Book Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

In case you’ve been living underneath a trapdoor guarded by a 3-headed dog, or you know, are just new to my blog, you should know that before August I HAD NEVER READ A HARRY POTTER BOOK.

harry-potterWell, this has now been remedied and I can gladly say that I really enjoyed the first installment and look forward to reading more!

HARRY-POTTER-AND-THE-SORCERERS-STONEI knew that the first book of the series was going to feel a bit younger than my usual fare, and though I am glad I have these expectations, I think I would have been fine just expecting what I normally get from reading YA. Yes, it does feel younger, but there is so much richness in the story itself that helps you look over the more simplistic writing style. And simplistic writing generally does not bother me as long as I can get into the story. I was also told that the story doesn’t really pick up until book 3, but what I was hoping to see in this book was potential for the epicness everyone talks about when they talk about Harry Potter, and I did see that.

The World-Building

I think J.K. Rowling did a very good job of establishing how the world of wizardry works within the world we work, and everything unfolded very naturally as Harry is learning along with us. I really loved reading about Diagon Alley and the different shops there specifically for wizard things.

The Characters

I know how much everyone loves the characters of Harry Potter, (particularly Harry, Ron and Hermione) and while I didn’t connect with them on some amazing deep level, again, I definitely saw the potential of connecting with them more and more as the series goes on and they face new challenges and grow older. I mean, they’re 11 in this first book. It’s been a long time since I was 11. But I liked them and I look forward to experiencing this journey with them. And I could definitely relate to Hermione the perfectionist, though she’s even more anal than I was in school! hermione

Hogwarts

Hogwarts itself is a pretty awesome setting, and I know everything in the books won’t take place there, but I’m looking forward to spending more time there! More Quidditch matches, please; what an interesting sport!

The Story

In addition to an interesting world and likable characters, the story also kept me engaged. And I have to say, I was just surprised as Harry at the end when he realized what exactly was going on! I was always excited to pick up the book and dig deeper into the storyline.

Overall, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone met all my expectations and did not disappoint me! It definitely felt like a beginning and it did not have quite the awe of a 5 star book, but I was extremely satisfied with my first time reading it and feel it deserves a solid 4.5 stars!

4-5stars-editTell me your favorite thing about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone! Or share your experience with reading the book for the first time. Or if you haven’t read Harry Potter yet either, did I pique your interest? 

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What Makes a Character a Favorite?

I was thinking about doing a top 10 list of favorite book characters I have been exposed to just this year (meaning not Austen or Austen-adaptation characters, since I’m already really familiar with them outside of their books, nor characters from continuing series that I have already read), and when I jotted down my list, I was surprised by how few books were represented.

From the Grisha trilogy: (1) Mal, (2) Alina, and (3) Sturmhond

From Harry Potter: (4) Harry Potter, (5) Ron, and (6) Hermione 

From Seraphina: (7) Seraphina and (8) Kiggs

From Across a Star-Swept Sea: (9) Persis and (10) Justen

I’ve read more than four books/series with characters that were new to me this year, so why did the other characters just not stand out to me? What makes a character a favorite? Here are some things that I personally gravitate towards…

1. Relatable

jo-readingThe reason why I have always liked Jo March (Little Women) so much was because I could relate to her. She was a tomboy who loved to write and act out stories. I wasn’t exactly a tomboy, but I was far from prissy, and I definitely related to her love of stories and writing. I often connect with characters who are writers, have a personality similar to mine, enjoy the same things I do, etc.

2. Likable 

cinna&katnissI know this can be vague, but I’ll explain what this means to me personally. I like people I can relate with, as mentioned above, but I also like people who balance me, or people who are just kind. And when it comes to book boys (or real-life guys for that matter), forget bad boys. I love the good guys, the sweet gentlemen. This is why I love Peeta so much, and root for Lincoln Lee in Fringe season 4. Good guys don’t finish last in my book! And then there are those people that are so likable because of their nature and  good heart, like Cinna in The Hunger Games. With girls, a lot of time I find sweet, naive girls likable, like Cress, because they just seem so pure-hearted!

