2017 Reading Wrap-Up: Books #6-10

Fatal Puzzle by Catherine Shepherd and translated by Julia Knobloch – 2 stars

I’ve had this on my Kindle for over 2 years (it’s one of many Kindle First books that I got and then proceeded to not read because I’m a horrible person like that) and since one of my goals is to read all of my Kindle First books this year, here I am.

The idea of jumping between 1495 and present day was intriguing, but the way that it was executed was rather disappointing. I’m not sure if it is because it was translated to English so the writing fell flat or if the writing just was not strong to begin with. There were several plot points that I had a really hard time getting behind and felt like there was no need to include the paranormal aspect.

The puzzle aspect held promise, but I feel like the fact that the first two victims’ last names matched up with an aspect of the puzzle just to throw off the scent was a little too easy. I find it hard to believe that the investigator would focus on the last names and not the names of the towers.

The current day killer seemed so out of left field. I wish we had gotten more from his perspective, to be honest. Especially given some of his inner thoughts near the end of the book. It just didn’t make sense to me. And again, it felt too easy to have one of the suspects that the police were interested in.

I felt like the 1495 scenes didn’t feel as authentic as I would normally like my historical fiction because the language felt a little too modern for my taste.

I’m giving it a 2 star rating rather than a 1 star rating because I’m taking into account that some of my problems could have been due to the translation from German to English.


Glass by Ellen Hopkins – 4 stars

I did enjoy this more than I enjoyed Crank (as weird as it is to say you enjoyed reading about someone’s life being destroyed by meth). And I found this one to be more believable than Crank as we saw more of the ramifications and consequences of Kristina’s addiction.

Kristina still continued to annoy me, but this time I was a little bit more understanding in that I really saw just how far gone she was with her addiction. There were many times that I wanted to slap her in her face and tell her to get over it, but I know that a) she’s a fictional character and b) that won’t do anything for an addict – they have to want to get the help themselves.

I really don’t like Trey and was really rooting for her and Brad to end up together. I just thought that she and Brad had more chemistry and that he was a much better guy for her (even if he was a meth dealer). I was a little confused because I thought that Brendan knew about Hunter? I may be remembering wrong. But I wasn’t the biggest fan of having him pop up again.

I thought that Kristina was just a straight up b*tch to Heather for no reason and it kinda made me uncomfortable just how homophobic she seemed to be with all of her nasty thoughts towards Heather. It was a bit hard for me to imagine Leigh being okay with her sister acting like that towards her girlfriend.

I was glad that her mom finally took some sort of stand against Kristina when she kicked her out because of her usage. And I like that she filed for full custody of Hunter because it was the first wake-up call that Kristina truly was losing her battle to her addiction. And this is going to sound harsh, but I was really glad that she ended up being arrested. I think what made me glad to read it is that this is aimed at a teen audience and I want them to see that they can do some serious damage to themselves. I know that addiction is a disease, but there are so many instances in pop culture where a drug user and/or dealer do not face many consequences and it ends up being almost romanticized. I hope that makes sense.

Anyway, I think it’ll be interesting to read Kristina’s story’s conclusion. I wonder what will happen with the proposed deal with the Feds and what will happen with her and Trey know that they are expecting a child. Especially since it was clear that Hunter was too much for Trey to handle.


Fallout by Ellen Hopkins – 4.5 stars

Fallout was way more powerful for me than Crank and Glass. But I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the narration shifts to three of Kristina’s children. As the child of an addict, I found myself sharing a lot of the same emotions and thoughts that Hunter, Autumn, and Summer had.

I thought that switching the narration was a smart move on Hopkins’s part. It really shows just how far reaching the consequences of addiction can be. And I feel like we were still getting Kristina’s story, so it felt like a good ending to the series.

I felt like Hopkins did a good job of representing the panic attacks that Autumn feels. And I kind of liked that she also had OCD. I totally understood why she told Bryce that her parents were dead despite the fact that they weren’t. When your parent is an addict and have pretty much abandoned you, sometimes it’s easier to just pretend that they are dead. It makes it much easier to deal with the pain. But it’s also hard to explain that sometimes. And while I get that Bryce was mad that she lied, I hate that he didn’t give her a chance to really explain. I kinda wish that Hopkins hadn’t added the possible pregnancy, but that’s just me.

Hunter was an interesting perspective to read since we’ve seen him in Crank and Glass, even though he was just a baby. I wish that we could have seen him and Brendan get to know each other a little more, especially since Brendan seems to have changed his life around after being in the armed forces. While I didn’t like that he cheated on Nikki, I did kind of like that it helped bring him closer to Scott as he was asking him for advice on how to show Nikki he was sorry. And I’m glad that he really was sorry and did try to make it up to Nikki.

