Thursday, June 29, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (171)

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 Save Only ONE Character from Death, Who Would It Be?

Only ONE? Dammit! I definitely need to save multiple characters: Fred, Tonks, Lupin, Dobby, DUMBLEDORE. If I absolutely must save only one, it would have to be:

SIRIUS BLACK.

Sirius is one of my favorite characters, and his death was devastating. I had to reread a certain scene in Order of the Phoenix about five times before what had happened finally sank in. And then I still didn't believe it. :-(

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

2017 Mid-Year Rewind

Hello, friends! Can you believe 2017 is just about half over? I. Can't. Even.

I'm writing this post on a dreary, rainy night, and not to sound melodramatic, LOL, but it's a perfect metaphor for how I feel about the first part of this year. I have a love/hate relationship with goal setting; I love having goals to work towards but hate how I feel when I don't accomplish them. I've always struggled with perfectionism, and this year, I'm feeling particularly unaccomplished.

The balance between real life and reading/blogging has shifted overwhelmingly toward real life, and it's been a battle to tip the scale even slightly in the other direction. At times picking up a book or writing a post has been so daunting, it's just been easier not do it. And once you fall into a rut, getting out is a challenge. I also ended up reading a string of books that were meh, which dug the rut even deeper.

I'm at least four books behind on my Goodreads reading challenge. Dammit—I really wanted to stay on target this year! XD There is a positive to report, though: I've been participating in Book Riot's month-long bookstagram challenge, and it's been a lot of fun. I only missed two days, which is surely a consistency record for me.

I'm still searching for my first five star read of 2017, but these two came very close:

Here's hoping that everyone enjoys an awesome second half of the year with lots of amazing reads and lots of happy blogging! I'm determined to escape my reading/blogging funk and crush my GR goal (and by "crush" I mean "madly scramble to squeeze in another 23 books by December 31, hahaha!).

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Fandom Mashups (91)

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:
"Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure." Pick 5 characters from other fandoms who you know would be a perfect fit in Ravenclaw.

Proud Ravenclaw here! XD And I'd be thrilled to call these characters fellow Ravenclaws:

  1. Tony Stark: While I think a few houses suit him (no pun intended, haha!), I'm claiming him for Ravenclaw because of his brilliant mind.
  2. Blue Sargent (The Raven Cycle): A character named Blue gets an automatic pass into Ravenclaw, don't you think? Plus, she's an extremely smart young woman.
  3. Yoda: So wise, he is!
  4. Lisa Simpson: I've always loved Lisa for her genius, and she'd be right at home in Ravenclaw.
  5. Tyrion Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones): You don't survive in Westeros for as long as Tyrion has without being incredibly intelligent.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (170)

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

This week's topic is:
Favorite Quote from Order of the Phoenix

The Weasley twins' departure from Hogwarts, beginning with their ingenious Portable Swamp, is one of my favorite scenes from the entire series. EVER. So I had to go with a quote (or two, LOL) from that scene:

Fred looked across the hall at the poltergeist bobbing on his level above the crowd.
"Give her hell from us, Peeves."
And Peeves, whom Harry had never seen take an order from a student before, swept his belled hat from his head and sprang to a salute as Fred and George wheeled about to tumultuous applause from the students below and sped out of the open front doors into the glorious sunset.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Fandom Mashups (90)

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:
The Moon is full, bright and it's making you feel dreamy so you've decided to stay up all night and gaze at it. Which characters do you think would want to enjoy this evening with you?

  1. Rhysand (A Court of Thorns and Roses): Who better to hang out with taking in the night sky than the High Lord of the Night Court?
  2. Gansey (The Raven Cycle): This totally sounds like something Gansey would be game for. As always, his friends are all invited to come along. XD
  3. Cassian Andor (Rogue One): I feel a Star Wars character would be perfect for this group, and Cassian has quickly become one of my favorites.
  4. Lisa Simpson: Lisa once lobbied to reduce light pollution in Springfield so that residents could enjoy the nighttime sky, so I think she'd love to do some moon gazing.
  5. Jon Snow (A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones): With all of the terrifying things Jon has seen during his time with the Night's Watch, he deserves a relaxing evening off to observe the full moon.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (169)

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:
Best Moment of Pure SASS?

