Top 5 Tuesday: Five Adventurous Books for Gryffindors

First off, shout out to Shanah for this brilliant idea for Top 5 Tuesday. When I think February, I think “love” and “romance,” thanks to Valentine’s Day. But Harry Potter is much better!

For this week’s theme, and the themes following, I selected books I think those in the respective Hogwarts Houses might like based on the personality traits they value. Gryffindors are known for their bravery, but of all the Houses, I feel they produce the least amount of readers (with Hermione Granger being the exception, of course). If a Gryffindor did decide to read a book, it would have to be something with a lot of action. And the protagonist absolutely cannot be a wimp. They would rather be off fighting dark wizards and saving the day, so the book better be worth their time.

The five books I would recommend to the lionhearted, adventurous Gryffindors are:

 

The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

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Besides being action-packed and bursting with humor, every single one of the seven main demigods could be a Gryffindor. Percy Jackson especially, with his sense of humor, loyalty, and strong moral compass. Leo, Harry, and Ron would be best buds, as none of them take themselves seriously. Annabeth and Hermione would definitely get along, as they are both strong, intelligent women that are natural leaders driven by pride. When first introduced, Hazel and Frank come off as weak, but they grow into their roles, much like Harry did. Piper has a good head on her shoulders and she is there when you need her to be, while Jason has no problem leading the charge in battle. Of all the books I recommend on this list, a Gryffindor reader would definitely enjoy The Heroes of Olympus series.

 

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

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Skyward is a science fiction novel where pilots risk their lives defending their planet from an evil alien race and the society’s culture thrives on valor. To the point where you show any sign of weakness, you set yourself up for humiliation, even branded a coward in some instances. Protagonist Spensa is definitely a Gryffindor, though unfortunately in possession of the House’s worst qualities: arrogant, impulsive, hot-tempered, and often doesn’t think before she acts.

Which is why only a Gryffindor can truly appreciate Skyward. While the rest of us might see the beliefs of this society as reckless, Gryffindors respect bravery and value it over most things. Also, this book is filled with exciting scenes on the battlefield and there is never a dull moment.

 

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

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Katniss Everdeen is without a doubt a Gryffindor, one that any would aspire to be. It takes a lot of courage to do what she did—volunteering to participate in the Hunger Games to save her sister, taking on a government system at seventeen—and to survive what she did. While there are some slow moments, particularly in the second book Catching Fire, there is an overwhelming feeling of intensity throughout the series. You’re on edge the entire time, waiting for the next thing to happen.  

 

The Darkest Minds trilogy by Alexandra Bracken

It’s been a few years since I read The Darkest Minds trilogy and, truth be told, I personally didn’t love it as much as I did Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger duology. I don’t know if I would classify Ruby, the main character of The Darkest Minds, as a Gryffindor. Personally, I think she’s more a of a Slytherin or a Ravenclaw, sneaky enough to spend five years hiding her powers in plain sight from those holding her captive. The other main characters, like my favorite Zu, are definitely Gryffindors. But the real reason The Darkest Minds trilogy is on this list is the non-stop action, the violence, and the bold government take-down done by kids with guns. I think some Gryffindor readers might enjoy that.

 

Saga graphic novel series by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

I’m not exactly sure why, but I feel like most Gryffindors would enjoy comic books or graphic novels. Superhero comic books to be exact, the ones with all the action and butt-kicking and saving the day. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to DC or Marvel or any superhero comics yet. In the meantime, I’m recommending the Saga graphic novel series.

These graphic novels are explicit—not for the faint of heart (like a Gryffindor). They are also highly entertaining and the world is complex. The main characters, Marko, Alana, and their daughter Hazel, would all be in Gryffindor House. This family has been through so much, yet they manage to stay together as a group as well as stay strong as individuals. And this series has some good humorous moments, too.

 

Anyone else think Gryffindors are not big readers? Would you recommend to a Gryffindor the same books I did or different ones?

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Get to Know Ya Tag!

I found the Get to Know Ya Tag on Kristin Kraves Books. I saw the opportunity to talk about some books I have not mentioned on my blog for a while now, or maybe some I’ve never mentioned before. Plus, it’s a super fun tag getting to know people.

I don’t know who created it, but if you do know, give them a shout out.

 

Favorite book of all time

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I honestly have no idea how to answer this question. It’s like asking me to choose my favorite child, or more appropriately, since I am childless, my favorite friend. That, and I firmly believe that nobody can have just one favorite book. How is that even possible?