Summer was interesting to read about, especially having her in the foster system. Her storyline was my least favorite, but it was still compelling. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Kyle, but he grew on me and I did like their relationship. I also liked that Summer was willing to stand up for and protect her foster siblings when things went south.

I also liked that at the end of the book, when everyone has finally re-connected, Kristina finally gets some closure and actually has an emotional breakdown (I know, that sounds harsh of me). And I totally understand why Hunter and Summer are having a hard time believing anything that Kristina is saying. Once you’ve heard enough lies, even the truth sounds like it. Especially coming out of the mouth of an addict. I think that this was a very strong conclusion to Kristina’s story and I’m glad I stuck out reading the entire trilogy because I wasn’t sure I would after Crank.


The Grownup by Gillian Flynn – 4 stars

This was my first time reading Gillian Flynn and if the rest of her novels are like this short story, I cannot wait to read them.

I was gripped from page 1 and flew through the entire story. I actually really enjoyed the narrator and even though she wasn’t always the most honest person, there were times that you saw her humanity and goodness shine through.

I also actually liked the idea of not knowing which story is true because there are always multiple sides to each story. Though I’m not sure I’m 100% okay with the ending and the situation that the main character ends up in legally (I’m purposefully being vague to avoid spoilers but I think if you’ve read it you’ll understand what I’m talking about).


Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World Edited by Kelly Jensen – 4 stars

I really wish that this book was out when I was a teen because I think I would’ve gotten a little bit more out of it and would have rated it 5 stars.

I love that it focused on intersectionality and brought in a diverse set of voices to tell their stories. I love that there were recommendations for books, movies, graphic novels, and music. I love that each author stressed that there is no right way to be a feminist.

There were some stories that I had a hard time connecting with, but that was one of the reasons why I wanted to read this. I wanted to learn about other’s experiences with feminism and just the world in general. I can’t quite put my finger on what was missing for me, but overall I really enjoyed this and I think that everyone should read this. It’s a great introduction to feminism if you are just dipping your toes in and are not quite ready to jump both feet first into writers like bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Margaret Atwood (to name a very small bunch).


2017 Reading Wrap-Up: Books #1-5

So this year, I think I’m going to try doing my wrap-ups on here in groups of five rather than waiting until I have a group (such as YA) to post about. So here are the first things I read in 2017!

The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Volume 2 by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell – 5 stars

I’ve had this volume for nearly a year now, but I kept putting it off for some reason. When I was looking at my 2016 challenge, I saw that volume 1 was my first book of 2016, so I thought it would be *significant* to have volume 2 be my first book of 2017.

I’m fairly removed from the story at this point since it’s been a year since I read volume 1 and over a year since I read the original novel, but I found that I had no problem picking right up where the graphic novel begins.

The artwork was gorgeous and really helped me visualize what I had trouble with when I was reading the novel the first time round, which is part of why I didn’t rate it terribly high. I really enjoyed the story and that this novel focused on the last two chapters of the book because I feel it gave those chapters the time they deserve to unfold. I like that we really see Bod grow up in this volume and that he has to deal with the consequences of his actions. I also love that Bod’s selfless side is shown when he steps in to stand up to the bullies when he goes to school.

This really was a great first read of the year and I’m kind of sad that I don’t have any more graphic novels to spend with Bod, Silas, Scarlett, the Owenses, Liza, and the rest of the graveyard family.


A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – 5 stars

I’m not sure how to put my feelings into words.

This was such a beautiful story told in such simple language. But that simplicity doesn’t take anything away – if anything, it adds to the story because it’s just you and Conor and the monster and all of the emotions that you’re all experiencing.

The illustrations by Jim Kay are simply haunting and perfect for the story. But the story in and of itself is not scary at all. Unless you count facing the truth to be scary.

I love that the stories that the monster tells shows that there are two sides of everything. No one is all good or all bad. Letting go of someone is hard. Wanting someone else’s pain to end can be difficult because you can feel guilty when it does (at least, that’s been my experience). I just love this story and look forward to re-reading it in the future.

*Side note: I went and saw the movie the day after I finished reading this and the movie absolutely broke me. It is hands-down 1 of my favorite movies of the year already and 1 of the best book-to-movie adaptations I have ever seen.


