Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 2014 Recap

This is the first month in a while that I feel like I accomplished quite a bit of reading. I finally completed my reread of books 1-4 of The Mortal Instruments! I skipped City of Lost Souls because I remembered that one pretty well, plus I already reviewed it. I also read the last book, City of Heavenly Fire, this month; Ally and I are hoping to post a joint review once she's finished.

Reviews Posted:

Featured Posts:

TBR Reading Challenge Progress:

  • Books Read/Reviewed: 2 (Total for Year: 9)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

School Reading Through the Ages

Ally came up with the idea for this post quite a while ago, in which we look back at the books we were both required to read for high school. We finally had time to sit down together and compile a list of the titles that were sometimes a welcome assignment and other times, not so much. It was interesting to note that we had a few titles in common; some books really do seem to be perennial teacher favorites. After taking a browse at each other's reading lists, which are pictured below, we then wrote some reflections on our school reading days.

Ally: English has always been my favorite subject, and I never truly minded all the required reading and writing. Comparing Lee's high school reading to my own, the biggest difference I see is in the quantity. Lee had to read at least double the amount of books that I had to read, which should be embarrassing for the Florida educational system.

Besides two books we had to read freshman year (Romeo and Juliet and To Kill a Mockingbird), Lee and I didn't have any of the same books in the same years. It was interesting because we both had the same feelings about the books: enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird and hated Romeo and Juliet. Freshman year altogether was a meh reading year for me. I was only able to read three books, which was disappointing in itself, and I didn't appreciate the works at the time. Since I disliked the one Shakespeare tragedy so much, I was turned off from reading any of his other plays. I still blame my 9th grade English teacher till this very day for my lack of appreciation for Shakespeare.

Sophomore year was a bright reading year for me; I adored my teacher and she actually assigned intriguing, worthwhile books. My absolute favorite book that I was forced to read in my entire high school career was The Count of Monte Cristo. That book just hit all the right notes with me. I was one of the few students who actually read the book in my class, and I remember trying to give the Sparknotes version of it to my classmates right before the test. The only book that I didn't like sophomore year was The Alchemist. I tolerated reading it but with Melissa constantly complaining about her dislike for the book, it was hard to enjoy.

Junior year was hell. I absolutely despised my crazy English teacher. She would assign us all these books and not give us any time to read them. She also wouldn't have anything interactive to go along with the reading. I hated reading books for her class. The worst was The Catcher in the Rye. The book itself was okay but my teacher didn't promote actually "reading" it. She would go around the class and tell students to read summaries of it online if they didn't feel like reading it.

My second favorite reading year was senior year. We had to read several classics, including Jane Eyre, which is one of my favorites, and Macbeth. I surprisingly really enjoyed Jane Eyre; I only say surprisingly because Lee didn't enjoy the book, and we tend to like and dislike the same stuff. I unfortunately did not care for Macbeth, which is sad because I feel like I should care about Shakespeare, and I can only thank my experience with Romeo and Juliet for that.

All in all, my high school reading experience is slightly disappointing in comparison to Lee's. She read so many more books than I did, and I feel like she had the better books too. Hopefully, in the future, I will be able read more classics without the restrictions of an educational setting.

Lee: I still remember attending orientation for incoming freshmen at what would be my school for the next four years and staring at the summer reading assignment sheet. What?! We had no such summer homework in my elementary school. I was excited, though, to start reading "high school level" books; my elementary school had never really offered much guidance as to book recommendations based on age/grade level.

I think it's kind of funny that Ally and I were both introduced to Shakespeare's plays through Romeo and Juliet. Because, you know, nothing says, "Helloooo, Shakespeare!" like two teens torn apart by tragedy. Sophomore year for me was all about American lit, thus the cluster of American authors on my list.

Junior year English was my favorite; I was a budding Anglophile even back then. I really enjoyed our study of the history of British literature, of which I am still very much an aficionado to this day. No Brit lit course would be complete without . . . Shakespeare! I liked that we got to learn about his life and times and had a bit more of an orientation to the language of his plays. Actually, we had zero orientation to the English of his day when I read Romeo and Juliet as a freshman. I also just enjoyed reading Macbeth much more than R & J. And so the love of Shakespeare that continues to live in my heart today began.