Two of my favorite sass-filled moments involve both Harry and Snape: when Snape catches Harry with the Marauder's Map in Prisoner of Azkaban and the Map insults Snape, lol, and of course the classic "There's no need to call me 'sir,' Professor" line from Half-Blood Prince.

I think I have a pretty offbeat sense of humor, and for whatever reason, I LMFAO at the scene in the HBP film when Harry is on his way to Hagrid's after taking Felix Felicis and runs into Slughorn. The professor admonishes Harry for being outside the castle and hisses Harry's name when Harry continues on his way, and Harry hisses "Sir" right back at him. Harry is also pretty sassy during Aragog's funeral; when Slughorn asks if the Acromantula had any family, Harry's like, oh yeah. XD

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

* This review may contain spoilers for the previous books in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3)
By Sarah J. Maas
Publisher:
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buddy Read with Micheline of Lunar Rainbows Reviews

To Sum It Up: Feyre is back at the Spring Court, covertly plotting to undermine both it and its High Lord while also discovering what the King of Hybern has planned next for Prythian and the human lands below the wall. War is inevitable, but even that may not be enough to convince all the High Lords to set aside their usual squabbling among themselves and unite against their common enemy, Hybern. Feyre, Rhys, and their family are ready to stand against the massive invading Hybern army, even if they cannot rally any other courts to their side.

Review: After reading seven Sarah J. Maas books and being utterly annihilated by Empire of Storms last year, I prepared for the absolute, rock-bottom worst going into A Court of Wings and Ruin. I expected the Ruin part of the title to describe what was left of my heart after reading this because that’s become the norm post-Maas books.

Surprisingly, I don’t feel too wrecked. While there are plenty of intense, heart-stopping moments throughout A Court of Wings and Ruin (like the end of every chapter), I’m not the shattered wreck I was at the end of Empire of Storms. Fine, I may have almost cried a few times during A Court of Wings and Ruin. Maas certainly knows how to squeeze the reader’s heart to its bursting point.

A Court of Mist and Fury ended on one hell of a tumultuous note, with Feyre’s sisters, Nesta and Elain, being turned into Fae against their will and Feyre headed back to the Spring Court, vowing to make Tamlin pay for allying with the King of Hybern in exchange for the latter’s aid in finding her. A Court of Wings and Ruin picks up with Feyre back at the Spring Court, outwardly acting like she’s relieved to have been “rescued” from Rhysand and the Night Court. Meanwhile, Feyre is collecting intel on what Hybern is plotting and setting up the Spring Court to collapse around Tamlin. This second part of her plan has unforeseen consequences down the road, however, and I thought it was important to show that Feyre could still make mistakes after becoming the insanely powerful High Lady of the Night Court. As much as I love badass heroines, I also like to see them grounded and not ridiculously perfect. Maas does an excellent job here of keeping Feyre a well-rounded protagonist.

The hell that is war hits hard in A Court of Wings and Ruin, as Prythian braces itself for Hybern’s invasion. The battle isn’t only against an external enemy, either. The Fae High Lords, accustomed to years and years of infighting between the courts, must decide who represents the bigger threat: Hybern, which stands to destroy both Fae and humans alike, or their fellow High Lords. Even if the courts somehow manage to band together, they face a formidable foe, especially with the King of Hybern wielding the crazy powerful Cauldron.

Maas always writes fantastic action scenes, and they’re as pulse-pounding as usual in A Court of Wings and Ruin. She vividly conveys the sheer terror and chaos of battle. I frequently had to avert my gaze from further down the page, especially whenever I reached the end of a chapter, because I feared so damn much for Feyre, Rhys, Cassian, Azriel, Mor, Amren, and even Feyre’s sisters. Awaiting the outcome of each confrontation with Hybern on the battlefield was almost too much to handle. Feyre, Rhys, and their friends are a family, and they’re all prepared to sacrifice themselves if it means saving everyone else.

My only quibble with the book was the same one I had with Empire of Storms: the pacing. Both novels clock in at about 700 pages, and to me, both could have told their stories a bit more succinctly. I’m not sure what the original plan was for the number of books in this series, but A Court of Wings and Ruin tries to both bring this story to a close while also setting up possible plotlines for future books. Sometimes the flow between the two didn’t feel quite seamless, but the ending was very satisfying nonetheless, and I’m curious to see the direction the series heads in from here.

All in All: Taking on a 700-page book is absolutely daunting for me these days, but being back in this world with these beloved characters was like going home to catch up with old friends. A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones fans looking to get their fix between books/season should definitely give this series a shot.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Fandom Mashups (89)

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:
With Summer drawing ever nearer, you fancy a trip at the beach. Which fictional characters do you think would want to tag along with you?

It's been bloody hot and humid here the last 2 weeks, so a day at the beach sounds lovely! Here's who I'd bring along:

  1. Aelin (Throne of Glass): This lady just needs a day off to relax and has more than earned it!
  2. Blue Sargent (The Raven Cycle): I'd love to spend a day hanging out with her, and obviously the invitation extends to all of the Raven Boys as well.
  3. Katara (Avatar: The Last Airbender): If the waves get too rocky, we have a waterbender to calm them, and obviously the invitation extends to the whole gAang as well. XD
  4. Homer Simpson: It will be a most entertaining day at the beach with Homer around!
  5. Cole St. Clair (The Wolves of Mercy Falls): With Cole along for the trip, there's bound to be a party before the day is over.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (168)

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:
What is Your Favorite Harry Potter Book Cover? Pick One Cover from ANY Edition.

I'm really partial to the American hardcover editions because those are the ones I own, lol, but I also love the newer paperback editions. I think, however, sentimentality is going to win out here, so I'm going with:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

OK, so worst ending EVER, but Order of the Phoenix was the first time I got to experience the joy/pain of waiting for a new HP book to be released. I still remember waiting for the Amazon package to turn up, and tearing into it when I did so I could immediately start reading and tune out the rest of the world. This cover shows a more grown-up looking Harry compared to the previous covers, and to me the cover has always had a foreboding feel to it, which is 100% accurate. XD

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May 2017 Recap

Hello, friends! Today is the last day of May—does that seem insane to anyone else? Now would be a fantastic time for a TARDIS or Time-Turner to appear!

May was mostly another meh reading month, although it ended on a very strong note with this:

Sacrificing some preciousssss sleep a couple of nights in order to read A Court of Wings and Ruin was totally worth it! I regret nothing, even I had to drag myself out of bed for work on less than the optimal amount of sleep. I also got in some rare quality reading time during the three day weekend.

I think this quote from the first chapter of ACoWaR gives you a good idea of all of the craziness to come:

I supposed that in the past weeks, I had crafted my demeanor as intricately as one of those paintings. I supposed that if I had also chosen to show myself as I truly wished, I would have been adorned with flesh-shredding talons, and hands that choked the life out of those now in my company. I would have left the gilded halls stained red.

You go, Feyre! XD Happy June, everyone!

Reviews Posted:

Saturday, May 27, 2017

COYER Summer 2017 Signup

COYER has always sounded like a lot of fun, and I'm finally signing up! I'm doing the regular COYER, which just involves reading and reviewing as many books as you can between June 17 and September 8.

There's also the Summer Reading List, where you choose 30 books you'd like to read for the challenge (you don't have to read all 30).

All of the COYER details can be found here. Good luck to everyone who's participating! :D

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (167)

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 Books Would You Recommend to Fred and George?

I tried to come up with some books that the twins might find hilarious, since they know a thing or two about humor. I also came up with one series that has a pair of evil twins in it, and believe me, they're absolutely terrifying!

