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InterWorld (InterWorld #1) – Neil Gaiman & Michael Reaves

InterWorld (InterWorld #1) – Neil Gaiman & Michael ReavesTitle: InterWorld (InterWorld #1) by Neil Gaiman, Michael Reaves
Publishing Info: April 29, 2008 by HarperCollins
Source: Library
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Children's & Middle Grade, Science Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 5, 2017
Related Posts: Fortunately, the Milk, Stardust, American Gods, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neverwhere

When Newbery Medal winner Neil Gaiman and Emmy Award winner Michael Reaves teamed up, they created the bestselling YA novel InterWorld.

InterWorld tells the story of Joey Harker, a very average kid who discovers that his world is only one of a trillion alternate earths. Some of these earths are ruled by magic. Some are ruled by science. All are at war.

Joey teams up with alternate versions of himself from an array of these worlds. Together, the army of Joeys must battle evil magicians Lord Dogknife and Lady Indigo to keep the balance of power between all the earths stable. Teens—and tweens and adults—who obsessively read the His Dark Materials and Harry Potter series will be riveted by InterWorld and its sequel, The Silver Dream.

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I had heard that this book felt a little young before I started but that was incredibly evident once I started getting into it. The main character is in high school but this read at a middle grade level and really felt quite young. I’ve actually read quite a few better middle grade books and ones that were better-written, which is sad since this is co-authored by Neil Gaiman and I’ve loved everything I’ve read from him (which by now is a a decent amount of his works). I’m not sure what percentage of the co-authoring Neil Gaiman did but I found it hard to really get into this book.

I’m a total sucker for parallel worlds and the like but INTERWORLD got a bit too deep into some strange science-fiction stuff that just ended up being too much for me. There was a lot of technical jargon, including interdimensional creatures (oh, we all know how much I love wacky creatures…) that was hard to keep up with. I felt that the book went way too overboard in introducing some of these concepts, especially since it’s the first book in a series and there would have been so much to build up to.

It’s also very much a blend of sci-fi and fantasy, and I have a bit of trouble combining the two when reading fanta-sci books. Despite the fact that sci-fi is a subgenre of fantasy, they just don’t really blend well for me. It did actually seem better accomplished than in other fanta-sci books that I’ve read but I feel like fanta-sci just allows a bit too much to spiral out of control. You’re allowing belief to be suspended from two different angles instead of just one and as a reader, I have a hard time letting go in two different directions and I wanted things to be a bit more grounded.

I would have loved to see this developed more slowly into a couple different books and not have all of this been in the first book. We could have gotten to know Joey, his family, his friends, and his world more before throwing him into this ability and concept. I could have used some more world-building to allow readers to get a grip on Walking and the InterWorld instead of just being thrown into it and having to catch up like Joey had. It was too much and too confusing, in my opinion.

I knew this one might not be a hit but I definitely won’t be continuing the series. I was hoping it might be just so-so for me and there would be an option to continue but this was a total miss for me. It was a short audiobook so it wasn’t too bad to get through but if it hadn’t been short, I probably wouldn’t have finished. I just really wasn’t interested and the tone was just too young for me, even as an occasional reader of middle grade books.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fantasci. This was definitely a new step in fanta-sci for me with a mix between fantasy and science-fiction. Sadly, it’s something that I tend to have an issue with as I tend to want a book to be more fantasy or more sci-fi, but it was definitely interesting.
Left Me Wanting More: Maturity. This book just felt young, even more so than most middle grade books I’ve read. I just felt like it was sort of dumbed down and it really didn’t need to be.

Addiction Rating
Skip it

I should have listened to the advice when I was told to skip this one but I just had to know for myself! It wasn’t a very good read for me.

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BOOKS LIKE INTERWORLD

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE CITY OF EMBER

A Fortnight of Fright 2015 | Book Review: The Fall by Bethany Griffin (Angela from Angela’s Library)

FoF2014

Welcome to our third annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2015

Thanks for checking out the THIRD annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

Today, Angela from Angela’s Library is sharing her review of THE FALL by Bethany Griffin!


A Fortnight of Fright 2015 | Book Review: The Fall by Bethany Griffin (Angela from Angela’s Library)Title: The Fall by Bethany Griffin
Publishing Info: October 7, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Library
Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Retelling, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 26, 2015
Related Posts: The Fall

    Madeline Usher is doomed.
    She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.
    Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.
    In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

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Hi everyone! For today’s post for A Fortnight of Fright, I’m excited to share with you a review of one of my favorite Halloween reads, The Fall by Bethany Griffin. This book combines two things I absolutely love: a retold classic and a seriously creepy haunted house.