The Force Awakens Graphic Novel by Chuck Wendig – 5 stars

Yes, this is exactly the movie in graphic novel format. But you know what? I don’t care. I thoroughly enjoyed this and loved seeing The Force Awakens in yet another form of media. The artwork is gorgeous (though there were a couple depictions of characters that could have been a little better). Would it have been nice to have a little bit of extra content? Yes. Was I disappointed that there wasn’t? No. If you haven’t seen the movie (you should, by the way), this is a great alternative.


Winterspell by Claire Legrand – 3 stars

I have a long history with The Nutcracker and it’s something I hold dear to my heart. I performed in it for 12 years and could probably put on a one woman show with the roles I was cast in (minus, ya know, Clara, the Snow Queen, and Sugar Plum Fairy – minor details). I start listening to the music every year in November and see it at least once a year (either wherever I’m going to school or the one put on by my old ballet company). So when I heard about this dark re-telling, I was so there for it.

Until I started reading it…then I wasn’t quite sure what I had gotten into.

Yes, there were elements of the story that were here in this re-telling. And yes, re-tellings don’t need to be, nor should they be, a direct copy of the original work. But other than the statue coming to life, the fact that Clara has an odd Godfather, the battle in the ballroom, and the fact that Anise is a faery, I didn’t see much of the original fairy tale.

There were several times that I was just plain uncomfortable reading this. I didn’t understand the need for all of the sexual tension and focus on nakedness that happened whenever Clara was with Anise. I’m not against exploring one’s sexuality and I love that it’s implied that Anise is bisexual, but it felt unnecessary and sometimes forced just to be edgy. I get that this is supposed to be a dark re-telling, but I don’t get where this aspect fits in with regards to the original tale. Also, I swear the word “belly” appears approximately too many times in this novel.

And the weirdness with the statue in the beginning was a little too out there for me. I just couldn’t get behind a little girl basically having wet dreams about a statue. It also creeped me out that Nicholas was essentially 18 years old when he is cursed and then proceeds to watch Clara grow up to the age of 17 but they end up together. The scene on the porch at Pascha House enraged me to no end and I could not forgive Nicholas for his actions. Let alone what he did after it was revealed that Clara had her powers. I just never really saw the romance between Nicholas and Clara and thought there was way too much baggage for them to overcome to get their happy ever after.

I also didn’t understand the point of Dr. Victor. I also loathed the fact that he victim blamed her for his perverse thoughts about her. It was never her fault, but he made it so that she internally blamed herself for everything that he did towards her.

However, I thought the world building of Cane was fantastic. And I love seeing Clara explore her powers, though she really is annoying for the majority of the book. I really loved the character of Bo and would gladly read an entire novel about her life in Cane.

I think if I had gone into this story not knowing that this was supposed to be a re-telling of The Nutcracker, I would have enjoyed it more (though the scenes with Nicholas I pointed out above still would’ve pissed me off) and could get behind some of the more bizarre aspects of the story (and not be confused as to what they were doing in it, if that makes sense). That’s why I rated it at 3 stars rather than something lower.


Homecoming (Winterspell #1.5) by Claire Legrand – 3 stars

I read this because I was curious to see what happened after Clara goes back since for her it’s only been 2 years but for Nicholas and the rest of Cane it’s been 8. I liked seeing how Cane was rebuilding itself after the war and how the humans, faeries, and mages were all working together (at least for now). But I still wasn’t there for the romance between Clara and Nicholas. Their already huge age gap just got even bigger and that made me even more uncomfortable. I just feel like there will always be a power imbalance between the two. However, I loved seeing Bo again, and what I said in my review of Winterspell stands – I would totally read a book all about Bo and Afa and her entire family. But mainly Bo. I feel like this did give the story a bit more closure than the book did, but I’m still not 100% behind Clara and Nicholas together.


Reading Wrap-Up: Graphic Novels

From Hell by Alan Moore- 3.5 stars

Guess who finally finished this after reading it for nearly 6 months!

I don’t know why, but I had a really hard time keeping up with the story for some reason. It just seemed all over the place at times. I think part of it is because some of the characters looked the same, so it was hard to figure out who was who at times. I also easily lost interest in the story, which is surprising because I find Jack the Ripper kind of fascinating. Even the appendix, which was supposed to help clear up what was going on, didn’t keep my interest and I found myself wanting to skip over parts of it. I just really didn’t enjoy this very much, which stinks because I really enjoyed Watchmen and want to read A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, though now I’m a little worried about it.


Black Widow Volume 3: Last Days by Nathan Edmondson – 4 stars

This still has some of my favorite graphic novel artwork. It’s just so gorgeous.