  • Percy Jackson's Greek Gods by Rick Riordan & John Rocco: I've read exactly one book in the actual Percy Jackson series (shame!), but I can vouch for the high hilarity factor in this book, which finds Percy himself retelling some famous myths.
  • The Curse Workers by Holly Black: Fred and George would probably dig the snark of protagonist Cassel, who also has a penchant for finding trouble.
  • Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon: Here's another character with lots of sass who also often finds himself in a predicament.
  • Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab: And here's the series with the evil twins in it! There's also some very cool elemental magic and lots of witty banter between the non-evil characters.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (166)

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

This week's topic is:
Favorite Dobby Moment

Brave Dobby—he had the biggest heart and so much courage. What he did in Deathly Hallows still makes me tear up. :-( So I want to go with a happier moment: when he dropped the pudding on Mrs. Mason's head in Chamber of Secrets. I know that poor Harry got into so much trouble for it, but I can't help but laugh at the sight of Mrs. Mason covered in pudding every time I watch the CoS movie.

Monday, May 15, 2017

ARC Review: Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh
Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1)
By Renée Ahdieh
Publisher:
G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Format: eARC
Source: First to Read
Publication Date: May 16, 2017

To Sum It Up: Hattori Mariko has grown up in a privileged world and is about to fulfill her family duty by marrying the son of the emperor. As she and her convoy travel to the imperial city, they are ambushed, leaving Mariko as the lone survivor. She suspects that a band of mercenaries known as the Black Clan is behind the attack, and Mariko sets out to track them and discover who ordered them to kill her. Meanwhile, Mariko’s twin brother Kenshin, a renowned samurai, refuses to believe that his sister is gone and is determined to find her. As Mariko, disguised as a boy, goes on her own dangerous search for answers, she begins to realize that the truth behind the attempt on her life is much more complicated than she first thought.

Review: Having heard so much about Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn (which, alas, I still have not read), I jumped at the opportunity to read Flame in the Mist. I was even more thrilled to find out that the book is set in feudal Japan and is loosely based on the story of Mulan.

Ahdieh builds the world very well, really making you feel as though you’ve been transported to another time and place. The eARC has a glossary of Japanese words at the end, but I never really felt the need to consult it because the context clues were often enough to glean the meaning of any unfamiliar terms.

Where the book faltered for me, and it always pains me to say this, was with its protagonist. Mariko is the type of heroine who makes a lot of epic statements about how much ass she’s going to kick but doesn’t really follow through. She talks about female empowerment and becoming more than the dutiful daughter marrying to elevate her family’s status, but by the end of the book, I wasn’t quite convinced that Mariko had transformed into the fierce warrior she thought she was. I found her decision-making skills lacking, despite the frequent mentions of her keen mind. I wish that there had been more demonstrations of Mariko’s keen mind to back up the references to it.

I also expected a bit more to the plot than just Mariko’s quest to worm her way into the Black Clan, the group of bandits she believes tried to kill her, in order to learn who hired them. The novel occasionally cuts away to follow Mariko’s twin brother Kenshin, the famed samurai known as the Dragon of Kai, as he searches for his sister. As with Mariko’s arc, there wasn’t a whole lot more to Kenshin’s than finding his sister.

Flame in the Mist features some hints of magic that definitely left me looking for more than hints. What is this magic? How does it work? Why can certain characters wield it? I felt as though the details weren’t all filled in so that readers would be eager to find out more about the magic in the sequel. I needed answers to at least a few questions with this book, though.

Another underwhelming aspect of the novel for me was the romance. Most of the time, I absolutely adore romances that start out rocky but do a slow burn into swoon-ville. I just wasn’t swept away by the love story here; the relationship didn’t develop gradually enough for me. I thought the two characters involved went from loathing to love without much of a transition in between.

Aside from the setting, I couldn’t find a lot to get invested in. Mariko didn’t quite fit my notion of a badass heroine, and the magic wasn’t explained adequately. The next book might provide the details, but I’m not curious enough to read it for that reason alone.