So, I’m going to choose five of my all-time favorite books, which are:

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

 

Favorite book five years ago

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At first, I was going to say maybe The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong or Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. For the heck of it, I checked on Goodreads for my reading stats in 2013. That was the year I picked up Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson.

Confessions of a Murder Suspect was the first novel in a young adult mystery/thriller series following Tandoori “Tandy” Angel, the daughter of two extremely wealthy parents who are found dead in their bedroom. The only suspects are Tandy, her twin brother Harry, and her younger brother Hugo, as well as their older brother Matthew. There were a lot of twists and turns as Tandy tries to figure out who killed her parents, even if it means she did it, but the plot twist shook me to my core. I was obsessed with Confessions of a Murder Suspect, as well as its sequel, The Private School Murders, which I also read in 2013.

 

Favorite Duology/Trilogy/Series

Not surprisingly, I have an answer for all three of these.

Duology: It’s a tie between The Wrath and the Dawn duology by Renee Ahdieh and the Passenger duology by Alexandra Bracken. Both of these made me feel everything plus they were fun, exciting reads with characters I adored.

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Trilogy: Easily the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. I found very little fault in these books when I read them. However, since I have not read Lord of Shadows yet and Queen of Air and Darkness is not out until December, I’m wondering if maybe The Dark Artifices will soon take its place as my favorite trilogy. And there are a few other contenders on my TBR that could prove worthy competition.

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Series: Does it count if your favorite series are incomplete? The two series (again, I’m indecisive) that I am certain are my favorites are the Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco and the An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir. I just loved everything about these books.

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Last book you read

At the time I am writing this, the last book I read was A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell, a cheesy thriller about two mothers you think are best friends but they both have deep, dark secrets they use to manipulate each other. Unfortunately, it was not that entertaining.

 

Last book of poetry you read

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The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace, which I read and bought as soon as it came out. While I did enjoy it, sadly, I did not love it as much as her debut collection.

 

What book most influenced your life?

Honestly…I can’t say it was just one book, because a lot of books have influenced me in different ways throughout the years. To name a few:

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume is the book that awoke my passion for storytelling and inspired my first “novel” when I was eight years old.

At fifteen, The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong made me realize my strongest writing niche was in the fantasy and paranormal genres.

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The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace and The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur came to me earlier this year, making me feel empowered when I wasn’t really feeling like it.

 

 

 

 

 

Book that made you ugly cry

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Definitely A List of Cages by Robin Roe made me ugly cry. It takes a lot to make me cry in books in general. With this book, it was a full on sob fest.

 

Book that made you laugh

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All the Rick Riordan books I’ve read so far. That includes the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series plus the first two books in the Heroes of Olympus series, The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune.

 

Character you’d like to be for a day.

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No brainer: Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I get to practice magic and go to Hogwarts, plus share a brain with one of the most badass women in literature.

 

Book so good you dreamt about it

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Hmmm…. I don’t remember my dreams. I remember my nightmares though. One book that was really good but also one I should not have read before bed was The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich. There was a scene with a mirror…and I have one in my bedroom, right across from my bed, so it took me a while to go back to sleep after.

 

Book you DNF’D

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After You by Jojo Moyes, which I tried to read over a year ago. I got about 35 pages in before I had to put it down. I think it bothered me that Me Before You got a sequel when it was perfectly fine as a stand-alone, in my opinion. However, I’ve heard decent things about the third book, Still Me, when Louisa goes to New York City, so I might pick up After You again, eventually.

 

What book are you most excited to read?

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

…To name a few.

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I tag….

Grey (once she’s back from her hiatus! I completely forgot. Sorry Grey!)

Crystal

Shanah

Joe

And anyone else that wants to do this tag!

Thoughts I Had Rereading “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” as an Adult

As I continue on with my reread and reviews of the Harry Potter books, I am reintroduced to Hogwarts and slowly falling in love with the world all over again. But I see why people are so divided on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second book in the series. It is either people’s favorite book, least favorite book, or simply a filler novel until we get to the resurrection of Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

            Here are the thoughts I had rereading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as an adult (will contain spoilers):

 

Why Ginny?