My senior reading list is a little longer because I doubled up on English classes that year, which translated into two summer reading lists. I distinctly remember my parents skeptically eyeing the stack I took up to the counter at Barnes and Noble, which I'd begun visiting with increasing frequency. I still shake my head a little a the inclusion of The Bridges of Madison County on one of my lists. After being assigned classic after classic, this was quite a change of pace. Seriously—it was an odd selection compared to our usual reading fare.

I'm not going to pretend that I miss being told what to read, especially during summer vacation. I also feel that it's time I made a little confession. I didn't finish reading A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man by James Joyce, one of my senior summer reading books. I had no frickin' clue what the bloody hell was going on in that book. I tried. Really, really tried. Exasperated, I gave up and read the Cliffs Notes instead. So, I guess you could call that my first DNF, and that was the one and only time I failed to finish reading a book for school.

Were there any books you read for school that you loved/hated?

Monday, July 28, 2014

ARC Review: The Young World by Chris Weitz

The Young World by Chris Weitz
The Young World (The Young World Trilogy #1)
By Chris Weitz
Little, Brown and Company
Format: Print ARC
Source: Goodreads Giveaway
Publication Date: July 29, 2014

To Sum It Up: New York City is a ghost of its former self after an outbreak of a devastating illness wipes out the population of adults and children. Many of the remaining teenagers have joined one of the tribes that now rule the city and battle for scarce resources. These kids have resigned themselves to a very short life expectancy, but there may be a sliver of hope for them yet if one group can somehow escape the city alive and discover a cure.

Review: I will always be a complete, total, and utter sucker for books set in New York City. Of course, it’s a bonus when I end up enjoying the book, but I’m sorry to say that this was not the case with The Young World. In fact, the setting was the novel’s highlight.

The concept of a post-apocalyptic NYC run by teenage survivors of a deadly sickness is what grabbed my attention about The Young World. I was excited to see that the core group of characters were based in Washington Square Park, right in the heart of the campus of mine olde alma mater, New York University. The book even references NYU’s Bobst Library. Just when I started getting all nostalgic about seeing several familiar places mentioned not just around NYU but around the city, I also began to realize that this was a by-the-numbers YA dystopian. Disease. No adults. Societal breakdown. Gang warfare. Quest for disease cure. Aside from my stroll down NYC memory lane, I was hard-pressed to find anything original about this story to make it stand out from other books in its genre. Simply borrowing an element of dystopia here and there and putting them together do not necessarily translate into a dystopian novel. I personally need to feel the urgency of the characters’ situation, and I just couldn’t manage it here. The characters had what I thought was a generally blasé attitude toward their plight; they know there’s no future for them, so caring about anything usually isn’t worth the effort. And if the characters couldn’t really be bothered to care, it wasn’t easy for me to do the caring for all of us.

Jefferson, the leader of the Washington Square tribe, was okay as a narrator and the most developed of the characters. If his narrating duties hadn’t been shared with Donna, another member of the tribe and his friend since childhood and on/off love interest, the novel might have been quite different. Donna’s chapters contain prolific use of “like” as an interjection, and I just found that . . . unnecessary. It made an otherwise smart and pretty funny character rather annoying. Donna would repeatedly say something profound that would then be punctuated with a “like.” This became very distracting at times, and I was frustrated on her behalf because her character could have been so much more than the girl who said “like” all the time.

The details relating to the illness that killed everyone except the adolescent population are sketchy at best, and that is no-no number one for me when it comes to dystopia. There’s plenty of emphasis on everything that was lost when the world went to hell, but there’s not a lot of how and why we arrived at this point. Jefferson, Donna, and the other characters make it abundantly clear that they’re barely existing in a kill-or-be-killed society, but sometimes they get too wrapped up in pondering what life was like before. Overall I felt that there wasn’t enough explanation where more was needed and too much where less would have been fine. I really tried to find some investment in the story and the fates of the characters, but alas, almost every aspect of this book and I were not meant to be.

