Thursday, March 16, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (160)

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:
Which Cast Member Do You Think Was a Perfect Fit for Their Character?

Oh man, there were SO many amazing actors and actresses in the films! The acting quality was just top-notch from Sorcerer's Stone all the way down to Deathly Hallows, Part 2. Even choosing a couple of cast members doesn't seem adequate here. I especially loved Richard Harris's Dumbledore, Maggie Smith's McGonagall, Gary Oldman's Sirius, and Alan Rickman's Snape. I didn't love Snape as a character in the books, but Alan Rickman's performance was absolutely stellar, so much so that I got all misty-eyed watching the boathouse scene in DH2.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Review: The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston
The Valiant (The Valiant #1)
By Lesley Livingston
Format: Print ARC
Source: YALLFest

To Sum It Up: Fallon is a Celtic princess, a proud warrior hoping to join her father’s war band to fight for her tribe. Her father, however, has a different plan for her, and his decision sets into motion a chain of events that ultimately leads to Fallon’s capture by a slave trader. She’s taken to Rome, where she’s sold to the Lady Achillea, who runs a training academy for female gladiators that is owned by Julius Caesar. Trapped within the very heart of enemy land, Fallon must find a way to prove herself in the arena.

Review: When I read the synopsis for The Valiant, images of ancient Rome, Celtic folklore, and fierce female gladiators kicking ass all immediately sprang to mind. While all of these are present to some degree in the book, I found the resulting combination to be a rather mixed reading experience.

The Valiant is really more historical fiction than fantasy with its mostly Roman Empire setting and appearances by both Julius Caesar and Cleopatra. I did not, however, feel fully transported back to that time. The world-building needed more than references to chariots and the occasional Latin word. One of the greatest eras in history just didn’t seem alive.

At first I was very excited to discover that our heroine Fallon was the daughter of a Celtic king because—warrior princess! I’m also very intrigued by all things Celtic: history, music, knitting patterns. As with the thinly detailed Rome, though, the book didn’t really capture much about the Celts during this period, either. Where the novel spends most of its time is setting up Fallon’s entry into the world of professional gladiatrixing. And it is a looong while before she ever sets her sandal in the arena. I wasn’t expecting this because the book got off to a frenetic start, with the complete upheaval of Fallon’s life in a matter of a few chapters. The plot then loses its urgency as we wait for Fallon first to reach Rome and then for any action to happen. For a novel about female gladiators, there’s more talk about competing than there are actual competitions.

I also wasn’t too impressed with Fallon’s character arc. Despite her believing the opposite, everything just seems to fall into place for her. Except for some mean girls at the gladiatrix academy, everyone instantly sees how extraordinary Fallon is, including Caius Varro, a Roman soldier who insta-falls for her. They go from using his formal title to, “Just call me Cai” in a nanosecond. There’s no buildup to the romance, and since I like my romances to simmer for a while first, this one didn’t do much for me.

The Valiant turned out to be very different from what I’d anticipated going in. After the opening chapters, the pacing slowed down considerably and never really regained its momentum. I’d also thought this would be action-packed with epic gladiatrix matches, but that wasn’t quite what this book delivered, either. The insta-love also made this kind of tough for me to see through to the end, but I got so far in that finishing the book made more sense than DNF’ing it. This isn’t a series I’ll be continuing with, though.

All in All: For me, The Valiant fell short of the potential its premise held. I’d hoped this would be the book to pull me out of my reading slump, but alas, it was not.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Fandom Mashups (85)

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 heading out on a travelling adventure to explore the world. Pick 5 destinations on your bucket list and 1 character to hit up each destination with!

  1. Hogwarts/Luna Lovegood: Letter or no letter, I'm going to Hogwarts with my fellow Ravenclaw, Luna! I was originally going to pick Harry to show me around, but I think Luna would be a most interesting tour guide. XD
  2. Gansey/Henrietta, Virginia: OK, so I'm going to Henrietta not so much for the location itself but because of who lives there. ;-) Like Gansey, Blue, Ronan, Adam, and Noah. It would be cool to check out the ley line and drop in at 300 Fox Way and Monmouth Manufacturing, too.
  3. Aang/The world of Avatar: The Last Airbender: I want to see all of the beautiful places the gAang visited during their travels together! I chose Aang as my travel buddy because having a flying bison definitely comes in handy for getting around.
  4. The Night Court/Rhysand: Just thinking about the Night Court (and Rhys, hahaha!) reminds me how much I can't wait to return to that world and how badly I need A Court of Wings and Ruin. May 2 isn't that far away!
  5. Regency England/Elizabeth Bennet: Because I've watched film adaptations of Jane Austen's novels too many times, lol. Maybe I can find my own Mr. Darcy while I'm there?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (159)

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 Book 5, What Would It Be?

This is probably the least amount of time I've ever had to spend thinking about an answer for an HPMotW. XD Without a single doubt, I would change what happens to Sirius!!!!! That was THE MOST devastating moment in the series for me, and quite possibly in any book ever. I had to go back and reread the scene like three times before my brain could even begin to process it. WHY, WHY, WHY, WHY, WHY, WHY, WHY JKR? JUST. WHY?????????!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Review: Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse
Seven Days of You
By Cecilia Vinesse
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

To Sum It Up: In seven days, Sophia is set to return to the United States, leaving the life she’s led for the past four years in Tokyo behind. Before going, however, Sophia must first face the return of Jamie Foster-Collins, a former member of her group of friends. Sophia still isn’t over the hurt he caused her before being sent to an American boarding school three years ago, but the more time she spends with him, the more she realizes that he’s not the same Jamie she remembers. With the days ticking away until Sophia’s departure, saying goodbye becomes increasingly difficult.

Review: Seven Days of You caught my attention because of comparisons to Stephanie Perkins’s Anna and the French Kiss, which was a lovely surprise way back when I read it about four or five years ago. The latter’s sweet romance made me, a reluctant reader of YA contemporary, more willing to try other books like it. And so I gave Seven Days of You a shot, but unfortunately, it did not work out for me.

I had a really tough time trying to find protagonist Sophia and her friends Mika and David likeable. For friends, they turn on each other quite easily, and there’s a lot of drama between them. David is acknowledged to be an arse, and yet everyone continues to hang out with him and Sophia continues to crush on him. The only OK character for me was Jamie, who was part of the group before his parents sent him to a boarding school back in the United States and whose return to Tokyo at the beginning of the novel sends Sophia into a tizzy. She’s still not over an incident that happened right before he left three years ago, and while I could understand why she was upset with him initially, I didn’t feel the situation warranted the amount of time she spent stewing over it. I actually expected the misdeed to be much worse considering how much Sophia went on about it. On top of that, I couldn’t help thinking that there was some truth in what Jamie had said to set Sophia off.

Sophia was not an easy character for me to scrape together much sympathy for. She’s very woe-is-me, and I’m sorry, but I can’t exactly pity someone who’s lived not once but twice in Japan and has been to Paris. I also found her condescending and judgy; I especially took issue with her rather looking down on Jamie’s geekish tendencies. Sophia totally lost me here because there is nothing wrong with reading Harry Potter twenty times. Not now. Not ever.

While other readers might find the conclusion to Sophia’s character arc satisfying, her character development throughout the novel was too choppy to convince me that she had matured significantly by the end. If Seven Days of You hadn’t been a quick, short read, I’m not sure I would’ve stuck it out until the last page. I just wasn’t into the frequent melodrama between Sophia and her friends, and for me, it overshadowed everything else about the book.

All in All: Sadly, this did not measure up to the delightful Anna and the French Kiss for me, but don’t let me discourage anyone from seeing for themselves how the two books compare.

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