Tag Archives: Magic

The Crown’s Fate (The Crown’s Game #2) – Evelyn Skye

The Crown’s Fate (The Crown’s Game #2) – Evelyn SkyeTitle: The Crown's Fate (The Crown's Game #2) by Evelyn Skye
Publishing Info: May 16, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 23, 2017
Related Posts: The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game #1)

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

bookreview1

** Warning: This review DOES contain spoilers for the book! I will be talking about specifics! ** 

THE CROWN’S GAME was one of my favorite reads of 2016 and I absolutely loved how much it reminded me of THE NIGHT CIRCUS in so many ways (which I actually just finished re-reading and it cemented this feeling even more)! Naturally, I was very excited to read THE CROWN’S FATE and it was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017! It’s always so hard when I have an most-anticipate read coming up because I tend to hype the book up for myself so it was an interesting experience reading THE CROWN’S FATE!

There’s no way I can talk about this book without specific spoilers, so first I’ll talk about some non-spoilery things! I loved that this world felt the same! There are some times with sequels that it feels like a totally different book but I was able to fall back into this world right where I left off.
The world where we left it after THE CROWN’S GAME was much more political and while I don’t mind that, I did miss some of that fun and a “challenge” aspect of THE CROWN’S GAME itself (the game, not the book) because it was a fun structure and involved some creativity on the characters’ parts to explore their abilities.
And I still love Pasha. He was very different in this book because of all the political ramifications and situations that he had to deal with so he just wasn’t as much fun but I still loved his spirit.

Okay, so here are the spoilers. While the world felt the same, why why whyyyyy did we have to have Nikolai turn bad?! Nikolai was too pure and sweet and precious and he was my favorite part of the whole darn book, so I was SO SAD to see that his character was essentially removed from the story line since his whole personality changed. I know it was because of REASONS, yes, but still. My favorite part of this story was changed and to boot, that affected the romance too which I wanted to see developed even MORE but that got put on hold because “bad” Nikolai, of course, wasn’t pursuing romance. SIGH. The book was still enjoyable but this changed so many things and took away those little nuances that really had me enjoying the series so much!

I also just wanted more magic…? The magic involved in this book was kind of dark, which is cool, I can appreciate dark magic… But I missed that sparring between Vika and Nikolai so much. I guess I’m just tired of everything ending in war or battles (which is silly considering that this series is also kiiiiind of historical fiction, with magic) so I didn’t really want to see things come to that. I just really loved the structure of the Game itself, which encouraged the enchanters to grow and explore their powers and THE CROWN’S FATE was more of a desperate battle for power or to stop that power, so it lost that magic and that spark that I loved so much. I didn’t feel as enchanted, no pun intended.

I DID appreciate that things didn’t turn out too sunshine-y though. I actually liked what happened to Vika in the end, actually. There has to be something in the events of war because no one comes out wholly unscathed and it’s a great shock to readers when something happens to a main character, even if it’s not a death. I applaud Evelyn Skye for taking it there like so many other authors have avoided. I know it’s hard to have something difficult happen to your characters without a way to “save” them but these things need to be done to keep things realistic or at least not a cheesy happy ending.

When it comes down to it, this was not the ending I was expecting or hoping for the series but I also appreciated how it wrapped up. I think I just wanted more romance and more Nikolai. Always more Nikolai.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Historical fiction meets magic. I never used to enjoy history or historical fiction so I’ve really been appreciating books that combine it with magical elements! It’s kind of a way for me to catch up on some historical events or at least feelings, even if they are fictionalized and combined with other things.
Left Me Wanting More: Romance. I don’t always need romance in a book but I was so delighted by the relationship between Vika and Nikolai in the first book and things were heading in a great direction… until the end. But then they didn’t really continue in this book!! I almost feel like THE CROWN’S GAME should have been a stand alone in many ways, but maybe that’s just because I didn’t totally love the finale here.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you loved THE CROWN’S GAME, it’s definitely still worth the read! It was different than what I was expecting and I would have loved just a bit more but I also did appreciate so many things still!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE CROWN’S GAME

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    GRAVE MERCY

The Magicians (The Magicians #1) – Lev Grossman

The Magicians (The Magicians #1) – Lev GrossmanTitle: The Magicians (The Magicians #1) Publishing Info: August 11, 2009 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 9, 2016

Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn't real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn't bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin's yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they'd imagined.

bookreview1

I had heard so many things about THE MAGICIANS before starting the book and naturally with the TV show having been out for quite some time, it was on my radar, piquing my curiosity. I purchased the audiobook through an Audible sale and when I was in the particular mood for it, it was finally time start it! I wasn’t totally sure how it would go since the TV show seems to be a little different (well, now that I’ve read it) so I had an idea in my head. I was happy and surprised at how the book turned out!