3. Strong

alina-grisha

Fan art of Alina by Claire, can be found here

This doesn’t necessarily mean physically strong, but able to hold their own when times are tough. Obviously Katniss is an example of this, though she does have weak moments, but I think that’s also important because it’s human. I also think of both Alina and Mal in The Grisha Trilogy, who both struggle but are able to keep going, no matter how bad things get for them (and they get BAD). We root for characters who keep going.

4. Intelligent

sherlock-holmesI really, really, REALLY appreciate when a character is capable, when they can put the pieces together and figure things out, and I don’t feel the need to yell at them for their dumb decisions. Sometimes these characters are WAY smarter than me, like Sherlock Holmes, which I can appreciate, and sometimes their intelligence might feel more equal to mine, though they may be better versed in a particular area than I am. Either way, intelligence is always welcome as I don’t have to become so frustrated with the character!

5. Witty

HanSoloCantinaCome on, we all love the characters with the clever one-liners. Flynn Rider, Han Solo, Carswell Thorne, Sturmhond, the list goes on. Who you calling scruffy-looking?

6. Otherwise Interesting

Caesar-FlickermanSome characters are just interesting in a way that I can’t describe. Sometimes they’re a bit eccentric or quirky, sometimes they have a haunting backstory, sometimes they just have that something that can’t be explained, like Effie or Caesar from The Hunger Games.

7. Positive Character Arc

emma-approved-emma-knightleySometimes we don’t love a character from the start or might not understand them at first, but as we see them grow through their journey, they become likable, or we empathize with their plight and grow endeared towards them. Like with Jane Austen’s Emma, we see the main character learning from her mistakes and striving to be a better person in turn. By the end when she opens up her heart and accepts others, we in turn have grown to care for her.

For me personally, a character usually needs to have at least two or three of these traits for me to really latch onto them and continue to think fondly of them long after I finish their story.

What about you? What makes a character your favorite? 

Book Review: Emma

I think Emma has possibly maybe taken over as my favorite Austen story. The 1996 film adaptation with Gwyneth Paltrow was my first exposure, and I enjoyed it, but then I saw the 2009 BBC mini-series version and I fell completely in love with it! Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller were truly perfection in it. And then with Emma Approved coming out this year, I decided my Austen read for the year needed to be Emma. And though as the longest of Austen’s works it did start to eventually wear on me and feel a little too long, overall it was still the most enjoyable experience I have had so far reading an Austen novel.

emma-book2

Emma is not the most likable character (though more likable than I think some people have made her out to be… mostly she’s just young and naive), and I don’t relate to her as well as Lizzie. I find all the interactions with her friends and family to be the most interesting out of any Austen story I’ve read, however, and there is just something so sweet about the Knightley and Emma romance. He has known her for her entire life and he knows her faults extremely well, and he’s not afraid to point them out to her. And yet, he loves her deeply. And for her the revelation that she loves him is, “Of course!” It makes sense.

emma-knightley2I also love how many quirky characters are in the story, like Mr. Woodhouse, Miss Bates, and Harriet Smith. They are far from the air of perfection certain characters (the Eltons and Frank Churchill, namely) try to give off. Harriet is a nobody with very little in the way of social graces, but she is kind and loyal. Much can be the same as Miss Bates, though she is less charming and more chatty. Mr. Woodhouse is well-meaning and loves his daughter with great devotion, but is an extreme worrier and germaphobe who is basically afraid to live any life outside of his house. But we see just as many flaws in the characters that supposedly have it all together, including Emma. And I like that about the story.

emma-approved-harrietIf you enjoy the story from its various adaptations, I think you’ll enjoy the book. It might get a little tedious, and Austen’s writing is not the easiest to read in general, but I think it’s worth the journey.

4stars2Have you read Emma? What are your thoughts? Which Emma adaptation is your favorite?