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Since it had been so long since I had reread the books, I had forgotten Arthur Weasley’s Muggle Protection Act. It wasn’t covered in the movies—all we saw was Lucius Malfoy’s prejudice against Muggles and Muggle-borns. My guess is he picked Ginny because she was the youngest of Arthur and Molly’s children, Ron was too close to Harry, and the others were too old. All I know for sure is that I kind of wish Hagrid hadn’t broken up that bookstore fight between Arthur and Lucius.

 

How close Harry and Ron have come to expulsion on so many occasions.

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The flying car situation made me realize just how close, between Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets alone, Harry and Ron have come to expulsion from Hogwarts. They are so lucky they have Professor McGonagall as a Head of Gryffindor House.

 

Snape hates Harry and Ron because they remind him of James Potter and Sirius Black. 

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This occurred to me in the scene where Harry and Ron are facing punishment for the flying car. Snape is gleeful at the prospect of the boys getting kicked out of school and then “looks like Christmas has been cancelled” when he finds out they are only getting detention. Reading this scene, I was suddenly struck by the realization that Harry and Ron must remind him of James Potter and Sirius Black.

Let’s face it—James Potter was a bully. He tormented Snape when they were in school and then stole his best friend Lily Evens from him. Being so handsome and popular, James probably got away with a lot. And Sirius was always by his side, urging him on, just like how Ron is with Harry. Seeing Harry and Ron get in trouble, then get out of it, must have brought back a lot of unpleasant memories for Snape. Not that it is an excuse the way he treats Harry, who had nothing to do with any of it.

 

Why are the Weasleys so poor? Do parents pay for Hogwarts?

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Maybe they explain it in the later novels, but why is the Weasley family so poor? They make most of their things with magic, like most wizarding families. Which leads me into my next question: do parents pay for Hogwarts? It would make sense, considering the Weasleys have so many kids. But how much does Hogwarts ask for, over the course of seven years? It can’t be that much can it?

 

What happens to kids before Hogwarts/if they get expelled?

The Muggle-borns I get. They probably went to human school before they got their Hogwarts letters. But what was Ginny doing before she went to Hogwarts? Also, what happens to the kids that get expelled? Not all of them are as lucky as Hagrid. My guess, those are probably the Obscurus, the ones who repress their magic because they aren’t allowed to practice outside of school or they become Death Eaters.

 

Ron’s wand—can wizards do magic without wands?

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Wands supposedly choose the wizard. Will Ron be able to use a hand-me-down wand and still do magic? Or do magic without wands? Harry did; he was technically doing magic before he got into Hogwarts. I’m assuming it could be the same for Ron or other wizards.

 

I want to be a ghost at Hogwarts when I die.

I want my afterlife to be in a magical place, surrounded by children and life.

 

Petrifying a ghost: making the Basilisk too powerful?

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In recent years, there has been talk in the book community about the idea of “special snowflakes”: the main character, usually, is too powerful to be realistic or safe. I imagine the same would apply to magical creatures. If Nearly Headless Nick can’t die, can he really be Petrified? Is it really realistic to make the Basilisk powerful enough to Petrify a dead person?

 

Why didn’t Harry and Ron look for the Slytherin common room before taking the Polyjuice Potion?

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I have a tendency to overthink everything, but isn’t that something they should have checked first?

 

Why do people ship Draco and Hermione?

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If child Draco were more like the adult Draco in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I would get it. But Draco Malfoy in the early novels is simply plain awful. I know he was written that way, but still, I’m not a fan of the Draco/Hermione ship.

 

Harry is sung as a hero but he’s still just a kid.

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This became more apparent in the Chamber of Secrets, where he’s on the run from the Basilisk. There are also his interactions with others where he’s embarrassed and socially awkward. Harry is a hero that really does not want to be a hero.

 

Nature vs. Nurture: Harry & Lord Voldemort.

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Tom Riddle brings this to attention during his and Harry’s confrontation in the Chamber of Secrets. Harry and Lord Voldemort did have similar upbringings. They were orphaned as babies, and then raised by Muggles that did not treat them well. While Tom Riddle was a half-blood, I would not necessarily call Harry one because Lily Potter was, technically, a witch. Knowing his mother’s story, I can understand where the root of Voldemort’s hatred for Muggles comes from: his father abandoned his mother after learning she was a witch.

But when you look at how horribly the Dursleys treated Harry, you would expect him to hate Muggles as much as Tom did. Yet, it never occurs to Harry to use magic to hurt humans, other than tease Dudley. Harry has a temper, but he never wants to hurt anyone (other than Snape or Malfoy). Then, you look at Tom Riddle, who was treated the same way and turned into the most evil wizard of all time. Go figure.

