually one fairy tale I remember reading as a kid (at least I THINK I read the original…) and it stuck out in my mind. I really enjoyed Patricia C. Wrede’s adaptation and how she changed the tale in little ways to make it her own story and these changes actually really helped me grow attached to the book too. I’m notoriously hesitant about fairy books but after falling in love with books like Heir of Fire and A Court of Thorns and Roses, I’m definitely coming around so I was so happy to see that not only was it something that I wasn’t afraid of in SWRR but also something that I enjoyed.

I loved the characters and they totally made the book for me. They were SO much fun with so much personality. I’m glad I was pushed to read this one with Alyssa & Amy because I would not have done it without them!


Mini-Reviews: The Emperor’s Soul, The Snow Queen, The Eleventh Metal, Snow White & Rose Red, Finger Lickin’ FifteenTitle: Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: June 23, 2009 by St. Martin's Press
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 29, 2014
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16)

Unbuckle your belt and pull up a chair. It's the spiciest, sauciest, most rib-sticking Plum yet.
Receipe for disaster: Celebrity chef Stanley Chipolte comes to Trenton in a barbecue cookoff and loses his head - literally.
Throw in some spice: Bail bonds office worker Lula is witness to the crime, and the only one she'll talk to is Trenton cop Joe Morelli.
Pump up the heat: Chipotle's sponsor is offering a million-dollar reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the capture of the killers.
Stir the pot: Lula recruits bounty hunter Stephanie Plum to help find he killer and collect the moolah.
Add a secret ingredient: Stephanie Plum's Grandma Mazur. Enough said.
Bring to a boil: Stephanie Plum is working overtime tracking felons for the bonds office at night and snooping for security expert Carlos Manoso, aka Ranger, during the day. Can Stephanie hunt down two killers, a traitor, and five skips, keep her grandmother out of the sauce, and solve Ranger's problems and not jump his bones?
Warning: Habenero hot. So good you'll want seconds.

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I usually write up full reviews but really once you review a Stephanie Plum book, you kind of review them all as far as plot goes! Don’t get me wrong — I really enjoyed it! These books are always so quick and easy to read and I finished this audio VERY quickly. The plot never really changes — Stephanie needs to pick up bad guys. She’s constantly back and forth between Morelli & Ranger. Lula and Grandma muck things up. Cars blow up. Stephanie gets covered in something (flour, sauce, paint, etc). Good guys win in the end. Yet somehow Janet Evanovich still manages to write these books in a way that’s always entertaining to me! (If sometimes over the top)

This one was a bit more entertaining than the last. I felt like it wasn’t as goofy (although it still had its moments of course) but the plot felt more concrete and more mystery than just chasing bad guys and hunting down skips. I really enjoyed the plot (an actual murder mystery!) and sure, things got goofy, but it was all-around enjoyable and I will keep on reading this series!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5) – J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5) – J.K. RowlingTitle: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5) by J.K. Rowling
Publishing Info: June 21, 2003 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Library
Genres: Children's & Middle Grade, Fantasy, Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 28, 2014
Related Posts: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter #1), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2), The Hogwarts Library, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter #6), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #7), Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8)

    Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected...
Suspense, secrets and thrilling action from the pen of J.K. Rowling ensure an electrifying adventure that is impossible to put down.

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I think the most interesting thing about my Harry Potter re-reads so far has been how my rankings for the book has changed based on how I’ve developed as a person. There are just certain things I’ve connected with in some books, certain things that turn me off in others (though I still love them. I mean, I love ALL of them no matter what minor things I find) and all of the things I didn’t pick up on during my first thousand re-reads (yes, there’s always something new).

I was majorly excited to re-read HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX. From the time I did my last re-reads say… maybe ten years ago? This book was my second favorite (or third — it was kind of a toss-up with Goblet of Fire and Half-Blood Prince was still tops) so I was curious to see how this re-read would go. I totally changed my opinion of Prisoner of Azkaban, flipping it around from one of my least favorites to most of my most favorites so I was excited to see how one of my earlier favorites fared later on in my life.