I loved the vibes and overall feeling right off the bat. It’s really Harry Potter meets Narnia for adults, so the comparisons really do kind of hold up there! The Harry Potter feel is much more in the beginning with a hidden magical school and an entire society of magicians that the “regular human” world doesn’t know anything about. I didn’t think the Narnia part would hold up, aside from the fictitious childhood favorite book of the characters, but then it really came in strong in the ending! I really got hooked on the overall vibe of the book and was left wanting to immediately continue the series! There were a few things that I thought we could have done without here and there but overall, it was an engaging read and quite different than your stereotypical or trope-y fantasy/magic school story. I really loved the adult feel to it (although some moments felt somewhat unnecessary) but I always love the feel of a childhood favorite that now has an adult edge. It’s fun to see characters learning about a magical school in an older setting and how differently things are handled as older teens/new adults.

I think my one real “hang-up” about the book is that it was quite piece-y. The book was a lot of moments of the school year (to start with, adult life later on) all put together, but unlike in other books that deal with long periods of time, this book didn’t quite flow like I had hoped. BUT there were plenty of interesting and quite shocking moments that really kept me interested and these moments really did end up bringing the book together. I think the book spanned a longer period of time than I had expected and I was surprised how quickly it jumped all the way through Quentin’s entire school career. I knew this was more of an adult book but I had expected the schooling part to be more drawn out. It was actually really interesting though… sort of a line between a children’s/MG/young adult magical novel and an adult magical novel. The focus is quite different and looking back on it, I think it’s neat to see the different perspective that an overall plot arc might have with the final result on a character becoming an adult instead of just the years of school.

The ending was not what I was expecting but it was quite good! After a few lulls from random bits of time at school, I wasn’t quite sure where the book would even end up… But it really all did come together in the end! This was one of those things that I probably should have seen coming but I TOTALLY DIDN’T and it was awesome. It also definitely left things open for the next book and sure had me itching to pick up book two! I’ll have to find some time to sit down with this one since it’s a longer audio but I definitely want to continue on!

view_from_goodreads1

“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!

untitled

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Adult Fiction. I read some adult fantasy from time to time but it’s really more high fantasy than anything. This was a fun way to branch out my adult reading into a fantasy with a bit more realism.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot connection. My one big wish for this book is that it had flowed a bit more. Everything was sequential but it really felt choppy and I wished things had felt more cohesive.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

Even if you don’t read a lot of adult, I think this could be a really good crossover for YA fans. The magical school really helps bring in fans of Harry Potter and there is that total Narnia connection later on!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE MAGICIANS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS

Series Review: The Elemental Trilogy by Sherry Thomas

I was looking for a new audiobook to start (gosh, so many of my audiobook reviews start like this — it’s always on a whim!) and I was in the mood for a fantasy. I’d been meaning to read THE BURNING SKY for years, literally. I apparently have it marked that I got it at BEA 2013, which frankly was a whirlwind since it was my first year attending BEA and since the trilogy is now complete, I figured why not just binge read it so I can start and finish all at once? I’m so glad that I did because after starting, I didn’t want to stop! I had so much fun with these characters and this setting and it was such a fun series to consume from start to finish. (And oh gosh, these covers look SO PRETTY all next to each other!)

Each book is reviewed individually and then I have some overall feelings on the series, all spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists. Please do note that if you’re reading about books two and three, there may be MINOR spoilers for previous books or for how they start. 

Series Review: The Elemental Trilogy by Sherry ThomasTitle: The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy #1) by Sherry Thomas
Publishing Info: September 17, 2013 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 9, 2016

It all began with a ruined elixir and a bolt of lightning.
Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant sixteen-year-old girl with no training.
Guided by his mother's visions and committed to avenging his family, Prince Titus has sworn to protect Iolanthe even as he prepares her for their battle with the Bane. But he makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the tyrant closing in, Titus must choose between his mission—and her life.
The Burning Sky—the first book in the Elemental Trilogy—is an electrifying and unforgettable novel of intrigue and adventure.

I was so excited to finally start THE BURNING SKY! I feel like I had heard a lot of good things before I started it and immediately, I knew why. The series had an overall Harry Potter-type feel to me and I mean that in the best way possible. Right off the bat, the feelings started creeping in with an orphan main character who is watched by her guardian and a separation of the mage world and non-mage world. I really enjoyed that the book kicked off with the mage character and then moved into the non-magical world instead of vice versa like so many stories tend to do. We already know the magical characters and then they bounce back and forth between worlds and figure out how to best stay protected in either one.