 

Do you agree with any of my thoughts on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? Let’s discuss!

Thoughts I Had Rereading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as an Adult

In case you missed my End of the Year Reading Plans blog post, I decided to end 2017 with a reread of the Harry Potter series. After reading each of the seven books, I will do spoiler-filled individual reviews that are more like musings; thoughts that occurred to me as I was reading and things I never noticed as a twelve-year-old that I do now as a twenty-four-year-old.

Proceed with caution: Spoilers ahead!

 

Severus Snape is a douchebag!

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I get it: James Potter bullied him the entire time he was in school and stole his best friend Lily Evens from him. But Harry is not James. It was obvious from the first time he is introduced Snape is deliberately picking on Harry, going as far as to blame Harry for Neville messing up a potion that first class. If anything, he should have kept Harry close to his heart out of love for Lily.

I don’t care that Snape was a hero in the end—he had no right to pick on a young boy.

 

Hagrid is a pushover.

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I love Hagrid and I stand by that he is the only true parental figure Harry had in his life. But how can he let three 11-year-olds push him around like that?

 

If I had met Hermione Granger when I was eleven in real life, I don’t think I would have liked her at all.

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Obviously, I grew to love Hermione like everyone else did. Still, reading those first chapters with her, until the scene with the troll on Halloween, and how much of a perfectionist she is, I don’t think I would have liked her at that age. I might have respected her, in terms of academic and her strict rule following, but ultimately I think she would have annoyed me.

 

Only five points taken when facing off a troll by yourself, but fifty points taken for sneaking out of bed?

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Maybe it’s because the Stone was hanging around and McGonagall knew people would be after it, but still. Kids are curious and who wouldn’t want to explore the Hogwarts castle as much as they could? What if the kids couldn’t sleep and they were actually just taking a walk to calm down, Professor?

Then, you take into account of the troll getting inside the school on Halloween. Instead of doing what they were told and getting back to the Gryffindor tower, Harry and Ron did the brave thing to save Hermione from the troll. Hermione told McGonagall she went to face off the troll alone because she had read about them and thought she knew what she was doing—that should have taken fifty points. On the flip side to that, heroes Harry and Ron only get five or ten points each to Gryffindor for saving a fellow classmate from possible death.

I don’t get it.

 

Sending 11-year-olds out into the Forbidden Forest in the middle of the night to find a dead unicorn?

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Isn’t sending four eleven-year-olds out into the Forbidden Forest, the same place you told them not to go, a little extreme punishment? Hagrid is trained and perfectly capable of doing the job himself. Plus, they were separated; he even told Malfoy his dog Fang would not even protect him in a crisis. Wouldn’t Hagrid get in trouble if anything happened to the kids on his watch, since they were, technically, in detention?

 

J.K. Rowling’s writing in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is juvenile and often states the obvious.

 

Yes, even J.K. Rowling, the God of Storytelling, was once a newbie author. It shows in Sorcerer’s Stone. I understand that she was writing for children, but I saw her stating the obvious—explaining what the characters were feeling or over-explaining certain situations instead of showing. You don’t always need to dumb things down for kids.

 

Why was Peeves the poltergeist not in the movies?

 

He’s such a pivotal factor in some many scenes, especially this first book. How come he is never featured in the movie?

 

I like Draco Malfoy now because I know what kind of adult he grows up to be and what a father he is to his son.

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Growing up, like most people, I despised Draco Malfoy in books/movies 1 through 5. He is a terrible brat always causing problems for the Golden Trio. He was bad strictly for the sake of being bad. Though I ultimately disliked Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the highlight of that whole play was, ironically, Draco and his son Scorpios.

Throughout my reread of Sorcerer’s Stone, seeing Draco set Harry up to get into trouble, like challenging him to a midnight duel and tattling to McGonagall about Norbert the dragon, I knew this phase was temporary. He grows up to be a mature adult and a loving father to his son.

 

I like Ron more than I thought I did in the first book.

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Reading Sorcerer’s Stone, it’s obvious Ron would make a good Hufflepuff. He’s loyal to Harry. He sees Harry as a normal boy, not just the Boy Who Lived—until the later books at least.

Thinking of the drama Ron causes particularly in Book 4, it was hard for me to look past that and remember that, at his core, Ron is a good friend to Harry. He’s not perfect. We all know the dumb shit he starts in Goblet of Fire and Deathly Hallows. He dragged Hermione’s feelings through the mud in Half-Blood Prince. Hard to believe that guy is the same sweet, funny kid in Sorcerer’s Stone.

 

Hogwarts is still a magical place.

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No matter how old you get.

 

If the Dursleys had not been horrible to Harry, even if they never told him the truth about how his parents died and that he was a wizard, would he have been as accepting learning he was a wizard?

Reading Harry’s life with the Dursleys, leading up to the scene Hagrid arrives with the truth bomb—Harry, you’re a wizard—and, five minutes later, Harry is totally cool with it, I had to ask myself that question.

A common theme in young adult literature is a parent or guardian of the main character knowing he or she is a supernatural but does not divulge in the information for the sake of protecting said main character. I imagined this scenario: Petunia Dursley was close to her sister Lily and is devastated by the loss. When she takes Harry in, she and her husband Vernon vow to never reveal to Harry he is a wizard to protect him. They love Harry and raise him alongside Dudley like brothers. Eleven years later, the letter from Hogwarts arrives. If Harry had grown up in this situation, would he be so willing to leave the Dursleys?

I suppose giving Harry a horrible childhood is J.K. Rowling’s way of giving him motivation to go to Hogwarts. In hindsight, though, I wondered if his quick acceptance of learning he is a wizard is unrealistic. Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but I cannot be the only person that thinks this, can I?

 

Did you think any of the same things I did? Let’s discuss!

 

February 2017 Wrap Up

February was a bit of a crazy month in the beginning, but I have to say, it was an interesting month in terms of reading. I read a mix of really bad books and really good books, which I believe is as much as a success as reading all five-star books. Some of these books I discovered by chances, others were on my TBR for a year that I finally read. And I read a total of seven books, two books more than last month. Let’s hope this continues as the year goes on.

 

City of Skies by Farah Cook (digital book for review)

1 star

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This is the first book I have given a one-star rating to in a long, long time. And I feel terrible about it.

The author sent me a digital copy of her book in exchange for an honest review. In my honest opinion, I was not a fan of this book. The world building was shaky, the characters were one-dimensional, and there were so many tropes my head was spinning.

The plot was interesting enough: a teenaged girl joins a group of warriors called the Raiders, whose mission is to search for evidence of Vikings. Then, it went downhill from there for me. However, the author is still new, so I think she has potential to get better the harder she works at it.

I am posting my full, spoiler-free review of City of Skies on Amazon and Goodreads (maybe my blog but I’m not sure) the day of its release, March 3rd.

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne (library book)

2.5 stars

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Now that the hype has died down, I felt it was safe to finally check out Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I had been going back and forth for months about spending the money to buy it in the wake of so many negative reviews. In the end, my library came to my rescue.

In my personal opinion, the whole franchise could have done without Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. From the first page, I felt as if I could hear J.K. Rowling say: “Here’s your fucking eighth book. Now leave me alone.” It was a way con more money out of Harry Potter fans and milk the Boy Who Lived for all his worth.

I’m not saying Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was terrible. There were parts of it that I enjoyed, such as Scorpios Malfoy (who didn’t love him?). Being in play format, it was a quick read and it saved me from a possible reading slump after that review book I previously mentioned. I’m glad I can say I finally read it, but I am also glad I never spent the money on it.

If you want to know all my spoiler thoughts on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, go read my review.

 

The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins (library book)

4 stars

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My first Ellen Hopkins book and I was not disappointed. The You I’ve Never Known follows two girls named Ariel and Maya. Ariel is a seventeen-year-old girl coming into her sexuality liking a boy and a girl, which proves to be a problem where her homophobic father is concerned. As for Maya, also seventeen, she flees her abusive

mother by marrying an older man and becoming pregnant with his child. The girls’ lives mirror one another, eventually crossing paths.

The primary focus of The You I’ve Never Known is self-discovery. Ariel is trying to build a life of her own away from her controlling father, thus uncovering a few secrets as a result. I liked her as a protagonist, especially appreciating her honesty with her two love interests and her subtle ways of manipulation when dealing with her father, making him think he was in control while she had him wrapped around her finger.

