Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

by J.K. Rowling

Narrated by: Jim Dale

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Disclaimer: All Amazon Links are affiliate links. If you purchase anything through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts and opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

I usually try to keep my reviews spoiler free, but practically everyone and their mother has read Harry Potter, so I am not going to bother.  If by some miracle you haven’t read the books, seen the movies, or had someone spoil the ending then I would suggest skipping my review!

You’ve been warned!

I have read the Harry Potter books a million times, but I have never listened to the Audiobooks.  Every time a new book or movie came out I re-read the series so this means I have read the 1st book at least 15 times.

But in all the times I have read it I never really picked up on the fact that everything that happens comes back into play later.  I know in books everything happens for a reason but I have never noticed it so obviously before.  I don’t know if J.K. Rowling is better at this than most or if I was just oblivious before but its amazing how everything is connected.  And not just in each individual books but in the entire series.

Here is one of the more obvious chain of events

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So if Dobby hadn’t blocked the barrier then the boys would have been eaten by the spiders.  Or if they had managed to escape the spiders without the car, they would have had their memories wiped and been unable to save Ginny.

This may not seem special or profound within a single book but J.K. Rowling keeps this up throughout all 7 books!!!

Another example is the sorting hat.  It tries to put Harry into Slytherin but he doesn’t want to be put there. This comes back into play a lot in the second book when Harry starts to doubt himself and which house he is in.  But it gets resolved when Harry pulls the sword out of the sorting hat.  And I know the sword comes into play in later books!

There is a good chance that you are thinking “Duh Brittany, we all knew this already, this is how books work” but give me a break! I don’t know why, but I have never noticed it like this before and its wonderful and I can’t stop thinking about it!!

Anyway! I love all the Harry Potter books, including the Chamber of Secrets! Jim Dale does a amazing job narrating! And if you haven’t read the Harry Potter series then you need to! I don’t care if you saw all the movies.  It doesn’t count and the books are better!

 

A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic

by V.E. Schwab

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A Darker Shade final for Irene

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Disclaimer: The above Amazon Link is an affiliate link. If you purchase anything through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

I buddy read this with Leslie from Books are the New Black! This was my first time ever buddy reading with a fellow blogger! It was a lot of fun and cool to hear her thoughts as we went! We are going to buddy read A Gathering of Shadows together too!

This book is awesome! The main characters Lila and Kell are amazing!  Lila is a bad-ass go-getter who yearns for adventure.  She is all fire and passion.  She can be a bit impulsive and foolish, but she is strong and clever.  She is the type who always gets in trouble, but can also take care of herself.  Kell, on the other-hand, is more steady and thinks things through.  He is loyal and caring.  He is a bit serious but I think that is just because of the events that transpire in the book.  He seems like he would be a little bit more carefree normally.

The setting is really cool and unique.  Its three different Londons that exist in the same place.  Only people with special abilities can travel between them.  Kell is one of only two people remaining that have the special ability.  They call the different Londons Red London, White London, and Gray London.  One of my favorite lines of the book is when Lila calls them “Dull London, Kell London, and Creepy London” I don’t know why but I thought it was really funny.

This was a fast paced exciting book! It has a unique world with awesome characters.  I would recommend it to anyone who like reading about adventures with magic.  I can’t wait to get started on the next book!

Spinning Silver

Spinning Silver

by Naomi Novik

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Disclaimer: The above Amazon Link is an affiliate link. If you purchase anything through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik is one of my favorite books so I was beyond excited to get an ARC of Spinning Silver.  If you want to read all about me getting to meet Naomi and receiving a signed ARC then check out my review of Uprooted. Or you can check out my Denver Comic Con – Part 1 – Books post.

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Anyway, like I said, I was beyond hyped to get Spinning Silver.  Maybe I went in with too high of expectations? Maybe its just not the type of book I enjoy? But for whatever reason, I didn’t love Spinning Silver.  I didn’t even particularly like the first half of the book.  It was only 3 stars because I liked the end.

The beginning of the book was boring.  It was slow and fairly uneventful.  I didn’t even get super attached to any of the characters right away, which is unusual for me.  I can usually find someone I really like.  I struggled through a good portion of the book.  I was bored and kept almost falling asleep.

The only reason I pushed through and wanted to finish it is because I loved Uprooted so much! It also helped that a lot of people commented on my First Impression Friday – Spinning Silver post encouraging me to keep reading and letting me know it gets better.

It took me a while to get up the drive to actually finish the book, but I was glad I did.  I really liked the ending.  It was clever and smart and unexpected.  It was not enough to bring the rating above 3 stars but it was enough for me to enjoy the book and not regret reading it.

One last thing I want to mention is that the Point of View (POV) changes were a little weird.  There were 5 or 6 different POVs but you started out with just two and then more were added as the story progressed.  But they changed randomly in the middle of chapters without warning.  There was always a paragraph break but no other indicator.  Sometimes it would take me a little while to notice the change, and then I would have to go back and re-read the part with the right character in my mind.  It was weird and a little annoying at times.  I don’t mind POV changes in general, but I would have liked notice when there was changes.