 

Star Trek TOS Season 2: My Top 5 Fave Episodes

As my husband and I are going through our second full watch of Star Trek as a couple, I thought it would be fun to report on the highlights along the way. So I decided to copy the same format as Charlene at Bookish Whimsy, who is going through her first-ever run of Star Trek and sharing her favorite five episodes for each season. To compare, see her top 5 favorite episodes of season two of The Original Series

Season 2 of TOS is filled with a lot more “blah” episodes than season 1, so I had a much harder time choosing a Top 5, when I felt like there were only 3 truly stand-out episodes. I thought about doing a worst episodes list instead, or at the suggestion of my husband, listing my favorite episode three times (because really, it does deserve it), but I buckled down and looked at the few “just fine” episodes and picked two of those to round out this list.

5. Journey to Babel

Journey_to_BabelIt is kind of neat, especially if you haven’t seen any other Star Trek that comes after this, to see Spock’s parents and how they interact with Spock. And even though Spock drives me up the wall in this episode, I’m glad he finally caved and decided to the transfusion to save his father. Also, this episode was worth it for me because of the “Andorian fight scene.” You’ll have to listen to podcasts from the Trek FM network to fully understand that joke.

4. Patterns of Force

Patterns-of-ForceI don’t even remember this episode from my first run-through of the series. It has some problems, particularly in that it suffers from some of the lame reoccurring themes of the season (Starfleet person goes crazy, parallels with Earth), but there’s something about WWII, even if it’s not real WWII, that fascinates me. The whole Nazi party is interesting psychologically too, and this could have been an awesome two-parter that really delved into all that. We didn’t quite get all that, but I did like the underground movement that helped Kirk and Spock as they tried to figure out how to get “The Fuhrer” without getting themselves killed.

3. Mirror, Mirror

mirror-mirrorPart of me resents this episode’s existence because it brought about way too many lame mirror universe episodes in Deep Space Nine, and the highly regarded mirror episodes of Enterprise that I can’t stand because it’s ALL about the mirror versions of the characters and not the ACTUAL characters and they’re just mean and I don’t like them. But ANYWAY, if I look at this episode by itself, it is kind of neat. And who doesn’t love Mirror Spock and his goatee? The whole episode is worth watching for that alone. I also love that Regular Spock recognizes right away the landing party are their mirror counterparts and locks them up. Go Spock!

Mirror_Mirror

2. A Piece of the Action

a-piece-of-the-actionSeeing Spock and Kirk dressed as 1920s gangsters is priceless. Kirk’s invention of Fizzbin is hilarious. The territory leaders are great in their roles. Really, I just love so much in this episode.

1. The Trouble With Tribbles

tribbles2Could this have possibly been any other episode? The Trouble With Tribbles is hands-down my favorite TOS episode, and one of my favorites of all of Trek. And I love even more that Deep Space Nine later honored this episode with Trials and Tribbleations. It is truly priceless. I just find it impossible to resist the cute, furry, cooey tribbles! And Kirk in that pile of Tribbles… it’s just great. Nearly every moment in this episode is just perfection.

tribblesSo why all that hate towards season 2? Aside from a lot of mediocre episodes, there were also a lot of reoccurring themes that really bothered me, such as…

  • Starfleet officers gone crazy
  • Kirk unfit for command (I think this only happened twice, but it was two episodes in a row!)
  • Parallels with Earth and/or America that felt forced and strange (ESPECIALLY in The Omega Glory, OMG)
  • Evil computers
  • Computers getting talked to death by Captain Kirk
  • Interference with cultures (AKA breaking The Prime Directive… of course this happens all the time in all the series…)

But it’s not all bad. For instance, you learn that Spock secretly has an affinity for soft, furry creatures, including Tribbles and cats…

spock_catI was glad to see Chekov make his appearance in season two. He got more screen time than I expected for his early episodes, but apparently they had to rewrite some of the episodes to feature him instead of Sulu because George Takei was caught up in another project for a time. Though Chekov was created for a younger audience and is pretty much supposed to be the Davy Jones of Star Trek, I think there is more to him than that. I really like him as a character and I’m glad they added him in.

Pavel_ChekovOne last notable mention: Seeing Zefram Cochrane in the episode “Metamorphosis.” If the episode had not ended so strangely I might have put it on my Top 5, but when I saw the episode for the first time the name of Cochrane meant nothing to me. Seeing him after having seen the rest of Trek though (particularly the movie First Contact) meant a lot more!

If you’ve seen season two of Star Trek’s original series, which episodes are your favorite? Does Kirk talking computers to death or the crazy Star Fleet officers or the Earth parallels drive anyone else crazy?

About Recommendations

Note: I originally wrote this post several months ago, apparently shortly after seeing Frozen and experiencing people on Facebook talking about certain YA books. It doesn’t feel as relevant now, and I edited some of it to reflect more current thoughts, but I thought it was time to get this out of my drafts! 

When I had not been blogging for very long, I would see survey questions or a Top 10 Tuesday topic that seemed to focus on what books you recommend to others. And since my reading habits kicked into overtime when I started blogging, before then, I did not feel I had a ton to recommend. And even if I had feelings about the books I read, they seem to have intensified (a lot) over time as I connect with more and more bloggers.

Why can’t my Facebook friends understand my feelings?! When I see they’re reading Divergent I want to say, “OK, I was fine with the end, but you might not be. And quite frankly, even though I actually liked Allegiant, I still think the series is no where near Hunger Games level, so don’t expect that.” (BTW, I think one day I’ll have to write a post about why I would have been bitterly disappointed with The Hunger Games trilogy if it ended the way Allegiant did… it was interesting revelation I had.)

Or when I see they’re reading The Maze Runner I want to be like, “Hey, just stop reading that. No seriously. It’s only going to get more convoluted. Your questions will never be answered! Your favorite character may die and then get completely forgotten by the main character like he never cared about that person!” (Oh, is that just me?) “Just stop!”

dont-you-dareOr when they are looking for something to read, I want to scream…

READ THE LUNAR CHRONICLES. AND FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS/ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA. AND THE GRISHA TRILOGY. The amazing books that bloggers know and love, but aren’t hyped up in the stores.

I’ll might tell them, depending, but I do try to avoid yelling. 🙂

spirit-fingersAnd at the bookstore when there is an endcap that says, “If you like The Hunger Games you’ll like Delirium or Under the Never Sky,” I want to hide the books. You may not like Delirium of Under the Never Sky. I DNF’d both of them (yes, I know that’s not common, but I stand by my choices completely because they weren’t for me; I might still be willing to try something else by these authors though). But they are really NOT on the same level as The Hunger Games, and I think most people who like the books will even agree with that.

I think I’m starting to feel book nerd problems more than I ever had before.

anna-snowI know everyone likes different things. I have to realize that no matter how strongly I feel about a book, others may (gasp!) not agree with me! They may love The Maze Runner trilogy and hate Cinder (wait… can anyone hate Cinder?). It’s just my blogging is apparently starting to spill over to my personal life.

Do you struggle with giving your opinion too freely about books you loved or didn’t to real life friends? 

Movie Review: Jane Eyre (2011)

*There will be spoilers. This story is over a 100 years old but still, just in case… 

Let me fully explain upfront my knowledge of Jane Eyre before going into this film. I had seen part of an older adaptation (I could not tell you about who was in it or anything like that) many years ago, and I knew that Rochester was already married to a crazy lady, and I knew Jane went back to him in the end. (I forgot about him being blind until the end of this movie, then I remembered from before. Nothing else in between or from before the wedding rang a bell for me.) I also went into this movie knowing it was not some happy, sweet Jane Austen thing. I expected it to be a little depressing. It was a beautifully shot film and all the actors/actresses were great. But something left me wanting in the end.

jane_eyreFor someone who had not read the book, this movie feels ridiculously underdeveloped. It feels like it takes approximately two weeks (I know it’s longer) for Jane and Rochester to fall in love with each other, and they have like zero chemistry beforehand. The second they kiss they look happy, but before then there’s nothing, not even tension. What does Rochester see in Jane? Someone different and who speaks her mind? That was all I could gather. But really I want to know what Jane sees in Rochester. Uh, a dude? I have no clue. Aside from looking like Michael Fassbender (though not the best version of him), I’d say he really had nothing going for him. Especially when you watch the deleted scenes (or read the book, I imagine) and learn about his previous mistresses. I mean, dude is just not faithful. And I found him a little creepy. So… no.

