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

chamber-of-secretsTitle: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Author: J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter
Previous Book in the Series:
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Date Started: June 14
Date Finished: June 18
Format: Hardcover from my shelf

The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike

And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny. But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone — or something — starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects . . . Harry Potter himself?

I hadn’t realized how long it’s been since I’ve read these books until I actually read them. I’ve been watching the movies so long that I forget that not everything from the novel got put into the films. Like for instance, the Dueling Club scene goes a little bit differently. Or even the Death Day party, the real reason that Harry wasn’t at ‘dinner’ the night of Ms. Norris’ attack. And my favorite is the moments that you pick up on that deal with future plots. Take for instance, the fact that we learn that Mr. Filch is a Squib in this book. When Harry learns that it’s because Filch has taken Harry to his office to be punished for tracking mud into the castle. A loud noise makes Filch leave – thinking that it’s Peeves (another ghost I truly miss) – and eventually Harry gets thrown out of Filch’s office because of the information he learns about him being a Squib.

The real ghost that made the racket was actually Sir Nicholas and when they meet up Harry notices something that I found completely interesting and would not have picked up on in my first read through.“Behind him Harry could see the wreckage of a large black-and-gold cabinet that appeared to have been dropped from a great height.” At first, I didn’t think much of it, but as I thought about it it hit me. Why would Rowling mention a cabinet just off the cuff like that? And how did the Vanishing Cabinet end up in the Room of Requirement, broken? What if the cabinet that Sir Nick just broke was the Vanishing Cabinet? I mean, it would make the  most sense wouldn’t it? Especially since Harry hid int he one at Borkin & Burke’s earlier in the book?

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Normally, I would give this a five, but the action sequence at the end when Harry defeats the basilisk was very blah. Compared to the movie that scene really didn’t take all that long at all.

Bookshelf worthy? I just bought a replacement copy since this one finally bit the dust (the pages are splitting from the binding).

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The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

518yolfrhnl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Title: The Distance Between Us
Author: Kasie West
Date Started: June 14
Date Finished: June 15
Format: ebook from the digital library

Money can’t buy a good first impression. Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers learned early that the rich are not to be trusted. And after years of studying them from behind the cash register of her mom’s porcelain-doll shop, she has seen nothing to prove otherwise. Enter Xander Spence—he’s tall, handsome, and oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and the fact that he seems to be one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But just when Xander’s loyalty and attentiveness are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. With so many obstacles standing in their way, can she close the distance between them?

When it comes to digital books, I usually only read them at work. But in The Distance Between Us case, I continued to read it at home, because the story really drew me in. I’m not sure if it was the chemistry that really sizzled between Caymen and Xander (which it totally did) or if it was just Caymen’s dry wit, but I just could not put this book down. I mean, I was reading it at home and thought ‘Oh, I’ll read just one more chapter,’ until eventually there were no more chapters left. My eyes are definitely not going to thank me after that.

Anyway, Caymen and Xander were amazingly perfect. Xander is the rich guy and Caymen’s the girl who’s been working at a doll shop and struggles to make ends meet. Her mom was left by a guy like Xander when she became pregnant with Caymen. So she’s wary of all the rich boys and unfortunately where she lives there are a lot. But when Xander walks into her doll store one day…. Sparks ignite. And a rough friendship starts. The ups and downs in this relationship are crazy and I was hooked on every page. I wasn’t a fan of the ending, only because I felt like it wasn’t one. What happens with Caymen’s mom? Does she reconcile with her parents? What about Caymen and Xander’s relationship?

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. This book was perfect. I just didn’t like the ending. Things were left too open. Does Caymen go to college? Does the doll shop survive?

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The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

35098412Title: The Queen’s Rising
Author: Rebecca Ross
Date Started: June 9
Date Finished: June 12
Format: Hardcover from my shelf

When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron. Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes. With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?

I love when you don’t expect a lot out of a book and then it turns around and surprises you anyway. That’s what happened with The Queen’s Rising. Another book from my monthly subscription box. I didn’t even read the summary and just placed it on my TBR stack. Then for the last few months I’ve been seeing this pin a lot on my Pinterest feed. So when it finally came time to read it, I held my breath. And the first few chapters were slightly slow. It wasn’t until about chapter five that the pace of the novel picks up as Brienna is getting close to the summer solstice and about to chose her patron. There was some interesting things happening with her Master of Knowledge, Cartier, that made me wonder about things. Then there was the shocking twist of Brienna going back into another person’s memories, someone from a long time ago when the last queen served Maevena.

