Book Reviews

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

“It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.”

I can’t take it anymore! Things are getting way too intense. I know how it all ends, but still, it’s just so much. 

The golden trio is growing up. It amazes me that in every book, the growth is so evident. After finishing each one, I was struck by the way Harry, Ron, and Hermione had changed. In this one, they have to overcome yet another hurdle in their relationship. What I mean is that Ron and Hermione finally get more serious, but of course, it’s not as easy as all that. I don’t think it’s ever that simple with Ron and Hermione. They always seem to take the long bumpy road rather than the straight and easy one. Which was sometimes frustrating, but I think that’s the nature of their relationship. Then there was also Harry and Ginny. Sooo cute. I really love Ginny, I think she’s a great fit for Harry. 

“Dumbledore says people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right.”

It was really great to learn about Voldemort’s origins. So far I’ve been thinking of him as a black picture – he’s just bad. But this added so much more depth to him and also showed the reasons for some of his actions, as horrible as they might be.

And Snape! I’m trying to figure him out, but I just can’t! He’s too good at what he does. 

“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”

One thing that annoyed me a bit was the way that Harry constantly questioned Dumbledore. I thought that Harry should trust Dumbledore a bit more considering that he is one of the greatest wizards. I constantly thought, ‘Alright, Harry, relax. Dumbledore knows what he’s doing.” Maybe, though, all these questions came out because Dumbledore was the only one who had answers. 

Well, on to the next one! Hold onto your hats, friends. This is going to be a wild ride. 

“Do you remember me telling you we are practicing non-verbal spells, Potter?”
“Yes,” said Harry stiffly.
“Yes, sir.”
“There’s no need to call me “sir” Professor.”
The words had escaped him before he knew what he was saying.”

Book Reviews

Natural Born by Morgan Perryman

I loved the concept for this book! It was really refreshing to read a YA novel with such a close connection to nature. As I read, I found myself deeply wishing that there really was Quid out there who could heal the land. And Quid’s relationship with the natural environment was fascinating as well. She loved nature, but there was a lot of fear involved as well. She didn’t know how to control this ability or even exactly what it was. She was acutely aware of the fact that she was different and of course, she needed to wrestle through that.

Overall, I wish there was more depth. For example, I was really intrigued by Vernie’s past! And I think it had a lot of potential to be a compelling element. I think, though, the work-up towards the revealing of Vernie’s history wasn’t quite intense enough. I read it and thought, “Oh, okay. That’s interesting, but it didn’t impact me the way I wish it had.” This was similar to the revealing of Quid’s origins. It should have been a huge moment, but to me, it didn’t quite hit the mark.

This was a clean read. There is an aspect of romance which seemed to happen quickly and felt a bit cliché, but it was really sweet.

I’m looking forward to the next step in Quid’s journey!

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Book Reviews

Gellan Parker and the Black Owl by A.L. Wicks

BLURB

Gellan always was odd. He just didn’t realize how odd. It all started when he happened to be exploring along the cliffs like he usually did. Or maybe it had started long before that.With no other option, he ends up in Cremstoll at a school called Gilsthorne. Only this school is different, like him. He finds he just might fit in for the first time. Until he realizes he can’t quite do everything everyone else can . . . and maybe, just maybe, that’s a good thing.

REVIEW

This was a really fun read. I don’t typically read children’s fiction, but I’ve been making my way through the Harry Potter series, so I thought “Why not try this one?”

I think my favourite thing about it was the setting. For some reason, I got a Nova Scotia, Newfoundland sort of vibe and I thought that was really fun. Overall, Wicks built an interesting and compelling world.

The characters were great too! I especially loved Drina. She was smart and brave, and her relationship with Gellan was really sweet.

I thought that the pacing was a bit slow, though. It felt like there was a lot of explaining at the beginning that dragged down the action. I was really excited for Gellan to arrive at Cremstoll, but it took him a while to get there.