Oh, and up until Rivers basically said, “Stop being silly and marry me already, you’ll like me eventually,” I was completely shipping him and Jane even though I totally knew that was going to crash and burn.

st-john-rivers

But I’m such a nice guy…

In two hours, I felt I got a pretty good grasp on Jane, which is good. The backstory was sad but intriguing and the non-linear narrative I think mostly worked for the film. The parts with Rochester felt so brief and so not-at-all romantic though that the whole romance just feel extremely flat, even in the end when Rochester is redeemed (though I did finally feel a little bad for him at that point, because he did actually try to save everyone from the fire and ended up blind).

I was just never convinced that either of them really loved the other. At all. She was like, “Oh, a boy!” and he was like, “Hey, I can manipulate this chick.”

So I need to know from fans of the book (Charlene and Alisa, for starters), is their relationship way better in the book? Is it better developed? Do you actually root for them? Does Rochester seem like less of  a jerk, or at least start to become slightly less of one and become more likable throughout?

I’m also curious how creepy the book is, based on deleted scenes that I think put a bad aftertaste in my mouth, and may have even affected my overall rating for it, though I know it shouldn’t. There are two or three scenes not included in the movie where Jane’s dead childhood friend shows up. And I’m not a fan of paranormal or ghosts, not because I think they’re scary, I just don’t care for it. I thought the movie felt haunting enough without adding that, which is why I suppose they didn’t, but is this a theme in the book? Because I’m not interested in ghost stories.

jane-eyreThe craft of the film and the cast are spot-on, but the story felt underdeveloped and left much to be desired for me. For these reasons, this gets a 3-star rating from me.

3stars2If you’re a Jane Eyre fan, tell me what I missed from this movie! 

 

When Books Take Place Where You Live

I originally drafted this post a few months ago, so the references aren’t as immediate as they were at the time of drafting, but are still relevant. 

One of the most popular new YA reads this spring/summer was Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. I haven’t read it, but I am mildly curious about it, about 90% of the reason being the Nashville aspect of it.

The Hundred Oaks series by Miranda Kenneally takes place in Franklin, TN, not too far from where I live. When I discovered this, I read up on Miranda Kenneally. Apparently she’s from Manchester, TN, which is also not too far away. So I would think she knows the area. I haven’t read this series either, but I wasn’t impressed when I opened up to the first page of Things I Can’t Forget while in Barnes and Noble one Day and the MC mentions (in the first paragraph, mind you) going to “the next town over” Green Hills to buy a pregnancy test. Well, Green Hills is an area of Nashville (an extremely nice area, I might add), not actually a town; it has terrible traffic because everyone wants to be there (plus Vanderbilt University and Lipscomb University are both in the vicinity); and basically, it’s the last place I would go to to buy a pregnancy test as a teen.

I also saw Paper Riot describe Franklin, TN in The Hundred Oaks Series as a “sports-oriented place,” akin to Dillon, Texas in Friday Night Lights. I’ve watched some Friday Night Lights, and that town is nothing like Franklin, TN. I’m sure there is some love for their local football teams (I’m pretty sure Franklin High School’s football has been to State at least once, maybe more than once, since I moved to Tennessee), but if the impression it gives to the reader is that it’s like Dillon, I would have to beg to differ.

All that to say, I think we love seeking out things about where we live. But what if they get it all wrong?

nashville-area-booksHere’s my more educated rant. While reading Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson there was a character named Cody who stuck out to me. You see, he was a cop in Nashville. That was awesome to me! What was not awesome though? The fact that he said “y’all” when speaking to a singular person. Who does that? Not me, and not my other Nashville area friends. At least, not frequently and consistently (it’s possible it might happen if one is not thinking it through). But it really took me out of the story the first time Cody addresses David, and David alone, as “y’all.” I thought maybe he was talking to someone else too, but I couldn’t figure out who. But then he kept doing it! That’s not how it works, Brandon Sanderson! Of course, he also has some weird Scottish dialect thrown in that is unique to him so who knows.