All in All: Sadly, I could not get into this or shake the feeling that it never really delved into dystopia, despite the ultra bleak descriptions of the world. Donna’s POV was also often challenging to read, and when you find yourself forcing yourself to get through every other chapter, well, you know you won’t be continuing the series.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (48): Best Ron Moment

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:
Best Ron Moment

Ah, Ronald. Once again this week, I find myself waffling over which single moment to choose. Surely I have to mention his unforgettable performance in the Quidditch match in Order of the Phoenix that won Gryffindor the Quidditch Cup and which turned "Weasley Is Our King" into a victory song. There's also his destruction of the locket horcrux in Deathly Hallows, which that terrible, evil object totally had coming after the way it tortured Ron especially out of the trio. But I think my favorite Ron moment is way back in Sorcerer's Stone, when he orchestrates that thrilling wizard's chess win on the life-size chessboard. I really, really love that scene in the film!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book Loot (5)

Ally and The Melissa are joining in for this edition of Book Loot! They got some awesome titles from the library (Alas, the library and I have been strangers lately; I figure I better read some of the books I already own before going on a borrowing binge.). I had a Barnes & Noble gift card that I'd been itching to put to good use, and I finally did.

Ally's Loot:


Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
Half Bad by Sally Green
The Looking Glass by Jessica Arnold
Perfect Lies by Kiersten White
The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas


Glee bookmark

Lee's Loot:


The Young World by Chris Weitz
Thanks to Goodreads and Hachette Book Group!


The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau
Soulless by Gail Carriger
If I Stay by Gayle Forman

I already had a copy of If I Stay, but I really liked the movie tie-in cover, so I picked up that edition and gave my other copy The Melissa, who was more than happy to give it a new home. I got The Crown for $5.98 at B & N— gotta love bargain priced books!

The Melissa's Loot:


Paper Towns by John Green


If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Doctor Who bookmark


Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer

Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

* This review may contain spoilers for the previous books in The Mortal Instruments series.

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare
City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments #4)
By Cassandra Clare
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: With Valentine no longer a threat, Jace and Clary can finally be together—or so they think. Clary worries that Jace is withdrawing into himself more and more, and she’s at a loss to help him. Meanwhile, Simon is grappling with the consequences of not only being a still fairly new vampire, but one who can walk in the daylight and who bears the Mark of Cain, which will destroy anyone who tries to harm him. And there are several people who seem determined to harm Simon.

Review: During my first read of books 1-4 of The Mortal Instruments three years ago (yikes—has it been that long already?!), City of Fallen Angels quickly established itself as my least favorite TMI book. Jace was not the Jace I fell for in City of Bones. His plotline in CoFA revolves around the mystery of what’s wrong with him, and the first time I read this book, I hated that plotline. Like, dude has been through enough already, what with being raised by an insane, murderous megalomaniac who popped back into his life and continued making it an absolute hell. A depressed and brooding Jace was a chore to read about; his sarcasm and arrogance, while not entirely absent, have been the hallmarks of this series for me.

Maybe knowing what to expect with Jace made rereading CoFA okay. I mean, there were a few things that I still felt iffy about, like the introduction of a character from Maia’s past. I don’t have a problem with Maia; it’s the necessity of adding yet another secondary character that I’m unsure about. And just when you thought Jace and Clary were going to kill demons side by side happily ever after, this book happened. Even if the Angel himself played matchmaker, something would get in the way of these two being together forever.

Although my opinion of the above-mentioned aspects of CoFA didn’t soften with a reread, I do feel that overall, the book is more finely honed than its predecessors, both in terms of the writing and the pacing. The exchanges between Jace and Simon, which have always been heavy on the snark, were particularly snappy, in multiple senses of the word. Speaking of Simon, he really takes center stage in this novel, and I remember being slightly annoyed by this the previous time I read CoFA, because as much as I like Simon, the lack of Jace-ness was palpable. This time, however, I really felt for Simon. He’s the odd man out—not a Shadowhunter, not the average vampire thanks to being a Daylighter. And almost everyone seems to want to kill him. So, lots of sympathy for Simon, whose luck in this book eerily resembles Jace’s, i.e. bad.

Going into this rereread, I was pretty sure that CoFA was going to fall fairly short of the 4 stars I gave to the other three TMI books. As I read, though, the book suprisingly held up quite well. I wouldn’t go so far as to say CoFA has become one of my favorite TMI books, but I was way too hasty in assuming that I was going to be rather tough with the rating. Besides, CoFA marks the first TMI appearance of a certain Silent Brother . . . .

All in All: City of Fallen Angels actually improved upon a second read, but that was largely due to knowing the story beforehand.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: This Is Sarah by Ally Malinenko

This Is Sarah by Ally Malinenko
This Is Sarah
By Ally Malinenko
BookFish Books
Format: eBook
Source: Author

To Sum It Up: Colin Leventhal has been fighting to hold his life together since the night his girlfriend, Sarah Evans, vanished. Everyone keeps telling him that he needs to accept that Sarah is gone and he has to move on with his life, but Colin clings to a thread of hope that she’s still alive. Meanwhile, right next door to Colin, Sarah’s younger sister, Claire, is also dealing with the loss of Sarah, mostly on her own because her parents have retreated into their own grief.

