2017 Reading Wrap-Up: Books #26-30

The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler – 4 stars

I can’t put my finger on why this wasn’t a five star read for me, but it just fell a little flat.

I appreciate the rawness of the monologues and the fact that I was uncomfortable when I was reading some of them. That means that they were making me think. I do think this is an important read and I am glad that I picked it up. I easily gave the monologues themselves 5 stars because of how personal they are and how I could relate to them in a way I didn’t expect.

I think one of my biggest issues was the fact that there was only one monologue for trans-women, so it kind of felt like it was excluding them in the discussion about women. Especially given the fact that V-Day is about fighting violence against women, and trans-women face some of the worst violence, it felt like a glaring omission to me. And yes, I realize that it is called The Vagina Monologues, but it just rubbed me (forgive the pun) the wrong way.

I thought that the additions at the end of the V-Day special were interesting because it let us see the impact V-Day is having on the world. They have accomplished so much, but we still have so far to go.

The Vagina Monologues

Wires and Nerve Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer – 5 stars

Iko is probably my favorite character from The Lunar Chronicles so I was ecstatic when I heard she was getting her own graphic novel. And I am happy to say that it did not disappoint.

I was a little apprehensive of the artwork when I first saw it, but I think that it really worked for the story. I also appreciate that due to the color scheme that was chosen, any blood from the fights is not in your face. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for it when I’m reading other graphic novels, but given the audience and the story, I appreciate the muted aspect of the violence.

It was just so much fun to see the entire gang. And I really enjoyed the new characters of the Kinneys. I know that we saw Sir Kinney in the other books, but he does play a bigger part in this. And I love the relationship between him and Iko. But I also loved Tressa. She was just so much fun!

I was so sad when it was over because I want to know what else happens! I want to continue seeing Iko being the badass, feminine, sassy person that she is. I also am so curious to see how the story goes from where it is to where it ends up in Stars Above. I cannot wait until volume 2!

Wires and Nerve

El Deafo by Cece Bell – 4 stars

This was so adorable!

I really love that this is a graphic novel for kids that focuses on not only what it’s like to live with a severe hearing impairment but also on teaching others how to interact with someone who has a hearing impairment. I love that whether or not you have a hearing impairment, you can related to a good majority of the stories. It features stories about trying to fit in, dealing with pushy friends, struggling at school, and first crushes.

The artwork is so cute and really conveys some great emotions. Even though the main audience for this is kids, I feel like anyone can read it and take something away from it. I also appreciate that Bell included an author’s note where she stressed that El Deafo is just her experience and that she is in no way speaking for all that are hard of hearing or Deaf.

Overall, this was a fantastic read and I think everyone should read it.

El Deafo

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander – 5 stars

What can I say? I’m Harry Potter trash. So when I heard that not only was there going to be a new edition of Fantastic Beasts but an audiobook narrated by Eddie Redmayne, I was sold.

I’m still in awe of the fact that Rowling came up with all of these creatures, what they look like, and their characteristics. My only complaint is that it isn’t longer and that there are several omissions of creatures mentioned throughout the Harry Potter series (such as hinkypunks and boggarts). I will never get tired of reading as much as I can about the wizarding world.

The audiobook is fantastic and it was like having Newt read it to me personally. If you can, I highly recommend checking it out.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – 4 stars

This was the first time that I read Anne of Green Gables, and I must say, I really enjoyed it. I honestly had no idea what the story was going into it other than the fact that it was set in Canada.

I overall really loved Anne. She is smart, spunky, full of imagination, and so utterly driven. However, there were quite a few times that I was a little annoyed by her (especially when she went on long spiels about whatever is on her mind). It also was a little hard to imagine that she had so many disastrous things happen to her constantly. But like I said, overall, she was a wonderful character.

I also really ended up enjoying all of the side characters. And though I did expect a certain character’s death, I was still heartbroken when it happened.

Montgomery’s world is so easy to imagine as she does a beautiful job of painting a picture of what it would be like to live there. However, there were a couple of times where Montgomery’s writing was not my favorite. By the end of the book, I was over the fact that anytime Matthew said anything, he started with “Well, now, …”

I would highly recommend checking out the audiobook narrated by Rachel McAdams. She does such a great job with the story and it really enhanced my reading experience.

