Thursday, October 27, 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (148)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and 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 Dean Thomas Add to the Overall Storyline?

Dean may not have destroyed a Horcrux or had a penchant for blowing stuff up like some of his other friends, but he was a loyal friend, a member of Dumbledore's Army, and an all-around nice guy. I think one of his most significant, and unintentional, lol, roles in the series was getting Harry to realize just how much he liked Ginny while she was dating Dean. XD

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Review: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)
By Sarah J. Maas
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: Facing impossible odds in their battle against Erawen and the Valg, Aelin and her friends set out to rally any allies they can. Along the way, Aelin finds out a devastating truth about her destiny, but she’ll accept whatever cost if it means ridding her world of the Valg and restoring prosperity to her homeland of Terrasen.

Review: Reading a new Throne of Glass novel has truly turned into an epic event, especially considering the increasing page counts. Aelin Ashryver Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen, Heir of Fire, Fireheart (all these titles make me think of another queen from another fantasy series with “throne” in the title) has certainly come a long way from when we first met her as assassin Celaena Sardothien. The series as a whole has come a long way, expanding the world, the story, and the characters with each successive book. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that we’re already five books in.

At this point in the series, I really do think there are quite a few parallels between Throne of Glass and Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, even down to the ice and fire. ToG isn’t only just about Aelin/Celaena anymore, either. Aelin’s companions have steadily moved toward the forefront, often making the more recent books feel like they feature an ensemble cast of characters, again à la GoT/ASoIaF. You always know, however, who indisputably owns ToG; that would be Aelin, of course.

I’m on a roll with the ToG/GoT parallels now, and I might not be able to quit. Like GoT’s fiery dragon queen Daenerys Targaryen, Aelin finds herself fighting to regain her throne. Unfortunately for Aelin, she runs up against some unyielding opposition from the lords of Terrasen. Determined to breathe life back into her kingdom, Aelin resolves to do whatever must be done, emphasis on whatever, to defeat Erawen and the Valg. Denied the backing of Terrasen’s lords, Aelin must look elsewhere for allies, even if a huge question mark hovers around their trustworthiness, and that’s putting it mildly.

Much of Empire of Storms focuses on Aelin and her cohorts attempting to build an army and hunting for a possible way to send the Valg back to the hell they spawned from. While there was no shortage of intense action scenes, the book occasionally felt a tad too much like a buildup to the series finale. Something about the pacing of Empire of Storms just felt slightly off compared to the other installments. I also found myself really wishing that I’d read The Assassin’s Blade before reading this. I wasn’t exactly lost, but I definitely got the impression that familiarity with the novellas provided the optimal Empire of Storms reading experience. And while I’m mentioning the couple of quibbles I ran across, I cannot overlook the complete absence of a certain character. It’s just that I LOVE said character, and to only see a handful of passing references in about 700 pages? Ouch—that hurt.

Overall, though, Empire of Storms commanded every spare second of time I could devote to it. I loved Manon so much in this book; her plotline has become one of my favorites. Maas continues to demonstrate her insanely formidable fantasy writing chops with this novel as well. Reading ToG is such a fully immersive experience thanks to its richly detailed world and equally deep lore. Maas also ups the series’ heat factor. Way up. It’s not quite as steamy as her other 2016 release, A Court of Mist and Fury, but there were still moments when I feared that my copy of Empire of Storms would spontaneously combust.

All I have to say about the ending was that it was crueler than cruel. I have to try not to dwell on it because I only get all upset anew over having to wait for the next book. Delaying reading new releases certainly has the advantage of not having to endure long waits for the sequels, but this is Aelin Galathynius we’re talking about here; she demands that you read her latest adventure immediately!

All in All: As much as I love Aelin and her friends, I think some pages could have been shaved off here. Empire of Storms was still one hell of a read, though, and Sarah J. Maas reigns supreme as the queen of YA fantasy.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fandom Mashups (76)

Fandom Mashups is a feature hosted by Lunar Rainbows Reviews. There's a different scenario each week, and you choose a "dream team" of five characters from five different fandoms whom you think are best suited for the situation.