Review: Sometimes you read the blurb for a book and you just know that it’s going to be a really, really good read. My instincts were 100% on the mark with This Is Sarah. It’s the type of novel your eyes and mind want to devour in a single sitting, which is totally feasible. Don’t let the book’s compact size, however, fool you into thinking that it’s short on emotional punch because by the time I finished reading it, my heart had been thoroughly hammered. And then some.

Sarah Evans is the character who lends her name to the book’s title, and the impact of her disappearance on her boyfriend, Colin Leventhal, and younger sister, Claire, drives the novel. Both Colin and Claire narrate the story, and it’s through their eyes that you learn who Sarah was, the Sarah they loved and the Sarah who’s left a chasm in their hearts and lives that’s seemingly impossible to fill. Believe me when I say your own heart will break over and over again for the searing loss that Colin and Claire feel and what they experience in the aftermath of Sarah going missing. Claire practically becomes invisible to her parents, who are facing their own difficulties coping with the tragedy that has struck their family and so are not in an ideal position to offer comfort to their remaining child.

As for Colin, his chapters are utterly, utterly, utterly gut-wrenching. That is not an exaggeration. His life has fractured into a billion pieces. Sarah was his world, and the absolutely desperate hope that he has that she’s alive is his only oxygen. His pain is so brutal and raw that it’s not far into the novel before you, too, hope Sarah is okay, if only to see Colin stop hurting so much. This is a young man with his whole life ahead of him who should be looking forward to going to college instead of calling his missing girlfriend’s phone multiple times a day to hear her voicemail greeting. Almost everyone around Colin—his parents, his friends—thinks he’s headed for a breakdown, if he’s not there already. As you read, you understand where their alarm comes from, yet you also see where the things he does make sense to him in his state of mind. Colin is a meticulously crafted character, as are all of the characters, and so real that it’s very easy to forget he exists in the pages of a book.

This is one of the most realistic contemporary YA novels I’ve read, and that’s because of the writing. The prose in this book—it’s beautiful, bordering on poetic. Not a single word is extraneous. As somber as the tone of the book is, it never feels overwrought or cloying. Every line of dialogue sounds like it would be spoken by an actual person. In keeping with its realism, This Is Sarah doesn’t offer any easy answers, and that’s just another reason why I loved it, even as it broke the vital organ that’s responsible for that particular emotion.

All in All: Just perfect. That is all.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (47): Bravest Character Moment

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:
Bravest Character Moment

There's no shortage of these moments to choose from throughout the series, so once again, I find myself picking more than one. I can't not mention Harry meeting Voldemort in the forest in Deathly Hallows. It's not the first time Harry's faced him, but this time, Harry knows about the prophecy and the Horcruxes and that he has to willingly walk into his death. Not an easy thing to do.

And then there's Neville standing up to Voldemort, also in DH. Man, was that a badass scene in the movie. Like, on a scale of 1 to 10, it was a million!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

* This review may contain spoilers for the previous books in The Mortal Instruments series.

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments #3)
By Cassandra Clare
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

To Sum It Up: Valentine needs only one more Mortal Instrument to destroy the Clave and create his own army of Shadowhunters who will wage war against all Downworlders. Jace and the Lightwoods travel to the Shadowhunter homeland of Idris, where the Clave is assembling to decide how to counter Valentine’s impending attack. Clary is supposed to make the journey, too, but Jace devises a plan that’s supposed to keep her safe in New York. Nothing, however, is going to stop Clary from finding a way to save her mother, and Idris is where she hopes to uncover the key to waking Jocelyn.

Review: There’s not much I can say about City of Glass that I haven’t already covered in my reviews of City of Bones and City of Ashes. Now having read all three books for a second time, boy is that one particular series plotline bizarre. If you’ve read TMI, you know which one I mean. Valentine Morgenstern has to be one of the worst fictional fathers ever. Seriously. And yet, despite the mind-contorting family issues, I find this series very enjoyable to read and reread. The world is so immersive, and I’m quite attached to some of the characters (Magnus!).