The characters are fantastic. I love, love, loved the banter between Titus and Iolanthe and these two are some of my favorites. They’re quite a pair and they play off of each other so well, Iolanthe being independent, stubborn, and sarcastic and Titus being protective and stoic. Their banter (really throughout the whole series) gives me life and I absolutely adore how even in the most dire of times, they’re still being witty and sarcastic and adorable. There’s young love, forbidden love, hate-to-love, and awkward love and I loved every bit of it.

Elemental magic is one of my favorite kinds and I loved all of the different ways it was used, but even more so than that, I really loved how elemental magic wasn’t the only kind. So often, if elemental magic is present in a book, that’s the only magic there is throughout but I liked how it was a different kind of magic, one that put mages on an entirely different level. Other mages still have the ability to execute magic with and without wands, though wands amplify and assist their spells/curses/hexes. There was so much to do and so many more characters were able to be included with magic not being exclusive to elemental mages. There’s also an aspect of Seers and the prophecies that play an enormous part throughout the whole series.

The element of the Crucible is one of my favorite things ever. It’s a magical book based on sets of fairy tales that mages may enter to experience as if they were really there. Their bodies stay in the actual world and they’re essentially mentally transported into the crucible but are still able to feel and sense everything as if it were real. No harm can come to a mage’s physical body within the crucible unless using it as an actual portal so Titus uses it often to practice particularly challenging bits of magic and defense against possible situations. I love the scenes in the crucible and I just adore its involvement throughout the whole series. It’s such an important part and is used so many ways.

The non-mage world is magical in its own right. Titus and Iolanthe spend a large amount of time at Eton College, a school for boys in Britain (yes, school for boys. Girl masquerading as a boy, I love it), and the camaraderie at this school is fantastic. There are a variety of friendships formed, from inquisitive Kashkari, to eager Wintervale, to adoring Cooper, to the glue that ties them together, Titus and Iolanthe aka Archer Fairfax. The friendships are just beautiful and I just love this group of boys (and girl). They’re so much fun to watch and I adore the way their friendships work and grow.

There is so, so much more I could say about this book but I’ll leave words for the other two books in the series. I’ll wrap this one up by saying that THINGS happen in the end (as they always do) and so many things are set up for the next book that I couldn’t stand it. Luckily, I didn’t have to and as soon as I finished this one, I kid you not I immediately started book two.

Series Review: The Elemental Trilogy by Sherry ThomasTitle: The Perilous Sea (The Elemental Trilogy #2) by Sherry Thomas
Publishing Info: September 16, 20114 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 17, 2016

After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.
Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.

THE PERILOUS SEA was quite the different set-up from THE BURNING SKY. While we still did have those shifting points of view (I wouldn’t really call it alternating — since everything was from the third person, it was much easier to slide back and forth betweet Titus and Iolanthe without such a stiff change but it is a definite shift in perspective), THE PERILOUS SEA opened up on the present time and the book kept flashing back to X point on the time line, working its way forward to meet up with where the book started. Sometimes this can get confusing, but I actually rather enjoyed it!

The shocker about the beginning of THE PERILOUS SEA is that we meet up with Titus and Iolanthe in the middle of the desert, not knowing how they got there and oh yeah, they have no idea who they are or who each other are. So as the book works through the past, the reader highly anticipates the moment when it’s revealed how they ended up that way. I rather enjoyed the suspense but I actually wish there was a little bit more time spent with that reveal. The magical thing about this whole part about Titus and Iolanthe not knowing each other was that they get to fall in love all over again. You think that little magic is gone because they’ve already gotten together? Surprise. They get to know each other again — with no pre-conceived notions, I might add — and it is amazing.

I wasn’t as thrilled about book two as I was about book one for most of the book until Sherry Thomas drops some SERIOUS TWISTS on us!! Really, a LOT happened in the last quarter of the book so it was a bit much to get all at once but oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, it was a doozy of a twist and there are a lot of reveals that happen here as well regarding several characters! Because of the mass-reveal, I kind of wish some things had been spread out so it wasn’t so soap-opera-confession-spree (it got to be a bit much and one more twist might have gotten to the point of silly) BUT I did love what the answers to all of these burning questions were. Like, I had some serious panic moments because of a huge twist and I was not okay.

Another thing that I noted in this book was something that I love so much about Sarah J. Maas’ books — the incredible ability to fit secondary characters in who become so much more. It’s so easy to dismiss supporting characters nowadays as so many books use them simply for support and not for actual plot development. Not Sherry Thomas. There are characters here for a darn specific reason and you will surely find out that reason all in good time. I loved how much foresight was involved in placing everyone where they belonged from the beginning of the series and holding some important moments with these characters until the exact right time. It was so neat to witness and one of my favorite things about this series!

