REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

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Synopsis:

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 Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny. But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, 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?

REVIEW

Since I plan on reading the rest of the series, I didn’t think it would be necessary for me to write a long review for each book, so instead I’m going to try and keep it simple 😉

I really liked this one, and it’s because of the things I discovered while reading it; things that were never touched on in the movie that I think should have been. This cemented my belief on the whole iceberg concept (The movie is only ten percent of the story and the other ninety is the book), and I was really glad I continued Harry’s story.

Saying I was impressed with the way everything came together in the plot and had a purpose at the end of the story is an understatement. The way Rowling can weave a tale is amazing, and it makes for easy reading and real fascination, even though I’m not the twelve-year-old demographic it’s meant for.

If I did have one thing to complain about, it would be the ridiculous amount of people who hate Harry, or pass him off as a bad kid. Like seriously? Everyone hates him, and it just seemed impossible to me that he’d have so many enemies. Teachers, aunt and uncle, cousin, fellow school mates to which he has never done a thing to harm. I felt so bad for him in this one, and yet he kept going, even forgiving the idiots that called him evil. He really is a great role model for kids, and adults, alike.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling = 4 stars

REVIEW: Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined by Stephenie Meyer

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Synopsis:

For the first time in a stand-alone paperback comes Stephenie Meyer’s Life and Death, a compelling reimagining of the iconic love story that will surprise and enthrall readers.
There are two sides to every story….
You know Bella and Edward, now get to know Beau and Edythe.

When Beaufort Swan moves to the gloomy town of Forks and meets the mysterious, alluring Edythe Cullen, his life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. With her porcelain skin, golden eyes, mesmerizing voice, and supernatural gifts, Edythe is both irresistible and enigmatic.

What Beau doesn’t realize is the closer he gets to her, the more he is putting himself and those around him at risk. And, it might be too late to turn back….

With a foreword and afterword by Stephenie Meyer, this compelling reimagining of the iconic love story is a must-read for Twilight fans everywhere.

REVIEW

First off, I want to start by saying the NOSTALGIA WAS SO INTENSE YOU GUYS. And if you’re wondering why, it’s because Twilight was my first ever paranormal read when I was a kid (and also contraband since my mom didn’t approve of bloodsuckers lol). Like every other fourteen-year-old, Twilight was my fav read for quite awhile until I started to explore other series in the paranormal genre. But still, it holds a great place in my reading heart today, which is why reading this reimagined story was like revisiting a part of my childhood.

So…I had not idea what I was getting into when I bought this, not really. I knew the sex of the characters were switched, but I didn’t know just how much of the story Ms. Meyer would change to fit the new theme. And to a degree, all was relatively the same. Except one part, one VERY BIG PART, which I’ll get to in a minute.

I thought it was interesting, getting the same story but from a male perspective. Honestly, when I heard about this anniversary edition, I was really hoping we would get Twilight told from Edward’s POV. I think that would have been super interesting to read. But alas, it was taken in a different direction, and according to Meyer, it was because she wanted to shut down the haters that were saying that since Bella was a girl, her overwhelming feelings for Edward were because of just that, her sex. This new retelling was supposed to disprove that theory. And I agree, it would have been the same whether Bella was male or female. But one thing bothered me about this, and that was the hero worship Beau had for Edythe. I remember that Bella was incredibly in love with Edward, maybe a little too much. But I NEVER remember this kind of, he-can-do-no-wrong, crap. It was kind of annoying, if I’m being honest, for him to flaunt over her looks on every page. Especially when she would get mad at him for no reason, and he would just freaking apologize. A relationship should be about equality, mutual respect. This was idol worship, and it left me feeling kind of awkward, which I’m sad to say.

Now, on to what I really want to talk about.

SPOILER ALERT Y’ALL

GAHHHHHHHH THAT ENDING! Dude, I was thrown for a serious loop, thinking it was going to be the same as the original, because everything else had been up to this point, so why would that change? But oh, HELL, no. Instead we got to see what would have happened had Edward let the venom spread through Bella in the dance studio, turning her into a vampire, and essentially eliminating the need for the next three books in the series, and honestly, I was shook. I loved that I got to see how it could have ended had Twilight been a standalone, because really, that one moment of hesitation could have taken their lives in a completely different direction. No Jacob love triangle, no Renesme, no Voluri nonsense, NOTHING. It was bizarre, satisfying, but also sad to experience this alternative ending. In this version, Charlie and Renee think Beau died in a car accident, the werewolves still hate the vampires, and that’s how it ends. Just…done. Over. He’s gone, the Cullens move to another town a year later, and blah blah blah.

I’m not surprised to say that I liked the original better. Your first love is your first love, book or person, and I don’t think any version of retelling could have changed that for me. But I did enjoy this book and the nostalgia it brought back, the memories attached to it.

Life and Death by Stephenie Meyer = 3.5 stars

REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

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Synopsis:

Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.

Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.

REVIEW

As I said in the previous post, I had only ever read the final book to the Harry Potter series and that was a good six or so years ago. And it was my mission this summer to read the first one and possibly the rest in the series. And I did it! (Well, at least one, that is 😉

So, my first thoughts?

When I read (*coughs* audiobook “read”) this, all I could think was that if I had been able to get my hands on this when I was eleven, I would have been obsessed with it. The world building, character eccentricities, magical classes, DRAGONS and UNICORNS, I would have DIED to read the next book and the next. But alas, I am 21 now and I still felt a wonderful connection to each and every character. It’s funny, the older I get, the more I want to connect to things from my childhood, or the things I wished I’d had, like this amazing book here. I guess we all have a kid in us that never leaves, huh?

