Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Quick Update

Ahh, it feels so good to blog again! I've missed it terribly. It drove me crazy to leave the blog neglected for the five days Melissa and I were in New York, and I felt the need to write at least a short post. We returned home yesterday, and I'm still unpacking and otherwise trying to get myself together. We had an incredible time in NYC, and I hope to assemble a post about our trip—with pics!—soon.

I really want to focus on getting back to a somewhat regular blogging schedule again. I didn't have a chance to watch the final episode of The White Queen before I went to NY; I'm going to try to catch it this week and write the recap post. Not only do I have a ton of reading to catch up on (I am clueless as to what books have been released in, say, at least the past month), but I also have a lot of TV to watch. I'm afraid to look at the space left on my DVR because I don't think it's very much. I think my best bet is to set aside a Saturday or Sunday and do nothing but sit in front of the TV. My buddy Braine at Talk Supe says I need to check out Dracula with Jonathan Rhys Meyers; I'm working on finding it on demand, I promise!

I'd like to thank all of you who continue to read this blog. I really, really, really miss interacting with you; that's been the hardest part about having the time I used to spend reading and blogging cut so drastically. I was quite stressed out about ensuring that the trip to New York went smoothly, and now that it's over, I feel like I can get a better handle on managing my spare time. And now I'm off to try and get some reading done . . . .

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Colony East Blog Tour: Review

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Scott Cramer's Colony East, organized by CBB Book Promotions! I have a review of the novel for you today, and don't forget to enter the giveaway below for your chance to win an Amazon gift card and eBooks of Colony East and the first book in the series, Night of the Purple Moon. You can follow the rest of the tour by checking out the schedule.

Colony East by Scott Cramer
Colony East (The Toucan Trilogy #2)
By Scott Cramer
Publication Date:
October 2013
Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo | Goodreads

* A copy was provided for review for the blog tour.

Synopsis: In a terrifying world where an epidemic has killed off most of the world's adults, fifteen-year-old Abby struggles to keep her brother and sister safe.

When a new, deadly disease spreads among the survivors, Abby must make the dangerous journey to Colony East, an enclave of hidden scientists caring for a small group of children for reasons unknown.

Abby fears that time is running short for the victims, but she's soon to learn that time is running out for everyone outside Colony East.

Review: Wow—what an impressive follow-up Scott Cramer has written to Night of the Purple Moon! Colony East handily casts aside any doubts about Second Book Syndrome, hitting all the right notes in terms of plot and character development. The best part is, the novel accomplishes both of these things without falling back on dystopian tropes, which I’ve seen happen once too often with series in the genre.

Colony East literally ventures into new territory, with parts of the story taking place a distance away from Castine Island. I thought changing up the setting was absolutely brilliant; it allowed us to see how other survivors were coping with the fallout of the comet that decimated the adult population in Night of the Purple Moon. Being a former New Yorker, I was thrilled to discover that New York City was one of the new locales, though the book’s depiction of the city is quite startling. The Navy and the CDC have teamed up to build a future for the children left behind in the comet’s wake. To this end, New York has been turned into Colony East, a highly organized operations hub that selectively chooses who is allowed within its walls. The kids are sorted into companies and put on a daily regimen, as if they were soldiers. While the living conditions in Colony East may be better than those outside of it, trusting its leaders without question poses its own kind of danger, something that Abby learns all too harshly.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how young Abby and Jordan are, given how quickly they’ve had to basically become adults, or at least act like adults and make adult decisions. Sister and brother continue to demonstrate a remarkable amount of maturity here; even little Toucan is growing up fast. Once again, the Leigh siblings are tested by extreme circumstances, and once again, they more than meet the challenges. I really have to admire Abby’s determination to help everyone and anyone; she’s just this incredibly good young lady with a huge heart. That’s not to say that Jordan is some sort of bad guy because he definitely isn’t. I think he has a more pragmatic perspective on life whereas Abby tends to look for the positive aspects in a situation first. All personality differences between the two are forgotten, of course, during times of adversity, and at this point in the trilogy, the Leighs have become experts at getting through them.

I applaud Scott Cramer for so skillfully broadening the scope of the story that began in Night of the Purple Moon. Colony East not only expands the world, but it also turns up the intensity and action a few good notches. Considering how fantastic this sequel was, I can’t wait to see what the next book, Generation M, has in store for its readers.

