Thursday, April 20, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (164)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme created by Uncorked Thoughts and hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
If You Could Change One Thing from the Fifth Film, What Would It Be?

The short answer is that Scene-That-Must-Not-Be-Named in which a certain wizard meets a certain fate at the hands of a certain Death Eater. *sniff* That happens in the book, though, and so it must be endured in the film version as well, I suppose.

Part 2 of my answer is: maybe tone down how grumpy Dumbledore continues to be in the OotP movie? In the book, Dumbledore tries to distance himself from Harry, but movie Dumbledore is pretty blatant about it. At the end of the scene where Umbridge is about to evict Trelawney, Dumbledore growls, "Don't you all have studying to do?!" at the assembled crowd of students and stomps off with Harry calling after him. It's just not very subtle, and it's like Mean Dumbledore from the Goblet of Fire film has returned.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Review: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
Defy the Stars (Defy the Stars #1)
By Claudia Gray
Publisher:
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

To Sum It Up: Noemi Vidal is ready to die for her home world of Genesis in its ongoing war with Earth, but her path takes a different turn when she ends up on board a ship that was abandoned thirty years ago with only a robot mech named Abel left behind. Abel longs to reunite with his creator, the renowned genius Burton Mansfield, but Abel’s programming dictates that he must also follow Noemi’s orders, even if they aid Earth’s enemy. As Noemi and Abel traverse multiple planets together, what began as a machine obeying its instructions becomes far more complicated, as Abel discovers just how much he’s evolved over thirty years and Noemi cannot help but see him as more than a mech.

Review: FINALLY—my first 2017 read above 3 stars! I’ve been in a horrible reading slump since late 2016, really, and I’d started to worry that it would never end. Thank you, Defy the Stars for breaking me out of the slump at last!

I’m sure that I would’ve loved this book as much as I did based solely on its own numerous merits, but the way in which it reminded me of HBO’s Westworld, a show that completely blew my mind, just pushed Defy the Stars over the top. Abel, one of the novel’s two main characters, is a mech, a combination of organic parts and technology, modeled after his brilliant creator, Burton Mansfield. Mansfield’s genius is so acclaimed, he’s practically a mythical figure. I did feel that there were even a few parallels between Mansfield and Westworld’s own mastermind, Dr. Robert Ford.

I absolutely loved Abel and his story line. After Mansfield and the rest of the human crew on board the spaceship Daedalus abandon it, Abel is stranded in space, all alone for thirty years until the book’s other protagonist, Noemi, unintentionally finds both the Daedalus and Abel. Although Abel’s been programmed to protect Mansfield, the man whom Abel considers his father, Abel’s programming also directs him to follow the orders of the highest human authority on the ship. Noemi ends up being that human. On Genesis, Noemi’s home planet, mechs are seen as soulless killing machines; having to place her trust in a mech goes against every one of her beliefs and instincts. Abel, being as advanced in intelligence as he is, realizes that his rescue from isolation may be short-lived with his fate in Noemi’s hands.

Claudia Gray gives both of her protagonists so many layers to their characters and develops them wonderfully. Noemi is a fierce fighter, willing to do anything to save her planet from being destroyed by Earth. Although ensuring a future for Genesis remains close to Noemi’s heart throughout the book, traveling to other planets with Abel opens her eyes and mind to the possibility that Genesis’s strategy for ending the war with Earth might not be the only way. Abel and his evolving programming also challenge Noemi to question everything she’s ever believed about mechs, which she’s encountered in battle all too often. Abel, however, proves himself to be a different kind of mech. He is the only model of his type, programmed with the skills of the other mech models but possessing a continuously developing personality. Sometimes Abel himself pauses to wonder whether a new feeling he’s experiencing is merely a malfunction or part of Mansfield’s design. The line between man and machine becomes very, very fine, and Gray just nails this aspect of the book. One thousand percent. It is so, so, so easy to forget that Abel is not entirely made of flesh and blood. He’s even got some sass! Abel melted my heart, too, which is not an easy feat.

I’m kind of a reluctant sci-fi reader; previous sci-fi books that I’ve read were too heavy on the technical details of the world and/or contained lots of info dumps. Defy the Stars features the perfect amount of world-building, enough where I feel immersed in the world but without being overwhelmed by endless minute details. The best thing about the world-building here? It’s done through showing, not telling! My last few reads employed a lot of telling, and it was exhilarating to finally encounter some skillful showing.

I’m still thinking about how amazing this book was, which pretty much illustrates the amount of love I have for it. Defy the Stars is a thrilling sci-fi adventure that also stirs the heart and asks how human a machine can be. There are many facets to this book, and each one is highly compelling and engrossing to read about.

All in All: Defy the Stars was so damn good! Westworld fans should find this especially intriguing, but even if you’ve never watched the show, this is such a winning, thrilling sci-fi novel!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (163)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme created by Uncorked Thoughts and hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
How Did Lockhart Add to the Overall Story Line?

I've always thought of Lockhart kind of as comic relief because of all of his preening and arrogance. I mean, they're really over the top, and I could never take the guy seriously. I also never trusted him; nothing he said ever felt sincere, and, well, he did turn out to be a big fraud.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Five Years of Blogging!

Five years ago today, this blog began with a five sentence post that didn't even have a graphic, lololol. I remember how sad and empty the Review Archive page looked because, well, it had no reviews. There are now over 300, which makes me think, wow, there was actually a time when Ally, Melissa, and I all had time to read? XD

As happy as I am to notch another year of blogging, I've always felt that there's something a little extra special about reaching an anniversary that's a multiple of 5. Because I'm weird like that. In all seriousness, though, I can't think of any other endeavor I've undertaken in the past five years that I've managed to stick with like I have with blogging. It's been challenging to keep at it, especially with adulting taking up more and more of my time, but there's no other place where I can gush about all things bookish and connect with equally avid readers.

You guys really are the best. I can't tell you how much your comments brighten my day and how much I LOVE chatting with you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being such wonderful bloggy friends! ♥

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (162)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme created by Uncorked Thoughts and hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! A list of upcoming topics can be found here.

This week's topic is:
Favorite Fred & George Moment

All of them, pretty much! XD Seriously, who else would find the humor in getting one's ear cursed off?! My absolute, complete, total favorite Fred and George moment, though, is hands down the Portable Swamp they used to buy Harry a distraction so that he could break into Umbridge's office to contact Sirius. Not only did it wreak its intended havoc, but it continued to do so even after the twins' unforgettable departure from Hogwarts.

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