Sunday, July 20, 2014

Harry Potter Month (4)

Harry Potter Month is a blogger event put together by Faith over at Student Spyglass for the month of
July. For more information visit this link.

Hi all!  Today's addition to Harry Potter Month is all about chatting with you all about my Favorite characters from the series. Obviously, there are A LOT of characters to choose from - is there any aspect of this story that doesn't shine through as being beyond brilliant?  I think not. Anyways, I tried to narrow it down as best I could to the bare necessities. Everyone ready? Here we go:

Harry himself of course, but I won't go into all the details in this post, I'll save that for my upcoming post on the boy himself ;-) Suffice it to say he's THE hero in this story.  He saved the world...oooh I don't know, like 7-8 times and survived the Dark Lord himself just as many times! Enough said.

Dumbledore. The man is a genius clearly. His mind boggles my mind; I mean everything about him was so elaborate and wonderfully complex! He knew Harry was up for the challenges he faced so he allowed him to keep trying.  He always had a plan and helped out as much as he could.  He taught Harry all he needed to know.  Sure he had secrets but how could you be Dumbledore and NOT have secrets.

Sirius. Obviously right? The guy is a cool rebel with a tragic life but he was such a bright light for Harry...and one that was so very needed.  Their time as a family burned out too soon but it was worth EVERYTHING!  I love his recklessness and impulsiveness an the fact that he would always risk himself to save Harry. His love for his godson is one of my absolute favorite parts of the series.

Lupin. Another clear choice for me.  THE BEST DADA teacher we ever got to know, no contest.  He taught Harry how to make a Patronus Charm, he was one of the few who trusted Dumbledore no questions asked, till the very end AND he overcame his demons and found love.  Another tragic life ended too soon but he was oh-so important for Harry...I just love him to bits.

Hermione.  THE brightest witch of her age, hands down.  Hermione is handy in a tight spot, as brave as any boy and twice as smart. She's not afraid to proudly display her inner nerd, she never backs down and she will fight for what she believes in.  Sure she always doubted Harry when he was clearly right O.O BUT she was the voice of reason, she always did her research and she saved the trio's asses too many times to count.

The Entire Weasley Clan: Ron, Ginny, Mrs Weasley, Mr. Weasley, the twins, Bill & Charlie. I only left out Percy (for reasons) even though he came around at the end there...But yeah, this is a fantastic family.  Ron faced almost everything Harry did and willingly followed him into mortal danger nearly every.single.time.  Ginny is my hero but she's also sadly under-appreciated.  That girl was worthy of Harry more than any other girl in Hogwarts.  She's ridiculously powerful and gifted, fiery and fearless - I just love her.  Mr & Mrs Weasley need no explanation I think.  These people took Harry in as one of their own and risked everything over and over for him and for what was right. They're the best fictional parents EVER.  The Twins were at Harry's side when it counted too, they made us laugh and then made us cry (WHY?!) Even the lesser known Bill & Charlie were always kind, cool and brave - I have nothing but love for this family. Except Percy.

Luna.  I freaking love Luna.  She's wonderfully weird, has a huge heart and cherishes her friends above all else.  She's just impossible not to love, from her offbeat beliefs to the way she is so fearlessly herself. I wish I'd known strong female characters like her growing up! She's an inspiration.

Neville.  The final member of the Silver Trio (Ginny, Luna & Neville) who went through things worse than Harry himself.  He came a long way from his first year at Hogwarts and his character evolution throughout was probably the most impressive.  I was so proud of him when he came into his own and really lived up to his true potential, I wanted to cheer.

Ollivander.  Possibly an odd choice, I mean the man was clearly impressed by all kinds of power, good or bad.  But I love that he gave Harry his wand, I love his knowledge of wands and since I like to think I'd take over his wandmaking business for him, he gets my vote.

And that's it for me, although I'm sure I must have missed someone important.  
I'm curious: Who are your favorites? Let me know :)
...which will also help me remember if I missed anyone >.<

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review: The Night Gardener

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
Published May 20th, 2014 by Penguin Canada

When orphaned Irish siblings Molly and Kip arrive to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house, they discover that the house and its inhabitants are not what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier's exquisite command of language, The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.

A Victorian mystery in the tradition of Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe. The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.

*An ARC was provided by Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review*

I was lucky enough to win The Night Gardener through the Goodreads First Reads Program.  It had been on my reading list for quite some time so I was really psyched about getting my hands on a copy.  Since I haven't read a middle-grade book in awhile, I jumped right into this one as soon as I could and it turned out the be a welcome return to the genre!

The Night Gardener focuses on two abandoned Irish children, Molly the older sister and her younger brother Kip, as they are hired as servants in an eerie English Manor on the verge of disrepair. Of course, it soon becomes clear that something is very much amiss in this house.  It isn't long before the children encounter an evil spirit that haunts the house and it's inhabitants, while they sleep. What's not clear is why exactly the place is cursed and what the terrible specter is up to when he appears - other than terrifying everyone, of course.  The story is told in alternating points of view from Kip and Molly and I really enjoyed both their voices a lot.  It's clear that these two siblings love and care for each other very much so their relationship with one another is sweet. More than that though,  their unique voices and their individualized take on the events taking place gave the story added perspective and colour.  Both Molly and Kip do speak in a sort of Irish slang and I know sometimes writing slang can be hit or miss, but in this case once I got used to it, I found it only added another layer to the sibling's personalities and helped set them apart from the stuffier English family that hired them.