I wasn’t that keen on the Chaos part of this run, and there were times I wasn’t quite sure what was happening. But I loved all of the in-between parts, especially seeing Natasha in action as a new KGB operative. I love the idea of her trying to make up for her past deeds and wanting to just be on her own for a little bit after dealing with Chaos. I wish we were getting a little bit more since there was a bit of a cliff-hanger with the little boy, but I still really enjoyed this last volume.


Superior Iron Man Volume 2: Stark Contrast by Tom Taylor – 3 stars

The art was really good, but the story was a bit lackluster. Taking away all of Tony’s humanity and morality is an interesting idea to play with, but I felt like the ending was really weak and I guess I need to read Secret Wars now, even though I hadn’t planned on it at this moment. I was hoping for a bit more of Pepper being a badass since she’s on the cover in her Rescue suit, but sadly, there was a real lack of her fighting. And where did the Daredevil storyline from the first volume go? Overall, this definitely wasn’t my favorite.


The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up The Marvel Universe by Ryan North – 4 stars

This was my first Squirrel Girl graphic novel and I absolutely loved it! The writing was great – a wonderful mix of sassy, sarcastic, witty, and playful. The footnotes were fun little additions. The artwork was fabulous. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Allene, but you weren’t really supposed to be since she is the warped version of Doreen. I also loved the side characters and love that they are such a great friend group. It was really fun to read about a girl superhero that is also a super computer nerd and used her computer nerd knowledge to save the day. This graphic novel made me even more excited to read my other Squirrel Girl tradebacks.



Reading Wrap-Up: Adult Books

So towards the end of last year, I realized that I was getting a little bit burned out on YA. I’m still going to be reading it, because it’s my favorite genre, but I am going to be trying to pick up more adult books this year (especially since I signed up for Book of the Month club).

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith – 4 stars

I really enjoyed this, despite being a little unsure at the beginning. I really like the relationship between Cormoran and Robin and appreciate that right now, their relationship is professional. I also appreciate that Rowling, I mean Galbraith, created a character that is a wounded veteran and we see him still coping with what happened to him. I like that Strike is a bit rough, but never a full on asshole, though he can have his moments. I liked all of the twists and turns that Rowling was able to create and I honestly didn’t see the ending coming at all, which is unusual because I’m fairly good at predicting who’s the criminal in these types of stories. It was just an overall strong start to this series and I look forward to reading the rest.


Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi – 5 stars

Wow. Just wow.

I don’t even know what to say.

I loved reading how the two half-sister’s lines ended up and how circumstances can affect not only the present life but future generations. It was definitely a difficult read as Gyasi portrays the slave trade, slave life in America, the fugitive slave law, and Jim Crow, but it’s also an incredibly important read. We cannot forget our history and we need to learn from it, which myself and my fellow white people still have a lot to do. I wish I had more eloquent words, but right now, I don’t other than I wish everyone would read this.



Reading Wrap-Up: Non-fiction

Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History by Sam Maggs – 5 stars

I started reading this the day of the election and after those couple of days, I really needed to read about some kickass, take no one’s bullshit ladies. And this was the perfect pick me up. I loved reading about ladies being badass. And Maggs managed to do so in a witty, sarcastic, nerdy way. She highlighted these women’s contributions while also talking about their lives so that it felt like I was getting to know each of the women as a person rather than just reading a boring textbook. I just loved this book and will read it whenever I am feeling down because it’s just such a positive book, even when pointing out the flaws of the women.


Buffering by Hannah Hart – 5 stars

I don’t know what I expected when I went into this, but holy shit was it good. Hannah was so raw and unafraid to talk about all of her struggles, and I really appreciated it. I felt myself connecting to her in ways I didn’t expect. I laughed. I cried. I wanted to reach into my book and give Hannah a big hug and tell her that everything was going to be okay. I also love that despite everything, Hannah was still able to convey a sense of hope. I love that she used her platform to advocate for getting help if you need it by showing that she’s reached out, too. I just really loved reading this book.


Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick – 4 stars

I love Anna Kendrick, especially when she tweets. So I was expecting this to be a little bit funnier than it was. It also seemed like a long rambling stream of consciousness rather more than anything else. It’s clear that Anna is self-depricating and wants to stay as down to earth as possible. I can’t quite put my finger on why I’m not in love with this, but I just wasn’t.