I also found that there were a lot of details that were very close to the Harry Potter series. It was interesting how Wicks put her own twist on these details, but I did wish that she had strayed a little further away from them.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Book Sirens. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Book Reviews

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5) by J.K. Rowling

“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.”

This has got to be one of the biggest books I’ve ever read. It was mammoth size! (Over 200,000 words) So where to begin… 

“Just because you have the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.”

I was thrilled to join Harry, Ron, and Hermione once again. I’ve been reading a bit about what makes the Harry Potter series so compelling and a lot of people name the characters as a key component. I have to say that I agree with them. The golden trio was, as always, absolutely charming. From Ron’s reaction at discovering that he was a prefect, to Hermione’s Christmas gift of homework planners, to Harry’s dedication to the DA, I was spellbound. And I know you will all agree when I say that Umbridge was absolutely horrible. Rowling did a really good job of portraying this and making me want to just reach inside the story and ring of Umbridge’s neck. I have to admit, though, that this one was a hard one to read in terms of Harry’s ever-shifting moods. He was angry a lot of the time and now I know why, but it was a little frustrating to read. I really wanted to tell him to just calm down and take a chill pill.  We’ll see what he’s like in the next book. 

“Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure.”

The plot of the Order of the Phoenix was interesting as well in that I felt it didn’t have a crystal clear end goal. With the others, usually there was something that the characters were working towards throughout the entire book (i.e the finding the Philosopher’s stone, discovering the location of the chamber of secrets, surviving the Triwizard tournament). Rowling still made it work, though, and did an excellent job of keeping things rolling and engaging the attention of her readers. Lastly, I was very much intrigued by Snape’s memory. Up till now, Harry has thought of his father as a great and noble hero, but in this book, he discovered that his father wasn’t all that. I think especially in this book we see Harry step away from the naivety of a child. 

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I’m looking forward to book 6. Although things are becoming sooo intense, I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle it…..

Book Reviews

Spellbreaker (Spellbreaker Duology #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg

This was the first book I’ve read by Charlie Holmberg and I must say, I was absolutely charmed. The first few chapters were a bit of a rough start not because of the writing or the story, but because I picked it up near the end of my semester when deadlines were crashing in around me. Once things settled down and I could simply sit and read, I was transported to a unique and exciting magical place. We are given a Victorian England where magic is commonplace and most of those with magic are part of an organized system. The protagonist, Elsie Camden, is unregistered and works in secret for an insurgent group. Through one of her missions, she is discovered by Bacchus Kelsey who promises to keep her secret if she helps him break some spells.


Their relationship was a slow burn and was very sweet. They went from disliking each other to being friends to having feelings for each other. I also loved Elsie’s relationship with Ogden and Emmeline. Although they were not related they created a beautiful family atmosphere.

The writing was very nice. It was not extremely flowery, but it had some nice flourishes to it. Holmberg also moved things along nicely. She spent time where time was needed but didn’t dwell on things either.

Lastly, I loved that the ending surprised me! I was not expecting Elsie’s secret employers to be who they were and I was not expecting them to be so devious either. I had thought that there would be some great reveal of how the Cowls were right and the others were misusing their power, but I was so wrong!

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This was a clean read – there was no profanity or explicit scenes.
I am excited to read the sequel to Spellbreaker which will be coming out on March 9, 2021.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Reviews

Belvedor and the Four Corners by Ashleigh Bello

Blurb

The Hunger Games meets Red Queen and Throne of Glass in this action-packed Epic Fantasy Adventure series.

On a quest for freedom from a tyrant king, follow Arianna Belvedor as she unearths the enchantment buried beneath her dark world and learns how to wield magic alongside her swords. She will either win or die; whichever her fate, freedom is certain.


Arianna Belvedor has only ever dreamed of winning her freedom from the Four Corners—a cold and cruel city where all the children of the world are kept, each with an opportunity to earn their citizenship upon their eighteenth year. Just months away from her ultimate battle, she is certain that her notable skills as a warrior-slave (having been trained by Master Solomon Bell, a formidable mentor in Warrior’s District) will give her an edge during the annual Free Falls Festivals: Free for the slaves who earn their citizenship. Falls for the ones who die.

Alas, Arianna’s talent with a sword cannot outmaneuver the burning curiosities of her heart, leading her to reveal a shocking yet spectacular secret about King Devlindor and his long-standing reign as High King of Olleb-Yelfra.

The world as she knows it is a lie, its true spellbinding history exploited and suppressed under centuries of deceitful acts.

Her world turned upside down with new, unfathomable knowledge, Arianna must make a choice that could change her life forever—ignore the truth and continue following the path laid out for her since birth or break free from her chains and carve her own… if she can survive.

Immerse yourself in this addictive fantasy world as Arianna is thrust on a thrilling journey to uncover magic and more than earn her rights to freedom.

Belvedor and the Four Corners is a recipient of the 2017 Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion Award.

Review

This book has a lot of potential! I found that the world was unique and interesting, it had some suspenseful action scenes, and the friendship between Arianna and Lessa was sweet. Unfortunately, though, this was not a book for me. Some points of the storyline were a little awkward like how four slaves from different districts just happened to meet as they escaped. There was also a lot of dialogue. I know that some people really enjoy this, but I prefer a balance between dialogue and colourful prose.

I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Book Reviews

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

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Sooo I’ve never read this series before…. I know, I know! Don’t shoot me. I was a little curious about what all the hype was about, but I never had the motivation to actually acquire copies of this series. Now that I’ve read the first book, I think I understand. J.K. Rowling creates a world that is colourful and absolutely bursting with creative attributes. There were so many times when I thought, “Wow! What a brilliant idea,” or was astounded by how unique and imaginative it all was. It makes me curious about Rowling’s thought process and also super impressed!

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

Harry was, of course, a sweet and brave boy with perhaps a streak of recklessness. Sneaking a dragon up to the astronomy tower at midnight…? Well, I suppose it was for the greater

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good. I loved Ron and Hermione, Harry’s best friends. They were adorable and their friendship was admirable; although, there were definitely a few bumps in the road. Then there was also Hagrid and Dumbledore and Neville and so many more characters. I enjoyed them all! Even Snape’s creepiness was great. The negative characters gave the cast such a full dynamic. Of course, he-who-must-not-be-named was a chilling villain and the fact that everyone (except Harry) was afraid to say his name made it even more so.

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The world-building was absolutely marvellous. Rowling makes everything so vibrant and colourful that you almost, for a little while, believe Hogwarts is real and that your letter will come by owl any day.

“The truth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”

The pacing of the story had a nice rhythm to it. I think because there was so much to experience and discover, I was kept engaged. I’m curious to discover if this will be the same in the following books. Which leads nicely into my last statement. I will definitely be reading the next book! I actually have already started…. If you have not read this book (which I highly doubt), then you should. If not for the enchanting story, then at least for the experience. Harry Potter is a classic (and I can see why now), so you should add it to your list alongside books such as The Chronicles of Narnia.  

Bye for now!

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Book Reviews

The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows

This is my second time reading The Orphan Queen and even though I knew what was going to happen, I still found myself being swept away by the story. 

“I was there was the war began. And when it ended.”

The world that Meadows creates is unique and enchanting, yet dangerous and harsh. It was thrilling to join Will as she went undercover as a refugee noblewoman and navigated the court and the streets of the Indigo Kingdom. Will was brave and kind and independent, not only in taking care of herself but also in the decisions she made. She wasn’t afraid to go against what other people wanted her to do especially if she knew it to be wrong. And Tobiah? Who is the real Tobiah? It was almost hard to get to know Blackknife because Will and him did a lot of fighting and not so much talking. Then with the prince, I was never quite sure how he actually felt about something. One thing I’m a little confused about is whether or not Tobiah knew who she was the whole time. I think he did, but I’m not sure if that was super clear.  