Now normally you all know that I don't do scary books, but I figured I was safe with a nice creepy middle-grade ghost story.   The Night Gardener was just the right mix of childhood innocence and eeriness to keep my attention throughout.  I was quickly pulled into the mystery of the chilling spirit that haunts an equally unnerving house and I needed to know all the details: Why was this house haunted? When did it start?  Is the ghost really evil or is something else going on?  Are the family that live in the house responsible for it's haunting in any way? Are they all safe?  And how do our two young MC's Molly & Kip fit into it all?

Luckily these mysteries were revealed one by one but honestly, the fun part was in the 'not-knowing'!  I thoroughly enjoyed the journey from wondering what was up, to starting to realize there is something very wrong here, to HOLY HELL EVERYONE GET OUTTA THAT HOUSE!! AAAHH!  Author Jonathan Auxier did a wonderful job of delving out the suspense one tiny morsel at a time.  It was always a perfect balance of wonderment and anxiety, and paired up with short chapters and a simple, yet engaging writing style made for a delightfully quick, not to mention enjoyable read.

Now I realize my review for The Night Gardener has been mostly vague but I think this is a book best experienced by knowing as little as possible about the plot going in.  I feel like both the author and publisher tend to agree because the blurb is kept decidedly short and enigmatic. But I will say this: if you're a fan of middle-grade books and enjoy a good haunting/ghost story that's both deliciously atmospheric and ominous, I'd recommend checking this one out!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Harry Potter MotW #51

Harry Potter Moment of the week is a weekly meme hosted over at Uncorked Thoughts. The idea is to share one favorite moment, magical item, character, spell, quote, object from the books, films or J.K.Rowling herself!    For information on how to join up & for upcoming topics, click here.

  Bravest Character Moment

I *almost* feel like for me, all the Harry moments should be eliminated, since I gush and rave about him all the time...and I've probably highlighted his bravest moments a million times...buuut I can't bring myself to do so.  So, forgive me for repeating myself but I had to pick:
The Forest Again

Yup. I'm sorry but knowingly sacrificing yourself to save your friends and loved ones is kind of hard to top. Read: impossible to top. Harry is and forever will be my hero and the bravest wizard ever.

Ok, since I love you guys so much and don't want you to come over and read the same stuff time and time again, I decided to highlight some other favorite character's bravest moments:

Ron: following Harry on every crazy quest since day one.  Playing a wicked game of chess. Rescuing Harry from Privet Drive.  Facing those spiders - which were his PHOBIA by the way.  Destroying a Horcrux. Willingly venturing into the Chamber of Secrets (twice).

Hermione: again, following Harry since day one and facing most of the terrors he did.  Figuring out that the Basilisk was petrifying students (ON HER OWN, with only a mirror and a library!) Voluntarily going into the Shrieking Shack. Making excellent use of her Time-Turner. Getting the idea to form the D.A. Destroying a Horcrux.

Sirius: Facing & surviving the death of his best friends AND then Azkaban.  Being a member of the Order of the Phoenix.  Being brave enough to be himself (and a Gryffindor) when his entire family were dark wizards.  Risking everything to talk to Harry, help Harry, visit him and even going straight into the Ministry to save him *sobs*

Dumbledore: Gathering intel on Tom Riddle. Living every day knowing he might have ended his sister's life. Not bowing down to Fudge or the Ministry.  Facing/fighting/denying Voldemort time and time again. Voluntarily dying to make sure his plan to take down evil succeeded.

Lupin: Facing every damn day as a werewolf. And THEN facing losing all his dearest friends in one single night (death Azkaban). Risking his life time and time again to fight evil.  Allowing himself to be loved and have a family.  Trusting Dumbledore and Harry until the very end.

Neville: Living his life knowing what was done to his parents and being unfairly compared to them. Standing up to his friends so they don't get Gryffindor in trouble again :)  Letting go of all his fears and making an incredible amount of progress as a wizard.  Offing Nagini and destroying a Horcrux in the process.

I could go on and on...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday *82*

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine where book bloggers spotlight an upcoming release we're especially looking forward to!

Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

Winterspell by Claire Legrand
Expected Publication: September 30th 2014 by Simon & Schuster

The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor's ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother's murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted--by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they're to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets--and a need she can't define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won't leave Cane unscathed--if she leaves at all.

Inspired by The Nutcracker, Winterspell is a dark, timeless fairy tale about love and war, longing and loneliness, and a girl who must learn to live without fear.
Inspired by The Nutcracker.  Need I say more? Well, in case I do, here goes:  It's set in turn-of-the-century New York, and the MC is secretly trained to kick some butt.  Her travelling companion is a brooding dethroned prince...AND they've teamed up to take on the Fae. Uhm, YES PLEASE.  I have a collection of Claire Legrand books on my TBR so I'm hoping to kick things off with Winterspell!