All in All: I’ve been very picky about the dystopians I’ve read this year, but this one was a must-read, and I was not disappointed in the least.

About Scott Cramer

Scott Cramer has written feature articles for national magazines, covered school committee meetings for a local newspaper, published haiku and poetry, optioned a screenplay, and produced customer reference accounts for a big computer company. His pursuit of a good story has put him behind the stick of an F-18, flying a Navy Blue Angels’ fighter jet, and he has trekked through the Peruvian mountains in search of an ancient Quechua festival featuring a condor. He is the author of Night of the Purple Moon and Colony East. Scott and his wife have two daughters and reside outside Lowell, Massachusetts (birthplace of Jack Kerouac) in an empty nest/zoo/suburban farm/art studio with too many surfboards in the garage.

Find Scott Cramer:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

** Giveaway **

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 21, 2013

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta: A Reaction

* This post contains spoilers for Melina Marchetta's Finnikin of the Rock. *

If I had to describe Melina Marchetta's Finnikin of the Rock to someone who's never read it before, I think I'd sum it up like this: Must. Read. Why? It's a beautifully crafted, superbly written fantasy that will win your heart as well as break it. It will make you shed more than a tear or two on behalf of these unforgettable characters, both when they're in pain and when they find happiness. The emotions this book conjures—I just can't even . . . .

I first read Finnikin last year, and 1) I can't believe I missed so many things the first time around, and 2) the review I wrote back then doesn't even begin to do the book a semblance of justice. In fact, I could probably never come up with a review that properly captures the gem that is this novel. I finished reading the series about two months ago, and revisiting it from the beginning gave me chills. I knew very early on the first time that I picked up Finnikin of the Rock that I held a very special book in my hands, and knowing what happens in the rest of the series has done nothing to diminish the impact of the Prologue, which includes that pivotal scene in which Finnikin, Balthazar, and Lucian pledge to protect Lumatere and seal their pact in blood. If anything, having read all three books in The Lumatere Chronicles has given me an even greater appreciation for them.

Once again, I've been blown away by the path Finnikin takes across its pages, from its bleak opening about a people who've basically lost everything and are barely clinging to their identity, to its hopeful ending. Picking a favorite moment or favorite aspect of the novel is next to impossible. I want to say, "everything!" but I'll try to narrow down my choices here. I love Evanjalin's strength and determination to lead the Lumaterans home, and how she's not at all the meek novice she appears to be at the novel's start. I love Finnikin's reunion with his father, Trevanion. I love the reunion of the King's Guard (Perri the Savage—you are awesome!). I absolutely love the story of Lady Beatriss saving a young Finnikin, Balthazar, and Isaboe from an angry bull and her priceless line to Trevanion: "Was that functional enough for you, Captain?" Now that I've mentioned them, can I just say how much I love Beatriss and Trevanion? Theirs is truly a story that cuts to the soul. The scene in which the two are at the graveside of their baby daughter who died and Beatriss's daughter, Vestie, helps Trevanion plant one of the seeds she'd been sprinkling around the grave utterly guts me. It's one of the most moving scenes I've ever read in a novel; simply thinking about it makes me misty-eyed.

A lot of us probably have a list of favorite books that we feel everyone needs to read. This one is on mine (along with its sequels, Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn). Seriously, go locate a copy of Finnikin of the Rock ASAP if you haven't read it yet. It's the type of book that you find your mind returning to time and time again because it leaves that much of an impression on you. Once you step into this world that Melina Marchetta has so ingeniously created, you'll never want to leave it.

A HUGE thanks to Paola of A Novel Idea and Charlene of Bookish Whimsy for hosting this wonderful event!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Reading and Blogging Blues

Contrary to what Melissa said in her post the other day, I wouldn't exactly label this a rant. I may end up complaining at length about my total lack of time in the past few weeks for reading/blogging, but it's more sadness than anything. While I'm extremely happy with, and grateful for, the path my life has taken recently (job = guilt-free book buying), I can't help but miss devoting so much time as I did before to books and the blog. I feel like I'm hardly around here anymore, and that just saddens me. Not visiting blogs also makes me sad; it's as though I've become a turtle and withdrawn into my shell. At the moment I feel so out of touch with what's going on around the book blogosphere, and being out of the loop is driving me a bit crazy because in general, I hate being the last person to find out about anything.

