Friday, July 13, 2012

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I will not attempt to write an official review of Harry Potter.  Everyone I know has already read all of the books and watched the movies multiple times.  I read the first 3 books as soon as they were released, but I did not have time...or rather I used my spare time while in College in less productive ways than reading the rest of the Harry Potter series.  Once I graduated, I still had an issue with motivation due to the size of the books.  I simply did not want to carry around these HUGE books, even though I LOVE the series.

Last year the Book Nerds guilted me into reading books 4 and 5.  Of course, I loved them.  I walked around the hospital carrying my hard copies of the books and just about everyone had a comment.  Even physicians I didn't know would stop me in the elevator/hallway/etc. to share their two cents on the book and to find out if I was enjoying it.

This year I was determined to complete the series.  I have been very disciplined and have not watched any of the movies until after I finished the books, so the material is still completely new to me.  There have been a few things that I have heard over the years, but for the most part I have been able to avoid spoilers. 

I will be sure to update you when I complete the series, but for now...


It was just as good as the previous five books ( 5 stars) and I look forward to seeing what is in store for Harry and his friends in the final book.  I like the relationships that developed towards the end of the book. The scene between Harry and Ginny after the quidditch match was PERFECT.  It wasn't all planned out and just happened.  Also....SNAPE and MALFOY!!!  Did that really happen?  After six books Harry can FINALLY say I TOLD YOU SO.

While writing this post I thought of two questions I would love your input on.

First, can you think of a series prior to Harry Potter that really appealed to both teens and adults to this magnitude?  Since Harry Potter we have had series such as Twilight, The Hunger Games, and The Mortal Instruments, but I can't think of anything prior to Harry Potter. 

Finally, what are your thoughts on J.K. Rowling releasing a book for adults?  Do you plan on reading it?  I most likely will give it a try, but I do have this to say... I tried reading The Host by Stephanie Meyer because I loved the Twilight series.  This is her adult series, but I was VERY disappointed.  I read the first two chapters and called it quits.  It was a very strange sci-fi book, which I had NO interest in.  I talked to several of my friends and they advised me not to continue reading it.  I sincerely hope J.K. Rowling will write something that appeals to the fan base she has already established and will not deviate as far as Meyer did.

Monday, July 9, 2012

First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky

I am SUPER excited to share the news Katie Kacvinsky posted on her blog last week.  There will be a sequel to First Comes Love!!!  Katie originally planned for this to be a standalone book but, as she explains on her blog, Dylan and Gray's story was far from over.  She could not get them out of her head, so she wrote Second Chance.  She is still trying to sell the book to her publisher, so SHE NEEDS YOUR HELP.

While Katie promotes the concept of becoming "Unplugged" in her Awaken series, this is NOT the time to follow that piece of advice.  Please help spread the word in any way you can.  Facebook, Twitter, Blog, etc.  The more people talk about the book, the greater her chances of getting it published.

Below is a copy of my review of First Comes Love, which was posted on Book Nerds Across America last April.

At first, this book reminded me of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares because the narration constantly switches between the two main characters.  I loved this style of writing in both of these books because we get to experience the story from both of the main character's perspectives.  With so many trends constantly evolving in literature, this is one that I would LOVE to see more often. 

When we first meet Dylan and Gray they are attending summer school at a local community college in Phoenix.  Gray is barely holding on after losing his twin sister in a car accident several months prior.  He and his family have emotionally shut down, he turned down a full ride baseball scholarship, and he has no direction in his life.  Dylan is there for the summer visiting her aunt.  She is a free spirit looking to experience everything life has to offer.

Dylan first approaches Gray because she witnessed him sulking around campus looking empty and lifeless.  She asks him to give her tours around the area.  Gray thinks she is ridiculous, but he can't think of a good excuse not to.  Slowly Dylan starts to breath life back into Gray and their friendship slowly develops. The two of them could not be more different from each other, but they are a perfect match.  They are constantly striving to surprise each other, which I found to be very cute and romantic.  The surprises are not your typical flowers, candy, cards types of things.  They are very genuine and heartfelt...appealing to the other person on the most personal of levels.