After that it’s a whirlwind of story. The Dowager is completely in on the rebellion rising in Maevena. She doesn’t believe that Brienna is insane because she’s having these visions, and even gets her a patron who is also in on the cause. The friendship – and more – that blossoms between Brienna and her patron is actually kind of sweet in its own way. Especially when she discovers who her true father is… Ack. I don’t want to give too much away.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. I’m kind of curious how this book is going to continue for two more sequels. Things felt nice and tidy at the end, but I’m sure Ross is probably going to go after the aftermath of the war and Islode’s coronation and such. Hopefully we’ll see more of Brienna and Cartier too.

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Effortless by S. C. Stephens

15842441Title: Effortless
Author: S.C. Stephens
Sequel to: Thoughtless & Thoughtful
Date Started: June 5
Date Finished: June 7
Format: ebook from the digital library

A lot can happen in a year. You grow, you change, you learn from your mistakes. And Kiera had made a lot of mistakes to learn from. But she had learned, and she was determined to never cause a man pain again, especially the amazing man who currently held her heart. But life offers new challenges for every relationship, and when Kiera’s love is put to the ultimate test, will it come out the other side unscathed? Love is easy…trust is hard.

Gah. Here we go again with this damn series. Just like with book 1, book 2 has been stuck in my head for days. I didn’t think it would be, because after all the drama of Thoughtless how could book 2 compare? But I should have known better, because even though things started out nice and clean – Kellan enjoying his band’s increased fame status after playing a music festival, Kiera nervous for starting her last year of college, and the two of them blissfully happy – things got really heated. Because of the success of the D-Bags appearance at the music fest, a band invites them on a coast-to-coast tour for six months. The band really wants to go, all except Kellan and the only reason he doesn’t want to is because of Kiera. She can’t drop everything to come with him because it is her last year of school, and he remembered how things were when Denny left the previous year. He doesn’t want her to go through that again.

But Kiera doesn’t want Kellan to give up on his dream just because of her. So she tells him to go even if she’s going to be a paranoid mess the whole time. And she is. Because of Kellan’s past (read man whoring) she gets jealous of all the hot female groupies and it doesn’t help that during Christmas – when he comes back to hang out with her and her family – he starts acting really secretive. I know I should probably be sick of the back and forth between these two, but I just don’t have it in me. It’s delicious and sometimes a really nice break from the fantasy, sci-fi, dysotopian dramas that I usually read.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Although the drama was fun to read, there was a few moments that I did roll my eyes because it was just so old school Kiera and Kellan. They hadn’t really learned from their mistakes and I really wished that they learned how to talk to each other instead of yelling and making these dramatic exits (even if it does make for some fun reading). Also I wasn’t a big fan of the ending. After everything they’ve been through that ‘proposal/wedding’ was incredibly lame. I demand a redo.

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The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

51llouzjzyl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Title: The Raven King
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle
Previous Books in the Series:
1. The Raven Boys
2. The Dream Thieves
3. Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Date Started: June 2
Date Finished: June 7
Format: ebook from the digital library

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love’s death. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

Well…that was intriguing. As I’ve said multiple times, I’m not a big fan of endings, only because they are ridiculously hard to write, and I’m not always satisfied with how things end. Sometimes they are tied up too neatly. Other’s there are some loose ends that are left in the wind. And it’s also known that this series and I haven’t really gotten along. I’ve gotten very confused with it and what the overall plot of it was supposed to be. I think it’s supposed to be the Raven Boys looking for this mystical king for a favor? And Blue just happens to cross their path because she saw Gansey die? And he just happens to be her true love? Something along those lines.

But I hit a turning point in book 3, when I didn’t feel as confused as I did in the previous two books, and it happened again in this one. The friendship that Rowan, Adam, Gansey, and Blue developed over the course of the four novels was actually really well done. Not to mention the character development. Rowan went from this thoughtless asshole to a thoughtful asshole. I think his friendship with Blue really developed the most. There were multiple times during this novel that I found myself laughing and it was all because of an interaction between Rowan and Blue. Like when she told the Raven Boys that she had been suspended. The fist pound scene between the two of them was classic. Or when she ended up in the hospital, his concern – although greatly underhanded – was still there. He would not have been there in book 1.