I haven't finished reading a single book yet this month; I don't remember when that last happened. It's not because I don't want to read, either. My favorite way to unwind at the end of the day is to curl up with a book in front of the TV, preferably with an unhealthy snack by my side, too. I've barely had a moment to spare for reading for almost a month now, and no reading = depressed/slightly unhinged Lee. And I've got some very, very highly anticipated books waiting for me to read them, like Sarah Rees Brennan's Untold and Karina Halle's Bold Tricks. It pains me to look at them all neglected on my shelf/Kindle.

Hmm . . . . I think I may have gotten a tad rant-y there. I do admit to being more than a little frustrated with still struggling to find a balance between work/life outside of work. This month also happens to be an incredibly busy one. Today Melissa and I are going to see Ally and their brother, Denis, perform in a competition with the rest of their high school's marching band. We've got about a two hour drive each way, and we don't expect to return until the wee hours of tomorrow morning. So what I'm trying to say is, this week's White Queen recap is going to be late, possible even pushed back to the end of the week. Yeah, I know it's the series finale tonight, but I don't quite picture myself having time to watch the episode and write about it tomorrow.

I'm also super pressed for time this weekend because in a few days, Melissa and I are headed to NY! We are both beyond excited, especially about visiting our old neighborhoods. The blog is most likely going to be extra quiet for a few days next week. I plan to write a post about our adventures, and I'm also hoping to finally get some reading done during the flights.

I'm really trying to get back on track with reading and blogging. Writing about something that's been weighing rather heavily on my mind has been quite therapeutic—now I see why Melissa enjoys ranting so much. And if you've managed to make it to the end of this post, I thank you for reading it and allowing me to vent.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Melissa's Prelude to Her Stolen Rant Feature

Disclaimer Thingy:

I love to complain! Alas, Lee has threatened me with bodily harm if I give out spoilers in my reviews. And since ranting requires something to rant about, I have not been able to fully express my book angst. At last! I have found a loophole! Mwahahaha! Do keep in mind that I am a whiny brat and I am only trying to be funny, but I will probably come off as really annoying. So, forgive me in advance.

My Rant:

It has finally happened, just as I knew it would. My hilarity and genius have become a source of envy among my co-bloggers here. Well, more like blogger boss. As you all may know, I have my own brilliant ranting feature. I find that reviews can sometimes limit what I can say about a book. Not wanting to unintentionally give out spoilers, I decided ranting would allow me to say whatever the heck I wanted without the responsibility of trying not to ruin the entire book for those who don't like spoilers. Also, I enjoy complaining.

Anyway, Lee has quite a bit of pent-up aggression. In self-preservation, I suggested she write a rant. The wrath of Lee can now be unleashed without me being the target. I consider it an all-around win. But make no mistake! I am the Supreme Ruler of Rants! Mwahahahaha!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (16): What Job Would You Choose After Hogwarts?

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts. 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:
What Job Would You Choose After Hogwarts?

After Hogwarts, I want to become a dementor. I mean, they have a pretty cool getup, with their creepy cloaks. And they can fly! Do you know how much time flying would save?! A lot! I wouldn't be your typical dementor, sucking up everyone's happiness and all that. What am I going to do with all that extra happy anyway? I would fly around giving people cookies and balloons. Everyone would be so confused! Mwahahahahahahaha!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Sworn to Conflict by Terah Edun

Today I'm excited to be a part of the cover reveal for Sworn to Conflict by Terah Edun, Book 3 in the Courtlight series. There's also an international giveaway, so be sure to enter using the Rafflecopter form below!

Sworn to Conflict by Terah Edun
Sworn to Conflict (Courtlight #3)
By Terah Edun
Publication Date:
December 6, 2013

Synopsis: Ciardis Weathervane fought for the living dead and won. But worse than taking on a mass murderer was her discovery that she had been deceived by her friends. Now she needs to not only fight a war in the North and survive, but also decide where she stands in the midst of competing sides.