Still, I want to read books that take place in my area, but I just don’t want them to be wrong. And then I have to think of all the settings for stories I have written that I have had zero exposure to. But they’re not published. For instance, I have a story I’ve started that is set in the Seattle area. I’ve never been to Seattle. I hope to go, especially before this story gets published (if it does, it’s not one of my top priority stories though). I would ask people from the area to read it. I would want to make sure it felt right.

Oh, and don’t get me started on the show Nashville. Actually, I’ve only seen one episode. And I do appreciate the show bringing exposure to the city, but not everyone here likes country music or has so much drama in their lives, HA.

How do you feel about books set in your area? Have you run across any that felt “off” to you? Have you read any that felt right?

As Seen on Tumblr (& Twitter)

As some of you know, I recently started a Tumblr account after discussing the possibility here on the blog. For those who didn’t know, here’s some things I’ve been posting that you missed. If you’re on Tumblr and enjoy what you see, then I’d love the new follows!

– I answered some survey questions after being tagged by Asti

– I posted the Mid-Year Book freakout survey, which I found via Chiara

– I always post pictures of books as I start to read them

ruin-risingI post a lot of Star Trek

And Emma Approved GIFs

I post quotes from books as I read them

– I’ve been meaning to post story inspiration boards weekly but have only done a few so far…

mood-story-board4– And just whatever else I feel like!

I also recently did a recast dreamcast for Pride and Prejudice… wouldn’t this be brilliant?!

pride-prejudice-recastAnd then lastly, I thought that those of you who have read this blog long enough to know that yes, I have somehow managed to never read Harry Potter, will be happy to know (if you didn’t already find out from Twitter) that I finally ordered a box set of the series! My husband, who has also never read the series, expressed interest, and I have thought about it before as well, and with out birthdays coming up soon, it seemed like a good time to find a set that we liked the look and price of, and it came in the other day!

IMG_1846I ordered these from Scholastic’s website, and if you want $25 or more worth of books from their publishing company I would definitely recommend it! They have good prices, and for orders of $25 or more you get free shipping, and it’s MUCH faster than Amazon (I’m not talking to Prime members, I’m talking to us rebellious folks who refuse to bow to Amazon’s every whim). I plan to start the first book pretty soon. I don’t think I’ll binge read them; I plan to read books in between, but I would like to try to read one of them every 6 weeksish maybe? Of course, if it gets really intense towards the end then I might end up reading the last few in a row! We’ll see! I wanted to read the books before watching the movies and my husband decided he wanted to wait until after, so thankfully we’re not going to have a problem with wanting to read them at the same time.

What have you been up to lately? 

Mini Movie Reviews: Divergent and Guardians of the Galaxy

Divergent

Divergent-movieI enjoyed the Divergent trilogy, but I have often said I liked it but didn’t love it, and this is true of all three books. It seems to me those who were most passionate about the first book hated the way it ended, but for me, my feelings for the books are mostly consistent. So when I say I liked but didn’t love the movie, I’m saying it was a pretty good adaptation of a pretty good book. It hit all the high points (that I remembered) and also explained itself well to those who have not read the books (like my husband).

I do have one complaint about the movie, though, and that is I did not like the way Caleb was portrayed. I’m not sure if it was the writing or Ansel Elgort’s portrayal of him or both, but he came off so flat and dull, and I really liked him a lot in the books (yes, even during Insurgent, though I am still mad at Veronica Roth for not explaining his motives in Allegiant).

One thing I did like about the movie more than the book is that the Tris and Four romance was less prominent (though it still existed, so don’t freak out if that’s something you can’t stand to lose!). Though because of the pacing of the movie their interest seems a little sudden, but I was relieved we didn’t get multiple make-out scenes.