The Fall is a novel-length retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Madeline Usher, the protagonist, has always known there is something not quite right about her ancestral home. It seems to have a will of its own and a desire to impose that will upon its inhabitants. The house lives through the Ushers, feeding off of their emotions and doing everything it can to ensure the family stays on the property and under the house’s control.

This tie between the Ushers and their home takes a heavy toll on the family. It’s the fate of all Ushers to slowly go mad, and Madeline and her parents suffer from strange fits and trances. They experience fainting spells and fevers and are plagued by extreme sensitivity to light, sound, and even the touch of clothing on their skin. Time and memories slip, and reading is impossible because the words swim on the page. The family’s strange condition is so acute that they keep their own staff of live-in doctors, who are a little mad themselves and prey on the Ushers in their own way.

As Madeline grows up, she learns more about her house’s dark power and becomes more and more determined to escape it. She knows there must be a way to outsmart the house and free her family from its horrific legacy; she just has to figure out what that way is. The harder she struggles against the house, though, the harder the house fights back, finding ways to trap her and confuse her.

Each chapter is written from Madeline’s perspective, but the chapters aren’t in chronological order and jump back and forth between Madeline’s point of view at age 9, 18, 12, etc. This may sound like a strange way to tell a story, but it makes sense for the book. It lets the reader experience the story just like Madeline does – piece by piece, confused and disoriented. Like Madeline, just when you think you’ve caught the thread of the story you’re interrupted, taken off of your path and turned in a different direction. It throws you off balance, and you have to get your bearings again and figure out which Madeline you’re dealing with. Is it the Madeline who suspects the house is trapping her like a fly in a spiderweb? The Madeline who loves the house and trusts it to keep her from harm? The Madeline who is trying to escape? You don’t know what to expect from one chapter to the next.

Griffin does a fabulous job of making the house sentient and terrible, building it into as much of a character as Madeline, her family, and her physicians. The house thinks, feels, and is capable of taking action. It listens to the stories its occupants tell, redirects them when they get too close to the secrets it doesn’t want discovered, and occasionally throws tantrums, tremoring and convulsing and locking people in rooms. It can even influence people and put thoughts in their head, using them to fulfill its own purposes.

I love The Fall’s spooky gothic vibe. There’s an oppressive undercurrent of horror and dread that never completely goes away. The house corrupts everything within it: bright new dresses fade overnight, lace crumbles, and previously normal visitors slowly grow mad and twisted. Children’s swings sway eerily of their own accord, suits of armor fling axes at hapless passersby, and ghosts of long-dead Ushers lurk in the shadows. There are even old messages, presumably from the house, transcribed by Ushers of years gone by:

“The surface of the desk is covered with scraps of parchment. I read the first. I love you. […] I pick up another. I know you. […] The next one: I watch you. Dozens of scraps of parchment are scattered over the desk. I love you, I know you, I need you.”

If you want a book that will give you shivers this Halloween, The Fall will certainly do the trick. It’s creepy, atmospheric, and a worthy homage to Poe’s original. Just make sure not to read it before bed – it might just keep you up at night.


 

 

Thanks, Angela! Great review. I really enjoyed this one as well and I really loved how atmospheric it was! 
I reviewed THE FALL last year for A Fortnight of Fright too! You can see the full review here: The Fall by Bethany Griffin

Fortnight of Fright 2015 | Book Review: Dark Carnival (Abi from Rambling Writer)

FoF2014

Welcome to our third annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2015

Thanks for checking out the THIRD annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

Today, Abi from Rambling Writer is reviewing THE DARK CARNIVAL – An Anthology of Horror! Check out her review below!


Fortnight of Fright 2015 | Book Review: Dark Carnival (Abi from Rambling Writer)Title: Dark Carnival: An Anthology of Horror by Jolene Haley
Publishing Info: October 31, 2014 by Independent
Source: Library
Genres: Adult, Horror
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 11, 2015

In this anthology, several authors and illustrators explore the dark and hidden dangers that lie within a carnival that has come to town. But it is no ordinary carnival. It's The Dark Carnival.
And when The Dark Carnival comes to town, there's no promise that anyone can leave...alive.
Contributors include: Kristen Strassel, Meghan Schuler, Claire C. Riley, J. Elizabeth Hill, Jessi Esparza, Debra Kristi, Ryan Bartlett, Michelle Ceasar Davis, Brian LeTendre, Ken Mooney, Eli Constant, Mari Wells, Lucas Hargus, Kat Daemon, T.A. Brock, Calyn Morgan, Emily McKeon, Gregory Carrico, Kristin Hanson, Nicole R. Taylor, C. Elizabeth Vescio, Brian W. Taylor, Kate Michael, Ezekiel Conrad, Jamie Adams, Bobby Solomons, Mark Matthews, Jamie Corrigan, Kristin Rivers, Kristen Jett, Sheila Hall, Suzy G, Kim Culpepper, Ruth Shedwick, J.C. Michael, Wulf Francu Godgluck, Ashly Nagrant, Amy Trueblood, Vanessa Henderson, Tawney Bland, Julie Hutchings and Stevan Knapp.