I thought Rowling did an amazing job with this one, just like she had with the last. The writing is simple – explanations not too long or detailed for the age of the children reading this story. I loved how every character had something you could relate to, whether it be Ron’s sarcasm, Hermione’s wit, Harry’s loneliness, or even Neville’s lack of courage, and then redemption. I especially loved Harry’s enrollment into the Weasley family, and how we got a more detailed look at Percy, George, Fred, and even a little bit of Charlie, unlike with the movie. All in all, I really enjoyed it, and see myself re-reading it again, if only to get sucked into the wizarding world one more time 🙂

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling = 5 stars

REVIEW: Daughter of Smoke and Bone By Laini Taylor

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REVIEW

Boy, it’s been a long time since I’ve read an angel themed romance. But it doesn’t feel right to put that label on “Daughter of Smoke and Bone”. It was more a demon vs. angel thing, and yet both sides were neither all good or all bad. It was a weird toss up, one that had me constantly guessing.

I’m going to be honest, this thing had me confused until about half-way through. I felt like the author didn’t leave us enough bread crumbs to figure out Karou’s story on our own. It all kind of hit at once, near the end, and I was left slightly dumbfounded and a tad overwhelmed. Not to say I wasn’t drawn in by the beautiful world building and the immaculate descriptions of Prague and every other place mentioned in this book, but I’ll admit: I was kind of hoping for more. I don’t know. I feel like I’m going to get some backlash from this one because everyone kept telling me how much they loved it. And that was one of the main reasons I bought it in the first place. I guess you could say it was an alright read, but not one of my favorites, sadly. I was really hoping to fall in love with this one. I keep looking for my next ride or die series, kind of like how I felt with The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. I want the characters to suck me, make me think of them well after I’ve put the book down. Who knows, maybe I’m asking too much. But I’ll keep looking for it anyway 😉

In a nut shell, I wasn’t hugely fond of the characters but I was really impressed with the writing style of this author. Everything was described so well – places, smells, feeling. It was beautifully constructed to create this fantastical world of chimaera and angels. In that I give it a lot of props. But unfortunately, I don’t see myself picking up the second book. Overall, though, this was an interesting and different read for me.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor = 3 stars

 

STAR REVIEW: HUNTRESS BY JULIE HALL

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Synopsis:

No one’s afterlife is as dispiriting as Audrey’s―at least that’s what she believes after waking up dead without her memories and being promptly assigned to hunt demons for the rest of eternity. She’s convinced God’s made a cosmic mistake; after all, she’d rather discuss the color of her nails than break them on angelic weapons.

It doesn’t help that her trainer, Logan, is as infuriating as he is attractive. And just when Audrey and Logan appear close to developing an amicable relationship, a decision made under duress pushes their hearts in a direction neither of them saw coming.

Despite her sub-par fighting abilities, an ancient weapon of unparalleled power chooses Audrey as its wielder, attracting the cautious gazes of her fellow hunters and the attention of Satan himself. With Satan’s eyes now fixed on Audrey, a battle for the safety of the living looms in the shadows.

STARS

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MINI REVIEW: CROOKED KINGDOM BY LEIGH BARDUGO

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Synopsis:

Welcome to the world of the Grisha.

After pulling off a seemingly impossible heist in the notorious Ice Court, criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker feels unstoppable. But life is about to take a dangerous turn—and with friends who are among the deadliest outcasts in Ketterdam city, Kaz is going to need more than luck to survive in this unforgiving underworld.

MINI REVIEW

So if you follow my Instagram (@authorindaherwood) then you’ll know I DID get around to finishing the sequel to “Six of Crows”. It just took me a while since I was super busy with editing my latest project *raises brows conspiratorially*

The whole gang is back in “Crooked Kingdom”, and we leave off almost exactly from where “Six of Crows” ended. I was expecting this book to be as fast paced and exciting as SOC, but unfortunately it didn’t play out like that. I still liked the story as well as the ending, but something was missing for me, and I don’t know what it was. If Leigh had done an epilogue that was like, I don’t know, ten years in the future to see where everyone had ended up, I would have loved that. But still, the characters grew, the plot was detailed and impactful, and I’m glad I got to read this series. Also, I’m pretty sure I’m going to have a Kaz Brekker crush for life now lol.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo = 3 stars

REVIEW: SIX OF CROWS BY LEIGH BARDUGO

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Synopsis:

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.

REVIEW

Holy crap, I haven’t read something this good since…jeez, I’m going to say the Sweet Evil series. And I read that a LONG time ago. There was something special about this book. I don’t know if it was the characters and their multiple POVs, the world building, or just the irony of all these misplaced teenagers coming together to pull off the impossible. It was a really fun and entertaining read for me, and I’m kicking myself right now for not having picked it up sooner!

You have a kid from privilege, an ex-soldier, a prison inmate, a girl who makes no sound, a sharpshooter with a gambling problem, and the mastermind criminal. Alone they’re not much to fear. But together, they’re the only crew that has a shot at pulling off the most important ( and INSANE ) heist anyone will ever face. With a little humor, a smidgen of romance, and a lot of danger, “Six of Crows” was a seriously heart pounding read at times, and I absolutely loved it. Each character had their own back story, a personal reason for going through with such a risky task. And I was amazed at the details the author gave them, the descriptions she built, the world building… It’s astounding to me that this was created in someone’s mind and not a retelling of an actual historical event. Though I will admit that at times it was a little too detailed, and I couldn’t properly pronounce maybe half the names of the towns/villages/countries etc. But other than that this was a flawless story, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves high fantasy. And suspense. And subtle romance. And… screw it. EVERYBODY READ THIS YOU WILL LOVE IT.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – 4.5 Barrel stars