The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital by Alexandra Robbins – 4 stars

I really appreciate the amount of research that Robbins clearly did for this book. And I also enjoyed getting to know the four main nurses that we follow throughout the year. However, I guess I wish Robbins had focused on more than just ED nurses with the narrative part of the book (especially since I don’t want to go into an ED, but that’s a personal preference). As someone who is going to be going into the field of nursing in just over 6 months, it was really interesting to read what the current state of nursing is like from all around the country since I only get a glimpse of it in my clinical rotations. I also loved reading about the nurses advocating for their patients. The world of nursing isn’t always pretty, as Robbins shows in this book, but I know for me, I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.



Duology Review: Not A Drop to Drink

Not A Drop to Drink – 4.5 stars

Finally, a dystopian that doesn’t fit the normal dystopian model.

I love that Not a Drop to Drink isn’t a “Chosen One” versus the government type of story. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a soft-spot for those types of stories, but they just feel a little over-played at this point. I really enjoyed watching as Lynn grew as a character from a closed off survivor to one who opens her heart to those around her. But I also love that she never truly loses her hardness. I also appreciated that McGinnis wasn’t afraid to kill off a main character and that even though there was a love interest, it wasn’t insta-love. It’s scary how real the book felt, especially because if we aren’t careful with our resources, we could end up in the world of Not a Drop to Drink. McGinnis paints a picture of what it means to survive in a world with little to no water well and it is just such a good book.


In A Handful of Dust – 5 stars

Mindy McGinnis is easily becoming one of my favorite authors.

I love that we got to see Lynn and Lucy travel across the country and that they struggle to do so. I really appreciate that McGinnis included things like altitude sickness because it made it all the more real. I loved seeing the difference in characters between Lynn and Lucy. I appreciate that Lynn still is untrusting of people, but I also appreciate that Lucy is open to everyone and willing to give them a chance. It makes sense for the world that they each grew up in. Yes, Lucy has had to struggle, but her world wasn’t quite the one that Lynn grew up in. I did miss Stebbs though, as I grew really fond of him in Not a Drop to Drink. I really enjoyed McGinnis’s look at humanity as a whole and how we would all react to a situation in which we are struggling and competing for something we all take for granted right now.



Reading Wrap-Up: Ray Bradbury

The Halloween Tree – 5 stars

This was so much fun and such a quick read.

This was my first Ray Bradbury book, and it did not disappoint. I love that this is basically A Christmas Carol, but for Halloween. I loved going through the different histories of how Halloween is celebrated. I really enjoyed the writing and felt like I was actually in the story. I like that Moundshroud is Death personified (or at least, that’s how I read him). I just really really enjoyed this and look forward to re-reading this every October.


Something Wicked This Way Comes – 3.5 stars

I can’t quite put my finger on why this one didn’t resonate as much with me as The Halloween Tree did, but there was just something off. In theory, I should have loved it: creepy carnival that preys on the townspeople? Sign me up. The writing is gorgeous as with The Halloween Tree, but I just couldn’t connect with it. The ending was a little too sappy for my taste and it was just an overall okay book for me.



Series Review: Percy Jackson and the Olympians

I already posted my review of The Lightning Thief on here, but just as a refresher, I’m going to include it here.

The Lightning Thief – 4 stars

So I was a bit spoiled because I had seen the movie well before reading the book. However, I also knew going into the book that the movie was one of the lesser faithful adaptations going around, so I knew that while the traitor was the same, the scenes in which the traitor was revealed were different. I also knew that the ages of the characters were not the same in the book and the movie, as they were much younger in the book. I have to admit that I do enjoy the movie on its own, but comparing it to the book, I can see why people did not enjoy the movie. Again, like with The Chronicles of Narnia, I am fairly late into the Percy Jackson game, but overall, I found the book to be fast paced with likeable characters who you can’t help but root for. I loved the rivalry between Annabeth and Percy and how it echoed the rivalry between their parents. I also appreciated that so far there is no romance between the two of them, given the fact that they are 12 years old. I loved all of the references to the Greek myths and I feel like Riordan really captured the gods well, though I had a hard time taking Hades seriously in the book because I could not get the mental image of Steve Coogan out of my head. I have a feeling that if I had read this when I was younger, I would have given it a 5 star rating, but since I am a bit older, it just didn’t hit the 5 star mark for me.

The Lightning Thief

The Sea of Monsters – 4.5 stars

I really loved the addition of Tyson to the gang of Annabeth, Percy, and (eventually) Grover. I did miss having Grover along for the journey, but his interactions with the cyclops were pretty funny. I really like how Riordan continues to weave in Greek mythology like the story of No One and including the Golden Fleece. I really liked the cliff hanger that the book ends on, which made me eager to pick up The Titan’s Curse to find out what was going to happen. I liked this one more than The Lightning Thief, but it did also feel rushed at times, which is why I took off a half star.