City of Glass sees the setting shift to the Shadowhunters’ oft-mentioned homeland of Idris, which is painted as a place of picturesque beauty, with its glass towers that lend the book its title. In addition to the change in locale, some new faces appear: the Penhallows, the Shadowhunter family who’s hosting Jace and the Lightwoods; Amatis Herondale (Infernal Devices fans will surely recognize that surname!), Luke’s sister with quite the sad backstory; and Sebastian Verlac—I don’t even know where to begin with him, so let’s leave it there.

As for the returning characters, Jace and Clary do their We Wanna Be Together But We Totally Can’t act again. The relationship drama between those two reaches its crescendo, and really, it’s about time because it’s only been at the forefront of the books from the get-go. I did feel a teensy bit sorry for Clary, whom I usually take to task for acting first and thinking second; Jace’s words to her in one scene are particularly brutal. But now here comes the Jace defense: his mind goes to a pretty dark place here, again thanks to Valentine. When you look at all the lives this lunatic has wrecked, there’s hardly a character in the series whom he hasn’t made miserable—or worse. Usually worse.

Jace and Simon have traded insults throughout TMI, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Some of my favorite lines from both are from scenes when they’re sniping at each other, typically over Clary. Simon may not have Jace’s swagger and skill with a seraph blade, but I love that he can hold his own against Jace in a war of words.

City of Glass is a lengthy novel and a good number of those pages are all about building up to Valentine’s assault against the Shadowhunters. The payoff is worth the wait, though, thanks to all of the action that goes down as the book nears its close. The battle is waged on multiple fronts, and it’s almost painful to leave one to check in on another because you’re invested in the outcome of all of them. And that’s always been an area in which TMI shines: the Shadowhunters don’t merely talk about being fierce warriors; they prove it with every demon they strike down.

All in All: If you enjoyed the previous books, you should be quite satisfied with the resolution of the major plotlines here.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (46): Scariest Magical Creature

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:
Scariest Magical Creature

The scariest creature for me is only from the movies and not the books. The Sorting Hat in the movies terrified me as a kid. It was so crazed and unpredictable that you didn't know if it was going to get hungry one day and suck a student's brain right out of their ear! Or produce razor sharp teeth from its brim and scalp students, keeping mementos of its own brutality. Absolutely terrifying if you ask me.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book Loot (4)

Welcome to the mostly Maggie Stiefvater edition of Book Loot! So, last week was a rather stressful one and I thought about what would make me feel better. Then the light bulb went off: books would cheer me up! Even better, I still had money left on an Amazon gift card. Then came the hard part: deciding which books would especially cheer me up. I'd been seeing promos for the release of Maggie Stiefvater's Sinner everywhere, and I thought, yes, some Maggie Stiefvater books would most definitely cheer me up. But, I haven't read any books in her Wolves of Mercy Falls series, sooooo . . . that's how I ended up buying the rest of the series as well.

For Review:

This Is Sarah by Ally Malinenko

I am extremely excited to read This Is Sarah! Many thanks to Ally Malinenko!


Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Lots of Stiefvater goodness here. I joketh not when I say that my love for her Raven Cycle series knows no end. This is the series that I unapologetically push on everyone and anyone within a 50 mile radius. Which reminds me: if you haven't checked out that series yet, do NOT miss out on it!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Review: Chase Tinker and the House of Destiny

* This review may contain spoilers for the previous book, Chase Tinker and the House of Secrets.

Chase Tinker and the House of Destiny by Malia Ann Haberman

Chase Tinker and the House of Destiny (Chase Tinker #3)
By Malia Ann Haberman
Crossroad Press
Format: eBook
Source: Author

To Sum It Up: Chase can’t stop thinking about the Tinkers’ latest clash with their hated enemy, the Marlowes, and he especially can’t forget the drastic action he had to take in order to protect his little brother, Andy. Chase can’t afford to continue allowing these memories to haunt him, though, because he needs to focus on the Marlowes’ next strike. Adding to Chase’s troubles are the surprise arrival of a possible Marlowe spy, and the disturbing news that the Marlowes are ruthlessly stealing magic anywhere they can.

Review: It’s been a long while since I read any middle grade fiction, so long in fact that I believe the last one was about a year ago. So I was totally ready for a change to my usual YA reading diet, and Chase Tinker and the House of Destiny, book #3 in the series, turned out to be the perfect read for jumping back into MG.