Anne of Green Gables


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: Harry Potter

If you’ve been living under a rock, then you wouldn’t know that there have been a lot of Harry Potter material that has been published in the past two months. And being the Harry Potter trash that I am, I pre-ordered everything. And I had lots of feelings, mainly about Cursed Child. So without further ado, here are those thoughts.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – 3 stars


I’m not sure how I feel.

I want to preface this with the fact that I was very aware that this is a play that was not written by J.K. Rowling before I started to read it. I don’t have any issues with the format. Though I have issues with the nature of the play – I’ll explain that a little later.

I’m not sure how I’m going to frame this review since I have a lot of thoughts. And the more I think and talk about the play, the more problems I am having with it. I think the easiest way to format this review is to go over the characters, then the plot, and then the staging? I don’t know.

-Albus: I get that he was having to deal with living in the shadow of being Harry Potter’s son. I do. And I understand that in many respects, he had it harder than Harry did because Albus grew up in the wizarding world knowing full well who his father was while Harry did not. And I understand that he was given shit for being Slytherin. But I just became increasingly frustrated with his decisions throughout the play. There was a reason why the Time-Turners were all destroyed and why Harry was so reluctant to go mess with time, yet Albus didn’t even think about the consequences. He just needed to prove to Harry that he was worthy. I also didn’t get why he only focused on the fact that he has two cousins, not one, during the alternate realities where Hermione and Ron weren’t married. I just. I was frustrated.

-Scorpius: Well, I have a new son. I love him to bits and pieces. I was thoroughly surprised by just how wonderful and pure he is and I will protect him until the day I die.

-Rose: I was most disappointed in Rose. She was a bit of a…well, a bitch. I have a very hard time believing that she is the child of Ron and Hermione. Yes, she is an over-achiever who is both smart and good at Quidditch, but to basically be all “Oh, you want to be friends with Scorpius Malfoy? Oh, you’re a Slytherin? You are dead to me,” to Albus was just appalling. Yes, there were times where Ron didn’t talk to Harry (especially during Goblet of Fire). But, like, you understood his motivations (such as always being second best and having to live up to the pressures of being the youngest brother and all of that) and knew in your heart that he and Harry would make up because there was no way that they couldn’t be best friends. But Rose was just mean. And the only reason why she spoke to Albus later was because her mother told her to. Not because she wanted to. She had some of her parents in her, but not enough for me to even remotely like her.

-Draco: To quote my friend, Chelsea: Who would have thought that Draco Malfoy is a better father than Harry Potter? I mean, really. He genuinely cared about Scorpius. He cared so much about Scorpius’s happiness that he was willing to look past the fact that Albus is Harry’s son simply because he saw that Albus made Scorpius happy. And yes, he probably should have disclosed his information about the 2nd Time Turner that Lived (I’ll grumble about this later) a bit earlier, but overall, he did what he thought was best for Scorpius. He finally got the redemption he deserved.

-Ron: I am so sick of people characterizing Ron as the comedic relief. He is so much more than that. He is the one who remained calm during the Devil’s Snare scene. He is the one who threw himself in between Sirius and Harry when they thought that Sirius was going to kill Harry. He was not the bumbling idiot that the movies, and now this play, made him out to be. He is much more than corny Dad jokes. He is not Fred, and it felt like the play was trying to make it so.

-Harry: Harry read almost as a second antagonist to me. There is absolutely NO way that he would ever tell his son that he wished that he was not that son’s father. I don’t care how antagonized he was. The Harry Potter I know and love would never ever utter those words and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. I just had so many problems with his characterization in this play. I realize that he is older and you change as you become a parent and all of that, but there were just so many times that I was like, “Huh?!” when it came to his actions. Especially when he went all Dictator on Albus, Ginny, and McGonagall in the alternate universe. I realize that it is an alternate universe, but still. My heart did break for him, though, when he watched his parents die. It was the only time in almost the entire play that I felt anything other than rage at what I was reading.