The Titan’s Curse – 4 stars

The first part of this really dragged for me, to be honest. I really missed Annabeth and didn’t particularly care for Bianca or Nico or Zoe. I also wasn’t the biggest fan of Grover in this one. I did enjoy getting to meet Annabeth’s father and that he was able to save them. The ending definitely made up for the lack-luster beginning, but it is getting a little old that it’s a group of heroes traveling cross-country to try to complete a quest. It just feels a little formulaic right now.


The Battle of the Labyrinth – 4.5 stars

I know I said in my review for The Titan’s Curse that the format was getting a little too formulaic for me, but I did enjoy the trip in the Labyrinth. I loved seeing Percy, Annabeth, Tyson, and Grover all working together again. I’m not the biggest fan of the Pan side-plot, but that’s just me. Nico grew on me a little bit more, but I’m still not his biggest fan. I did enjoy the battle at Camp Halfblood and thought it was a good lead up to the finale.


The Last Olympian – 5 stars

This was a really great conclusion to the series. And I really liked that the majority of the book was set in New York City/Mount Olympus. I really liked that we got to see how the prophecy played out and how Riordan made it to where no one character was perfect. They all had a hand to play in what happened and I like that Riordan made them take responsibility for that. I really liked Hestia and wish we got more of her. I grew to really like Nico and loved when he came to be a badass. I’m glad there didn’t end up being a love triangle with Rachel, Annabeth, and Percy because my little shipper heart needed Percabeth to happen. I just really enjoyed this and am looking forward to starting The Heroes of Olympus.


Overall – 4.4 stars



Re-Read Series Review: Harry Potter + The Fantastic Beasts Screenplay

With the illustrated edition of Chamber of Secrets coming out, I decided it was about time I re-read the series since it had been a hot second since the last time I read it (okay, it had been over 3 years since I had re-read the entire series).

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (illustrated edition) – 5 stars

Originally read in October of 2015

Re-read in 2016 in preparation of the illustrated Chamber of Secrets

So what is there to say about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone other than I love it and I always will?

Okay, actual review. I absolutely adore these illustrated versions and cannot wait until I have all seven books in my collection. Jim Kay is just a master and the illustrations are perfect (though admittedly, I’m not the hugest fan of his portrayal of Snape).

I love that each time that I re-read these books, it somehow feels like a new reading experience. I love the introduction to the magical world that we get. I love that Hagrid just takes Harry under his wing and goes out of his way to send Harry a note with Hedwig just so that Harry would get something in the mail. I love the beginning of the Golden Trio and watching their friendship blossom. I just. I just have so many feelings about this book.


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (illustrated edition) – 5 stars

Chamber of Secrets is still my least favorite Harry Potter book, but there is no way I can’t give this book 5 stars for the illustrations. For the record, I give the story about a 3.5 star rating.

I know it’s a bit blasphemous to rate any Harry Potter book less than 5 stars, but for the story part, it definitely is for me. First off, we have to deal with the idiot Gilderoy Lockhart. Don’t get me wrong, I love to hate him, but jeez is he just annoying. Secondly, and I may be alone in this, but I kinda felt like this was way more plot driven than character driven. Thirdly, I’m terrified of snakes, so it doesn’t help that the basilisk is, ya know, A GIANT EFFING SNAKE. And fourthly, there is not nearly enough Hermione Granger in this one for my taste.

However, Jim Kay delivers yet again and this one has my absolute favorite picture so far with the scene of Harry going into the diary. It’s just so colorful and full of life and wonderful.


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – 5 stars

So this is a very close second for my favorite Harry Potter book (Goblet of Fire being my favorite). It introduces 2 of my favorite characters (Lupin and Sirius), 1 of my favorite locations (Hogsmeade), and I love that even though Voldemort isn’t in it, you still feel his presence and how it’s making life hell for Harry. I also love that you can see the shift in tone as the books are starting to turn darker and more is becoming at stake. Also, Hermione is a badass and uses the Time Turner simply because she wants to gain as much knowledge (same girl, especially if I was at Hogwarts). And she punches Draco. Who doesn’t love that? Also, I love me some Wood and his obsession with winning the Quidditch Cup. I just really love this book.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – 5 stars

Still my favorite Harry Potter book.