House of Destiny finds Chase’s mindset in a fairly dark place. He believes he killed his cousin, Janie, after she first attacked his younger brother, Andy. Even though Chase acted to defend his brother, the guilt over what happened with Janie torments him. That’s quite a weight for someone his age to handle, but it’s also spot-on character development for a protagonist who’s going to inherit the duties as Keeper of his family’s magical house one day. We also see the lighter side of Chase’s growing pains, as he struggles to hide his feelings for his friend, Persephone. Our young hero’s list of woes just seems to keep getting longer, with one of his chief worries being the increasing threat the Marlowes pose.

The Tinkers’ foes have now taken to robbing magic from any being who possesses it. To assess the severity of the situation, Chase and company do some traveling in order to observe the damage firsthand. In a nice expansion outside of the Tinker house, the group journeys into the domains of fairies, vampires, witches/wizards/warlocks, and . . . leprechauns! Although the Tinkers’ attempts to rally some allies aren’t all successful, it’s still a cool addition to the series to see them interact with other magical communities.

With the Marlowes at their most diabolical yet, the appearance of one of them, Alexander Marlowe, sends the Tinker house into an uproar. Alex claims he wants nothing to do with all of the evil and is seeking refuge with the Tinkers. This causes no small amount of dissension in the house, with Chase highly suspicious of Alex and vehemently opposed to his presence on Tinker turf. Chase’s cousin Nori, however, takes a liking to Alex and thinks everyone else should cut him a break. I admit to finding Alex quite charming, but that may just be the English accent working its charm (I have such a weakness for those!). Alex was tough to get a read on; I could understand Chase’s point, but Alex also seemed convincingly sincere. The Alex puzzle kept my brain busy throughout the book, and I’m still not certain what to make of him. I will be disappointed if he turns out to be a baddie, though, because I really want to believe he’s on Team Tinker.

I was bummed to reach the end of the book because—cliffhanger! I’m really anxious to know what happens next (like if Alex is evil or not) and can’t wait for the fourth installment. Here’s hoping that Chase and his family end the Marlowes’ campaign to steal every drop of magic in the world, and that the magical newcomers to the series make return appearances in the next book (oh, and let’s not forget to hope that Alex isn’t evil).

All in All: Books like the ones in this series remind me of why middle grade is awesome, no matter your age.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (45): Best Shop in Diagon Alley

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:
Best Shop in Diagon Alley

I don't think I'm alone when I say that I'd like to shop in all of them. Of course I'd need to visit Ollivanders for a wand. Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour is a must-see for me as well. I could picture myself spending a ton of money in Flourish & Blotts, because, you know, books! But, I think the coolest shop in Diagon Alley by far is Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes! I loved the way Fred and George's fine establishment was brought to life in the Half-Blood Prince film, and I'd have to work very hard not to buy everything in there.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Loot (3)

Yep, this is the third installment of Book Loot already, which is just a little odd for someone who claimed to be going on a book buying ban. Lemme explain. I got an Amazon gift card last month and bought a few books with it, won a Goodreads giveaway, and won one of the raffle prizes at UtopYA, so technically, I didn't break my buying ban. ;)

Several prizes were raffled off at UtopYA every morning, and I was lucky enough to win this prize pack from author Misty Provencher! It included a signed copy of her novel, The Fly House, a T-shirt, a bracelet, a dragon ear cuff, and some other goodies.

The sole souvenir I bought for myself from the trip to Nashville was this Jane Austen jigsaw puzzle. I had to have it when I saw it because I love Jane Austen and I love jigsaw puzzles. As you can see, the box is packaged like a book and opens up like one, too:

I know the actual puzzle image is sideways, but the box wouldn't stay open when I tried to photograph it with the puzzle image in the correct orientation. Those blue sections you see contain quotes from her books, which I think is pretty neat.


Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
Thanks to Goodreads and St. Martin's Griffin!


Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican

eBooks Bought:

Stone of Destiny by Laura Howard

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June 2014 Recap

The blog didn't see a lot of reviews posted in June, but it was quite an eventful month. The three of us went to UtopYA con (woohoo!), Game of Thrones ended its fourth season (boohoo), and I turned another year older (just boo). I returned from Nashville madly in love with reading again, so here's hoping that the warm, fuzzy feeling just keeps on going and going.

Reviews Posted:

Featured Posts:

Discussing Game of Thrones Posts:

TBR Reading Challenge Progress:

  • Books Read/Reviewed: 1 (Total for Year: 7)