This week's topic is:
You're headed to the Moon! Who are you taking with you?

  1. The Doctor: He's seen just about everything, so I wouldn't worry about potential troubles like hostile aliens with him around.
  2. Spock: I completely trust him to keep our trip running smoothly.
  3. Lisa Simpson: Dad Homer went to space and narrowly avoided disaster, but Lisa would totally be responsible on this journey.
  4. Bender (Futurama): I'm taking this snarky robot along to make us laugh, even though I know there's a 100% chance of him insulting everyone in the process because that's just Bender!
  5. Han Solo: Can we please travel to the Moon in the Millennium Falcon? XD

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (147)

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and 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 Arthur Weasley Moment

I love Mr. Weasley, especially his fascination with all things Muggle! The Arthur Weasley moment that always makes me laugh is when we first meet him and he doesn't immediately realize that THE Harry Potter is in his home, LOLOL.

Monday, October 17, 2016

ARC Review: Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

Cloudwish by Fiona Wood
By Fiona Wood
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher
Publication Date: October 18, 2016

To Sum It Up: Vân Uoc Phan tries to fly under the radar, far, far away from the spotlight. She harbors a secret crush on Billy Gardiner, star of her school’s rowing team and totally unattainable because of the difference in their social and economic statuses. Vân Uoc is a scholarship student, the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants who fled their homeland to Australia, where Vân Uoc was born. Vân Uoc doesn’t believe in magic, but when her wish that Billy would like her suddenly seems to start coming true, she can’t help but wonder if magic might just be possible.

Review: I’ve wanted to read a Fiona Wood book for quite some time, and, thanks to some wish fulfillment that perfectly ties in to the plot of Cloudwish, I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of the novel. The book’s pretty cover also complements its story wonderfully, capturing the sweet, heady romance that develops between protagonist Vân Uoc Phan and her dream crush, Billy Gardiner.

This is like the zillionth time I’m saying this, but contemporary, and in particular contemporary romance, isn’t usually my thing, so for me to fall hard for that type of book, I had to have really, really, really liked it. And I really, really, really liked Cloudwish. Vân Uoc has a lovely, engaging narrative voice that is occasionally (and hilariously) self-deprecating but never self-pitying. Fiona Wood is also a prose genius, which made reading this such a delight. In her talented hands, what could have been a very formulaic story instead exudes charm, poignancy, and wit.

Vân Uoc is a richly drawn character whose personality I related to very, very much. We both try to attract as little attention to ourselves as possible and react like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights when we end up attracting it anyway. We’re also both skeptics when good things happen to us; we struggle with accepting them at face value and instead wonder when our luck will run out, which it’s bound to do. So when Vân Uoc makes a wish for her crush at school, Billy Gardiner, to like her and it starts coming true, she figures that Billy, a known prankster, is just playing a joke on her. She looks for every possible sign that the relationship that’s slowly building between them isn’t real. Thanks to Wood’s knockout writing, the build-up is simply exquisite.

The other, equally compelling side to Vân Uoc’s story is that of the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants who have high hopes of their only child becoming a doctor or a lawyer. Vân Uoc, meanwhile, aspires to be an artist, something that she hides from her parents. At school, she often feels the social and economic divide between her and her classmates, a difference that a clique of mean girls constantly reminds her about. For Vân Uoc, only able to attend the elite Crowthorne Grammar thanks to a scholarship, the school’s casual clothes day is something to dread, as everyone else turns up wearing designer labels she and her family could never afford. Vân Uoc, however, isn’t the type to feel sorry for herself, making you want to root for her even more. You want her to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. You want her to see herself as the lovely person her friends see. And you absolutely want her and Billy Gardiner’s romance to be 100% for real and forever.

Fans of Jane Eyre will also adore all of the references to Charlotte Brontë’s novel and Vân Uoc’s musings on what Jane would do in a particular situation. Even if you don’t love Jane as much as Vân Uoc does, there’s still plenty to love about Vân Uoc herself and her tale here.

All in All: Cloudwish is a winning contemporary romance, and it’s completely hooked me on Fiona Wood’s writing.

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