I heard about this anthology from watching some YouTube videos by the WordNerds. Horror isn’t something I usually read, unless Neil Gaiman writes it. But there was something about an anthology that interested me. I am a scaredy-cat,  movies with zombies or paranormal activity are hard for me to watch. But there was something about a collection of short stories that beguiled me. I guess I thought that horror in small doses would be okay.  I was both right and wrong.

THE DARK CARNIVAL was an amazing entry into the genre of creepy stories. I mean this collection has everything, people gone crazy, demons, aliens, and every story was completely different.  Each was unique in its own way.  I feel like the collection starts off with some of their less creepy stories.  I found myself thinking: “Oh this isn’t so bad.” HA! The stories definitely get darker further into the anthology. No spoilers but not everything you eat in the Dark Carnival is at it seems. 😉  I liked this anthology because it didn’t overwhelm in the way a novel would. There wasn’t too much creepiness that would give me nightmares, but just enough for me to put it down at the end of a story and peek out from my blankets to make sure I wasn’t going to die. 😀

I ended up giving THE DARK CARNIVAL four stars on Goodreads. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone, especially in this month of October. I promise, you won’t see carnivals the same way again.

ABOUT ABI

My name is Abi.  I’m 20 years old.  I’ve been telling stories since I was around 10 and haven’t been able to stop. I’m a reader, a writer of novels and poetry, tea drinker, and lover of food. Happily married and mother to two Viking cats.


Thanks, Abi! I agree — I’m not much into horror either — but I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! Sounds perfect for Halloween time! 

Fortnight of Fright 2015 | Book Review: Welcome to the Dark House (Meri Kate from Hydrangeas and Sass)

FoF2014

Welcome to our third annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2015

Thanks for checking out the THIRD annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

Today, Meri Kate from Hydrangeas and Sass is sharing a book review for WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE!


Hello! I am here today to tell you about a fun Halloween read, Welcome to the Dark House. I love all things to do with Halloween. I love the costumes, horror movies and books, and the candy. So I am really excited to be here today with a quick little review.

Fortnight of Fright 2015 | Book Review: Welcome to the Dark House (Meri Kate from Hydrangeas and Sass)Title: Welcome to the Dark House (Dark House #1) by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Publishing Info: July 22, 2014 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Library
Genres: Young Adult, Horror
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 14, 2014

What’s your worst nightmare?
For Ivy Jensen, it’s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.
And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.
Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It’s bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group—the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; “Mister Sensitive”; and the one who’s too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.
Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.
By the time Ivy and Parker realize what’s really at stake, it’s too late to wake up and run.

 

The book revolves around our heroine Ivy Jensen and six others who enter an essay contest to meet a famous horror director, Justin Blake, and go behind the scenes of his latest project. For the essay, they are asked to write about their worst nightmare. Ivy along with the other six contestants are all whisked away to stay in a spooky-looking house together where they’re promised the behind the scenes look. Their hostess resembles one of the serial killers from Blake’s movies and there is a night elf lurking about. By the time Ivy realizes she needs to really worry, it’s far too late.

This book takes you through different points-of-view as you progress through the story. We experience the house and events unwinding in it through the eyes of six different characters. While sometimes this got a little irritating, usually when they switched to a character I wasn’t all that fond of, it never got in the way of my experiencing the story like some books in this same style can. I did like our heroine. She really grew on me as I read the book. I enjoyed her potential love interest, Parker, as well. This book does read like a lot of horror movies do and we don’t really get to know or care for most of the characters. We get a little bit of back story, basically to explain their nightmares, but we don’t get much. Thanks to this, when some of the characters died/disappeared, I didn’t care too much. The introduction to the characters and the whole Justin Blake premise does take up half the book. The other half though is filled with horror movie-like kills. Overall I found the book to be enjoyable and gave it 3 out of 5 night elves.


Thanks, Meri Kate! I thought this book sounded SO interesting… but maybe a bit too scary for me haha! 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #7) – J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #7) – J.K. RowlingTitle: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #7) by J.K. Rowling
Publishing Info: July 21, 2007 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 27, 2015
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 Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter #6), Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8)

     Harry has been burdened with a dark, dangerous and seemingly impossible task: that of locating and destroying Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes. Never has Harry felt so alone, or faced a future so full of shadows. But Harry must somehow find within himself the strength to complete the task he has been given. He must leave the warmth, safety and companionship of The Burrow and follow without fear or hesitation the inexorable path laid out for him.
In this final, seventh instalment of the Harry Potter series, J. K. Rowling unveils in spectacular fashion the answers to the many questions that have been so eagerly awaited. The spellbinding, richly woven narrative, which plunges, twists and turns at a breathtaking pace, confirms the author as a mistress of storytelling, whose books will be read, reread and read again.
  