The stakes are so high in this book and you feel it from the very beginning. I love that the Golden Trio still act like teenagers, especially with all of the jealousy that goes around. I still applaud Hermione for S.P.E.W. and still hate that the movies completely ignore it. I love seeing what Sirius is willing to do in order to keep Harry safe. And I love that we get to see the beginning of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. I just really love this book and it will always have a special place in my heart.


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – 4 stars

This is still my second least favorite Harry Potter book. But I did enjoy it better this time than any other time I’ve read it. Part of it is that I now recognize that Harry is dealing with PTSD rather than just being the whiny teenager that I always thought he was. Though there were times I still think he was being a little bit more angsty than was necessary. I still hate the 180 that Sirius does and how he is all “get expelled so that we can be outcasts together” when in Goblet of Fire, he is literally willing to live in a cave eating rats in order to keep Harry alive and safe. I also still don’t understand why they couldn’t use Polyjuice potion to sneak him out of the house and let him get fresh air. Also, Snape is just such a bag of dicks in this book. How can people still defend him when he is literally the worst? Yes, he was bullied by James and Sirius (I don’t condone their actions), but come on man. Why did he even want to be a teacher if he was going to bully his students just like he was bullied? But my favorite part of this entire book has to be the sass queen, Minerva McGonagall. I want to be her when I grow up.


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – 5 stars

I really truly enjoy HBP and I think it’s my third favorite in the series (following GoF and PoA). Sassy Harry is my favorite Harry and this book delivers one of my favorite lines when Harry tells Snape there is no need to call him sir. No matter how many times I read this book, I always find Voldemort’s backstory fascinating. I also appreciate that the relationships between the characters are messy and wrought with emotions – I feel like they are pretty consistent with teenagers. And it’s really refreshing to have Quidditch back in our lives after it being absent for all of GoF (save the Quidditch World Cup) and the majority of OoTP (f*ck you, Umbridge). I love seeing the relationship between Tonks and Lupin develop because I really do ship them (though, I will always ship Wolfstar until my dying day). My biggest gripe is that people still don’t listen to Harry when he is suspicious of things, aka Draco Malfoy. Also, holy shit is Snape just as big of an asshole as he is in OoTP (if not more so). Does he really expect these kids to just whip out non-verbal spells with NO instruction whatsoever? I wish we could have seen a bit more of the battle at Hogwarts, but I also understand that a) Harry is obviously not a part of it and b) it could become redundant given the battle at Hogwarts that happens in DH (aka why the film makers decided to get rid of it and instead included the battle at the Burrow that never happened). But my complaints are very minor compared to how much I enjoy.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – 5 stars

So fun fact: I read the part where that one character dies at that one place at the beach in the middle of Newark Int. Airport while waiting to come home from visiting family for the holidays and it took all of my willpower not to lose it and cry like a baby. It just hit me so hard.

But anyway.

I love this story, though it’s middle of the road for me in my love of the series. Huge reasons for this are that a) the entirety of both the golden and silver trios survive despite the huge battle (yes, I know other major characters die, but still, and no, I don’t actually want any of my babies to die – it’s just the principal of the matter), b) Hermione is a smart witch – she would have figured out the importance of the deathly hallows sign sooner and also, she should know by now to trust Harry’s instincts and when he says that there’s a horcrux at Hogwarts, she should believe him, c) the whole thing with Lupin ready to ditch his pregnant wife just to go on the run with Harry, and d) knowing what I know now about the Cursed Child and what supposedly happens during this book with certain characters.

However, upon this re-read, after seeing Fantastic Beasts, I am 100% convinced that Ariana Dumbledore is an obscurus. Aberforth’s recollection of what happened to her fits the description of obscurials to a T.

Also, I totally forgot about the fact that the sorting hat is set on fire by Voldemort while on Neville’s head. McGonagall continues to be a badass and I love the duel with her and Snape and how at the end she goes up against Voldemort before Harry steps in.

I also still love the final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort. And I love that Voldemort suffers a mortal death (unlike the BS that is in the movie). I actually marked that passage on my audiobook.

Molly Weasley continues to be one of my forever favorites and I still grinned hugely when I got to “NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!”

It’s been a while since I’ve done a re-read of the entire series and it was the perfect way to end 2016. It helped me remember what I loved growing up and I found new things in each book that I had forgotten about.


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Screenplay – 5 stars

I absolutely adored this.