Overall I thought Spinning Silver was just ok.  I think it was a mix of me being too excited and just not being my type of book.  I probably wouldn’t recommend it to most people unless you like dark fairy tales then maybe you would like this one?  I don’t want to dissuade anyone from reading it, but just know it starts out slow, but it does get better!

Uprooted

Uprooted

by Naomi Novik

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Uprooted

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Disclaimer: The above Amazon Link is an affiliate link. If you purchase anything through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

Last weekend at Comic con I got to meet Naomi Novik!!!!!!!!!!! Uprooted is one of my favorite books and I was so excited!!!!! I also got a free signed ARC of Spinning Silver!

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Spinning Silver is not exactly a sequel to Uprooted, but I still wanted to re-read Uprooted before starting Spinning Silver anyway.  Naomi’s editor explains the connection between the two books: “Naomi said she wanted to write another novel in that same vein – not a direct sequel to Uprooted, but a spiritual sequel, if you will, again rooted in the realm of Eastern European tales.”

I LOVE Uprooted! It is one of my favorite books. I found it randomly, years ago, at Powell’s Book Store in Oregon.  This was way before my blog and I didn’t have any interaction with any sort of book community.  I thought that it was a little known gem of a book and it was kind of like my secret.  (its hard to explain) When I started book blogging I didn’t think anyone else would have read Uprooted, but it didn’t take me long to realize it was actually a really popular book.  At first I was a little sad because everyone already knew about it, but it was so fun to fangirl with everyone that I quickly got over it!

The main character Agnieszka is amazing.  She is free spirited and fun and loyal and strong.  She cares so much for the people around her and she refuses to accept anything bad that happens to them.  She works endlessly to try and find a way to help them.  She is not perfect which just makes her that much better. I love her so much!

At first, you can’t help but hate the main male character, The Dragon.  He is stuck up and cold.  But slowly you see his stoic outer layer fade and you get to know the real him underneath! He really is a great guy, despite all his issues.  He cares more deeply then he will admit and he is upset when he learns some of the misguided things people think about him.

Small Spoilers ahead!!! Don’t read the next paragraph if you haven’t read the book!

The romance is almost reminiscent of Pride and Prejudice.  Its a slow start romance filled with misunderstandings and obstacles.  Uprooted is not a Pride and Prejudice re-telling because the story line is completely different, but the romance speed is similar and that might have something to do with why I love it so much!!

The world building is amazing.  For a standalone book Naomi is to create such an amazing world.  She sets it up mostly in the real world and adds an evil wood and magic.  Its brilliantly done! Also the villain of the book being a forest is such an epic bad guy.  How do you fight an evil forest?  One that has been around for hundreds of years and has planted so many seeds to spread its evil! Its awesome!

Overall I just love this book so much! I would definitely recommend it to anyone that likes fairy tales and fantasy! (Its like Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, and Pride and Prejudice all rolled into one!)

Heartstone (a.k.a. Pride and Prejudice with Dragons!)

Heart Stone

by Elle Katharine White

***** (5 out of 5)

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Amazon | Goodreads

Disclaimer: The above Amazon Link is an affiliate link. If you purchase any books through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

I first saw this book over at Book Beach Bunny’s Blog and knew I had to read it!  I didn’t read her review and I didn’t read the synopsis.  I saw the title of her post and immediately bought the book.  I LOVE Pride and Prejudice and I LOVE Dragons!!! I was so ridiculously excited for a book that combined both!!!

I was not disappointed!!!  This book was amazing! I don’t even know what to say about it other than I am in love with it!

Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book and fantasy is my favorite genre.  Heartstone is a fantasy re-telling of Pride and Prejudice!!! What could be more perfect than that?!?!

I feel like I should say some normal stuff about how great the characters were and how the ending deviated from the main story more than the rest of the book and blah blah blah

Really all you need to know is that Heartstone is

Pride and Prejudice with Dragons!

really, I promise, thats all you need to know! Its awesome!!!

The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids

The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids

by Michael McClung

***** (5 out of 5)

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Before I get into my review I want to shout out to Sigil Independent.  Sigil Independent is a writer’s guild for self-published fantasy authors.  Right now they have 11 authors and all of them were finalists or semi-finalists in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO).  I learned about Sigil through a guest post on Bibliosanctum’s blog.  Go check it out!  Seriously, go read it! I am not going to try and re-cap it for you!

I commented on the post that I had never read a self-published book, but that I had read books from small publishers that were pretty atrocious when it came to spelling and grammar. (Trust me, if I can notice a grammar error, then its bad!) My point was supposed to be that just because someone has a publisher doesn’t mean their work is good!  I don’t know how well I articulated that, but I received an e-mail from M.D. Presley (the author of the guest post and one of the co-founders of Sigil) asking if he “could tempt [me] to the dark side of self-publishing with one of [their] books for review.” He said “It’s our hope we can burnish off some of that self-publishing stigma with one of our 40+ novels.”