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** There WILL be spoilers for this book and previous books so if you haven’t read them yet, BEWARE. You’re gonna get spoiled! ** 

Ahhhh, at last, my Harry Potter re-read is finally over! I started back in September 2013 when I decided that I wanted to re-read the entire series via audiobook and a year and a half later, that re-read has come to a close! The experience was absolutely delightful and so much fun to experience both through a different format and much later on in my life.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS has always been the big question mark book in the series as far as how I would rank it. I had a clear favorite and I had clear least favorites (I love them all, but you know) but DEATHLY HALLOWS was just such a DIFFERENT book than the rest and that made it hard to place. There’s barely any time at Hogwarts (until the Battle of Hogwarts — ohhhh let’s not go there yet), no Quidditch, and a whole lot more focus on, well… the END. The books grow darker over time but this is definitely the one with the most hardships, evil, and battles but it also has a incredible amount of bravery and victory.

I’m still finding it hard to place this book in a line-up but I will say that this was the book out of the series that really evoked the most feeling from me as I was listening. Of course, there are some MAJOR losses as far as favorite characters go and even though I knew they were coming, it didn’t soften the blow any less. In fact, no matter how much I missed Sirius and Dumbledore, their deaths in the previous books didn’t really tug on my heartstrings for whatever reason… and they really do make up some of my favorite characters! But when I was listening and realized that this was the last time we’d see and hear Lupin and Fred alive… GAH. Then once we had to see them after they’d been lost in battle. MY HEART. I think maybe because I made more of personal connection with those characters along the way. Sirius was Harry’s godfather but I always felt like Lupin was more of a father-figure. And it just pains to me lose Fred because the Weasley twins are some of my absolute favorites.

Besides the obvious deaths though, I really finally connected with so many of the characters. I’m not a Harry/Ginny shipper but I really understood their connection a bit more in this book. I felt love between friends and love amongst families. I think everything just really stepped up a notch in this book and actually, I feel like J.K. could have really dug into those moments a bit more to wrench some more emotion out of it but… that could also not impact me as much from so many re-reads!

I’m actually excited to start this process all over again. I’d definitely like to re-read this series every couple of years or so. Maybe next go around I’ll switch back to print! But I will say that there’s definitely a reason why we’re all so in love with Harry Potter. There’s some real magic in there besides what Harry can do with a wand. This series is utterly captivating and from childhood to adulthood, I will always hold the Harry Potter series in my heart.

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

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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!

Deathly Hallows GR updates

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Severus Snape // Character Obsessions: Lily, suppressing emotions.
I really REALLY love Snape’s connection with Lily — and it’s the most amazing to look back on the whole series and see HOW MUCH that impacted EVERYTHING. I think the book definitely does a better job of bringing out that friendship and exactly how much Snape cared for Lily. There’s an extra scene that the movie cut out where Snape and Lily are teenagers — later on in their Hogwarts years — and maybe because I’m a YA reader? I’m not sure, but I felt like that was a REALLY important moment of their friendship. They weren’t just two eleven or twelve-year-olds who were friends because they lived near each other and they were both capable of magic. Despite their different tastes, different upbringings, different groups, they were still best friends. I think that really reminded me exactly how strong that relationship was so it made everything MUCH more powerful. Snape and Lily weren’t just classmates. They used to be best friends and that makes his loyalty to Lily even more respectable to me (not like having a crush and falling in love isn’t, but the friendship aspect of it feels much more powerful).
Although I will say, I DO love the movie version because Alan Rickman as Snape forever <333

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Kept Me Hooked On: Full series re-read. WOW, I don’t know if I’ve EVER done a full series re-read from start to finish. I’ve meant to but I don’t think I ever made it all the way though. I’d pick up a book here and there or start in the middle, jump around… This was so great!
Left Me Wanting More: Emotion. This book really, really gave me the feels, more so than any other Harry Potter book buuuuut I feel like there could have been JUST a touch more — time for the death scenes to really sink in, time for the romances to really blossom — and it would have totally wrecked my heart in a good way.

Addiction Rating
Re-read the WHOLE THING.

Do it, friends. You won’t regret it. Especially if it’s been a long time since you’ve read the books! I watch the movies all the time but reading them (again) is a totally different experience.