I saw the movie first and then read the script as I didn’t want to be spoiled for anything movie related, and I’m glad I did it that way because when I read the script, I was able to pick up on things I had missed in the movie (chaser shoutout, anyone?). This absolutely makes up for the trainwreck that is Cursed Child in my opinion. Newt is my new precious. I need him in my life. And holy hell did he remind me of Hagrid. Like, just yes. Also, I love Queenie. She is my kween. Just saying. And Tina. And Jacob. And Credence is my child. I thought it was a little (okay a lot) predictable, but it surprisingly didn’t bother me that much. I just really loved being back in the magical world. And I think I enjoyed this even more because it’s a new set of characters, so I have no set notion of what they are supposed to be like. Just yes. More please.



Reading Wrap-Up: YA

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie- 4.75 stars

It took me 3 days to figure out how to write a review of this.

I thought the writing was absolutely beautiful and, at times, graphic in just the right way. I liked how honest Alexie was in his descriptions of what it means to be an Indian teenager trying to escape life on the rez. I thought the characters were complex and yet, you felt like they were still teenagers. The lives of Junior and his family and friends are rough, but Alexie paints them in a way that makes you feel like you connect with them. The issues it tackles are mature from alcoholism to domestic violence to racism and everything in between, but it never feels preachy in any way. It just feels like a book chronicling a teenager’s journey. And I really appreciate that. I also thought the cartoons were pretty enjoyable. I honestly can’t quite put my finger on why I took off 1/4 of a star, but it just didn’t quite grip my heart the way I thought it would.


Perfect by Ellen Hopkins – 5 stars

I really am kicking myself for waiting so long to finally pick up Ellen Hopkins’ books. I’m extra surprised that I like them so much because I really am not a big fan of poetry, but the way she writes it just works for me.

I think what really draws me to Hopkins’ books is that I tend to identify myself in almost all of the characters in some way or another. With Andre, I felt a connection through dance. With Kendra, I felt a connection with her body image struggle. With Cara, I felt a connection with the pressure put on her to be the perfect student (though the pressure I felt was nothing near what Cara felt from her parents). I didn’t really connect with Sean, but that’s honestly okay with me.

I like how Hopkins handles mental health issues and I feel like she is one of the more authentic authors that I’ve read (though admittedly, I haven’t read as many mental health books as I would like).

I love that we got a glimpse of Tony and Vanessa from Impulse, even though the situation in which we do is heart breaking.

I just really really loved reading this book.


Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman – 5 stars

10/10 would recommend!

I read Illuminae for the first round of #TomeTopple, so it was only fitting that I read Gemina for the second round!


Okay, now that I’ve got that little freak-out out of the way, time for the review. I was hesitant at first when I figured out that we were going to have a new set of protagonists because I love Ezra and Kady so much. But Hanna and Nik were just as awesome in my opinion. I also absolutely ADORE Ella. She’s one of my favorite characters of 2016. I appreciate that they make Hanna fight for survival and take away some of her privilege. I loved seeing her and Nik and Ella work out how to save those remaining on Heimdall while also saving those on the Hypatia. I loved all of the twists and turns and how you think you know where the story’s going, only to have it flip itself on its head. And I absolutely love how it ended. I just really need this story to continue so I can know the fate of all of my space babies.


Crank by Ellen Hopkins – 4 stars

I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as Impulse and Perfect. But I think it may have to do with the fact that I just really didn’t care for Kristina as a person. I did think it was fascinating to see how Kristina transformed into Bree, especially since I’ve seen first-hand what cocaine can do to a person (yes, I realize that Kristina used meth, but the transformation is surprisingly similar). It was difficult to read at times, but there were other times that I was a little bored with reading what felt like the same thing. It also bothered me that her mother suspected there was something wrong, but didn’t really pursue it more than just trying to talk to her, even when she recognized that Kristina was coming down from a binge. Also, if she could recognize it, that means that she knew her ex was a druggie, so why did she allow Kristina to go unsupervised? Idk. It just seemed a little neglectful to me. I still enjoyed Hopkins’ writing and do want to see how the rest of the trilogy plays out.


Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – 4 stars

This was my first time reading this and I’m not sure how to rate it because I couldn’t help but compare it to the Disney film (yes, the Tim Burton one) and it’s so different that I think I let it affect me a bit. I definitely need to re-read it in the future to see if I enjoy it more knowing what actually happens. I had a bit of a hard time following the story at times and didn’t feel particularly connected to any of the characters. It confused me how the queen would be like “Off with his head,” but then do a 180 and decide not to kill the person. I didn’t understand the quarrel with the Duchess and what she had done that was so wrong. Like I said, I think I need to give it a re-read in the future to see how I feel about it.