The ending was left open, so I can only hope that some day Katie will let us continue to experience Dylan and Gray's journey.  While I began reading with the thought that it was refreshing to have a standalone book...I now understand why most of the books on my TBR list are part of a series.  I get attached to characters and just can't let them go.  These are two characters that I certainly don't want to let go of.  Even though I am passing the book onto the next lucky recipient in the tour,  this book will not leave me any time soon.  There are a lot of very good messages that I have taken from it and can only hope to implement into my own life.  I felt much the same way after reading Awaken.  Katie has such a powerful way of sharing life lessons without coming across like she is trying to do so. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

I decided to read The Woman in Black because it was going to be Daniel Radcliffe's first film after Harry Potter .  I knew nothing about the book besides the fact that it was a ghost story.  When I went to see Breaking Dawn, The Woman in Black was one of the previews.  It looked REALLY scary and I was beginning to wonder what I had gotten myself into.

The book starts out with a family getting ready to celebrate Christmas.  As part of their tradition, all of the children gather around the fire and tell ghost stories.  The children try to convince their father to tell a story, but he is overcome by the situation and steps out of the house for a while to regain his composure.  While outside he resolves to put down in writing what he cannot put into words, the real life ghost story he experienced while in his early 20s and working as an attorney.  At this point I was excited about where this could be leading, but ultimately it did not live up to my expectations.

The first 100 pages were very slow for me.  First we learn that Mrs. Drablow has passed away and that Arthur will have to go to Eel Marsh House to settle her estate.  Whenever he mentions the owner or the house to the people around town, nobody will discuss it with him.  Arthur becomes increasingly agitated by the apparent lack of respect for the deceased.  When he attends the funeral, he is one of only 3 people in attendance.  When he refers to The Woman in Black that he saw at the grave site to others, they become very distressed.  There was a lot of setup such as this before the ghost story truly began.  The last 40 pages were a bit more exciting as we experience the hauntings of Eel Marsh House, but I never once had the feelings the movie trailer conjured up.  Clearly Hollywood is taking some liberties with this one, and for Radcliffe's sake I sure hope they do. 

My thoughts on the movie:
Since I was lukewarm on the book (I only gave it 2 stars on Goodreads) and I am not usually one for scary movies, I decided to wait until I could get the movie from the library.  I was pleasantly surprised.  This is one instance in which the movie was MUCH better than the book.  If I were to rate it with the same standards I use on Goodreads, I would give it 4 stars.

They changed the storyline from the very beginning.  Everything is set in the present, so they eliminated the Christmas scene and flashback.  They also added more detail to the events that happened in the town when someone saw "The Woman in Black", which added suspense and made the film much scarier than the book.

I thought Radcliffe did an excellent job of playing Arthur.  This film was drastically different from his role as Harry Potter, but he pulled it off brilliantly.  His fear was believable and it did not come across like your average horror flick. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Rapture by Lauren Kate

Rapture is the fourth and final book in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate. After three books of history and build up, we FINALLY get some action.

By the start of Rapture, Luce has a reasonably good understanding of the history of the fall along with her past lives.  Now that she is reunited with Daniel and the other angels, they are on a mission to stop Lucifer from erasing history and to break the curse.  They have nine days to collect three relics and to find the location of the fall, or their 7000+ years of history will be erased.  This is not as easy as it sounds.  They are not exactly sure what the relics are or where they are located.  They also have the Scale, Outcasts, and Elders to contend with.

This book was action packed and contained A LOT of surprises that I did not see coming at any point in this series.  The reason behind the fall, who can tip the scale, and the reason for the curse are three BIG questions I'm sure we have all had since the beginning of this series.  All of these questions are finally answered, but the answers are not what I expected.  The ending to the book was perfect and I felt like there was a real sense of closure to the series.

For those of you who have read my reviews of the first three books on Book Nerds Across America, you know that I liked, but did not love them.  I gave each of them three stars, but kept hoping for more from this series because it had so much potential.  Rapture was definitely worth the investment of my time.  I gave this book 4 stars and could finally appreciate the content from the previous three books.

The one thing that I think was needed for this book to reach the five star level was more to the love story.  Luce and Daniel's love has lasted thousands of years.  They always find each other, but we never get more than a G rated Disney film type of interaction between them.  While not every series can have feathers, I would have expected a little more than what we received by the end of this series.