Sunday, July 30, 2017

Harry Potter Reread Day 6

Whew! I'm still behind, but I've got a couple more hours tonight to read so I shouldn't be too behind...  (I say, hopefully). It's kind of the home stretch now, isn't it?

Things really start to come together in this one... it's always fantastic to read a book series that lays the groundwork really well. All that foreshadowing, coming to fruition! Obviously we see a lot of that in the last book, but we get some of it in the fifth and sixth books as the overarching plot really picks up.

It's one of the reasons these books are really a great choice for a reread- there's foreshadowing and hints that are so subtle they don't really register until you go back through the series knowing what happens. (I mean, I also just really like rereading, that too. And it really is just a great series overall. Basically there are lots of reasons that I reread this as often as I do... mainly just overall that I still get something out of the reading experience, every time I reread.)

With respect to this cover... all there of the covers that I've experienced this book with, it's been some permutation of this scene. Maybe because one could argue that it really is the only big classic-adventure-y action bit in the book? A lot still happens in this book (a lot of a lot) but visually it probably is the most impressive part of book. (Unless the think on the UK edition is supposed to be the Pensive? But I don't think so. The Pensive wasn't green.)

The editions to which I refer.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Harry Potter Reread Day 5

Also known as the day I get to talk about my current favourite Harry Potter book. It has been the reigning fave for the past... 5 years or so, so it's probably safe to say that it's just overall my favourite.

And if you're thinking "but Kelly, it's objectively the angry and sad one, how is it your favourite?" then 1) you must be new here and 2) welcome to my blog, I swear I also like happy books sometimes! (Probably). 


Book 5! Harry Potter and the You Can't Trust The Mainstream Media and the Government is Lying to You. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. 

I'm not sure if I can fully articulate why this one is kind of my favourite... I think it has something to do with it being our first real view of exactly what resisting Voldemort is going to take. We get small glimpses of it earlier on, when Sirius talks about what it was like to be in the resistance when Voldemort was first powerful, but... this is a prolonged experience with it. This whole book is one that drives home the vast difference between what is right and what is easy. 

I think what really makes this book for me is the DA. Both the DA itself and the sentiment behind it. That, even when they've got an evil person gaining power, and people being killed, when they've got the media covering it up, and are under constant internal threat from Umbridge, who keeps making things more and more difficult for them with her Executive Orders Educational Decrees, there are still those people who will stand up and do something. Also it has monster horses, which are kind of my jam, not going to lie.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Harry Potter Reread Day 4

I'm a touch behind today, but given that it's a 600+ page book and I had several things to do for school, I'm pleased with my progress. I should have time to catch up tomorrow, before I start Order of the Phoenix (which has the biggest page count of the series... tomorrow is going to be an adventure).

Goblet of Fire hasn't ever really been my favourite book (I mean, I really like them all, obviously, I wouldn't be trying to reread a series in a week of I didn't like it). That honour alternately belongs to books 2, 5, 6, or 7, depending on my mood.

That said, I do really like the glimpses we get of characters from beyond Hogwarts. This book is also where we really start to see what will wind up being a fairly significant theme for the second half of the series (and especially in the next book)- that we can't always trust mainstream news sources, or all authority figures. This is something that, of course, really gets built upon in the next book... and I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll go on (and on) more about that tomorrow. Or at some point. Some time.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Harry Potter Reread Day 3

All caught up! As a prize I get to write an essay tomorrow. And also read a 600 page book. This will be fine.

I feel like this one is tougher on my emotions every time I read it... partly because we start to get a little more detail on the backstory surrounding Harry's parents, and also because we meet Remus and Sirius. This is, I think, where the darkness starts to creep in around the edges of the story a little, and where we really start to see movement in the overall plot of the series.

The first two books have fairly uncomplicated triumphs at the end of each book, but in this one we don't get that so much- the ending is horrible or sad, but we do see our characters not entirely win.

Also this cover is really pretty. I for some reason associate this book with autumn and autumn colours, but I do really like the blue tones on this one. Also both my copies of this book have covers that are kind of spoiler-y, in that they feature a scene that happens toward the very end of the story. Also also I know the lighting isn't ideal in this one, I waited too long and the natural light was gone and I had to use electric lighting and it wasn't ideal. I know.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Harry Potter Reread Day 2

I'm falling behind!! I can't fall behind yet!!! (I can apparently. My falling-behind skills are legendary.)

Today I started The Chamber of Secrets, but things were a little unexpected today, so I didn't get to finish it. I'm going to try and catch up tomorrow, as well as get through The Prisoner of Azkaban. Fortunately I haven't got much going on tomorrow, so I should have time to devote to reading!