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“Oh, nameless girl. When will you learn to trust me?”

As for the writing style, the main thing that I really loved about this book is how Meadows is able to just sit in a scene and completely fill it out. She doesn’t just drop us in a scene for a few pages, then move on to another, she actually lets us explore it and look around a little. I think this is definitely something I can apply to my own writing! 

“A queen who wouldn’t take risks for her people wasn’t worthy of being a queen at all.”

Before we go, I do want to briefly touch on the magic element in this book. It was interesting that it’s illegal and that throughout the story, Will’s relationship with it grows; and perhaps she becomes less afraid of it. But I’m a little confused about the wraith. What exactly is it? This might be explained more in the next book. I mean, why should the readers completely understand it when the characters don’t either.    

Lastly, this was a clean read. There was no profanity or sexual content, so I could fully enjoy this adventure. 

Ta ta for now!

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Uncategorized

Court of Bittern Thorn by Kay L Moody

This was an enchanting start to Kay L Moody’s new series The Fae of Bitter Thorn. The protagonist, Elora was a brave and talented mortal who loved her family deeply and did not allow the tricks and glamours of the Faerie realm to sway her. Although, sometimes she did not make the most intelligent decisions (like when she took the red ribbon off) and it frustrated me a little that she wasn’t more careful upon entering Faerie. As for Prince Brannick, I cannot say he was my favourite. My opinion of him definitely improved as the story went along, but I found that he was rather full of himself and his appearance was too perfect. I don’t know about you, but it really bugs me when the male love interest is absolutely gorgeous. It’s just unrealistic and rather cliche. 

One of my favourite things about this book was the world of Faerie that Moody created. I loved all of the sprites and brownies and the different faerie courts. It was fun to join Elora as she explored this realm and as she, in a way, fell in love with it. While the writing was good, I cannot say that I was captivated by it. Although, that could be my personal opinion of enjoying colourful and flower writing styles. 

Lastly, this was a clean read which was lovely. I always enjoy a book more when it excludes profanity and sexual content. 

Thank you to Book Sirens for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Have a happy and spooky Halloween my friends!

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Book Reviews

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

This was a lovely and unique adventure! Harrow has a beautiful writing voice that is quite charming. I think it was my favourite part of the book. I found myself lost in a forest of colourful descriptions and creative similies. It was quite enjoyable to read! 

“I hope you will find the cracks in the world and wedge them wider, so the light of other suns shines through; I hope you will keep the world unruly, messy, full of strange magics; I hope you will run through every open Door and tell stories when you return.”

Another thing I loved about this book was all the pieces that came together to form the ending. At first, when January began reading her book, I wasn’t crazy about the change. But as things went along, I became invested in this second story and wanted to discover how it would play out and fit into January’s. 

For the characters… January began as a naive and slightly timid girl, but as the story went along, she became brave and more independent. She even left her companions and finished her quest on her own. I was actually surprised at this. I had not expected this boldness from her, but at the same time, it felt right that she did this. Samuel was a sweetheart! Although, I wish their relationship was developed a bit more. But at the same time, this wasn’t the focus of the story, so it’s not a huge deal. The villain, Mr. Locke, was, yes, intimidating. However, I had a hard time transitioning from cold, unsympathetic Mr. Locke to psycho-leader-of-an-evil-society Mr. Locke. 

In terms of the plot, I can’t say it worked well for me. While I enjoyed the twist of a book within a book, at times it slowed the pacing down quite a bit. Also, the climax of the story had a different flavour than your typical YA novel. At least that it how it felt to me. There was an element of romance, but the ultimatum was the reunion of the family. It is not often that this is so central in YA literature and I liked that it resided so prominently in this book. 

Lastly, this was mostly a clean read, but there was some mild language.    

I hope you all have a fabulous day,

Emma

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