Series Review: The Elemental Trilogy by Sherry ThomasTitle: The Immortal Heights (The Elemental Trilogy #3) by Sherry Thomas
Publishing Info: October 13, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 18, 2016

In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.
However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort…
Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?
With The Immortal Heights, Sherry Thomas brings the acclaimed Elemental Trilogy to its breathtaking conclusion.

I basically worried about every single person’s death in THE IMMORTAL HEIGHTS. No spoilers there — I was just so, so worried about how it would end. I basically just felt like the Battle of Hogwarts was going to happen at any minute and I feared for all of my beloved characters. There are constant prophecies that show impending incidences but the concept of a prophecy is up for interpretation depending on the character. Are they a certain future that you can’t avoid? Are they a future you need to actively try to accomplish? Are they an overall picture that could come true but you still decide your own destiny? It was really neat to see how one prophecy after another popped up and how they were worked into the story. There’s a long-standing one that we hear from the beginning of the first book that I worried about the whole series and we do finally get to see how that one plays out.

There were plenty more twists in this book as well! Like the thoughts I had in THE PERILOUS SEA, some twists worked brilliantly and tied so well with every character and concept and others felt juuust a little cheesy for some reason. I still loved the whole thing and I don’t know the best way to describe it but it was like almost one step too far and was a little overboard. Still, the ideas behind how to tie all of this together were so impressive!

The ending was a whirlwind and literally everything that the series had been building towards, including pretty much every concept from every book and I loved that. I just really enjoy how these books all tie together instead of being plot 1. Plot 2. Plot 3. It was truly an overarching plot that carried readers from one book to the next, even if the settings were quite different and characters came and went.

SERIES THOUGHTS

These books were just so entertaining and so enjoyable. I LOVED the relationship between Titus and Iolanthe, romantically and how Titus kept calling her his closest friend and most trusted confidant. I really enjoyed how they had such a strong friendship and bond as well as a romantic connection. All of the relationships throughout the series were just beautiful and I loved all of the different types.

I do think the world building was probably the element that was just a little lacking throughout the series. The plotting was done really well and I always enjoyed how everything came together but there were times that I wanted just a little more history or a little more structure or a little more setting and I think those things really could have shot this book to a super-love status. I still loved all of the books and just felt so at home reading them but it was something that I noticed.

This was a great series to binge-read and I truly binge read them, not pausing to read anything else in between. I think that probably helped my overall enjoyment of the series since I didn’t have to stop and wait for a new book to be published, losing some of that memory of what happened in a previous book like I always do. I also loved how the settings and happenings were quite distinct from book to book so even as I was binge reading, I was able to keep them separated in my mind.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS: I listened to all three of these books on audio. Philip Battley narrates them and sadly he doesn’t narrate much else that I could find on Audible. I just loved his narration! He has a delightful British accent and a deep, clear voice which was so enjoyable to listen to. His voicing of the characters was quite distinct and it was nice that Iolanthe was described as having a gravelly sort of voice so he didn’t have to put on a super soft, breathy act for her. He picked up on that beautiful, beautiful sarcasm and banter and the tone and volume of each scene was just perfect. I loved his narration and I’m so sad that he’s not a big audiobook narrator because I’d love to listen to more from him!

addiction_factor1

Addiction Rating
Binge them!

I’m so glad I read these back-to-back-to-back. I didn’t want to put them down and stringing them all together really kept me hooked and kept everything fresh in my mind!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE ELEMENTAL TRILOGY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

Blog Tour: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger | Guest Post

Blog Tour: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger | Guest Post

Welcome to the blog tour for
LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE

Today I’m sharing my blog post for LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE by Paul Krueger! It’s the perfect book for bookworms who love a good beverage and it’s also billed for adult fans of Harry Potter — so how can you pass that up?? Drinks + magic = my kind of book.

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger | Guest PostTitle: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger
Publishing Info: June 7, 2016 by Quirk Books
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 7, 2016
Related Posts: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge

A sharp and funny urban fantasy for “new adults” about a secret society of bartenders who fight monsters with alcohol fueled magic.
College grad Bailey Chen has a few demons: no job, no parental support, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend who’s around when she moves back home. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders, her demons get a lot more literal. Like, soul-sucking hell-beast literal. Soon, it’s up to Bailey and the ragtag band of magical mixologists to take on whatever—or whoever—is behind the mysterious rash of gruesome deaths in Chicago, and complete the lost recipes of an ancient tome of cocktail lore.

GUEST POST: WHAT’S ON TAP?

I’d just moved to LA, a city where I had zero job prospects and barely knew anyone, when I first got the idea for Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge. I was going through a lot at the time and knew I’d have to be disciplined in its writing, so of course I lost a whole day creating a fifteen-track playlist for it. It was necessary, okay? 

I’ve gone through some of the list’s highlights here—though they’re all highlights, aren’t they?—so pour yourself a strong drink and follow along. 