I was a bit hesitant with all of the “angsty” comments I had seen about OotP — this is probably Harry’s moodiest book (well, he IS fifteen…) and yes, it was definitely more noticeable in the very beginning of this book. Sometimes it was annoying, sometimes it made me laugh, but most of the time it really didn’t bother me. In fact, if I hadn’t see all the angst memes on Pinterest and Tumblr and other forms of social media, I may not even have noticed… Who can say! But aside from Harry and Ron’s adventures with the Yule Ball in Goblet of Fire, I think OotP is the first book that really starts to deal with relationship issues, crushes, and serious jealousy so there’s quite a bit of teenage melodrama and it DID wear on me JUST a bit.

I feel like the story is much more government-related with Umbridge and the Ministry of Magic getting super involved so that’s not AS appealing to me as the hunt for and battles with Voldemort. It’s a different kind of action and one that generally feels more frustrating (as in, I feel frustrated for the characters) than a sort of exciting nervous-feeling to see what will happen next. [SPOILERS FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVEN’T READ THE SERIES COMING UP (yes, there are still some and I don’t want to spoil things for them!)] OotP was also the first book that dealt with a death that hit Harry really hard. He’s always dealt with his parents’ deaths, yes, but OotP not only shows Harry dealing with the aftermath of witnessing Cedric’s murder but also the first-hand account of Sirius’s untimely death during the epic battle in the Department of Mysteries. Things get HEAVY and there’s definitely a somber weight to the book because of those. Regarding Sirius’s death… It still didn’t hit me hard. I know it absolutely kills some people but I still didn’t find myself getting terribly choked up. It has nothing to do with how I feel about Sirius. SHEESH, I love the guy, but I feel like it’s almost an off-screen death. Everything just happens so fast and Harry is in disbelief/denial that it made me feel like it wasn’t real. I think even now I’m still in denial about it so for some reason it’s STILL just not hitting me that hard. [END SPOILERS]

So what’s the verdict? I still enjoyed OotP, of course, but I also don’t think it’s one of my favorites of the series anymore. I just feel like there isn’t as much mystery and sleuthing regarding Voldemort and his involvement in everything and the Ministry-centric plot doesn’t grab me as much as “evil villain” (although I DO hate Umbridge more than I do Voldemort. Fact).

Ranking after re-read of book #1: [1] // [6, 4, 5, 7, 3, 2]
Ranking after re-read of book #2: [1, 2] // [6, 4, 5, 7, 3]
Ranking after re-read of book #3: [3, 1, 2] // [6, 4, 5, 7]
Ranking after re-read of book #4: [4, 3, 1, 2] // [6, 5, 7]
Ranking after re-read of book #5: [4, 3, 1, 5, 2] // [6, 7]

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Cho Chang // Character Obsessions: Quidditch, Cedric, the DA, Harry.
Oh, let’s talk about Cho Chang. Do we have any Cho fans? Personally, I am not. She was Harry’s first big crush (an older woman! Go, Harry) but I could never really get on board with her. I don’t blame her for going to the Yule Ball with Cedric (who could?) but once she and Harry started dating in this book, she became so needy and whiny and clingy. Okay, okay, her boyfriend just died. I GET IT. So maybe don’t go out with someone else right away! Sorry, Harry. I don’t think it ever would have worked. She did like you but you were still a Cedric rebound and to add grieving on top of a budding relationship? Just not gonna happen.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Harry Potter re-reads. I’m still loving re-reading these on audio! This one was a bit longer so I was in a hurry to finish, but everything is still so magical!
Left Me Wanting More: Levity. I know there were light moments in this book, but it doesn’t even feel DARK, just heavy. The Ministry, Cedric’s death from the previous book, Umbridge, quidditch, and close calls (and more deaths). YIKES. I think this is the book with the most weight (and it’s the biggest so… haha. Literal weight too). Others may be darker, but this one hangs heavy in my heart.

Addiction Rating
Re-read it!

Well, of course. I think it’s a totally different experience re-reading these books as an adult! I have very different reactions to some events now. Some I see with eyes wide open. Others I can compare to something that’s happened to me that hadn’t when I first read it. It’s fun!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE HARRY POTTER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        shadow and bone       throne of glass

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4) – J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4) – J.K. RowlingTitle: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4) by J.K. Rowling
Publishing Info: July 8, 2000 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Library
Genres: Children's & Middle Grade, Fantasy, Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 7, 2014
Related Posts: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter #1), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2), The Hogwarts Library, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter #6), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #7), Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8)

    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.