Other than that, I did feel a little bit underwhelmed with The Raven King’s finale. This book definitely falls into the tied up too neatly category. Things happened a little bit too easily for our characters. And I’m probably going to get flamed for saying that considering that character’s death, but c’mon they do get resurrected so it is a little bit too easy.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. I can’t believe how this series grew on me as I read through these books. I really thought that I was going to knock off the other two books on my reading list after I finished book 2. But I’m glad that I stuck with this series.

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The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

33810737Title: The Case for Jamie
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Series: Charlotte Holmes
Previous Books in the Series:
1. A Study in Charlotte
2. The Last of August
Date Started: June 2
Date Finished: June 5
Format: ebook from the digital library

It’s been a year since the shocking death of August Moriarty, and Jamie and Charlotte haven’t spoken. Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can’t seem to fall for. Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex—and Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn’t safe to be around. She knows her Watson can’t forgive her.

Holmes and Watson may not be looking to reconcile, but when strange things start happening, it’s clear that someone wants the team back together. Someone who has been quietly observing them both. Making plans. Biding their time. Someone who wants to see one of them suffer and the other one dead.

So usually, these books drive me nuts. Mostly because there are a lot of details that seem to go over my head, and there are a lot of other moments that just seem to drag on. And when The Case for Jamie started, it seemed that it was going to be that way again. Jamie and Charlotte each get their own POV chapters in this book, and they spend a lot of time going over what’s happened over the last year, because newsflash. Since the ending of The Last of August, they have not seen each other, and Jamie is really sticking to his whole ‘you’re not good for me,’ thing. And I really got to give that guy credit.

That being said though the storyline does get a bit convoluted with everything that’s going on. I mean, there are so many backstabbing twists in this novel, that I’m not really sure I followed them all. However, the ending was a bit fun to read, especially the epilogue and in reality that’s probably why I keep coming back again and again with this series. Because there is something about Charlotte and Jamie that I can’t help but root for the two of them. And I really hope their e-mail exchange leads to something good for them both. They deserve it.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Ten points for making the chapters shorter than the previous two novels. Ten more points for making Charlotte more human that in the previous books. And fifteen points for the cute e-mail exchange in the epilogue.

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Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

a1aglfswkolTitle: Children of Blood and Bone
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Series: Legacy of Orïsha
Date Started: May 23
Date Finished: June 2
Format: ebook from the digital library

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for an enemy.

My thoughts about this book are severely conflicted. The story was good. It reminded me a lot of this other manga series – other than Sailor Moon – that I was completely obsessed with The Legend of Basara. Of course, the plot is considerably different, but the whole forbidden romance angle was quite the treat to read. The characters and the overall length of the book though were problematic for me. At first, I didn’t like anyone in the story. I didn’t like Zélie. She was too quick to action and she created a huge mess for herself. Even as the book went on there were a lot of moments where I was just like really? This is going to be the heroine? Someone who doesn’t completely believe in herself? And I know what you’re going to say, not all heroines do believe in themselves, and that is true, but at least near the end of the book they start to. Zélie didn’t and her quickness to self doubt really got on my nerves.

Zélie’s brother also got on my nerves a little bit too. But it wasn’t until the end of the book. He was very quick to judgement and I felt that he was always judging Zélie’s actions throughout their journey. Amari was the only character that really grew on me as the story went a long. At first she was really annoying, but as the chapters progressed and she became the Leopanire, I couldn’t help but root for her. I’m not sure about the romance between her and Zélie’s brother- just because they went on this harrowing journey together does not mean that they have to fall in love – but I am curious to see where her friendship goes with Zélie. And as for Inan – Amari’s brother – this guy was the most intriguing character of the book in my opinion. He was raised to be the next king, and trained very hard for his father’s approval, but he has one hell of a secret to keep. One that Zélie finds out and holds over his head as he chases her through the land to stop her from bringing back magic. And somehow, along the way they fall in…something. I know at one point Inan says love – and this is really where the comparison to Basara started for me – but…I really don’t think it is.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. The character slowly grew on me, which was good considering this book seemed to drag on. It could have been that I was reading other books while I was reading this one, but man, this thing was a monster to read. Especially because I read it as an ebook. My poor eyes will never recover.

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