A threat to all she holds dear lies in the North and her heart is not the only thing she might lose. A massive army awaits in the mountain pass, surging closer to the gates of the southern lands. Nothing the Algardis army has done so far has dissuaded their march forward and Ciardis finds out that her powers to enhance are needed now more than ever.

As she faces her greatest fears on the battlefields and her heart is torn between her love of Sebastian and loyalty to her family, Ciardis must choose her fate carefully. For in her path, lies the destiny of the empire.

This third novel continues the story of Ciardis Weathervane from Sworn To Transfer.

Connect With Terah:

Author Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

** Giveaway **

Terah is giving away 1 signed copy of Sworn to Transfer, 1 eARC of Sworn to Conflict, and 1 eBook of Sworn to Raise or Sworn to Transfer. There are 3 total winners! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Journey Is NOT Always Greater Than the Destination: Melissa's The Alchemist Rant

* This rant may contain spoilers for The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. *

Disclaimer Thingy:

I love to complain! Alas, Lee has threatened me with bodily harm if I give out spoilers in my reviews. And since ranting requires something to rant about, I have not been able to fully express my book angst. At last! I have found a loophole! Mwahahaha! Do keep in mind that I am a whiny brat and I am only trying to be funny, but I will probably come off as really annoying. So, forgive me in advance.

My The Alchemist Rant:

As promised in my This Dark Endeavor review, I am writing my long awaited rant on The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I can honestly say, out of all the books I have read in my entire life, there is only one I can say I hated with a fiery passion. That unlucky book is The Alchemist. Whenever anyone mentions anything vaguely reminiscent of that awful book, I full out rant. Ask anyone I know! They'll tell you not to mention The Alchemist, alchemy, or camels. Unless, perhaps, you want to see my wrath unleashed on the planet like the flipping apocalypse. Anyway, I was forced to read this "book" one summer for my AP English class. Here's the thing: I never minded required reading. I could always find something I liked about a book to pull me through the assignment. I could not find a single redeeming quality for this book. I do admit, however, that my intense loathing of this disaster of a book is completely irrational. That was my disclaimer, so if you happened to enjoy The Alchemist, no offense to you or your affection for this book.

The Alchemist is one of those metaphorical books that tries to teach you something and make you question everything. While I don't always have an absolute hatred for those kinds of books, I do in fact hate them. It's just like blah blah blah metaphor! Blah blah blah blah symbolism! Blah blah blah foreshadowing! I know! I get it! You don't have to hit me over the head with it like a sledgehammer. I much prefer to look into things myself. It should be more about what the book means to you than what the author is leading you into thinking. It's like brainwashing! I think what I want!

You see, I went in thinking I would enjoy this book because it's about adventure and a secret treasure, and really cool pyramids. The main character was a big dumb dumb! Santiago has just set off on his journey when he gets all his money stolen! (Perhaps I am screaming the words in my head as I write; feel free to read them as such.) Maybe it's just a New Yorker thing, but if you let something like that happen, you deserved it! And then he decides to work in a crystal shop to get some money. That took forever!!! He should have hitchhiked or some s**t! Then he meets up with his "soul mate" or something and he ditches her!!! WTF?! Why didn't she just come with?! FINALLY he gets to the place with the treasure and he gets beat up or something only to realize the treasure is where he began. Santiago's all happy about it and decides he's going back for the stupid treasure. So, he'd have to go allllll the way back home, and then come alllllll the way back for his girlfriend. Just no. Not acceptable. That is just complete insanity.

If that had happened to me, I would have dug myself a grave in the sand, gone on a murdering spree, and then slept in my grave like a vampire until some unlucky traveler walked by. Then I would hack said traveler to pieces with my axe and go on another killing spree. Perhaps that's a little violent, but I believe it is the only sane reaction to a book like that.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The White Queen Recap: The Princes in the Tower

* Spoilers ahead if you haven't seen Episode 9, "The Princes in the Tower."

Hey—I actually had time this week to sit down and watch TV! It's been a while, and I was kind of tempted to continue watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey over on HBO even though I'd seen it already because, hello: Richard Armitage! I guess you could say I had a bit of an internal battle over which Richard to watch, but in the end I switched to Starz because I've been feeling so guilty about my lack of blogging lately and wanted to get this post up as scheduled.

Traitors Everywhere!