I love the colour scheme of the new cover of Chamber of Secrets! (Okay, I'm just a really big fan of green covers. Bring me ALL of the green covers.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Harry Potter Reread Day 1

I've listened to the audiobook so many times that when I start reading Philosopher's Stone, my inner reading voice (which I usually don't really notice at all) sounds like Jim Dale. If you haven't checked out the Harry Potter audiobooks, definitely do it you get a chance! (The Jim Dale ones. Not the other ones. No offense to the other narrator, but he's just... not Jim Dale.)

I'm doing this a little differently this year... ordinarily I would try to do a book a day, but given the differences in length, I'm going to try to finish the first three in two days to give myself more time for the rest. (Not sure how that will go... we'll see).

I'm a bit more of a critical reader now than when I first read this one at the age of... eight, I think, but I still really enjoy it! I mean, it's where everything starts, and I have so much positive nostalgia linked to it that I'll probably always really like it.

Harry Potter Reread Week!

'Tis the season!

The season in which I attempt to recreate a feat that I have not accomplished since I was about sixteen! Starting today, I will be re-reading Harry Potter, attempting to read all seven books in a week, as one does when one is a nerd with no life.

Since this year is the 20th anniversary, I'm determined that this year, THIS YEAR, I will do it. I have carefully scheduled nothing to happen at all in that week so I can basically go into seclusion and read. And by seclusion I mean "of course I'll be blogging about it, but nobody in actual, physical, reality who speaks to me should expect an immediate response." And I have an assignment due for a class, so I guess I'll have to do that too... anyway.

This week's plans.
After years of reading, the old copies that my family owns were in rather rough condition, and were able to pick up a box set of these lovely new covers on sale! (Of course we still have the old copies. For reading in dangerous places we don't want to take the new copies. We live very dangerously here.) This is our third copy of Philosopher's Stone, actually. The first has kind of disintegrated due to overuse.

These are probably my second-favourite Harry Potter covers out there... I don't think my favourites are in print anymore. Does anyone have a favourite edition of these books? 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Review: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

Title: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Series: Untitled, but a companion novel starring Felicity is in the works
Volume: 1
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Release Date: June 27, 2017

Monty's Grand Tour of Europe was supposed to be the last hurrah- his last chance for his wild lifestyle, last chance for drinking and gambling, last chance to flirt with his best friend Percy- before returning home to take over the running of the the family estate. He's going to make everything of it that he can, even with his bookish younger sister in tow. But when one of Monty's impulsive decisions turns the Tour into a manhunt across Europe, Monty finds himself reevaluating everything- his future, his relationship with Percy, and himself.

Out of Ten: 8/10

Review at a Glance: A fun historical fantasy adventure with a whirlwind plot featuring bold and diverse characters- including a fantastic narrator!

Review: A couple of my friends went into Toronto for Pride this year, and one of them picked this one up from the Glad Day Bookshop for me! This was one of the titles that I'd been anticipating, but that I hadn't thought to pre-order because I am excellent at planning, so I'm really glad she was able to snag a copy- especially because I had a lot of fun reading it!

I went into this mostly hoping for fun Victorian road-trip shenanigans with LGBTQIAP+ characters, and I definitely got that, but this book also touches quite a bit on a variety of more serious topics and issues. The combination of silly and serious made for an interesting, and sometimes slightly discordant, reading experience. It wasn't something I necessarily disliked, but it was just a little strange, I guess? I'm not even sure what I'm getting at with this observation... (great reviewing there, Kelly, 10/10 points for you).

This books somehow felt both well-researched and very fictional, at the same time- the adventure part kind of turns things up to 11. Historical fantasy, in terms of the overarching plot of the story? It actually wound up getting a little bit more fantasy there toward the end, which was unexpected, after spending the first half of the book in what came of as a non-fantasy world. It wound up a bit heavier on the fantasy-adventure component than I was expecting (silly me), and that was really enjoyable! (I mean, speculative fiction is my favourite genre, so... bonus for me, really.)

The strongest and most dynamic part of this book for me was the characters. Our main character comes off as a bit larger-than-life, in keeping with the plot of the story. Like, if this plot was going to happen of course it was going to happen to someone like him. Monty's a very ...amplified, maybe? person, both in terms of his good and bad personality traits, and it was fantastic seeing his character develop. He's someone who is doing his best, while struggling with quite a few things, and sometimes screwing up in a kind of spectacular way. He's vivid, multi-faceted, very funny, and also very dramatic, and made him both a fantastic character and a great narrator.