Of course I agreed! I LOVE fantasy books.  Plus he was the first person to ever contact ME asking for a review!! I know he probably e-mailed most, if not all, of the people who commented, but I don’t care! He asked me to review a book!!! AND I got to pick the book!!

I chose The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids by Michael McClung (which I later learned was the inaugural winner of SPFBO) and I was not disappointed!

I HATE when a book is left “unfinished.” By that, I mean I hate it when an author just cuts the book off in a random spot and calls it a “cliffhanger.” It feels like their only goal is to get you to read the next book. This is not one of those books! This book is the perfect example of how a cliffhanger should be written!  Every loose end and plot point is closed.  You aren’t left wondering what happened to anybody.  Everything is completed.  But yet, you still know there is more to the story and you want to keep reading to find out what happens next!!  Its a subtle difference and I am not explaining it very well, but this book hits the nail on the head! I felt no frustration or annoyance with the ending and I can’t wait to read the next book! The ending was perfect!  Does that make sense? Do you feel this way about “unfinished” endings too?

Amra is an awesome protagonist.  She is strong and skillful and has made a name for herself in a male dominated society.  And, she didn’t have to use her looks or “feminine charm” to get there! Her looks are mentioned a few times and you get the impression she is not pretty, but grizzled and tough (at least that is what I am picturing) It was refreshing to have a book where there was almost no focus on looks.  You just got a basic description and that was it.  What the book did focus on was personality, and that actions spoke louder than words.

I liked the grey area that most of the book lived in.  Amra is a thief.  Her moral compass spins around a lot, but she is still a good person.  Even one of the bad guys isn’t really so bad.  (I mean he is pure evil, but he is not motivated by evilness, its something else which I can’t say)  Throughout the book you see a lot of the lines blurred and at times you can’t tell who is friend and who is foe.  And again it comes back to actions speak louder than words.  Some characters might claim they are evil and don’t care about anyone, but through their actions you can see that deep down they do care.

The only bad thing I have to say about this book is that some of the names were really weird, and I had trouble remembering who was who.  Its funny because just two days ago I answered a poll asking if you would rather read “Keyboard-smash fantasy names or all names that start with the same letter”  I picked Keyboard-smash fantasy names, and then completely coincidentally I started this book, later the same day.  The names in this book aren’t “keyboard-smash” bad, but there were a couple that I struggled with.

I loved this book! It was awesome and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!! (There are 4 books published right now, and according to Michael McClung’s Blog the 5th book is tentatively scheduled to be released in September!)

If you are even semi interested in this book then go buy it right now!!! It is only $0.99!! I don’t know how long this price will last! (though in the interest of full disclosure, I also don’t know if it will change either, that could be the set price?) Check it out:

Amazon | Goodreads

Michael McClung has a second series, The Skin Walker War, the second book just came out a week ago! The first book is also only $0.99.  So maybe check that one out too!

Amazon | Goodreads

One last note before I go! (Sorry I know this is a long post!) if you are wondering why I used Felicia Day gifs its because she is in the web series called The Guild and because Sigil is a guild, it just felt right. (shhhh it doesn’t have to make sense just deal with it)

 

 

The Hazel Wood – Guest Review

If you follow my blog regularly you may have noticed me talking about my friend Phil.  He is one of my best friends and one of three people that I know in real life that know about my blog.  Plus, he is the only person, outside of my blog, that I talk about books with on a regular basis! He was the one that told/asked me to read the Hazel Wood, so its only fair that he has to write a guest review! So without further ado, here is

Phil’s Review of The Hazel Wood

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To give some context, I really love dark fairy tales. I love the idea of taking sweet, pleasant stories that we typically tell to children, and turning them on their head with murder and mystery. It’s why I love the the show Grimm, the graphic novel series Fables and its spin off game, The Wolf among us. Its probably why I have such a soft spot for this book.

First, let me get out of the way what me and Brittany both agree on. The pacing is terrible! The beginning was way too slow and the ending way too fast. It felt as if the author was trying to hold back the intriguing mysteries of the story and forgot about a compelling beginning. The only argument I can make for the fast dizzying pace towards the end, would be that it was made to match the setting of the later half of the book. I also agree, to a lesser extent, with her point on how relationships play out in the book.

So why did I still love this book? It’s hard to fully describe without spoilers but I will try. To me (pacing aside) it was a hauntingly beautiful book. The love her mother had for her and all the trouble she went through for Alice made the stakes compelling. Alice’s growth and struggle to fight a possibly tragic destiny was the biggest draw for me. I personally hate the idea of fate or destiny. Like all the best dark fairy tales, The Hazel Wood has a great mix of beauty and tragedy.

I completely understand why some people didn’t like this book, but to me it hit a soft spot with the emotional punches it landed. Overall I have to give the book 4 stars. It would have been higher with a more compelling start and better pacing throughout.