Man, it killed me to watch Richard bestow titles on two traitors-in-waiting: Stanley and Buckingham. He told them he was grateful for their loyalty, which made me cringe.

A Tale of Two Princes

Princes Edward and Richard are all anyone talks about in this ep, and with good reason. They've been declared illegitimate but still pose a threat to Richard's reign. Elizabeth worries about the fate of her boys, though it's really Edward she's concerned about since the real Prince Richard was smuggled out of England in last week's episode and secretly replaced with an imposter. Meanwhile, Anne goes to the Tower to look in on them and has a conversation with Robert Brackenbury that will come back to haunt her later in the episode.

So Much Conspiring

I thought this was one of the better paced episodes, what with all the plans to stab Richard in the back constantly changing. At first Elizabeth thinks that Margaret and Buckingham are both on her side when they offer to break the princes out of the Tower. In exchange, Buckingham's daughter will marry Prince Edward, Henry Tudor will be allowed to return from exile and marry Princess Elizabeth, plus be named heir to the throne after Edward.

Save or Slaughter?

That's Stanley's ultimatum to Margaret as they discuss what's going to go down when the Tower is stormed. Sure, Stanley says, they could rescue the lads, but what would become of Margaret's plans to put her darling Henry on the throne? Now, if something unfortunate were to happen to the boys . . . Henry's chances of becoming king look so much better!

Storming the Tower = Fail

The operation fails because no one anticipated how well-guarded the boys would be. Richard learns what happened in London while on progress in the North and plans to have his nephews moved there. Stanley, still pretending to be all for Richard, passes this news to Margaret, who hatches a new plan: team up with Buckingham. The Duke has access to the boys, and everyone will think Richard killed them. Buckingham's terms for his loyalty to Henry Tudor are that he be crowned king if Tudor dies. At this point, I think I just wanted to slap all of the conspirators: Stanley, Margaret, and Buckingham. So Buckingham upholds his end of the bargain, and Stanley is anxious because Margaret didn't actually see the bodies of the princes. Stanley's worried that Buckingham is just holding them somewhere. In the meantime, thanks to Buckingham, rumors are spreading that Richard is responsible for the boys' deaths.

Excuse Me While I Go Put Down This Rebellion

Richard heads out to battle to stop Buckingham and Tudor. He knows about Buckingham's betrayal from having intercepted Margaret's letters.

Let's Make It Rain

Princess Elizabeth asks her mother where Tudor is supposed to meet Buckingham (in Wales) and wishes it would rain. Guess what happens next? It rains so hard, Tudor can't set sail, and Buckingham is forced to march through nothing but mud. With Richard in pursuit, Buckingham's men begin to flee, and he realizes he can't possibly win against Richard. I wish I could make it rain on command; I could save so much water by not having to use the lawn sprinklers!

Bye Bye, Buckingham

When Richard returns to London, he goes to the Tower himself and is dismayed to discover that the boys are indeed gone. Buckingham is executed, and Margaret is put under house arrest for her treason. She accuses Stanley of setting her up so he could take her money, and he's just like, puh-lease.

The Showdown

Richard goes to see Elizabeth in sanctuary and asks her if she's hidden her sons away somewhere because they're not in the Tower. He promises her that he had nothing to do with their deaths and guarantees her safety if she lives sanctuary. But—she'll be under house arrest because he can't trust her not to rebel against him. Her daughters Elizabeth and Cecily are to go to court.

We'll Curse the Culprit Together, But You Still Have to Marry Henry Tudor

The title pretty much says it. The Elizabeths curse whomever is behind the princes' deaths. Elizabeth the elder is determined that her daughter will still wed Tudor.

Next Week: The Finale

The final episode airs next Saturday; it should be action-packed, to say the least.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Review: Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins

Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins
Temptation (Temptation #1)
By Karen Ann Hopkins
Harlequin Teen

To Sum It Up: Rose Cameron is about to make a fresh start with her father and brothers in rural Meadow View, Ohio, which is a big change from the city life she knew in Cincinnati. The move almost instantly begins looking better for Rose when she meets her new neighbor, Noah Miller. She’s taken with him at once, and the attraction is mutual. The catch is, Noah is Amish, so a potential relationship between him and Rose is basically impossible. That does not stop them from trying to see other, despite the consequences they’ll face if either of their families finds out about them.