-Hermione: She was completely and totally under-utilized. And don’t even get me started on her becoming a bitter old spinster Defense Against the Dark Arts professor in the alternate universe where Ron and she don’t get married. Hermione Granger does not need Ron and her family to be happy (though I love that she is happy with them). She could’ve ended up single for all I care. But she would not be bitter about it. Also, I don’t know why, but I never saw her as Minister for Magic. Not that she isn’t badass enough to be one, but I always imagined her wanting to remain in magical law and working on getting equal rights for everyone, a la S.P.E.W. And maybe she can do that even more effectively as Minister for Magic, but yeah.

-Ginny: I never cared much for Ginny, but she was such a background character here and that upset me. Ginny never would’ve stood by and let Harry get away with what he said to Albus. She would’ve kicked his ass into next year. She was basically around just to make Harry feel better about himself. She lost almost all of her agency, and that really bothered me.

-Delphi: I just really don’t like her. She was boring. She was predictable. She was just. Nope.

-Cedric: Don’t even dare try to tell me that he would become a Death Eater and kill Neville Longbottom because he was humiliated one time. I am pretty ambivalent towards Cedric Diggory, but I will defend him to the death when it comes to his bravery, loyalty, and pure goodness. I don’t care if it was an alternate reality. CEDRIC DIGGORY IS AND NEVER WILL BE A DEATH EATER AND I WILL FIGHT ANYONE WHO SAYS OTHERWISE.

-Side characters:
*McGonagall: Painfully under-utilized
*Snape: STOP TRYING TO MAKE SNAPE A HERO. STOP TRYING TO REDEEM HIM. I don’t want to read that he is proud that Albus has his name. I would’ve much rather had more time spent on Ron and Hermione learning about a world where Harry is still alive and they have children together and they are happy.
*Trolley Witch: What. The. Fuck. Was. That. Nonsense?
*Ludo Bagman: I forgot just how much I dislike him. He is even worse in the play.

Plot: Or where I write about all of the problems I had with the plot and what I found incredibly hard to swallow
-I refuse to believe that Bellatrix Lestrange and Voldemort have a child. I refuse to accept that Voldemort was able to have an orgasm. He is incapable of love. Hell, he is incapable of friendship. I know you don’t need either to have sex and make a baby, but I always read him as asexual and just not interested in that at all. Not to mention, HOW DID NO ONE NOTICE THAT BELLATRIX WAS ALL HUGE AND PREGNANT? The timeline makes absolutely no sense. Delphi was born sometime before the Battle of Hogwarts which means that the trio would’ve noticed either that Bellatrix was pregnant or had just given birth when they were at Malfoy Manor. Also, if either of those were the case, there would be no way that Bellatrix was physically up to torturing people. You don’t bounce back from giving birth that quickly.
-Again, I refuse to believe that Cedric is a Death Eater.
-The Time Turners were all destroyed for a reason. And it was bad enough that there was one. Why did there have to be a second ex machina Time Turner?
-I predicted that Delphi was behind wanting to save Cedric from the beginning. I didn’t think she was the child of Voldemort because I really didn’t think they would go there. It was all just so stupid.
-The train scene with the Trolley Witch was just too much.
-How exactly did they have Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s hair for the polyjuice potion to be able to sneak into the Ministry?
-That scene with Albus kissing his aunt (dressed as Ron, granted, but still) was a little more than disturbing.
-Why did they have to have Scorpius pursuing Rose? Not everyone has to be in a heteronormative relationship, thank you very much. Especially because Albus and Scorpius are clearly in love with each other and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. It felt very much like queer-baiting and I was not there for that.

-Okay. I have a minimal background in theater in that I was a ballet dancer for 16 years. I say minimal because I was never really apart of the technical side of theater. But I’ve seen enough set changes and I’m best friends with someone who is in the theater world in the technical side of it that I feel pretty confident in my following complaints.
-There are 37 settings in Part 1 alone. That is INSANE. Especially that one scene where there are like 5 set changes and each set change only lasts like a minute. I cried for the techies each time I read that it was a new set.
-How in the world were they going to do the effects of the invisibility cloak in live theater?
-How in the world are they swimming in the lake/bursting out of water?
-How in the world are they doing the bookshelf scene? While it was cool to read, if it was a movie, it would be much more feasible.
-How in the world are they managing to have the changing stair cases?
-How exactly did they pull off transforming Harry into Voldemort? Or Albus, Scorpius, and Delphi into Ron, Harry, and Hermione respectively? Unless all of that happens off stage and I missed it?

