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
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
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 entrĂ©e 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.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

March 2017 Recap

Hello, friends! Happy April Fool's Day! I hope you haven't been pranked too much so far today, LOL. Shelf Awareness sent out a hilarious April Fool's e-newsletter that included a "release date" for George R.R. Martin's much anticipated The Winds of Winter. It actually had me tricked for a second until I realized what today was. Well done, Shelf Awareness. Well done, indeed.

Whenever I put together a monthly recap post, I like to look back at what I wrote for that month the previous year. I was a little dismayed to find that in March 2016, I was in a reading and blogging slump. That about sums up March 2017, except my current reading slump is really, really, really bad right now. Most of the books I've read so far this year have been duds; I'm still searching for what's proving to be the elusive slump-breaker. I'm not too far behind my Goodreads challenge (yet), which is surprising because it's been taking me forever to get through a single book.

On a much happier note, Game of Thrones Season 7 has a premiere date! My ass will be parked on the couch in front of the TV on July 16. And here's a rather chilling trailer for you:

Reviews Posted:

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