Review: A toughie to review, this one. I found the premise extremely interesting, and that’s what drew me to this book. I think it had a great deal of potential to tell a very unique story, but unfortunately, insta-love and two main characters whom I just could not root for, individually or as a couple, worked against it. And yet this book still managed to leave me curious about what happens next to these characters. See my dilemma?

Insta-love is a shaky foundation on which to build a “romance,” and Rose and Noah are practically professing their eternal love for each other after one meeting. Unless we’re talking about a Reese’s Peanut Butter product, I don’t believe in love at first sight. I do think it’s possible to feel an instant attraction to someone, but attraction does not equal love. When the plot revolves around a relationship that you struggle to find plausible because the couple in question barely knows each other, it’s really difficult to buy into the plot. Had the romance been a slow build, I think that would have made a huge difference here. I needed a lot more convincing that Rose and Noah had more than infatuation between them.

Rose didn’t make a very favorable impression on me from the book’s outset, and I failed to warm up to her. I thought she held a rather high opinion of herself. In the first chapter, she notes that she’s used to guys checking her out and launches into a detailed description of her appearance. From the nanosecond she meets Noah, he’s all Rose thinks about. Is Noah looking at her? If he’s not looking at her, then why isn’t he? When is Noah going to kiss her (uh, because he’s Amish and he’s not even supposed to be getting friendly with an English, i.e. non-Amish, girl?)? Why won’t he hurry up and kiss her? This latter question especially drove me crazy because Rose’s attitude made it sound as though she were entitled to a kiss or something. I also really didn’t like the way she acted toward her brothers, Sam and Justin. Rose has a hard time talking about them without using words like “bozo,” “buffoon,” and “barbarian.” I think she was supposed to come across as endearing, as in, “Look at what I have to put up with from my siblings,” but I often felt there was a mean-spiritedness to her comments, too. Overall, I found her lacking in maturity and certainly not equipped to consider the consequences of falling for an Amish guy. All that matters to Rose is her looove for Noah, and since I didn’t find that believable to begin with, I couldn’t muster much sympathy for her—or for him.

As much as I wasn’t a fan of Rose’s, I didn’t like how quickly Noah presumed that she was going to become Amish in order to be with him. He entertains the notion of becoming English for about five seconds before concluding that it couldn’t work. After all, he’d be giving up so much, including his family, and doesn’t know how to earn a living in the English world. Apparently, though, it’s okay for Rose to leave her life behind. Noah also takes issue with the clothes and makeup Rose wears but has no objection to a secret kissing session with her in his buggy. I call that hypocrisy, sir, and I find it rather irksome. Okay—very irksome.

If this had been any other contemporary novel, I would be quitting the series here. Rose and Noah do, however, face challenges that are a bit different from those of your average YA couple, and I’m oddly fascinated by that aspect of the series. It’s probably enough to get me to pick up the sequel, just to see where this story goes.

All in All: This isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, with the insta-love and all. It really wasn’t mine, but I couldn’t help being intrigued by the book’s concept and how it ended.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (15): Favorite Moment in Book 3

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts. 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 Moment in Book 3

My favorite moment in Prisoner of Azkaban has to be when Sirius Black and Remus Lupin reunite in the Shrieking Shack. It was like getting the gang, technically three quarters of the gang: Sirius, Remus, and Peter, back together. Despite Wormtail being evil, it is one of the few times, if not the only time, in the series when the majority of the Marauders are together. Not only was the reunion between Sirius and Remus sweet, but it was also the first time that Sirius was able to explain himself and his innocence to Harry. It was an all-around great moment.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Review: Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel

* This review may contain spoilers for the previous book, This Dark Endeavor. *

Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel
Such Wicked Intent (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #2)
By Kenneth Oppel
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

To Sum It Up: Victor has failed and now Konrad is dead. In a fit of frustration and grief, Victor and his father burn all of the books from the Dark Library and begin to seal up the entrance. Victor spares a single book from the fire, which claims to hold the secret of bringing the dead back to life. Victor sees his second chance and vows that he will not fail his brother again. Soon enough, Victor, Elizabeth, and Henry are on a quest to save Konrad a second time. But, this adventure is far more dangerous than the last, and the stakes are much higher.

Review: I have to say, I think I liked Such Wicked Intent better than This Dark Endeavor. I found the story line to be more gripping and original. The spirit world of the Frankenstein mansion was terrifying and new. The plot is what really made both of these books. I find it hard to communicate how awesome it was, so instead, I'll just keep saying that it was awesome. I also felt like it was a seamless continuation of the first book. The sequel wasn't just an afterthought to continue on with the characters; it was the continuation of a fantastic story.

I did continue to have trouble connecting with Victor, which made me a little sad because it's supposed to be easier to love characters when you keep reading about them, but it was only more difficult. I also really came to dislike Elizabeth. I was upset because I kind of liked her in the previous book. I thought a lot of her actions were very uncharacteristic of the person she was in the first book. Then again, the more I think about it, the more I question whether or not I know who she was/is. She flip-flops all the time, and it’s weird and frustrating. I did continue to like Henry and Konrad.

Once again I was frustrated with the ending. I felt like it wasn't good enough for the end of such a magnificent adventure. However, I can begrudgingly understand how it may be fitting when you take a step back and reevaluate things.

All in All: Although I did enjoy this book more than the first, I felt like it shared the same exact problems. The plot line was sooooo good, but these issues kept it from being half as great as it could have been. It was a very enjoyable read despite my criticism.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The White Queen Recap: Long Live the King

* Spoilers ahead if you haven't seen Episode 8, "Long Live the King."

Whoops—this recap is a little late. I didn't have the chance to watch this week's episode until tonight (on demand channels, you are a godsend!), thus the delay in writing this post.

This was a bit of a tough episode for me to watch because it marked the start of a chain of events that I've been dreading seeing play out in the series. I think both history and Shakespeare have been rather unkind to the real Richard III, and I'm really not looking forward to the final two episodes, the last one in particular. I feel like Episode 8 moved quite swiftly and covered a lot of territory, and I'm a little stumped as to how to break it down like I've been doing for the previous episodes. So for this post, I'm just going to write in regular paragraphs without headings.

Last week saw the downfall of George, Duke of Clarence, ending with his execution for treason. This week's episode opens with some informative onscreen titles to let you know that it's now 1483 (already!). Henry Tudor is all grown up, as are several of Edward and Elizabeth's children. Edward isn't looking so well in the health department, and it's not too far into the episode when it's clear that he's not going to be king for much longer. He asks for Richard while Elizabeth panics about how she's going to keep the throne within her own family. She wants her brother Anthony to rule for Prince Edward until he comes of age, but Edward names Richard Lord Protector.

Edward's death divides the court, and Elizabeth knows she's in trouble. She orders Prince Edward be brought to her in London so he can be crowned, but his escort is intercepted by Richard and Sir Robert Brackenbury. The prince is taken to the Tower of London, and, having been raised by his Woodville relatives, isn't very receptive to Richard. Elizabeth runs to sanctuary with her other children (and a chunk of the royal treasury) and sends a letter to her brother Edward asking him to bring his fleet to her aid. Unfortunately for her, the letter is intercepted and leads to the arrest of her son, Thomas Grey, and her brother, Anthony.

Amidst all of this chaos, Stanley and Margaret are biding their time, waiting for the right moment to snag the throne for Henry. For all of her religious fervor for the past how many weeks, Margaret proves herself quite the plotter and manipulator here, pretending to be Elizabeth's friend while Stanley feigns being on Richard's side. Oh Margaret, despite all of your talk about how you wanted to become a nun and whatnot, we all know that you're willing to do anything to see your darling become King of England.

Anne shows off a pretty ambitious side in this episode as well, urging Richard to punish Anthony Woodville and going so far as to exhort him to take the crown for himself. And so Richard eventually does both, ordering the executions of Anthony and Elizabeth's other son from her first marriage, Richard Grey, and ascending the throne as Richard III.

I'm sorry, but I rolled my eyes a tad when Elizabeth cursed Richard's sword arm and the scene cut to Richard gripping his arm in pain. Is that going to come back to haunt him at Bosworth in two weeks?

Um, I also couldn't take the Duke of Buckingham too seriously with that hairdo. Rory from Doctor Who, I barely recognized ye!