The Good?
-I loved that Albus was sorted into Slytherin. I thought it would be too easy to sort him into Gryffindor (though, I mean, I guess you could say it was also too easy to sort him into Slytherin).
-Scorpius and Albus’s friendship. Though, let’s all be honest, they are totally in love with each other and need to come to terms with that fact.
-The nostalgia in the first couple of scenes. Especially the line, “Best to do it at a run if you’re nervous.”
-Finding out that Harry is afraid of pigeons. It’s so random, but oddly perfect?

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked this up. I had purposefully avoided any and all spoilers. I just knew that it was based on a story that J.K Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany came up with. And I knew that it is supposed to be canon. And because of that knowledge, and the fact that while Rowling did not write this, she did give it her stamp of approval, I had a really hard time accepting a lot of what happened to be canon. It read like a really bad fan-fiction, to be honest. And I am interested to see the play in person as I’ve read from people who have seen it that there are scenes that made sense when it was played out (aka Harry telling Albus he wishes he wasn’t Albus’s father). Also, while I have a ton of issues with the staging, I am intrigued to see how in the hell they pull off what is proposed in the script. I really really wanted to like this, but I just don’t. There is just too much that I’m having to begrudgingly accept to make me like this. I feel like this medium was not the right one for the 8th story and that it would’ve worked better as the Rita Skeeter book that was mentioned on Pottermore forever ago during the Quidditch World Cup because then it would be more natural that it wasn’t written by J.K. Rowling and I wouldn’t feel as bad as having a hard time as accepting things as canon because we all know that Rita Skeeter loves to stretch the truth. I originally gave it three stars after I finished reading it, but I don’t know if that really stands anymore. Part of me wants to keep it because it’s Harry Potter and I am Harry Potter trash and part of me wants to downgrade it. For now, as of August 5, 2016 (when I wrote my original review on GoodReads), I will keep it at a 3-star rating, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I lower it in the future.

Also, to support the statement that this reads like fan-fiction, I’m going to leave this review with gifs from A Very Potter Musical/Sequel (retrieved from Tumblr):











Pottermore Presents: Short Stories from Hogwarts on Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies – 5 stars

Minerva McGonagall is a badass with a tragic backstory.

Remus Lupin is also a badass with a tragic backstory. And I loved reading more about how he and Tonks fell in love.

I actually enjoyed reading about Trelawney and actually wish there was a little bit more.

It was also really fun to read about Kettleburn since we’ve heard of him but never really saw him.

I just really enjoyed reading these short stories.


Pottermore Presents: Short Stories from Hogwarts on Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists – 5 stars

This was a really fun read.

Umbridge is actually my most hated character. Yes, I hate her even more than Voldemort. So it was really fun to read her background. She is just so evil. I loved seeing how she wormed her way into the top ranks of the Ministry.

The timeline about the Ministers for Magic was also really great to read. I love getting as much history from the wizarding world as possible.

I also really really enjoyed reading about Slughorn. He was one of my favorites upon his introduction in Half-Blood Prince and I really appreciated that his story shows a different side to the Slytherin House that is usually overlooked.

There really wasn’t anything too new with Quirrell or Peeves’ stories, but they were still entertaining to read.


Pottermore Presents Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide – 5 stars

This was another fun read. Though admittedly it made me want a real-life version of Hogwarts: A History even more.

I really enjoyed seeing more about the magic of the portraits of Hogwarts. I also really quite enjoyed the ballad of Nearly Headless Nick. And the fact that Neville asked to be placed in Hufflepuff. Bless him.

I’m surprised they included Time-Turners given the whole thing with Cursed Child, but hey, what can you do? I wish that there was a little bit more information about the subjects taught at Hogwarts rather than just a list of what was mandatory for the first two years and then an additional list of electives. Also, I wish that there was more background on the founders of Hogwarts. Like I said, it made me wish that Hogwarts: A History was a real thing.