As for the writing, I enjoyed it; the free verse poetry made a 600-page book fly by. Maya’s sections in prose were few and far in between, but they were still written well. My main qualm with this whole book, though, is it could have been at least 100 pages shorter, because the last half of the book dragged on.

If you are interested in my full spoiler-free thoughts on The You I’ve Never Known, go read my review.

 

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

5 stars

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I finally, FINALLY read A Torch Against the Night, the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes and one of my favorite books of 2016. But now I’m sad, because I have to wait until 2018 for the third book.

Dare I say it, but in regards to storytelling, Sabaa Tahir gives Sarah J. Maas a run for her money. Her world building is spot-on, adding on to the mythology and danger of the Empire and the lands surrounding it filled with rebellions, war, and political intrigue. Elias and Laia are my two new all-time favorite characters. He’s a strong, brave, and good-natured warrior who pulls at my heartstrings. She’s a quiet but fierce fighter that I see a lot of myself in.

As for Helene, I didn’t think I would like her, though I warmed up to her by the end of A Torch Against the Night. The love square was annoying, but I think the end of the book finally resolved it, and I really hope Helene ends up with the person I think she’s going to be with.

Seriously, though…I need the third book ASAP.

 

Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist (library book)

4.75 stars

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My pick for a Valentine’s Day read this year, Love and First Sight is centered on Will Porter, a high school boy that was born blind. At the beginning of the novel, he decides to leave the school for the blind to attend a public high school. There, he meets three new friends and Cecily, a girl he eventually falls for. Then, he gets unbelievable news: a new experimental surgery that could give him eyesight. The surgery works, but when Will sets eyes on Cecily, he discovers she is not as beautiful as his friends described. Only does that really matter?

I flew through this book in three days. The writing was witty and the banter reminded me a lot of the dialogue on The Big Bang Theory TV show. Will is a great protagonist: thoughtful, funny, and easygoing, but he has his flaws, too. Cecily is someone I think some people can relate to in that she’s a good person, but sometimes overlooked because of her appearance. There’s one scene in particular, before Will has the surgery, where his parents meet Cecily and there is literally a 30-second pause. It made me think: “Is this poor kid truly so unattractive that two grown-ass adults would stare at her like that?”

What I liked most about Love and First Sight is the social commentary on how sighted people view blind people, or how “normal” people view others with disabilities in general. Will says people have good intentions, but they really have no idea of what the disabled person is going through and, sometimes, such as the case in Will’s mother, they are hurting more than helping. There was also commentary on the traditional beauty standards of society and how everyone’s perception of beauty is different.

If you love young adult contemporary novels and/or are looking for an own voices novel about disability, I highly recommend Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist.

 

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

3.5 stars

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Another book I have a full, spoiler-free review on, The Woman in Cabin 10 is an adult mystery novel about a travel journalist who witnesses a murder onboard a luxury cruise ship. But when she reports the crime to the ship authorities, all passengers and staff are accounted for. So, she sets out to prove she did not imagine what she heard that night, putting herself in danger of being the killer’s next target.

While it was a fun, fast-paced read, The Woman in Cabin 10 is not one of the best mystery novels I’ve read. The main character, Lo, was my favorite aspect of the story and the writing was good, but the plot was far-fetched and I found it hard to believe at times. I would definitely like to see this adapted into a film, though.

For my full thoughts, go read my review.

 

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

4.5 stars

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Like A Torch Against the Night, Passenger was another priority TBR book I read this month. As I expected, I enjoyed it very much, probably more than I did Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds trilogy.

Violin prodigy Etta Spencer is kidnapped by power-hungry time travelers on the night of her debut performance and discovers she is a time-traveler herself. Aided by handsome 18th century pirate Nicholas Carter, she travels from country to country, century to century, to locate a lost item for the Ironwoods, a powerful time-traveling family, in exchange for her mother’s freedom. Only there is more to what is happening than Etta and Nicholas are aware of.

Alexandra Bracken’s writing has improved since her completion of The Darkest Minds trilogy. Though told in third-person perspective of both Etta and Nicholas, I felt more attached to them than I did to Ruby, the protagonist of The Darkest Minds, who told the story in first-person. The different settings were also described accurately and beautifully. Plus, I got hit with the feels—I thought Etta and Nicholas’s insta-love would annoy me, yet somehow the angst of their relationship pulled me under.