I also really liked how both Percy and Felicity were vivid characters in their own right, and I really liked both of them. They're both really strong personalities as well, living their own lives and facing their own challenges. (I'm pretty excited to see that Felicity is getting a book focused on her, because I have a strong personal preference for ladies of science!)  Over the course of the book, Monty really finds himself evaluating is relationships with and his assumptions about both of them. Those relationships both wind up changing a lot over the course of the book- especially the relationship between Monty and Percy, which was fantastic to see grow! They have such a great dynamic from the start, and the way their romance unfolded fit really well with the story itself.

Overall, I had such a fun time reading this book. I was impressed by the number of tougher subjects this book touches on, while still being a really funny, enjoyable read, and I'm delighted that there's a companion novel!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Review: Ash and Quill

Title: Ash and Quill
Series: The Great Library
Volume: 3
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk
Release Date: July 11, 2017

Jess and his group have fled from London to the Burner-held Philadelphia, where they immediately find themselves imprisoned for being members of the Library, albeit rebellious ones set on changing the system. Their only bargaining is the plans for a printing press, which will free the distribution of information from the Library's stranglehold.

eARC received through NetGalley

Out of Ten: 8/10

Review at a Glance: A fast-paced and complex continuation of a series with a great premise and fantastic characters.

Review: I feel like I start a lot of my reviews like this, but look at this cover. Isn't it beautiful? This series is really upping it's game in the cover department- the first book was okay, the second book was lovely, but this one is really great. Okay. Now onward to the actual review part.

There is one thing I'd like to mention in terms of content going in. A main/predominant secondary character (not sure how to describe her character-status, but she's kind of my favourite, so main character to me, probably secondary character narratively?) in this book wears a hijab, and in this book, when the group are violently searched, the scarf is momentarily torn off. While this is clearly emphasized within the book to be a bad thing, and all of our lead characters are horrified and angered, it does still happen- something that may be upsetting for some people to read, especially in the world's current social climate of people being awful to Muslim people for no good reason.

This is the third book in what is to be a five-book series, and it dives right back into the action, essentially carrying on from where the second book ended. They've fled to a Burner-held city, where they're really not safe- one thing we see is the degree to which they aren't really safe anywhere. The enemy of their enemy, in this case, is not their friend, but more of another enemy. This book starts off fast, and doesn't let up- there's a lot of action, and, even when there isn't an actual action scene, Rachel Caine does a good job of maintaining the tension.

It's still impressive to me how BIG this world is. There's a lot going on, and things just keep happening. Last book demonstrated that the Library isn't a monolith, and many of the characters who are currently resisting the Library aren't doing so because they feel that it is 100% evil- sometimes the motivation is the opposite. In this book we also get to see more of that grey area- especially given that quite a few of the main characters are also somewhat grey, including Jess himself. I definitely found myself cringing a little at some of his choices in this book, but they were still totally understandable, especially given his character and history.

There are also A LOT of characters, and Rachel Caine does a good job of juggling her constantly expanding cast and making them distinct. Something that I find I really appreciate about this series is that there are adult characters who really do respect the autonomy and abilities of the main cast, most of whom are teens. (Wolfe and Santi have been two of my favourite characters since book one, so I've been delighted by their continued presence. And also concerned for their safety. Also that.) There's such a wealth of characters that I'm not great at picking favourites- you'll notice I've kind of already mentioned three favourites... The cast is also fairly diverse, as well- there are a few points where I think the author it's possible may have stumbled a bit in terms of representation, but overall seems to have done a fairly good job, especially in terms of making her characters individuals. (I can't speak to all of the representation of course, and am mostly speaking from an outsider's perspective. I'm hoping to read some reviews from those in the communities represented in these books to see how they felt, now that I'm done the book and don't have to fear spoilers!)

Similar to how a lot of the stronger parts are evident in the first two books, something that I disliked is also a carry-over: Jess and Morgan as a couple still... is kind of boring to me? I know it should have emotional resonance, especially as it was given more time in this book, but I still kind of feel like there's more nuance to Jess's relationships with basically everyone else- I think I just wish they felt more like he and Morgan were friends as well as the romantic component? So that still kind of interrupted the flow for me, but it's something I've kind of accepted is going to be something I might not really get.

Overall, this was a great contribution to an excellent series, and I'm really looking forward to the next book- especially with that cliffhanger, which was, frankly, stressful. I am stressed. I'm also really curious where the story is going from here, both from plot and character perspectives, but also from a storytelling perspective.

My reviews of the rest of the series so far: