Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











Silver VengeanceFrom Goodreads: Were-witches. These hybrid creatures stalk the earth with the raw, primal power of the werewolf and the cunning, dark magic of the witch. They’re deadly hunters with the capability for both bloodthirsty vengeance and an unwavering loyalty to their own.

Gabrielle Gayle is an ambitious chef in one of New Haven’s trendiest restaurants. Her concerns consist of getting ahead in her career, dodging barbed insults from her sharp-tongued mother, and dealing with the nagging certainty that she has always had powers. However, when the Clan of were-witches seeks revenge for her mother murdering one of their own, she and her sister are brutally attacked. With nowhere else to go, she turns to Nick, a Hunter of witches, werewolves, demons, and any combination thereof.

However, Gabrielle learns that she has much more in common with the Clan than she ever imagined. And, in order to save herself and her family from being destroyed, she must embrace her powers and become the very creature she fears the most.

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If you’re looking for something completely different in the paranormal world, or urban fantasy, for that matter, then look no further than Kasey Shoemaker’s enticing novel, Silver Vengeance. Filled with mystery and mayhem, readers are introduced to Gabrielle Gayle, a kick-butt heroine who must seek the truth about her own heritage in order to survive a deadly game of cat and mouse.

The characterization within this novel is a wonderful testament to Shoemaker’s writing capabilities. All the characters, both good and evil, are exceptionally real, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them as the novel unfolded. Nick reminds me very much of Dean Winchester from Supernatural, out to take down those who shouldn’t exist, and as Gabrielle and her family team up with him to fight against the were-witches, a coven/pack dead set on ripping apart the Gayle family, sparks and blood fly.

I really enjoyed the combination of werewolves with witches, an ingenious idea that has me wondering what other hybrid concoctions would produce in the paranormal world… being a lover of all things strange, I find it absolutely fascinating, and I loved how Shoemaker brought the two together, creating a unique backdrop to this awesome story. All around, this novel is a ton of fun, and if you’re a fan of Supernatural or Grimm, then I highly suggest you check it out. Four stars.

4 starsI received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon | Kindle (.99 cents) | Nook



Heir of FireFrom Goodreads: Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

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This novel, like the others in the series, in indeed very, very good, but it’s also extremely long. Even with series that I absolutely adore, there sometimes comes a time when reading that I tend to zone out a bit, and I’m sorry to say that that did happen with Maas’ third novel, Heir of Fire. Whereas the other novels tend to be a bit more action packed and, let’s face it, shorter, this novel is nearly 600 pages and there is a bit more down time than I personally can handle in a 600 pager. Don’t get me wrong, the novel is fantastic, but there were a few points in the middle where I personally felt like it was just dragging along. Thankfully, Maas would come in a spruce it up a bit with a fight scene or some other tidbit that would throw me right back into the pages with a vengeance, so the downtime was few and far between, but enough that it sticks out in my mind.

Heir of Fire follows four different stories at the same time, all including a new cast of characters to love, which was tons of fun. We are given an indepth look at events in both Adarlan and Wendlyn, following Chaol and newcomer Aiedan as they placate the King of Adarlan, Dorian and newcomer Sorcha as they work together to protect Dorian’s secret, Celaena and newcomer Rowan as he teaches Celaena how to harness her powers, and newcomer Mannon Blackbeak, an iron witch intent on fulfilling her duties to the King of Adarlan before retaking her homeland. I have to say, that out of all of them, Manon’s story was the most interesting to me. It is with Manon that we are introduced to the Wyvern, beasts I liken to a dragonish creature, similar to the black fell beast—sometimes known as a Hell-Hawk or Nazgûl-bird—we see the Witch-King of Angmar and his comrades ride in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. As the witch covens fight to tame the Wyverns, Manon seeks to win the games with her coven of 13 in order to lead the vast witch army—a group of cutthroat women who despise the other covens. Though I will admit that some of Manon’s story did feel like it could be cut out—I certainly didn’t need all the background information that was provided—readers will walk away knowing Manon and the Iron Witches quite well, and I am extremely interested to see what happens when Manon meets Celaena as some foreshadowing is at play that has me wondering just where Manon’s loyalties will lie.

Celaena’s story paints her in a much weaker light throughout this novel. In fact, all the characters are painted as weak as this novel unfolds. Chaol is not the same, unable to speak his mind to his best friend Dorian, and even Dorian seeks solace in the most surprising of places. I guess that at some point the strong characters must be portrayed as weak in order for growth to happen, as well as for the plot to thicken, but I found myself losing patience with them as the story unfolded as they continually backed down throughout the novel.

The end, however, was a wake-up slap to the face, and suddenly everyone we love, and I do mean everyone, is in danger, leaving me on pins and needles for the next installment, though I see that right now this series is slated for six novels, and we’ll only be at number four with the next—I do hope Maas picks up the pace in the next segment. Four stars.

4 stars

I received this novel from publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

This title releases today.

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Witch Hunter OliviaFrom Goodreads: In the town of Piedmont Pointe, where paranormal is the norm, a girl can easily get herself in over her head with a single wrong move. Unfortunately for Olivia Adams, she’s about to make several.

Starting over is never easy, but it seemed like the only option to Olivia. The decision to turn her back on the Guild of Witch Hunters, the very group she devoted her entire life to, was one of the hardest things she ever did. It meant leaving her family, her friends, and her old identity behind forever. Coming to terms with what caused her to abandon her duties in the first place was even harder.

While trying to lay low and stay off the Guild’s radar, Olivia finds herself thrust back into her old ways after unknowingly interrupting an assassination hit on a powerful witch. What follows is the last thing she ever thought she’d agree to do—protect the very thing she was groomed to hunt.

To complicate things even further, Olivia begins to develop feelings for a tattoo artist who also happens to be half warlock, and no matter how hard she tries to fight it, she can’t resist her inescapable draw to him. Olivia’s forbidden relationship isn’t her only issue though, because once the mystery behind the assassination attempt starts to unravel, she’s forced to choose sides when the loyalties still tied to her past life are tested again.

So much for the idea of a fresh start.

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I was lucky enough to have a chance to beta this novel as it was being written—and let me just tell you, it’s a bangin’ story! Kunz is a wonderful storyteller, and the world of Piedmont Pointe, complete with witches, witch hunters, and other magical beings, is one you just can’t miss. If you like the world of the paranormal even just a bit, then this is definitely a novel you need to pick up.

Olivia Adams is a very real character—in fact, they all are, from their mannerisms to their emotions, I truly felt like I knew these characters on a deeper level. Even though they have magical capabilities, they are true to life and real; though the story revolves around magic, should it be removed, the story would still thrive on as it deals with so much more: betrayal, heartache, romance, mystery, intrigue, doing what’s right, and the list goes on. Kunz has weaved in some amazing themes, and as the story unfolds, one cannot help but fall in love with all things Olivia as she struggles to make sense of the world she left behind—a world that just won’t let go of her—as she attempts to fit into this new one.

Full of action, this novel will keep you on your toes as you read, and I already can’t wait for the next installment in this amazing series. Five stars.

5 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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HexedFrom Goodreads: If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blackwood has it made. Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won’t stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school. Who wouldn’t want to be her? Then a guy dies right before her eyes. And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen. But it’s when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie’s world that she learns her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties. If she doesn’t get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die. And that’s seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she’s a witch too. Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie’s about to uncover the many dark truths about her life—and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid.

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This was an interesting story filled with magic, murder, and mayhem; just what I like in my paranormal novels. However, the main character rubbed me the wrong way on many an occasion, which is unfortunate for me, as the novel is extremely well written. In my personal opinion, Indie is a less than likable, and my inability to connect with her made the novel a little less enjoyable for me. She begins as the token cheerleader who thinks she’s amazing and treats those less than “cool” like dirt, including her neighbor Paige, who she comes to rely on in many ways. Rarely is Indie sorry for the way she treats Paige, instead questioning why Paige isn’t elated that Indie is even talking to her, and I have a really hard time dealing with unlikable characters like this. While it is true that Indie slowly changes over the course of the novel, my initial impression stayed with me and we just never clicked. We are just too opposite.

Now, Bishop was an intense, fun character that I did connect with, and I enjoyed him immensely. He is swoon worthy and so aggravating, but my type of guy 100%. I felt the relationship between Indie and Bishop was a little too quickly developed, almost forced, if you will, but he does tend to being out the best in her as the story progresses, and I really liked that about not only the story itself, but also Bishop as well.

One aspect I have noticed in many YA novels lately is that many tend to have some big reveal or climax during a school dance. Hexed is no different in this aspect, but thankfully Krys adds some key elements that make her rendition stand apart from all the rest. I won’t say more because I don’t want to give it away, but this was definitely a plus that made it different from all the rest. In fact, the school dance was my favorite aspect of the novel as a whole. Magic plus papier-mâché just doesn’t bode well, and I just loved what Krys does in this scene.

Reader beware, this novel does end on a cliffhanger of sorts, and while I usually dislike them, this works. As there are a lot of unresolved conflicts in this first installment, the cliffhanger reminds readers that more is to come. Would I have like more resolution? Of course, doesn’t everyone? But the way this novel ends is sort of perfect, in my mind. Three stars.

I received this novel from the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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I’m excited to help reveal T.A. Kunz’s upcoming novel, Witch Hunter Olivia!  Check out that cover–it’s so gorgeous!

Witch Hunter Olivia

And check out the full wraparound cover:

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Synopsis:

In the town of Piedmont Pointe, where paranormal is the norm, a girl can easily get herself in over her head with a single wrong move. Unfortunately for Olivia Adams, she’s about to make several.

Starting over is never easy, but it seemed like the only option to Olivia. The decision to turn her back on the Guild of Witch Hunters, the very group she devoted her entire life to, was one of the hardest things she ever did. It meant leaving her family, her friends, and her old identity behind forever. Coming to terms with what caused her to abandon her duties in the first place was even harder.

While trying to lay low and stay off the Guild’s radar, Olivia finds herself thrust back into her old ways after unknowingly interrupting an assassination hit on a powerful witch. What follows is the last thing she ever thought she’d agree to do—protect the very thing she was groomed to hunt.

To complicate things even further, Olivia begins to develop feelings for a tattoo artist who also happens to be half warlock, and no matter how hard she tries to fight it, she can’t resist her inescapable draw to him. Olivia’s forbidden relationship isn’t her only issue though, because once the mystery behind the assassination attempt starts to unravel, she’s forced to choose sides when the loyalties still tied to her past life are tested again.

So much for the idea of a fresh start.

 

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Preorder on iBooks

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Author Bio:

Author T.A. Kunz has always had a fondness for reading thrilling mysteries and action-packed urban fantasies. So, it was no surprise when T.A. decided to write stories that they’d fall into one of those two genres. T.A. lives in Central Florida with two fur babies and a mechanical engineer who also happens to be quite the culinary badass, which there are no complaints about. Being a self-diagnosed caffeine addict, many joke that T.A.’s addiction to Starbucks coffee will likely be their downfall later in life.

Links:

Website – www.takunz.com

Email – authort.a.kunz@gmail.com

Twitter – @AuthorTAKunz



12322282From Goodreads: Jen is looking forward to spending an entire summer studying abroad on a cruise ship and she knows the experience will change her life. Then she sees something she wasn’t supposed to see, something she can’t explain. Jen finds herself thrust into a world she never knew existed and her life will change more than she imagined. That is, if she can survive the dangers lurking on the ship.

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I have always wanted to experience a semester of schooling aboard a ship.  But, because I have a fear of the ship sinking, I’ve never followed through—I’ve never even been on a cruise, to be honest.  Instead, I opted for educational semesters in Europe, Asia, and South America, so I can’t complain in the least, but… the semester aboard a ship—that’s the one that got away.

Kirke presents a magical world aboard this ship, one of vampires, merfolk, water and fire elementals, witches, and werewolves… and I can only imagine how much fun it would be to be on a ship with all these colorful characters.  However, Jen herself put a damper on my mood when it came to all the festivities and issues: Jen always seemed to need saving.  She didn’t listen to others and, on many an occasion, got others hurt because she wouldn’t listen and then wouldn’t be able to take care of herself. I’m more of a strong female lead enthusiast than a damsel in distress one, and so I held some animosity towards Jen and her inability to do anything throughout much of the text.  The other characters were great, and I enjoyed them very much, but Jen just wasn’t my favorite, which is a shame as she was the main character.  However, by the end she does learn to take care of herself a little bit—she’s growing, as it were—and I think she’ll be a much stronger character in the next installment.  Three stars.

3 stars

I purchased this novel from Amazon.



136251From Goodreads: Harry Potter is preparing to leave the Dursleys and Privet Drive for the last time. But the future that awaits him is full of danger, not only for him, but for anyone close to him — and Harry has already lost so much. Only by destroying Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes can Harry free himself and overcome the Dark Lord’s forces of evil.

In this dramatic conclusion to the Harry Potter series, Harry must leave his most loyal friends behind, and in a final perilous journey find the strength and the will to face his terrifying destiny: a deadly confrontation that is his alone to fight.

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The end. Finito. Terminé.  It is done, and I’m having a hard time accepting it.  The wonderful wizarding world of Harry Potter has so enraptured me that I have been able to think of little else while reading this amazing series.  While many of the novels themselves are on the long side, I still feel as if more could be said.  Spanning from around 300 pages at its shortest to over 850 pages at its longest, the series itself encompasses over 4000 pages that grip readers and bring them into this world through amazing themes, events, characters, and connections to the real world.  Likewise, it presents a fantasy world that allows our imaginations to run rampant, especially in regards to the question of “what if.”  What if it really did exist…

This seventh and final novel in the Harry Potter series is just as amazing and gripping as the first (and all those that come in-between).  Of course, it follows in its predecessors footsteps with its dark undertones as Harry, Hermoine, and Ron attempt to find the final horcruxs before their battle with Voldemort.  The wizarding world is in chaos, and people, both magical and muggle, are dying left and right…

From the very beginning, the novel strums our emotional cords as the magic surrounding Privet Drive is about to expire, sending the awful and repulsive Dursley family away once and for all as their safety is now in question.  Although these muggles are ones we love to hate, Rowling finally adds a piece of sentimentality in the form of Dudley, and readers just know that this is going to be an emotional read from beginning to end.  How can it not, as it dives deeper into the recess of good versus evil.

While absolutely amazing, the death toll in this novel will leave readers in a somber mood for days, because even though they are fictional characters, they have become a part of our lives just the same.  And while I wish Rowling didn’t do it—I’d love for this to have been all roses and butterflies—it just wouldn’t carry any validity or as much steam has Rowling not made these difficult decisions to kill off some of our most beloved characters.

And Snape?  While I still find his actions appalling, in this novel I can’t help but feel a twinge of sadness for him, and rejoice in his ultimate decisions because we finally know the absolute truth behind the man we’ve hated for so long.  Just writing this review of such a riveting novel brings all the emotions to the forefront again, and I cannot say it enough: this series, this book, this world, is amazing.  Five stars.

5 stars

I own all these books and movies.



1From Goodreads: The war against Voldemort is not going well; even the 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 with all wars, life goes on. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate—and lose a few eyebrows in the process. 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 at 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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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is another amazing installment in the Harry Potter Series.  On the plus side, the wizarding world is once again standing behind Harry and Dumbledore, aware that they were telling the truth about the return of Voldemort.  On the negative side, however, many have met a premature death in the fight against pure evil.  These are dark times, and though it seems impossible, the events that unfold in this novel are even more ominous than those that came before it.

This is the first time readers are given a glimpse of the life that Tom Riddle led before becoming Lord Voldemort, beginning with his ill-conceived birth, and taking us through his time and actions in an orphanage, and his acceptance and studies at Hogwarts.  Finally, we are able to begin to put together the pieces that made Voldemort who he is today—a killer intent on ruling forever and riding the world of mudbloods—anyone who isn’t a pureblood witch or wizard.  I really enjoyed this backwards glance into the life of our foe, Voldemort, as the puzzle-pieces began to come together and it is impossible not to be curious about the life and times of someone so inherently evil.  Readers learn much about Voldemort’s heritage, and perhaps the most important detail comes to light in this novel in terms of his life: the horcruxes.  As the truth becomes clear concerning how Voldermort survived his backfiring curse the night he attempted to kill Harry, and with this knowledge, the race against time begins.

This is an extremely engaging novel and, though sinister in tone and ominous in nature, it is an amazing tale that will leave you glued to the pages; it will haunt you long after it’s over, especially as the unthinkable happens in this novel, an event that had me so aghast that the tissues by my side were not enough to do it justice.  It is the beginning of the end, and while I do not want this amazing world that Rowling has created to end, I am more than ready to see justice served.  Five stars.

5 starsI own all these novels and movies.



2From Goodreads: Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected…

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If there was only one thing I was allowed to say about this novel, it would be this: “I hate Umbridge!!!”

Unlike the first four novels in this series, I was less familiar with the many events that take place in this fifth installment as it’s the longest book and also the worst movie, in my opinion. The movie itself was excessively choppy and off kilter, as far as I’m concerned, so I didn’t watch it as much as the first four movies.  But, where the movie is stifling and inconsistent, the novel contains in-depth detail and really brings home the many atrocities and difficulties that Harry and his true friends face during their fifth year at Hogwarts, and re-reading this novel has given me a new appreciation for the storyline that the movie so vastly failed to portray.

As much as I hated everything that was happening to Hogwarts and Harry, especially as the entire wizarding world, it seems, stands against Harry, this novel has some great themes, especially for young adults struggling through their own identity crisis as they battle their way through high school.  And it really shows just how much people would rather look the other way than see the truth, or deal with anything unpleasant, which can again be equated to the real world as the entire bullying epidemic has come to the forefront.

What I found to be the most interesting aspect of this novel, however, was the way the Ministry of Magic attempted to control Hogwarts and its teachers, subjecting them to multiple unfair observations and write-ups, firing at will. This is not so different from the reforms happening in the real world, with states and the government attempting to flay teachers based on poor student performance without taking anything else into consideration. And though I really doubt tgat Rowling was thinking about education reform when she wrote this novel, I found that it still had a very heavy social commentary on education and the powers that be attempting to control it with little to no knowledge of teaching or how the system really works.  With the Ministry’s long reaching hands now up to its elbows in the running of Hogwarts, the system begins to crumble. A very interesting concept indeed.  Five stars.

5 starsI own all these novels and movies.



6From Goodreads: The summer holidays are dragging on and Harry Potter can’t wait for the start of the school year. It is his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and there are spells to be learnt, potions to be brewed and Divination lessons (sigh) to be attended. Harry is expecting these: however, other quite unexpected events are already on the march…

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This fourth installment in the awesome Harry Potter Series marks the start of a much darker tone, yet it is perhaps my favorite of the series to day.  It also is the last of the series that I am quite familiar with in movie form–so I am quite looking forward to reading books five, six, and seven since I am less familiar with all that happens in them.

This novel is so well written—the entire world created by Rowling is by far one of the best I’ve ever immersed myself in, and this is the first novel in the series to actually make me cry. While the others are extremely well written, I feel as if the first two novels are much lighter a fluffy, though they hold their own evils; they are in no way like this fourth novel, following the deaths of many, one of which is a very awesome character we’ve learned to love. Even the third novel, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, with it’s escaped prisoner on the prowl and dementors attempting to suck the life out of wizards and witches alike, didn’t feel nearly as dark or foreboding as this.

Opening with a murder, death eaters terrorizing muggles, and then the advent of deadly games, this novel is the first to put a darker spin on these lovable MG/YA novels. And I love it. While I do love the first three novels, this one takes a fun world and makes it darker, adding real threats and testing the reader’s emotions on a whole new level. It’s superb. Five stars.

5 starsI own all these novels and movies.



5From Goodreads: Harry Potter is lucky to reach the age of thirteen, since he has already survived the murderous attacks of the feared Dark Lord on more than one occasion. But his hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch are dashed when a maniacal mass-murderer escapes from Azkaban, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard the prison. It’s assumed that Hogwarts is the safest place for Harry to be. But is it a coincidence that he can feel eyes watching him in the dark, and should he be taking Professor Trelawney’s ghoulish predictions seriously?

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Rowling has, once again, written a gem that keeps adults just as entertained as it does the MG and YA age group for which it was written. This world is just… amazing.  The series transports me to another world that I am highly invested in, and Rowling sheet amount of detail and her ability to interlace the plot and twists throughout her ongoing series just amazes me.  This is a series that I will continually come back to time and time again because it’s a classic.  A must read.

This third installment in the amazing Harry Potter Series is actually extremely different from the movie, and I didn’t realize it–even though I’ve read these books once before (7 years ago, so apparently I’ve forgotten). I guess I need to watch the movie again, maybe I just didn’t see it before, but Snape is definitely a lot nastier in this novel than I’ve ever perceived him to be in the movie.  It’s like the escape of Sirius Black has made Snape into a crazed monster, which I guess it has, in a way, knowing what I know about Snape’s love for Lily Potter, but this is the first time his true colors seem to be coming out.  While he was definitely a “meanie” in the first two books, Rowling takes his character to a whole new level in this novel, and I was appalled by his behavior!

I originally thought Snape’s antics on the big screen to be slightly humorous, and he’s one of my favorites in the movies, truth be told, but in the novels he’s completely awful and full of hate—no redeeming qualities can be seen in this book, and he really made me angry! I understand his prejudices against Harry, and I know his back-story from the text, but I didn’t ever see him as being such an awful person before now. And he is.  I mean, I knew he was the resident sourpuss and that he was mean to students, but rereading his actions in this novel gave me a brand new perspective that I either hadn’t seen before, or had forgotten existed; Snape takes hatred to a new extreme.  The way he treats the students, all of them, really, is inexcusable.  Perhaps I’m seeing him in a new light as I’m now seasoned teacher myself, and I wasn’t when I first read the books, but regardless, Snape’s actions within this book made me livid. The way he talks to Hermoine, Ron, and Harry made me cringe; he’s just an unacceptable person—no matter how much you dislike a person, you just don’t treat them the way Snape treats Harry and his friends.  You just don’t.

Rowling definitely presents Snape in a different light than the directors in the movie, possibly because the directors didn’t want viewers to hate him to the extreme, but even so, I was floored by just how different the portrayal really is.  At least now I completely understand why some of my friends have always been so adamant about their hate for Snape.  Wow.  Just, wow.

But, despite Snape’s actions, I adored this novel, especially the explanation and replaying of events through the unique time changes that are presented.  Just in case you haven’t read the novels or seen the movies, I won’t go into too much detail here, but I personally felt that this novel does a much better job handling the time change than the movie does because I never felt like events were being repeated, whereas in the movie I thought this portion dragged on a little too long. Rowling keeps it short and sweet, though, in her novel, explaining it perfectly, and I highly enjoyed this aspect.  And, if you’ve only seen the movie and haven’t read the book, then you’re seriously missing out.  In this instance, it isn’t even a close second, the novel completely beats out the movie. No contest. Go read it. Five stars.

5 stars

I own all these novels and movies.



15881From Goodreads: The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockheart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girl’s bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble beings, and someone–or something–starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects…Harry Potter himself.

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This second book in the famous Harry Potter series is just as riveting and captivating as the first, solidifying in my mind that Rowling is an absolutely amazing author.

Truth be told, I actually have found that I don’t usually like fantasy novels all that much, but the world that Rowling creates for Harry Potter actually makes me feel right at home, and I can easily connect with the characters.  This might have something to do with the fact that I watched the movies first, so I have visuals and such imprinted in my brain, but even so, this fantastical world is easy to follow and become a part of, in my personal opinion.  The story jumps right off the page, wrapping readers up in the awesomeness that is Hogwarts and beyond.

One aspect I really love about this novel is its continuous detail.  From the wizards to their families, potions, spells, and backstory, there is just so much detail that it blows my mind.  Rowling is complete in her descriptions and creation of this world, and the fact that it exists right alongside the human world (which opens the doors for that giddy wishful thinking that maybe, just maybe, it all exists) brings a spark of wonder and jubilation to all.

Dobby is an awesome addition in this novel, and I really liked the introduction of the House Elf.  His abilities and class within the wizarding world is also a bit of a social commentary on our very own society and the way society has treated others, such as slavery, and even the way society treats people today.

And of course, I love the ingenious way that Rowling found to bring Voldemort back into the picture.  The idea of the journal was ingenious, and I am amazed how Rowling is able to bring everything together, from book one to two, and how she’ll be able to keep this up in the next five books as well.  Amazing.

Another aspect that I adore about both novel and movie is that, I feel, the movie got it right, from the big to the small, the casting and characters were perfect, in my mind. Professor Lockhart was even more annoying in the book than in the movie, and I loved Rowling’s portrayal of him. Potter is, as always, a wonderful role model, and this novel is an all-around feel good story with many happenings to keep it all interesting.  From Dobby and his mischievous antics to a Quidditch match gone awry, from spiders trying to eat people to a snake with the same powers as Medusa, the novel kept me glued to the pages and in this for the long haul. Of course, the characters are even more defined in the novel than they are on the big screen, making it impossible for readers not to connect with them on some level; I loved every minute of this. Book still beats movie, but it’s another close call. Five stars.

5 stars

I own all these novels and movies.



3From Goodreads: Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He’s never worn a Cloak of Invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry’s room is a tiny cupboard under the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in ten years.

But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that’s been waiting for him… if Harry can survive the encounter.

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This is my second time reading this series, and I must say, it only gets better with age.  I initially waited until all the Harry Potter books were out before reading them the first time because I didn’t want to have to wait in between them all, so to tide myself over, I watched the movies many a time.  And you know, I’m glad I did it this way because I’m actually one of those people who doesn’t have an active imagination and I have no pictures of what characters look like in my brain as I read.  None.  An author can tell me exactly how they look and how they sound, but unless I stop reading and try to draw them (and I’m not artistic in the least), there really isn’t much there in terms of my imagination.  It’s like a blurry shell for me.  And that’s why I loved watching the movies first, because I now have an exact image of what each character looks like, and I can see them doing everything the text says, and it’s amazing.  It’s also amazing because these books are so wonderful—I was a teenager when they first came out, and so I’ve pretty much grown up with Harry Potter over the years, and to sit here and reread the entire series as an adult bring back much nostalgia.

The Dursley’s are awful, just awful, but I enjoyed reading about them in the beginning of this novel.  It took a great many more pages than I initially thought it would to get Harry from the Dursely’s to Hogwarts, but I loved it from the beginning.  But, even having read this once before, do you know what I didn’t ever realize?  Neville is actually in this book a whole lot more than the movie portrayed, and I never knew it!  I mean, I always knew he was an important character (and it’s been seven years since I last read these books, so don’t judge me), but I guess I either forgot or never really internalized how much he’s really in this novel.  It’s not just a group of three friends, but actually four, though Neville gets angry at some points and disappears from the text, only to reappear later.  This was eye opening to me, and now I wish there was more of him in the movies as well because he does actually play a huge part.  But, regardless, both the movie and the book did a phenomenal job creating a story that I just can’t get out of my head.  Which is better?  The movie or the book?  Well, that’s actually a hard one to answer.  I think the book wins because it’s got so much more information, but the movie is a close second.  Five stars.

5 stars

I own this entire series and all the movies.



13494086From Goodreads: Two months after dying, seventeen-year-old witch Graylee Perez wakes up in her twin sister Charlene’s body.

Until Gray finds a way back inside her own body, she’s stuck being Charlene every twenty-hour hours. Her sister has left precise instructions on how Gray should dress and behave. Looking like a prep isn’t half as bad as hanging out with Charlene’s snotty friends and gropey boyfriend.

The “normals” of McKinley High might be quick to write her behavior off as post-traumatic stress, but warlock Raj McKenna is the only person who suspects Gray has returned from the dead.

Now Gray has to solve the mystery of her death and resurrection and disentangle herself from Charlene’s body before she disappears for good.

***Entangled is a young adult paranormal fantasy romance suitable for ages 15 and up.**

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The idea of witches and warlocks has always been fascinating to me, so I jumped at the chance to read this one when I saw it on Netgalley. The fact that it deals with a resurrection spell that doesn’t go as planned, mashing twins Gray and Charlene together in one body, alternating between 24 hour shifts, was an added bonus and I read through this novel fairly quickly. The novel speeds by, giving readers insight into the major differences between the twins prior to Grays death, an event that is heavily foreshadowed, and all fingers point in one direction. Yet, Gray is unawares, and her plight upon resurrection, pared with the angst and sleuthing done on each end by the girls, was fascinating as they each tried to piece together what the other was doing on their “on” days. I liked how they fought, writing in notebooks to each other and destroying each other’s things, and it really made me think about who was at fault. Technically, it’s Charlene’s body, so Gray needs to adhere to Char’s rules about food, boys, and social interactions. However, Gray died and lost two months, now only glimpsing every other day, and it’s not fair to ask her to run around as the school harlot and not be able to eat her fill of food… and then there’s the whole fact that Charlene has never truly been nice to Gray, so. It’s mind-boggling, really, and it would be a great discussion for book club.

Discussion topics aside, though, I would have liked to have more fleshing out of the plotline and side-characters. The novel moves very quickly once Gray dies, and at times I felt like I was missing things because it goes from 0 to 60 so quickly. For instance, Raj and Gray’s attraction was non-existent and then the next minute she began making out with him, which makes sense in a way, but I would have liked the romance aspect to slow way down. I would have also enjoyed more information about Ryan, Nolan, and even Raj for that matter, to slow it all down and give me time to process it all with the choppy nature of switching between twins (which I actually really liked). And as I said earlier, the foreshadowing pointed fingers to clue readers in concerning what really happened, giving it away a little too early for my liking, but it was good nonetheless.

I also would have liked a stronger parental presence. Gray’s and Charlene’s mother is a pushover, giving in to Charlene’s every whim and not acting when Charlene does things that are obviously wrong. Instead, she tells Gray that she needs to be patient, to forgive Charlene repeatedly, when I’d scratch the girls eye’s out, sister or not. And Charlene seems to have everyone wrapped around her finger, but I don’t really understand why because she’s such a horrible person–thus some insight into her friendships and the side-characters would have been nice. However, this is just the first novel in the series, and though we’re left with a cliffhanger in which we don’t know what happened to Adrien, Ryan, or Charlene, I’m hoping for more answers in the next installment.  Three stars.

3 stars

Nikki Jefford has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read this novel via Netgalley.



et cetera
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