Well, only two episodes remain. Did I mention how much I'm absolutely dreading them for Richard's sake?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (14): Favorite Place in the Series

Harry Potter Moment of the Week is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts. 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 Place in the Series

My favorite place in the wizarding world is, hands down, Azkaban. Where else can you say, I got Azkabanished?! Additionally, I love all things morbid and depressing. I would love to work at a place that sucks the happiness from all its occupants. I also have previous experience from high school. It's a fantastic fit all around!

Chillax! I was kidding! Well, kind of. But seriously, my favorite place would have to be Hogwarts. Who hasn't fantasized about going there and learning how to use magic?! There are plenty of interesting places to go in Hogwarts, like the Room of Requirement, the Common Rooms, the Great Hall, the Astronomy tower . . . do I really have to continue? Darn, why do I have to be a squib?! :(

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Review: This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1)
By Kenneth Oppel
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

To Sum It Up: Twins Victor and Konrad Frankenstein live in the magnificent Frankenstein mansion along with their ultra liberal parents, their two younger brothers, and their distant cousin, Elizabeth. The Frankenstein manor is filled with hidden passages and rooms. Konrad, Victor, Elizabeth, and their best friend, Henry, have found many of its secrets but not all of them. One day, the four adventurers stumble upon a secret library within their own library. The Dark Library is filled with books on magic and alchemy. Victor and Konrad's father finds out and forbids them from returning to the Dark Library, claiming it is all foolishness, but when Konrad falls ill and the doctors cannot help, Victor, Elizabeth, and Henry turn to the Dark Library in order to save Konrad's life.

Review: First off, the Frankenstein mansion is amazing (I want to live there!). Secrets galore! Now to business. The book had a very dark feel to it, and that was something that really appealed to me. My favorite part of the book was, hands down, the story line. The plot was inventive and creative, and that is something I value heavily in a book. And yes, I say it alllll the time, but it’s only because it is absolutely true! There was so much intricate complexity, the book felt like an antique desk with hundreds of secret compartments. It was easy to see how much forethought went into the story. That being said, the story wasn't at all confusing. That also being said, it wasn't at all boring.

I wasn't crazy about the characters. I found that I could not connect with them because I felt some of them lacked a lot personality-wise. I did not hate them, and I felt like they had the potential to be lovable characters. Victor for instance was not a perfect guy, but he did love his brother. I felt like I could have understood Victor a lot better if he hadn't seemed to completely forget about his brother every other chapter. I mean, the things he went through for his brother really were admirable, but it seemed like he was only fully devoted to his brother at irregular intervals. I could identify with the sibling rivalry, but sometimes it felt like he was talking about an acquaintance and not his brother, Konrad. I also felt Elizabeth was rather irregular. At times she was very likable, kind of a tomboy, and very determined. Other times she was practically a completely different character! The inconsistency of these characters is what kept me from becoming attached to them. Konrad and Henry were far more likable, but they were only minor characters.

The end was disappointing to say the least. It vaguely reminded me of how absolutely enraged I was with the ending of The Alchemist. (Note to self: write rant about The Alchemist.) All I can say is, it fit, but it didn't. I have very mixed feelings about it. I wish I could dive into a whole analysis of it, but that would give away everything. So I'll shut up for now, and if I feel especially motivated about it, I may write a rant.

All in All: This was a very clever book. The biggest issue was that the characters were only so-so. Otherwise, I really enjoyed it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

September 2013 Recap & Some Blog News

This monthly recap is a little different from the usual format, in that there's no list of books that anybody read last month. That's because both Ally and I have barely had any time to read lately, with her school and band schedule and me starting a new job. Between the two of us, we read about six books in September, and our reading time continues to look limited for the immediate future.

I do have some posts in the works for this month and Melissa will be contributing a few reviews as well, but with everyone so busy, we may be cutting back on the number of posts we've been doing. I'm hoping to get settled into a regular routine soon, but I still may not have as much time as I would love to commit to reading and blogging. So, we'll still be here, just possibly not as regularly as we have been. It also might take us a little longer to respond to comments, but we will reply to them because the best thing about blogging is getting to chat with all of you!

And now with that business out of the way, here's what went on around the blog in September:

Reviews Posted:

The White Queen Recaps:

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