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BOOKS LIKE HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

              shadow and bone          throne of glass

 

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter #6) – J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter #6) – J.K. RowlingTitle: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter #6) by J.K. Rowling
Publishing Info: July 16, 2005 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 6, 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 Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #7), Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8)

     The war against Voldemort is not going well; even Muggle governments are noticing. Ron scans the obituary pages of the Daily Prophet, looking for familiar names. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses.
And yet...
As in all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate — and lose a few eyebrows in the process. The Weasley twins expand their business. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Classes are never straightforward, though Harry receives some extraordinary help from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince.
So it's the home front that takes center stage in the multilayered sixth installment of the story of Harry Potter. Here are Hogwarts, Harry will search for the full and complex story of the boy who became Lord Voldemort — and thereby find what may be his only vulnerability
.

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** There WILL be spoilers for this book (and the final book) so if you haven’t read it yet, BEWARE. You’re gonna get spoiled! ** 

I felt a bit of pressure before starting HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE. It’s been a long time since I’ve re-read all of the books but I always claimed this one as my favorite of the series. After realizing how much my opinion of ORDER OF THE PHOENIX had changed, I was totally unsure of how HBP would go.

Right off the bat, though, I was still in love. I just love how this book really brings everything to the next level — from the plot to the adventure, Quidditch to romances — everything just gets bigger and better in HALF-BLOOD PRINCE. I think one of my favorite things about it is the introduction to Horcruxes. I just really love the layers that it adds to the plot and how it adds another sense of adventure for the characters. I also really, really love that we get to know more about the villain’s past. I LOVE when the reader gets to know more about the villain and his backstory. I think it adds so much to a book and even makes that villain a bit more human — whether that’s by a little or a lot. We all know how amazing J.K. Rowling is at her world building in these books so I guess I should never be surprised but that really is one of my favorite things about the entire series.

I really wasn’t big on many of the romances in this series. For me, Harry Potter was always more about action, adventure, friendship, learning, and well… magic. Movie Ginny kind of ruined book Ginny for me so I was really trying to give book Ginny another shot since I know where this story goes… I felt like she actually wasn’t hugely present in HALF-BLOOD PRINCE still so I didn’t feel like I had the opportunity to be bothered or charmed by her. She did make many appearances at the Slug Club parties and Quidditch matches, etc but for some reason I still felt like she wasn’t a very big character… I’m really interested to see how I feel about her in book seven because so far reading the books, I still don’t feel a lot! I do, of course, love the Ron and Hermione romance. You know I love best friendships turning into something more and this was a long time coming. It’s really interesting to see how this tension has slowly built and comes to its breaking point at the end of HALF-BLOOD PRINCE.

As always, I love the layers upon layers of world building. From getting to know more about Voldemort to the different classes the students take to the different places they visit… I just love getting lost in this world and something about the writing just makes me feel like it’s a real place, just out of my reach. I always love learning more about magic and what the rules are and what the limitations are. The Felix Felicis chapter is still one of my favorites and the cave scene at the end still creeps me out a lot. Then of course we have Dumbledore’s death. I’m not sure why — maybe I know the books/movies too well? — but I never really feel shaken by the deaths in these books (except for probably Fred, oh god, how will I read that) so I really didn’t get too worked up over his death… But I think for Dumbledore, it doesn’t really feel like he’s gone, you know? His portrait is in the headmaster’s office and we know he sort of… appears to Harry in the final book too. It’s Dumbledore. He’s the greatest wizard of all time. He may be dead but only kind of?

The great news is that HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE still stands as my favorite of the series so far! I was never able to place my love for the final book so it’ll be interesting to see where I come out on this re-read!

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

half blood prince reading updates

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Lavender Brown // Character Obsessions: Frivolous things, Won-won, kissing, giggling.
I kind of love Lavender Brown a little bit. She’s SO ridiculous but I really do like what she adds to the story. Without Ron & Lavender’s relationship, I don’t think Hermione’s jealousy would have escalated enough to FINALLY hit Ron over the head about their feelings for each other. Lavender was a little bit necessary for that so thank goodness for her, huh?

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Kept Me Hooked On: Felix Felicis. Can you imagine what a day would be like with Felix Felicis? I can only picture what one perfect day would be like… I loved that chapter when Harry took it! It was so interesting to see how things magically fell into place.
Left Me Wanting More: Ron & Hermione. They are JUST STARTING to realize what they actually mean to each other. GO FORTH, KIDS. Go forth and love!

Addiction Rating
RE-READ IT!

Well, re-read if of course! This is still one of my favorites and I still highly recommend re-reading this whole series.