I think most of the actors/actresses did a great job portraying their characters, and would recommend the movie to fans of the book or to anyone who’s interested.

3.5starsGuardians of the Galaxy

guardian-of-the-galaxyI have to say, I was wary of Guardians of the Galaxy. The movie looked like it was directly aimed at 10 year old boys (maybe it was?) and it just looked too different from the Marvel cinematic universe I have come to know and love as the various Avengers’ films have rolled out. Thankfully, it turned out better than expected. It is different from the others, and the humor primarily used is not necessarily my favorite brand of humor, but it has funny moments and even tender moments. I also appreciated the fact that the characters started out as unlikable misfits that somehow turned out to be more likable misfits.

As far as its weak points go, Guardians was pretty formulaic, and I found myself guessing correctly on a few things before they were revealed. It’s no Winter Soldier, and don’t let anyone else tell you any differently.

The villain, Ronan, also left something to be desired. We are told he’s a bad dude, and he seems like a bad dude, and when given such a powerful weapon you know things can get really, really bad, but it all ended up a bit forgettable at the end. I even momentarily forgot who the villain of the movie was a few hours later. Oops.

If you’re a fan of Marvel, I would recommend it. It’s fun and a unique addition to the universe’s mythology.

Also check out these other reviews of Guardians:

Matt says it’s fun back lacks a little on heart

Aidan wasn’t too impressed with the villain but otherwise enjoyed it

3.5starsWhat are your thoughts on Divergent and/or Guardians of the Galaxy?

Mini Book Reviews: Write Your Novel from the Middle and Split Second

I have two mini book reviews today for two very different books: a writing book and a fiction YA book.

GR-writeyournovelI read about Write Your Novel from the Middle on K.M. Weiland’s website, and after garnering so much helpful advice from another of Bell’s books, Plot and Structure, I really wanted to check this one out. What I didn’t expect was how short it would be (less than 100 pages), and that some of it would be rehash from Plot and Structure. While some of it was repetitive for me, the new information was fairly useful, though it did not impact me or my writing nearly to the extent I was hoping. It did give me some new things to think about though, and is a good reference point for redrafting and trying to figure out how to convey the heart of your story.

3stars2

split-secondWhen I saw that Split Second was finally available as an e-book with my library I knew I had to snatch it up ASAP! Per Stormy’s suggestion, I re-read the last chapter of Pivot Point before diving in since it had been a while since I read it, though I probably should have read more because some of what was referenced in the last chapter was a little lost on me, but I eventually remembered the most important stuff. (Full disclosure: Stormy suggests reading the last few chapters, but over time my brain translated it only as the last chapter. Do what Stormy says, not what I did.) All the characters we have grown to love make their return, with Lalia and Stephanie playing bigger roles, and some new characters popping in, including Connor.

Let me talk about the dual POV briefly. Addie and Lalia’s voices were distinctive, and I never had a problem knowing whose chapter I was in. I also liked getting Lalia’s perspective of life within the compound while Addie was away, however, I would have been fine if her chapters had been less frequent, since I really cared more about Addie’s story.

I also didn’t really buy into Lalia and Connor’s romance. I felt so dumb because I didn’t even realize that they were going to get together until almost right before something is said about it, and it made me groan to think about it because it felt a little contrived and forced to me. I could understand why they would be attracted to each other, but I didn’t actually feel like they were.

And then Addie, as much as I love her, is way too loose with the l-word, in regards to Lalia and Connor especially, though even with Trevor I felt, even though that was a little bit more earned. I know this happens in YA contemporaries, which is one of the reasons why I don’t often read them.

One last small complaint is the trope of “teenagers outsmarting adults.” I don’t know, this can be done well, and this turned out OK, but it’s not my favorite. But the new plot regarding the Compound and its ways was interesting, I just think I just would have liked to have seen it handled slightly differently.

Overall though, it was a fun read and I was glad to read some more about Addie, Lalia, and Trevor.

Content advisory: This one’s pretty clean! 

4stars2What were your thoughts on Split Second? If you have a favorite writing book that you think I should check out, let me know!