As for the characters, I liked both Etta and Nicholas. Etta is strong in her own way and stubborn, driving Nicholas up the wall. He’s moral and loyal, torn between what he thinks he deserves and what he actually wants. They are the reason I’m anxious to get my hands on Wayfarer, the second and final book in the Passenger duology.

 

What was your favorite book you read in February?

Review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling & Jack Thorne (May Contain Spoilers)

Maybe it’s because I watched reviews of this book online when it came out this summer. Maybe it is because I already had mixed feelings about the book’s publication to begin with. Either way, I think Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is J.K. Rowling’s way of telling Harry Potter fans: “Here’s your fucking eighth book. Now leave me alone.”

Instead of giving the next generation their own story, their own adventure, the writers recycled ideas from the original story, and then flipped them upside down. The time-travel element turned out to be really annoying. It was not done well.

On the flip side to that, there was something about the time-travel I surprisingly liked. At the end of Part One, Scorpios Malfoy is transported into an alternate timeline where Voldemort won the Battle of Hogwarts. It was a world where Dolores Umbridge was Headmistress of Hogwarts; Harry Potter was dead; Muggle-borns are tortured for sport; Hermione Granger is a wanted rebel; and Snape is still alive. It was easily my favorite section of the whole play. The situation put things into perspective: what would the world look like if Voldemort had won?

My main issue with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as a whole is likely the same as most people: the assassination of characters. Not to mention the lack of Neville Longbottom, who is frequently mentioned but never seen.

Even as a brooding teenager, Harry Potter never had such a short temper like he did as an adult. I know his father died when he was a baby, but he was not without examples of what I good father was. Arthur Weasley, for example, was an excellent father figure. He was unbelievably kind to his children and to Harry. Arthur and Molly treated Harry like he was their own son. There was also Hagrid, who showed Harry an abundance of love and support all seven of the previous books. I could not believe, or approve, of some of the things Harry said and did regarding his middle son, Albus.

As for Ron Weasley, he was a goof in the original series, but he was not a bumbling idiot like he was in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. That scene he was distracted by food in an emergency, for example, did not sit well with me. It was also like the writers were trying too hard to make Ron more like Fred and George. But Ron is not Fred and George. You can’t replace Fred and George.

Hermione Granger as the Minister of Magic did not surprise me at all. Of the Golden Trio, she was the only one who stayed the same as she did in the original story. Although, I don’t recall her being such a snob like her daughter, Rose…. It was seeing a whole new side of Draco Malfoy that I loved about these changes in the original main characters. He was a loving dad and a devoted husband—something totally different from his own father.

Then, we have Albus Severus Potter. I could sympathize with him, but I didn’t like him much. I understand the pressure he feels to live up to his father’s legacy. Not just Harry’s either, but also that of his namesakes, Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape. That’s too much expectations put upon a child. So, a lot of Albus’s actions throughout the play made sense, like travelling back through time to save Cedric Diggory, “the spare.” He was trying to prove he was a hero like his father, despite being in Slytherin.

But, of course, let’s talk about virtually everyone’s favorite thing about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Scorpios Malfoy!

He was a wonderful, loyal friend to Albus. I totally adored their bromance. He was witty and sarcastic. He went along for the ride, even if sometimes he had no idea what they were getting themselves into. He was a voice of reason when Albus needed it most. Scorpios is an amazing character, proof not everyone in the Slytherin House is a Death Eater or a dark wizard or a downright nasty person.

Moving on with the next generation, I still have no idea how I feel about Delphi as a character. She was not a complex villain. She used a naïve teenaged boy to get what she wanted—typical. It was her being the daughter of Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange that I could not get on board with. Am I the only one who thought it was impossible to imagine the Dark Lord liking sex? That he was too obsessed with power to even think about reproducing?

I have no idea where Rowling or Thorne was heading with this storyline. It was just did not work.

One thing is certain: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is meant to be performed on a stage, not read in a book. I have no idea how time travel or magic will be portrayed inside a theater. I guess they made it work somehow—they play supposedly did well in the box office.

Overall, I give Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne 2.5 stars. I did not love it, did not hate it. The book did not add or take away from the original books. My expectations were kept low and I’m glad I did not let myself get too hyped up with excitement. To me, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was an unnecessary addition to the Harry Potter series. I don’t regret reading it, per say; I just think Rowling needs to stop writing HP stories. Harry Potter needs to retire.

Feel free to disagree with me.

 

Have you read Cursed Child or seen the play? What did you think of it?