“Once Again,” Leftover Cuties
This song and band happened to me right around the time I started writing the very first draft of Last Call. The story’s evolved wildly from draft to draft, but this song has followed it everywhere it’s gone. It’s the perfect combination of sultry, playful, and mournful—like the last whiskey of a good, long night.

“Come On! Feel the Illinoise!” Sufjan Stevens
This song strikes up in my head whenever I land in O’Hare. I love how it starts so upbeat and exciting, then slowly segues into something more relaxed but no less propulsive. The obvious choice from Stevens’ album Illinois would’ve been the radio- and indie movie soundtrack-friendly “Chicago,” but I’m too much of a dirty hipster to go for the low-hanging fruit.

“El Capitan,” Steelwells
Sometimes, you put a song on a playlist so you can look back on it later to remind yourself of what your life was like back when you made it. But sometimes, you put a song on a playlist because it’s just a damn good song. “El Capitan” is a damn good song.

“Alex Chilton,” The Replacements
Paul Westerberg is a raw nerve of a songwriter, and one of the finest to ever come out of the American Midwest. “Alex Chilton” was one of my high school standards, and every time I listen to it my pulse quickens like I’m back in the throes of my first real crush.

“Can’t Face Up,” Sloan
Sloan are the first and last name in Canadian power pop, which is a more competitive category than you’d think. “Can’t Face Up” is, to me, the perfect accompaniment to Bailey and Zane’s relationship: a story of two people who care about each other a lot, and whose respective prides will always stop them from being able to really hear each other.

“Holland, 1945,” Neutral Milk Hotel
Remember earlier when I called myself a dirty hipster? Then this song’s presence on this list probably isn’t that surprising.

“Head Underwater,” Jenny Lewis
Something about the lyric “There’s a little bit of magic//everybody has it” lodged it into my brain from the moment I first heard it. I slipped it into Zane’s dialogue in the book itself, and when I’m absentmindedly humming the song to myself, I’ll still bother to sing that specific lyric, even if I don’t sing any others.

“I Eat Boys Like You For Breakfast,” Ida Maria
Simply put, this is the song I chose for the moment Bailey decides to be 100% over Zane’s bullshit. It’s a little on the nose, but the snarly horns it features throughout more than make a case for it anyway.

“A Dog From Hell (and his good advice),” Damion Suomi & the Minor Prophets
I’ve got more than a few issues with Charles Bukowski as a writer, but I can’t deny his poetry makes for damn fine lyrics when Damion Suomi sets them to music. This is loud and raucous, perfect to throw on when you can get a drunken choir to back you up.

“Stadium Love,” Metric
“Stadium Love” is the ideal capstone to Last Call. It’s big and triumphant as a mascot balloon on parade, and its lyrics are all about animals fighting other animals. It’s just a big, kickass exclamation point of a song, and I knew I wanted it at the end of my sentence.

Paul Krueger is a fantasy writer and cocktail connoisseur whose work has appeared in the Sword & Laser anthology. He lives in Los Angeles.Krueger Paul 2_Credit Canaan Triplett

Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour stops!

A big, big thanks to Paul Krueger for the awesome guest post today and Quirk Books for having me be a part of this blog tour! I hope you guys enjoyed the playlist! I just love it. There are some amazing songs on there!!

The Crown’s Game (The Crown’s Game #1) – Evelyn Skye

The Crown’s Game (The Crown’s Game #1) – Evelyn SkyeTitle: The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game #1) by Evelyn Skye
Publishing Info: May 17, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 23, 2016
Related Posts: The Crown's Fate (The Crown's Game #2)

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.
And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.
Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?
For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.
And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.
As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

bookreview1

Right off the bat, THE CROWN’S GAME had a teensy bit of a NIGHT CIRCUS feel and I was instantly hooked. Two opposing magicians (or in this case, enchanters)? Yes, please! I easily immersed myself in this book and had just a wonderful time reading it from start to finish. Evelyn Skye did a fantastic job with this book and my only regret (kidding, I don’t really regret anything) is that I read it so early because I need more of these books NOW!

THE CROWN’S GAME was a really fun read for me. I was a bit worried at first because I know nothing about Imperial Russia (history was not my favorite growing up… and now I kick myself for it!) but I had nothing to worry about. The book is based on actual historical figures but the author has taken liberties with the facts and setting and turned them into a fantasy-based story. I loved the way that the history (the little that I actually knew) and the culture shaped the story and really brought the book to life! I absolutely loved the feel of the book and I really felt like I could picture each scene so well.

The concept of competing enchanters was exciting, nerve-wracking, and delightful all at the same time. Vika and Nikolai are forced into The Crown’s Game, a competition which one will win the right to serve the tsar as the official enchanter. The challenges between these two enchanters is absolutely delightful. The rules in place state that any “turn” (they alternate performing a large magical feat and have five turns to impress the tsar), cannot harm the common people so Vika and Nikolai come up with ways to enhance the city and oh. Their magic is simply gorgeous. I fell head over heels for the enchantments that Evelyn Skye designed for her characters and they were beautiful to experience. Each one really brought the book to life so much more and I was positively in love with how each turn was handled. Each one was also exponentially more exciting as the two enchanters built off of the previous works all the while under immenent threat of being murdered by the other. Oh yeah, did I mention that this is a competition TO THE DEATH? I spent the entire book falling in love with these two characters (and shipping them, obviously) and still somehow I was like nah, one of them will live. It can’t end in one of them dying, right? (This is also my Gansey denial.) I won’t tell you how it ends but it was something that I really and truly did not see coming and I was impressed and shocked all at the same time.  I just really loved dichotomy of bringing harmony to St. Petersburg as Vika and Nikolai took each of their turns and the constant panic and fear as both of them feared for their lives when that new turn arrived.

I absolutely loved each character in this book as well. Of course I loved the two main characters, Vika and Nikolai, and how they came together in this story. They really balance each other out and fit together so well. Vika can easily manipulate things in nature — water, land, food — and Nikolai is best with textiles and materials — wood, fabric, metal, etc. They were brought together as the only two living enchanters in Russia but I loved that their magic and ability wasn’t identical. I also loved how their relationship was slow to develop (being that they’re pitted against each other and all) and that things and feelings just slowly start falling into place. It really just felt so natural and wonderful.

The other characters are great as well. Pasha (the prince) plays a huge role in this book in so many ways and I absolutely loved him. He brings such positivity and joy to the book and at the same time provides a very large point of conflict with Nikolai as his best friend (who he doesn’t know possesses magical abilities) and his instant attraction to Vika. His role in the book is so amazingly crafted and interwoven with every other character’s story line and I was so impressed!

I feel like I could go on and on but I will wrap it up by saying do not miss out on this book. I finished it and then immediately wanted to read more! THE CROWN’S GAME was a wonderful book and I can’t wait for more from Evelyn Skye!
view_from_goodreads1

“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!

crown's game gr updates

 

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Historical Fiction + Fantasy. I loved the way Imperial Russia shaped this book. I wasn’t a big history person growing up so I love getting that feel and a teensy bit of history (or something based on a real time/place) in a work of fiction.
Left Me Wanting More: Story! I wouldn’t say that the ending is a cliffhanger because we do know how the Crown’s Game ends… But there’s a little something that sets up the next book that just has me DYING for more!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

I loved this book and had a wonderful time reading it from start to finish. This is one I want for my shelves when it comes out!!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE CROWN’S GAME

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE NIGHT CIRCUS    THRONE OF GLASS

Mini-Review: Black Heart (Curse Workers #3) – Holly Black

Mini-Review: Black Heart (Curse Workers #3) – Holly BlackTitle: Black Heart (Curse Workers #3) by Holly Black
Publishing Info: April 3, 2012 by Source: Audible
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 6, 2015
Related Posts: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, White Cat (Curse Workers #1), Red Glove (Curse Workers #2)

Cassel Sharpe has the most deadly ability of all. With one touch, he can transform any object - including a person - into something else entirely. And that makes him a wanted man. The Feds are willing to forgive all his past crimes if he'll only leave his con artist family behind and go straight. But why does going straight feel so crooked?
For one thing, it means being on the opposite side of the law from Lila, the girl he loves. She's the daughter of a mob boss and getting ready to join the family business herself. Though Cassel is pretty sure she can never love him back, he can't stop obsessing over her. Which would be bad enough, even if her father wasn't keeping Cassel's mother prisoner in a posh apartment and threatening not to let her leave until she returns the priceless diamond she scammed off him years ago. Too bad she can't remember where she put it.
The Feds say they need Cassel to get rid of a powerful man who is spinning dangerously out of control. But if they want Cassel to use his unique talent to hurt people, what separates the good guys from the bad ones? Or is everyone just out to con him?
Time is running out, and all Cassel's magic and cleverness might not be enough to save him. With no easy answers and no one he can trust, love might be the most dangerous gamble of all.

bookreview1

Just a mini-review today for BLACK HEART! I finished Holly Black’s Curse Worker series and really enjoyed it all throughout, but I sat down to write my review for BLACK HEART and found myself at a loss for words! Really, it’s just a bit of a recap of the whole series, a lot of which I said in my RED GLOVE review:

  • I really love the overall tone of these books! I don’t know if I’d call Cassel and anti-hero but I DO love how he’s not all “good guy”. There are definitely many shades of gray when it comes to doing the morally right thing and what exactly it means to be “right” (Legal? Illegal? Right for his family? Right for his friends? Right for himself?) and I loved that the answer wasn’t always clear!
  • Magic + mobsters = so much fun. I’m don’t think I’ve read many books with a mobster story line (most crime-family themes have been in passing in the books I’ve read) but this one was fun! I really liked how that played into the entire plot and involved Cassel’s family and therefore ended up pulling him into it.
  • I really enjoyed the magical elements of this book too! It was interesting that the Curse Workers really got pushed into crime families and it was more organized crime than vigilante justice or individual villains. And that it was hard to identify someone as a Curse Worker unless you witnessed them using their powers or that you were wearing an amulet that broke after they tried to curse you! It was a great take on the concept that really made it more urban fantasy rather than paranormal.

Overall, the series had some really interesting twists that I enjoyed BUT I also thought there was room for a few more twists. I really enjoyed everything from start to finish, though! I constantly loved the feel of the books and couldn’t praise that enough throughout my reads and reviews. The audio was a ton of fun with Jesse Eisenberg narrating and it’s one I’d recommend for a fun, snarky, and a little bit of a dark read!

view_from_goodreads1

“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!

black heart gr updates

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE BLACK HEART

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN     POSSESS

Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) – Holly Black

Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) – Holly BlackTitle: Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) by Holly Black
Publishing Info: April 5, 2011 by Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 21, 2015
Related Posts: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, White Cat (Curse Workers #1), Black Heart (Curse Workers #3)

After rescuing his brothers from Zacharov’s retribution, Cassel is trying to reestablish some kind of normalcy in his life. That was never going to be easy for someone from a worker family that’s tied to one of the big crime families—and whose mother’s cons get more reckless by the day. But Cassel is coming to terms with what it means to be a worker, and he’s figuring out how to have friends.
Except normal doesn’t last very long. Soon Cassel is being courted by both sides of the law and is forced to confront his past—a past he remembers only in scattered fragments, and one that could destroy his family and his future. Cassel will have to decide whose side he wants to be on, because neutrality is not an option. And then he will have to pull off his biggest con ever to survive….

bookreview1

I’ve always been fairly picky about my urban fantasy but I picked up WHITE CAT last year when I was looking for an audiobook to borrow from my library and it sealed the deal when I found out that Jesse Eisenberg narrates! I loved the book but definitely wanted to continue on audio so it took me a while to finally read RED GLOVE because my library never got it in! I gave in and used an Audible credit because I was in the perfect mood to fall back into this world and I’m so glad I picked it back up!

The thing I love the most about these books is really just the feel. Like I said, I’m not a huge urban fantasy fan but I really love how the magic system and curse working just fits so perfectly into the normal world, like that’s the way life really is. (Also loved the line in this book about alternate universes and how somewhere there’s a universe where this magic doesn’t exist. Hee! Ours!!!) The tone of the book is just excellent. I love Cassel’s sarcasm, the sneakiness of his family, and the sliminess of the crime families. Mob + magic is a great combination and I love the way they blend here!

I really enjoy the sort of gray area that is pervasive throughout the book. There is obvious bad but Cassel is always somewhere sort of in the middle. His family isn’t full of bad people but they don’t always do good things and when you’re a worker, it’s hard not to get mixed up in the underbelly of society with crimelords bidding on your talents. I really liked witnessing Cassel’s actions and decisions as he keeps all of this in mind. He errs on the side of good but I just love that little gray area that makes it okay to root for a con artist, bookie, and liar.

Like the first book, I was never totally blown away but my interest was always held! There’s just something about this series that has me hooked. It doesn’t hold the most twists out there but there are definitely some good surprises and it was great to be kept guessing! view_from_goodreads1

“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!

red glove gr updates

character_breakdown1

Cassel Sharpe // Character Obsessions: Bets, magic, family, Lila.
I really like Cassel a lot! That male POV… I just love sarcastic and witty male leads and that is Cassel in a nutshell! As I said before, I also really love how he falls in this gray area. He’s been growing up with crime all around him and despite it all, he really is leaning towards the good… but not TOO good because we still get to see him participate in a lot of hijinks!