All in All: I loved the setting, but everything else was pretty meh.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Fandom Mashups (88)

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 trapped in an elevator when the power goes out (damn Muggle technology) - and using magic to get yourself out isn't an option (Statute of Secrecy and all that) so which characters would you prefer to spend that time with?

I actually do worry about getting stuck in an elevator, lol, specifically the one at work. I used to take the stairs until the stairwell became a constant bathroom for patrons of the neighboring restaurant. So elevator it is, but the damn thing always sounds like it's on its last leg and has occasionally tries to move with the door open. :O If I'm getting trapped, then I'd love to hang out with:

  1. Harry Potter: I solemnly swear that I'm not asking him to break the Statute of Secrecy! XD I mean, it's Harry freaking Potter!
  2. Blue Sargent (The Raven Cycle): Because I need updates on how everyone is doing post-The Raven King.
  3. Aelin (Throne of Glass): My favorite fire-breathing bitch queen! If we can't magic ourselves out, Aelin will just bust us out of there.
  4. Jon Snow (Game of Thrones): I need some kind of new news from Westeros.
  5. Homer Simpson: We can count on Homer to make us laugh while we wait for the door to be fixed . . . or for Aelin to get impatient and break it open.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (165)

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:
Would You Rather Take Transfiguration Class Through McGonagall or Dumbledore?

This is another one of those topics where it's nearly impossible to pick between the two choices! I love them both, and they're both phenomenal professors. I do think that I'd be a bit intimidated by how stern McGonagall is, LOL, and I feel that Dumbledore would be a little more easygoing and have a more relaxed vibe in the classroom.

Monday, May 1, 2017

April 2017 Recap

Happy May! I can't believe we're almost halfway through 2017! I seriously need a do over on some of the previous months. :/

April was pretty much the usual—lots of adulting (I think I'm stuck in a permanent adulting loop. Someone reprogram me, please!). The blog turned 5, which I'm quite proud of because I'm still at this 5 years later.

It was a very quiet reading month yet again, but I absolutely LOVED this book:

I'd been struggling so much with getting into books and finishing them before reading Defy the Stars. It's exactly the book I needed to remind me how much I love reading.

Abel, one of the protagonists, is a mech, which is essentially a robot. For me, the most fascinating aspect of the novel was watching his programming evolve. This quote made me laugh out loud:

At some point Abel will have to analyze whether he has developed the capacity for passive aggression.

Reviews Posted:

Featured Posts:

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Fandom Mashups (87)

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've gained the means to acquire any magical items you desire! YES! Pick 5 magical items from 5 different magical worlds as your top picks.

YES indeed! I wish that I could pick 5 items just from the world of Harry Potter, LOL! I'm also stretching the definition of "magical" a bit here, too, hehehe.

  1. Time-Turner (Harry Potter): For the love of Merlin's Beard, how I NEED this in my life! I'd get so much more adulting crap done so I'd have more time to read!
  2. The TARDIS (Doctor Who): I don't know if this qualifies as a magical item, but I still want one, LOL! Combine a Time-Turner with the TARDIS, and I'd never have to worry about running out of time again!
  3. Lightsaber (Star Wars): I've wanted one of these since I saw the first Star Wars movie when I was about 5. Time to make my childhood dream come true!
  4. Replicator (Star Trek): My mom was a huge Star Trek fan, and she always used to joke that having a replicator would mean she could retire from cooking, lol. I'm no whiz in the kitchen, that's for sure, and a replicator would save me a lot of inedible meals. XD
  5. Kell's Coat (Shades of Magic): Kell's coat has multiple sides, which means plenty of pockets to store stuff in!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (164)

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Review: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (163)

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Five Years of Blogging!