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BOOKS LIKE HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

              shadow and bone          throne of glass

 

On the Same Page: Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede

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     ON THE SAME PAGE: SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED by Patricia C. Wrede
A very visual fairy tale

For December, On the Same Page read Alyssa’s favorite, Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede. I had a lot of fun reading this one which I actually didn’t expect when I first started (was hesitant about the fairy tale (sometimes they just don’t work for me) and the Elizabethan language) but I actually easily slipped into the book. Patricia C. Wrede’s adaptation of this fairy tale was so much fun. The characters were absolutely fantastic and one of my favorite parts but the other was her imagery. I really felt like I could picture the story as I was reading it and it was very visually striking! So today for our On the Same Page post, I’m sharing a few of my favorite images with you that I would include on my SNOW WHITE, ROSE RED Pinterest board! !


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I just love this gorgeous artwork of Snow White, Rose Red, and the bear! These pictures are absolutely stunning and I LOVE the first picture because that’s almost exactly how I pictured their cottage too!


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I just LOVED the feel of the cottage. I mean, it wasn’t like that was even a focus but I could just really picture it in my head! Smash all three of these pictures together and that’s about what I could see in my mind!


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I also loved picturing the woods and the transition into Fairie! I’m not exactly sure what Fairie would look like but I’m guessing a bit more ethereal, maybe more stunning, maybe more distracting, maybe all of the above! These were some gorgeous forest pictures that made me feel like I was about to cross the border into Faerie!


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So I was just searching images and Pinterest trying to find something that would relate to Edward Kelly and John Dee and… they are ACTUAL people!

I didn’t know that! (Am I bad history student or is this not common knowledge? I thought it was neat!) John Dee was an actual advisor to Queen Elizabeth I in the late 1500s/early 1600s. He was a mathematician, astrologer, and philosopher. He took Edward Kelly under his wing in 1582 and the two began to delve into “supernatural pursuits”. They came up with the Enochian language which was said to have been given to them by the angels.


Hope you had fun checking out Snow White and Rose Red today! Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts about Snow White and Rose Red today too!
Alyssa (Books Take You Places)
Amy (Tripping Over Books)

Re-Read: The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater

Re-Read: The Scorpio Races – Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: October 8, 2011 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 1, 2014
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)

     It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.
Some riders live.
Others die.
    At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.
    Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn't given her much of a choice. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

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Naturally, I felt the draw to re-read THE SCORPIO RACES in October and November. It’s been a while since my first read and to this day, this is still one of the audiobooks I push the most due to its amazing narrators (Steve West as Sean and Fiona Hardingham as Puck) and of course, Maggie Stiefvater’s gorgeous prose and amazing story-telling.

A book about horse races. Not something I’d normally gravitate to much less fall in love with, but Maggie’s magical realism is supreme. There’s so much more to this book than just horse races — mythical water horses, the first girl to enter the annual Scorpio Races, a fight for the proper place in the world, bravery, loyalty, love. THE SCORPIO RACES is just the kind of book that draws you in and really gets you lost in the world that the author creates. Both times I’ve read this book, I could truly feel like I was on Thisby, watching these characters, running with the horses. I could almost taste the salt of the sea and feel the chilly November wind in my hair. Just thinking back on it now brings all of those feelings back and this book is definitely one I just love to tuck myself into.

This was actually my second time not only reading the book but listening to the audio. After reading it for the first time via audiobook, I couldn’t get it out of my head. The voice actors were just amazing and really brought the book to life. There’s no way I could read this book again and not have it be through the audiobook. It was a very familiar experience re-reading in the same format (lately I’ve been reading in print the first time around and then re-reading via audio, most often) and yet it was really a brand-new experience as well. Firstly, somehow in the this crazy reading world of mine, I had forgotten how the book actually ends. Obviously I knew it ended with the Scorpio Races themselves, but… did Sean win? Did Puck win? Did someone die? Did something insane happen? Somehow I didn’t remember the details and I don’t know how that happened but it did. That was kind of a good thing in a way though. The ending was suspenseful and emotional and like a brand new book. The second thing was that during my first read, I really wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into. I had a brief understanding of what the book was about but I really wasn’t sure what the feel was going to be like or where the story would go. It was nice to know exactly where I was putting myself when picking this book up for the second time (well, aside from the ending, apparently) so it felt much more secure and there was a lot more excitement on my part as well.

I really just LOVE everything about this book. I was a bit hesitant during my first read simply because I didn’t know what to expect. THE SCORPIO RACES does have its action but it’s also a very character-driven book. It caught me by surprise when I first read it and I felt like it took a while to get into but knowing that during my re-read and pining for these characters and the magnetism they have towards one another (and to me as a reader), I was already head over heels for the both of them and for this entire story and setting and feeling before I even started.

THE SCORPIO RACES might end up being a re-read every year book for me! I absolutely loved reading it during the months that it took place. I think the more I read this book, the more I’ll fall in love with it. If you’re looking for a great audiobook, this is definitely one I’d recommend to sweep you off your feet!

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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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Puck // Character Obsessions: Family, Dove, riding, the house, bravery.
I adore Puck (real name Kate). She’s brave, fierce, loyal, and so dynamic. After losing her parents, she fights to keep the family together, especially when there are so many obstacles in their way. I LOVE her ferocity and determination. She never stands down (almost to a fault) and she goes after what she wants in life. She’s just such a wonderfully strong character.
Sean // Character Obsessions: Corr, horses, racing, freedom. 
Sean — or should I call him Sean *dreamy sigh* Kendrick — MAY be one of my favorite broody characters of all time. He’s definitely broody but not in a pouty or annoying way like some male characters tend to end up. Oh, no. Sean has a reason to brood and he keeps to himself and he’s quiet but strong. (And let’s not forget the strong jawline, oh yes.) I just love him and fell even more in love with him during this read. (Doesn’t hurt that Steve West’s voice is amazing and I may be in love with him a little too.)

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Kept Me Hooked On: Magical realism. When I first read this book, I honestly didn’t even know how to classify it and then I finally read a few books with more magical realism elements and thought that might fit in. Thisby is a unique place. You almost can’t even tell in what time period the book takes place and the wonderful thing of it all is that the only magical element, really, is the presence of the water horses. It’s perfect for those who like a mix of everything and maybe just a touch of fantasy. (I also love how unique and unclassifiable Maggie’s books are.)
Left Me Wanting More: Thisby. I finished my re-read and immediately wanted to listen to it again. This book has really become so magical for me. I want more Thisby, more Sean, more Puck, more everything.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

I really enjoyed my first read but this is a book I will want to re-read many, many times! I fell in love with it even more this time and I think it’ll hold that same magic each time I come back to it.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE SCORPIO RACES

(Click the cover to see my review!)

        GRAVE MERCY       FAIRYTALES FOR WILDE GIRLS

On the Same Page: Sunshine by Robin McKinley

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ON THE SAME PAGE: SUNSHINE by Robin McKinley
Relationships with a Vampire

Some might say the vampire trend is dying out — maybe some people are sick of the fad, others were never crazy about it in the first place, or it’s just been overdone — but reading SUNSHINE this month with my gals from On the Same Page reminded me what’s so fun about vampires and urban fantasy! One thing that really sticks out to me friendship that Sunshine and Constantine formed. I really loved their interactions and I definitely felt a combination of both suspense and that sense of attraction as well  — something about the combination of this and how their relationship came to be just clicked for me. I can already heard the immediate groans just THINKING about other vampire relationships/romances (*cough*Twilight*cough*) and fair enough! So it got me thinking exactly what DOES work when reading about romancing the undead (at least for me) and I had a lot of fun with that!

SUNSHINE + CONSTANTINE: SUNSHINE

Sunshine and Constantine had a… symbiotic relationship. Yes, they had a bit of an attraction to each other but they really ended up depending on each other to survive and avoid/defeat Constantine’s rival vampire gang and I really felt like Sunshine’s attraction to Con was also in part due to her fascination of him. He was a vampire and the one anomaly that seemed to actually see humans AS humans. He tried to treat Sunshine with respect and on more than one occasion had her remind him of her humanity so he wouldn’t be tempted to… er… destroy her. Relationships are partnerships and I think especially hard to start up a paranormal-with-human relationship because — sorry, human… you’re just not doing much except for being vulnerable and looking pretty. Sunshine and Constantine just made a good team and their abilities really complemented each other. Obviously there was a sexual tension there (Constantine’s quiet strength. Eep.) but I really felt like they worked best when they were more friends and partners in crime than looking to start a romantic or sexual relationship. They worked together and were able to see eye-to-eye on some major things BUT I mean, it’s hard to get over that whole vampire thing unless you are a vampire, am I right? Anyway. I really loved their relationship (friendship… whatever you want to call it) and how they worked together. It was really fun to see everything play out and their interactions (especially with Sunshine’s inner monologue) kind of cracked me up!

Would they last?
Romantically? Hard to say, but I thought they made a great team, romance aside. THAT is something I could see lasting.

BELLA + EDWARD: TWILIGHT

Yes, yes, I hear your groans… But I grew up (well, not grew up. I was in college when I read these) loving Twilight. I even re-read them multiple times! But looking back NOW? I’m not sure if I could. I’ve read far too many books with kickass heroines who not only stand up for themselves but really DO something for their love interests or are on the same level. Bella and Edward are just so not. She really just gets in the way a lot and not only jeopardizes her life AND Edward’s but also his family AND the wolves… and she has nothing really to contribute (I guess until she has her own powers in the final book). Anyway. She’s just a bit too damsel-y at times so after reading so many take-charge gals, I’m gonna say this vampire-human relationship doesn’t quite work!

Would they last?
Pre-vampire Bella? Not likely. Post-vampire Bella? They’re stuck for eternity.

TANA + GAVRIEL: THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN

Another vampire-human relationship. Well… I think the same thing goes with the Twilight concept. Hard for a vampire and a human to stay in a relationship. Let’s just say that I liked Tana but she also put herself in jeopardy a few too many times without any real skills or abilities to help her out of a compromising position. Oh, and of course there’s the whole vampire-may-want-to-snack-on-you thing, no matter how much he actually cares or is attracted! I enjoyed their relationship but I’m not quite sure how well that would go.

Would they last?
Possibly.

LISSA + CHRISTIAN: VAMPIRE ACADEMY

A vampire-vampire relationship! Oh ho! I actually really liked the two of them together. The interesting thing about VA for me was that their relationship wasn’t scandalous because one was or was not a vampire but rather because of the standing of their families. And really normal human main characters were almost non-existent with the majority being dhampirs or Moroi. The Moroi-dhampir relationship is actually more scandalous and I think it’s basically unsaid (or is it said somewhere) that a Moroi-human relationship is nearly unheard of except for producing dhampirs. (Although that would have been a really cool spin-off too…)

Would they last?
Probably!


There are a LOT more vampire books that I’m sure you guys have feedback on, so let me hear it! Dracula. Anne Rice’s books. Even tell me your thoughts on Twilight! There are so many vampire books I haven’t read and I’d love to hear your thoughts and theories on what work and why other romances tend to be irritating or fall apart!


Don’t forget to check out Alyssa’s and Amy’s posts about Sunshine today too!
Alyssa (Books Take You Places)
Amy (Tripping Over Books)

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern #1) – Shannon Hale

The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern #1) – Shannon HaleTitle: The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern #1) by Shannon Hale
Publishing Info: November 3, 2003 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Library
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 26, 2014

    Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her.
Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.

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For On the Same Page’s September post, we read THE GOOSE GIRL which is one of Amy’s favorite books. She had read it and loved it but Alyssa and I have never read it so we chose it as one of Amy’s picks! We all have fairly similar reading tastes with minor variations here and there so even though THE GOOSE GIRL wasn’t really on my radar before this, I was hoping I would love it just as much as Amy did!

Fairy tale adaptations can be a tricky thing for me. I love SO many retellings and some of them are actually some of my favorite books/series — but I think in order for me to really fall in love with a fairy tale, I’m usually hooked into that modern twist as well. Looking back on the book, I think I figured out and actually ended up using that for this month’s post as a sort of discussion! Unfortunately, it was just a combination of very, very little things that I’ve discovered make a big difference for me as a reader and I was SO upset that this combination of elements just didn’t work for me.

I feel like SUCH a black sheep. I think just about everyone I’m friends with on Goodreads who has read this book has given it four or five stars and I really, really tried but I just wasn’t getting along with THE GOOSE GIRL. It was really general tone of the book combined with setting/time period and for some reason that combination really just doesn’t seem to work for me in anything I read. (I had a similar experience with Cruel Beauty which I didn’t realize was sort of the same deal going on until just now. (And Alyssa and Amy also loved it while I did not so maybe I should have seen this coming?) It’s not a bad book. It’s not bad writing. This was really, truly “It’s not you — it’s me.” The whole talking-to-animals thing just generally doesn’t work for me either so that was just one more thing that was thrown into the mix (and a big part of the story)!

I actually did a full discussion on why the book didn’t work for me so I won’t really rehash it here (even though this is my review) so really think of this as more of a collection of thoughts than a review (and see the previous post for details)! I’m so sad I couldn’t get into this but the good thing is that Amy knows and she’s not disowning me or phasing me out of the friend group. (She promised.)

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“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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Ani // Character Obsessions: Speaking with animals, avoiding bad guys, politics.
SO many reviews say how strong of character Ani is but I just really had trouble connecting with her. For reasons unknown, she just felt very YOUNG to me and I just didn’t feel that depth in her character. She may have been strong but I just didn’t feel that depth. I really wanted to like her but I just had troublesssss.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Lesser-known fairy tales. I actually have no idea if this is really “lesser-known” or not but it is for me because I hadn’t really known much about it before this book! It’s interesting.
Left Me Wanting More: Everything. I just was not handling this book well. I finished, but it was really hard because I just couldn’t connect to really anything. It all seemed like something I SHOULD like but in the end, it didn’t work out.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

The ratings for this book are generally high. Like, really high. I’m a black sheep on this one, but I guess check out my opinions and those of others to see where you may fall!

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

     alt=            chantress