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How is it that each time I re-read a Harry Potter book, I find myself amazed all over again? I know I said it before with the first three books, especially with my amazement of how much I enjoyed HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN when it used to be my least favorite book of the series, but honestly. J.K. Rowling really stepped everything up a notch with HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE. 

Sure, we stepped from defending the world from a supervillain in the first two books and magical school hijinks to personal vendettas and darker family history in book three, but GOBLET OF FIRE puts Harry in mortal peril preeeeeetty much all year. It’s not as apparent how much time passes int he movies, but Harry is literally involved in the Triwizard tournament all freaking year and pretty much his state in the mortal world depends on how well he can figure out these clues before it’s time to put him in front of another dangerous task that may or may not kill him.

Aside from upping the danger, things also get exponentially darker. Not only is Voldemort still involved, as always, but we learn more about the Death Eaters — his dedicated followers — but also the Unforgivable Curses and so much more about the dark years that preceded Voldemort’s decline. We’ve seen the bad guys punished in previous books and we knew about the awful deaths that occurred when Harry was just a baby, but Goblet of Fire… This book really takes a dive into the deep end of the dark. Bad things happen to good people in this book and there are just some really gut-wrenching moments that even when you know they’re coming still hit you hard.

This is another book whose movie really started to deviate a lot — not even necessarily changing events and specifics but we lose whole plot lines and characters. I’m not necessarily disappointed looking back because of course you can’t adapt everything in a book for a movie, but it’s kind of amazing when you see what has changed and what you totally forgot about. Here are just a few.

  • Ludo Bagman: Remember Ludo Bagman? He’s the head of Magical Games and Sports and once played Quidditch for the Wimbourne Wasps. If you haven’t read the books in a long time and you’ve been watching the movies, I’m sure you remember Ludo Bagman but you wouldn’t believe how much he is actually a part of the books!! He’s involved in so many scenes, from beginning to end!
  • S.P.E.W.: The Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare, for those who aren’t familiar, was Hermione’s attempt to free the house elves from their lifetimes of enslavement. However……. I was not sorry to see that go. Sorry, not sorry, Hermione. It was a bit much!
  • Winky: To go along with S.P.E.W., Winky was a house elf who also played a very significant part in the book. But again….. eh. Not sorry to see that go and be adapted in a different way! Oh, the movie spoils me in some ways.
  • Rita Skeeter’s “downfall”: I mean, we’re assuming here that you all have read the books if you’re reading my review, but I’ll try to remain mostly spoiler-free here, so Rita! I wish the movie had at least touched on what really happened to her at the end of the book and how Hermione really put her in her place!

My take from the audiobook re-read? This may be a new contender for my favorite Harry Potter book out of all seven. Then again, my current favorites are five and six, so there’s still time for that to change! We’ll have to see how those audiobooks go as well. HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE was just SO good. An amazing book to begin with and so much fun to re-read (for the countless time because I’ve honestly lost track)!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Harry // Character Obsessions: Triwizard tournament, friends, Sirius, dark wizards, Quidditch.
Harry’s time in the 4th book is pretty much spent with the Triwizard Tournament.  Everything else sort of takes a backseat, naturally! It’s interesting to see Harry mature throughout the series and yet you still see how young he really is. He’s still a teenager and despite how maturely he handles the tournament… He really doesn’t. He doesn’t stay on task and his friends and teachers have to prod him along to make sure he won’t die in the tasks but he always handles things with Voldemort like such a badass. He’s a Gryffindor — brave, but not always motivated haha.
Hermione // Character Obsessions: S.P.E.W., helping Harry, Rita Skeeter.
I love Hermione but… I’m glad they took the whole house elf story line out for the movie! It really started to grate on my nerves because she’s just so obsessed with it.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Goblet of Fire. WOW. I forgot how much I loved this book. Obviously I love the whole series and I always knew I loved GoF but I forgot how awesome this book really was. Based on how my re-reads go with the rest of the books, this may jump in the front on my favorites list!
Left Me Wanting More: Of the series. I immediately wanted to start Order of the Phoenix. But this series will do that to you!

Addiction Rating
Re-Read it!

If you haven’t re-read Harry Potter in a long time (or *ahem* if you haven’t read it at all yet) I highly recommend you get on that soon! They just get better with time!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE HARRY POTTER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

       The Graveyard Book     The Night Circus