Repost: Interview and Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

 

28374007In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.

Holy moley this book was an excellent roller coaster of emotions and craziness.

Blake has created an absolutely intriguing story world where the isolated island members are pretty fanatical about their precious queens and they will do almost anything to see their queen crowned.

The narration in this story is a bit muddled at times, because the story seems to flow from character to character third person limited, so that way the reader is in the loop about all of the dealings behind the scenes, and everything that is going on within the three areas of the island where the girls are kept.  Obviously the reader gets the point of view of each of the queens, Katharine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella.  But we also get the point of views of those closest to them, Natalia and Pietyr for Katharine, Jules, Joseph, and Billy for Arsinoe, and Luca for Mirabella.  While I did find the narration switches to be confusing at times and sometimes the narrative voices blended together, it served the story well and it allowed for a few *gasp* moments during my read.

As for the queens themselves as characters: I can’t decide which one I like more.  Fierce Arsinoe who has overcome her faults and accepted her fate only to find her fate different by the end of the novel.  Loving Mirabella who can control raging fire but can’t control how much she loves and misses her sisters.  Shy Katharine who is stronger than anyone will give her credit for, despite her short comings.  They were all raised to hate and want to murder their siblings in order to take their crown, but fore the most part the girls are pretty reluctant.  It seems that for the most part, none of them actually hate each other, but are just kind of resigned to their lot in life…of having to commit murder in order to live.

It’s a pretty dark burden they all carry, but they do manage to find a bit of happiness in their worlds, although an unfortunate love triangle pops up that broke my heart for two different characters. Damn you, Blake for giving me feels.

The narrative has such a sense of urgency throughout the whole book, which is excellent considering the story takes place over a number of months leading up to the final conclusion of Beltane at the end of Three Dark Crowns.

The readers learn a pretty important plot point there at the end, one that will change the course of the next installment.  Overall the world building was excellent for a first fantasy novel, and I’m sure we will continue to get more details on the history of the prophecy for the triplets (I can hope!), and more insight into what happens if the queens fail to kill one another.

4.5 Bards! Keep an eye out for our interview with Kendare Blake from the Texas Teen Book Festival!

four.fivebards

 

 

 

 


Book Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

 

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

Release Date: February 7, 2017

I remember when I first heard about this novel.  It was in an email from one of the publicists at St. Martin’s, and she was trying to get us excited about the upcoming titles for Fall 2016, but she included a quick preview of Wintersong; it was the first five chapters.  I was enraptured from the first sentence.

I grew up on Labyrinth, Terry Jones and Monty Python, Bowie, and Jim Henson, so even the marketing of her saying that we’d “get introduced to the Goblin King,” peaked my interest back in September.  Side Note: I’m actually watching Labyrinth while I write this review…

First things first: S. Jae-Jones is such a strong writer. Not only did she provide such a succinct world, it honestly makes it feel like this was the story that should have been told in the movie.

In a lot of ways, I think that this is the story that David Bowie wanted to tell about the Goblin King.  This might be a slight spoiler, but a quote from Bowie prior to the release of Labyrinth is particularly fitting for the character of the King in the novel, “…(he) is, at best, a romantic; but at worst, he’s a spoiled child, vain and temperamental (sic)…I think he has inherited his Kingdom of Goblins reluctantly, and runs it under duress.”

I know I keep talking about the movie, and I will more later, but let me focus specifically on the novel itself.  Jae-Jones weaves music into the narrative as if it gives the story its soul.  The German roots of the story and the use of it’s language give it so much authenticity and contributes so much to putting the reader immediately within the story world.  Jae-Jones has truly created something extraordinary and a narrative that will stay with you.  This is a novel that I’d want to live in regardless of the peril and darkness. Her lyrical word choice and the eloquent sentence structure is that of true beauty and art. It’s been a long time since a novel has touched me as deeply as Wintersong.

While, yes, it pays deference to the movie and the original story, Jae-Jones’ take has made it so much more beautiful with a side of painful feels. I’m so glad that Jae-Jones expanded upon this enigmatic world and the Goblin King, who was such a sensual character.

Let me talk about Elisabeth.  She was everything that I wanted in a reluctant heroine/love interest.  She was talented, frustrated, and loyal as hell. If only Toby had Elisabeth instead of Sarah, Toby (Kathe) would have been saved much sooner. So many praises to Jae-Jones for creating this character and for making me adore her, flaws and all.  Those are the best types of characters, after all.

Jae-Jones’ Goblin King is a handsome, cruel lithe blonde man with dual colored eyes. Sound familiar? I’m so glad she had this homage to Bowie.  Please, please don’t think that this is all the novel is: a basic re-telling. It is SO MUCH MORE. I just really don’t want to give too much away, because I’d rather you read and fall in love on your own.  I just love both so much; so for me, knowing the movie really enriched my reading of the novel.

I want to thank S. Jae-Jones so much, for giving me back the Goblin King, and for giving the Goblin King so much more than the original story ever did. I always felt sympathy and love for him, but her novel makes everything so wonderfully complex and beautiful. I know at this point I’m repeating myself, but it is worth it to showcase how much I adored this book.

I’ll end this on the quotes from the book that saluted the movie:

“I’ve given you everything you’ve ever wanted.  I’m tired of living up to your expectations.” – The Goblin King, Wintersong
“I am exhausted from living up to your expectations.” – Jareth, Labyrinth

“I am a generous soul, Elisabeth…” The Goblin King, Wintersong
“I have been generous up until now.” – Jareth, Labyrinth

“I see the echoes of it within you.” – Elisabeth, Wintersong
“I can’t live within you.” – Jareth, Labyrinth

Seriously do yourself a favor and fall into the pages of Wintersong. You won’t regret it, I promise…or curse me to the Underground with the Goblin King.