So what about you guys? Excited about this one?
Link me up to your WoW post below & let me know your thoughts :)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Harry Potter Month (3)

Harry Potter Month is a blogger event put together by Faith over at Student Spyglass for the month of
July. For more information visit this link.

Hey guys! Today's post is all about book recommendations for Harry Potter fans. Now these won't necessarily be stories that are super similar to the Harry Potter books - let's face it: there will never be another series quite like HP - so instead, I went with stories that have some elements to them that made me feel the same way HP made me feel in one way or another. It might be because the hero made me want to rally behind him or her in the way Harry does, or it might that the setting or plot had some Potter-ish leanings...or it just might be because the story consumed me in the same way HP did.  I hope these have or will captivate you all in the same way :) So here goes:

*click book covers for Goodreads links*

Mistborn - This book is perfection. It features an evil dark lord, an orphaned MC who's abused and broken down, lots of darkness, an inspiring mentor and some seriously kick-ass magic - not to mention EPIC world-building. It is an adult trilogy but it has tons YA crossover appeal, and has recently been relaunched as a YA series. If you still haven't read Mistborn, you need to do so. SOON.

Throne of Glass - Another mind-blowingly amazing series.  Throne of Glass features a hero to rally behind (despite her flaws) who's suffered an incredible amount of pain due to an evil ruler.  I features wicked action, a brilliant plot and characters and it's fair share of dark magic. I have so much love for the MC Celaena, I won't even attempt to get into it here.  Just read.this.series.people!!

The School for Good & Evil - This is cuter than the HP series and doesn't have quite as much depth to it. BUT, it has it's own version of a magical school away from home where kids learn magic. Magical schools are always brilliant if you ask me. This one has a fairytale twist to it but it's mix of humor and darkness makes for a really nice balance and a fun read.

His Dark Materials - This is a classic to be sure and one I'd recommend regardless.   It featuring a feisty heroine, good morals, lots of adventure and truly unique magical items.  The secondary characters vary from human to animal...even witches!  It's well plotted and engaging throughout.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone - With absolutely gorgeous writing that's sure to bring all kinds of feels, the series was guaranteed to make the list. At it's core, it's a battle between good and evil with stunning characterization and staggering twists.  I have rarely felt this much love for a main character, her love interest and her friends.  Karou has my heart and there's no going back.

Raven Boys - Sure this has a private boarding school, paranormal 'magic' and is beyond engrossing but mainly it displays heart-warming friendships that are sure to capture your heart and soul.  I mean friendships like our golden & silver trio in HP had.  The pacing is a bit slower than the usual YA fare, but the story will take over your life like nothing else!

Percy Jackson - This is a no-brainer for me when you think of what to read after Harry Potter: it has kids with magical powers, a 'chosen one' and epic battles. Though it never quite drew me in the same way HP did, it's certainly entertaining and exciting enough to make the list. Plus it has mythology which is a pretty sweet bonus if you ask me.

Liesl & Po - With it's whimsical and enchanting tone, not to mention good moral values, this standalone is worth checking out!  I was instantly drawn into Liesl's story as she befriends a ghost named Po.  It has a bit of a fairytale feel to it but the writing style alone made this story really stand out.

Fangirl - This one deals with fangirling about a HUGE and life changing fantasy series similar to Potter. It's hard not to relate to the MC and the way the fandom has shaped her life. It's a contemporary but the references to fantasy fiction are everywhere.

LotR - Another no-brainer. For real though.  If you haven't read this classic yet, after a HP bender is the perfect time to do so. It starts off quite slow, with lots of descriptions but if you can make it past that initial part, you're in for a treat!  It's definitely a classic though, so the writing style isn't what you'd expect from a more modern read.  All the same, I was taken in by the quest and it's characters.

So.  What did you think of my picks?  Did I miss anything important?
Let me know :)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Harry Potter Month (2)

Harry Potter Month is a blogger event put together by Faith over at Student Spyglass for the month of
July. For more information visit this link.

Today, I wanted to share some of the best Harry Potter pictures, MEMEs, art and jokes found on the internet.  My Pinterest account is basically overflowing with HP goodness and I figured this would be a good way to share some of my favorites with fellow bloggers, readers & HP lovers. I only shared the ones that best encapsulate the series and the fandom (in my humble opinion).  These were all taken from my Harry Potter ϟ The Boy Who Lived board so the original sources for these would be there for anyone wishing to view them. And here.we.go:

Anime Harry Potter Art - very cool.

Hogwarts at Christmas Time...
Series Cover Artwork by Marie Grandpre 
And all of a sudden, they could be playing Sirius & Remus instead...
hahahah XD

They don't play Lucius & Draco, Lucius & Draco play Jason & Tom.
This is 100% accurate ^^
Yer a Wizard!
The Qualities of Harry Potter...these are all very true.

Walking at night. Light goes out- :O DUMBLEDORE!

Aaaaand cue the feels from this point on:

All was well. *SOBS*
Harry Potter reading Harry Potter on the set of Harry Potter. EPIC. (Potterception)
Thank You, Harry - My Favorite ♥
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