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

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

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

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (162)

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

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

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

Monday, April 3, 2017

Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
Blood Rose Rebellion (Blood Rose Rebellion #1)
By Rosalyn Eves
Publisher:
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

To Sum It Up: Anna Arden’s family belongs to the elite Luminate—those who can wield magic. Anna, however, is Barren and unable to use magic, but she seems to possess the ability to break spells. After unintentionally wreaking havoc at her sister’s debut into Luminate society, Anna is sent to her grandmother’s native Hungary. Even there, though, the Luminate’s ruling Circle tracks her because her ability could possibly break even the Binding, the spell that keeps magic in Luminate hands alone.

Review: I’ve been in the reading slump from hell since the beginning of the year, and I really, really, really hoped that Blood Rose Rebellion would prove to be the slump-breaker. Alas, it was not.

I started feeling iffy about this book very early on, and I should’ve just listened to my intuition and called it a DNF. I hate not giving books a fair chance, though, and by the time I realize that a book isn’t for me, I’ve already invested so much time in it that I might as well just finish it. That’s what happened here.

I had some rather big issues with the book’s protagonist, Anna. The novel quickly makes it clear that she’s yet another special heroine. Anna’s family belongs to the elite Luminate class, those who have access to magic. Despite her family’s lineage, Anna is Barren, unable to wield magic. She does, however, exhibit an ability to break spells, and jealousy drives her to inadvertently break her older sister Catherine’s spell demonstration during Catherine’s grand entrée into Luminate society. Anna losing it just because Catherine’s spell reveals they were crushing on the same guy, Freddy, irked me quite a bit, especially since Freddy, who doesn’t even have a large role in the book, proves to deserve neither girl’s heart in his limited page time. Anna then proceeds to continue mentioning Freddy every once in a while when he should have been long forgotten.

Anna also assesses every guy she meets as a potential love interest, including her distant cousin. Even when she finally settles her attention on one of them, it still feels insta-love-y. The romance here was a complete no-go for me. I also found Anna condescending, as well as self-pitying over her lack of magic. Although she sheds some of her superior attitude by the book’s end, it’s not gradual enough to really illustrate any character growth.

In addition to never clicking with Anna, the novel’s pacing made this a long, slow read. After the disastrous debut, Anna is shipped off from England to her grandmother’s native Hungary, where rebellion is stirring. Emphasis on the stirring, because nothing actually materializes for quite some time. The rebellion aspect is one of the book’s highlights; the revolutionaries are fighting for an independent Hungary and to break the Binding, the spell keeping magic in the hands of the upper class Luminate. It’s an interesting mix of history, politics, and fantasy, but it takes some time for the revolution to ignite. In the meantime, Anna waffles over whether or not to use her power to break the Binding, which for me was not compelling reading.

It’s almost always impossible for me to read past a main character I don’t connect with at all, and unfortunately, Anna’s character and narration just didn’t work for me. The magic and the way it was tied to the social order had potential, but the majority of the book focused on Anna’s ultra special special-ness and a romance that was pretty standard YA fare.

All in All: The mid-19th century Hungary setting and the magic are the two highlights here, but everything else, including the protagonist and the insta-love, overshadowed them.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Fandom Mashups (86)

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:
Dude, you're in high-school again. Wait...what?! Imagine yourself as a teen again and tell us which characters you'd be hanging out with!

Oh gods, high school, AKA four years of PURE. HELL. So let's do this do over right with this crew:

  1. Hermione Granger: Hermione would be my study buddy for sure.
  2. Blue Sargent (The Raven Cycle): I adore Blue's no-nonsense attitude and how she doesn't give a sh*t what other people think. I could definitely learn a lot from her. And hello to hanging out at Monmouth Manufacturing with a certain group of Aglionby Academy students after school! XD
  3. Aelin (Throne of Glass): I have feeling no one would mess around with my friends with Aelin around. Plus she'd just be awesome to hang out with.
  4. Lisa Simpson: Lisa is technically still in elementary school, but there was an episode where she managed to pass as a college student. XD I think she could totally get away with posing as a high school student, and we could geek out together.
  5. Isabel Culpeper (The Wolves of Mercy Falls): OK, so Isabel isn't exactly friendly, LOL, but I just know that we would get along because we both speak fluent snark.
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