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Urban Fantasy. I don’t really read a lot of urban fantasy. I’m not sure why but it just doesn’t always appeal to me so I usually pick those reads very carefully! (Maybe all the vampire books wore me out? I’m not sure.) I’m so glad I picked up this series because I just LOVE the feel of the books and the characters are so fantastic.
Left Me Wanting More: OMG moments. The plot is great BUT if there was anything I would wish for, it would be a couple more twists or surprises. I don’t think it really needed it but that definitely would have hooked me that much more!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

These books are just so much fun. If you haven’t read them yet, definitely get them on your TBR!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE RED GLOVE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN     POSSESS

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.
  

bookreview1

** 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]

view_from_goodreads1

“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

character_breakdown1

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

addiction_factor1

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.

book_recommendations1

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
.

bookreview1

** 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]

view_from_goodreads1

“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

character_breakdown1

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?

addiction_factor1

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.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

              shadow and bone          throne of glass

 

Mini-Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3) – J.K. Rowling

Mini-Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3) – J.K. RowlingTitle: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3) by J.K. Rowling
Publishing Info: September 8, 1999 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: February 8, 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 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 Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #7), Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8)

    Harry Potter is lucky to reach the age of thirteen, since he has already survived the murderous attacks of the feared Dark Lord on more than one occasion. But his hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch are dashed when a maniacal mass-murderer escapes from Azkaban, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard the prison. It's assumed that Hogwarts is the safest place for Harry to be. But is it a coincidence that he can feel eyes watching him in the dark, and should he be taking Professor Trelawney's ghoulish predictions seriously?

bookreview1

HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN is really the first in the series where I feel like the books and the movies really start to differ. Obviously the movie still stays pretty true to the book, but I was surprised quite often how many little things were changed for the film adaptation, especially the big reveal at the end. As a re-read now and having watched the movies so many times, it’s definitely a bit anti-climactic BUT I’ve seen the movies so many times that obviously that version is engrained in my mind. I haven’t done a re-read of Harry Potter since… well, probably since right after high school so that’s about ten years that have gone by without actually reading the books. I forgot how many details just aren’t able to fit into the movies for time reasons alone but re-reading made me so incredibly happy because I got to geek out over this whole magical universe all over again and refresh my memory on the things that the movies just can’t fit.

This book actually used to be my least favorite of the series, which also makes it entirely plausible that that’s the reason why I don’t seem to remember as much of it as I thought I had. Looking back, I have no idea why it was my least favorite because it has so many elements I love! Time travel. Professor Lupin. Big reveals. Mistaken identities. I can remember what it was that just didn’t click with me the first couple times I read it but I can definitely say that it’s back up there for me, although it still won’t be my favorite.

I always feel like I have so much and yet so little to say with my re-reads of Harry Potter because it doesn’t really need a formal review since most people have already read the books and those who haven’t, well, I don’t want to spoil it because I still have hope you will read them! So I’ll just go over a few differences I remember from the book and the movie — Actually, if you haven’t read the books or seen the movies yet, LOOK AWAY because some of these might be mild spoilers.

  • The importance of Crookshanks. Yes, Hermione’s bandy-legged ginger cat with a bottlebrush tail and smooshed face (seriously — described that way so many times that I can repeat it!) did appear in the movies BUT the movies glossed over the fact that he’s part kneazle AND that Crookshanks was sort of working with Sirius when he was in dog form and that’s part of the reason the kids knew they could trust him. Not to mention the fact that Crookshanks has many more humanlike characteristics in the book, intelligence-wise, and that he was the one who immobilized the Whomping Willow so Harry and Hermione could get in.
  • The prominence of the animals in the series. Crookshanks was so important to this book but… He also never goes away though out the series. Hedwig is really the only pet that gets featured in the movies because she’s so important to Harry, but Hermione always has her cat and I totally forgot about Pigwidgeon’s appearance once Ron loses “Scabbers”.
  • All of the details in the Shrieking Shack. When it comes down to it, the movie just wasn’t able to include all of the details. Harry, Sirius, and Lupin have a long, long, long talk about Peter Pettigrew. I can totally understand why the movie kept it short and sweet — it felt like this talk was really long as I was listening to the audio and knowing what happens, I was anxiously awaiting for the scene to continue on BUT there’s a lot of important info that gets shared here, especially regarding Harry’s parents and their relationship with Sirius, Lupin, and Pettigrew.
  • The Marauder’s Map. I. LOVE. THE MARAUDER’S MAP. I don’t know why but I just do. The map in the book is MUCH more insulting to Professor Snape (a funny but tense moment!) and I feel like we get much more information regarding the creators of the map and the reasons why they created it. In fact… Do we even get an explanation in the movies? Is there a brief glossing over from Lupin? I honestly can’t remember.
  • The Firebolt. In the movie version, Harry doesn’t get to use his Firebolt until the very end of the book, after the entire plot, basically. In the book, his broom is confiscated to be tested for jinxes and hexes but he does get it back to use in Quidditch matches! I forgot ALL about that! He totally uses the Firebolt’s speed to flatten the other teams.

Those are the highlights that I can remember! I’m really glad I enjoyed this one so much this time around and honestly, I can’t even pinpoint why it used to be my least favorite.

So what was your favorite thing about Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban? Are you a time travel fan? Were you rooting for Sirius Black?