5 Bards.

 

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

S. Jae-Jones (called JJ) is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and erstwhile editrix. When not obsessing over books, she can be found jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, co-hosting the Pub(lishing) Crawl podcast, or playing dress-up. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she now lives in North Carolina, as well as many other places on the internet, including Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, and her blog.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

Now, I realize that when I first read The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi that I never actually wrote a review for it!  So, upon my receipt of an Advanced Reading Copy of the companion novel, Crown of Wishes, I decided to re-read TSTQ in order to prepare myself for more the feels that are going to come along with revisiting Guari and Bharata.

Finally, here is my review of TSTQ!

One of my favorite parts of Chokshi’s novel is the noted difference between the treatment of women in the kingdom of Bharata and how Amar promised to treat her within Akaran while she ruled alongside him.  It was interesting to see through the eyes of a daughter kept within the harem inside her kingdom, and while that wasn’t the focus of the novel, it was so great to see this kind of diversity in a young adult book.  I was a little bothered by the slut-shaming comment upon my re-read, when Maya throws “spreading legs” at one of the meaner harem wives.  But it wasn’t something that was a deal-breaker in this story for me.

Maya has a ton of fire in her personality and I love that she has that spunk and the urge to be as much as an individual as her society allows, and I love that.  She’s quick witted and stronger than she appears.  Now, with these traits, comes negative things: Maya is impulsive and more gullible than I remember from my first read.  I love that Chokshi has created a whole character full of strengths and flaws.  If there’s anything I can’t stand in young adult literature is when a main character is not well rounded and Maya is so well written as a frustrating and lovely character. Such a great character creation by Chokshi.

The world that Chokshi has created in The Star-Touched Queen is complex and wonderful.  The different worlds that the reader discovers alongside Maya, specifically the Night Bazaar (to quote Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there.”), has been beautifully created through flowery and expressive language.  I normally don’t like excessively descriptive narrative (a la Charles Dickens), but Chokshi’s writing is so enthralling that I found myself growing to love it.

As for the love story, I’m looking forward to Amar and Maya’s relationship in the novella Death and Night, because for me The Star-Touched Queen was so much more about Maya’s journey to remembering her past lives and becoming the strong woman she needed to be to restore balance to her world.

Also, is anyone else super interested in their horoscopes after reading this?

Overall, I’m so glad I went to re-read and spent more time with Maya and it makes me look forward to Crown of Wishes so much more! If you haven’t had a chance to read this beautiful book, then order a copy as soon as you can.

4 Bards.

Book Review: Roseblood by A.G. Howard

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known. 

Release Date: January 10, 2017

As much as I love Phantom of the Opera, I wouldn’t 100% classify myself as a Pham, but I do enjoy the musical and the original novel by Gaston LeRoux.  Yeah, yeah, I was one of those obnoxious kids who absolutely had to read the original novel before ever seeing the play or the movie (the book is amazeballs, guys).

ANYWHO, anyone who has followed Midsummer for a while will know that I’m a giant fan of A.G. Howard’s Splintered series and *cough* MORPHEUS, so when it was announced that she was doing a modern retelling of Phantom I got pretty psyched. Now, I’d probably steer away from calling it a retelling after reading it all the way through, it’s more of a modern continuation of the story.  Erik (yes, that is the phantom’s name from the original novel) is STILL haunting the opera house, albeit he is pretty old and a bit creepier in a whole new way thanks to Howard’s take…I refuse to spoil this for you. It’s pretty brilliant.

So, I will admit to you that the novel does start off a bit slow as it seemed that the pacing just wasn’t 100% there at the beginning.  We immediately see our new Christine (Rune) arriving to her new boarding school, which we all know means some shenanigans will happen when the parents are gone!

Rune has some pretty deep mental scars, I mean her grandmother tried to drown her and set her house on fire, but music has always helped her get through.  She has a strange compulsion to sing upon hearing certain songs, and it honestly sounds like she is capable of hypnotizing those around her while she is singing (that’s important).

Low and behold, she finds the phantom haunting her….except her phantom is Thorn.  He’s crush worthy and described as absolutely beautiful. I immediately imagined Dominic Sherwood, but I think he will always be in my fan cast for Wintersong. Either way, their fates are clearly intertwined, and sometimes I absolutely love the fated couples trope, while other times I find it ridiculously cliche…but this one was one I was absolutely here for. Rune x Thorne…Rorne. RORNE STAN.

Anyway, I’m sure this book won’t be for everyone, but I really enjoyed reading it. (In a 5 hour period..worth it)

4.5 Bards for my love, A.G. Howard.

 

Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Release Date: January 31, 2017

Holy Hell in a hand-basket.

Stephanie Garber has created a world that I don’t want to leave, and characters I want to follow throughout their life stories.

I started this book on 9PM on a Sunday night, after I’d been sick for a week and sleeping as much as possible to get over it.  Once I started, I couldn’t put it down.  I found myself saying, “One more chapter,” okay, “Now, one more chapter,” over and over again until it was 1AM and I closed the book with a sigh. This doesn’t include the extra 30 minutes I sat there considering the ending and the complications that came along with it. I think in reality I maybe got 5 hours of sleep this night, but what is important is that I LOVED this book.

This world was created in such an organic way that nothing in the plot seemed like it was out of place or sudden.  Not only was Caraval such a richly developed story but the description of the characters and the locales within the novel were exquisite. I wish I could have seen the canopy bed in Scarlett’s room, had a sip of that crisp cider that enhances vision, or even run my hands over the gowns in the store where she sells two days of her life.

While I was totally proved wrong about who I assumed Julian was from the beginning (*shakes fist* tricky Garber, tricky!) he was a great example of a male character who comes off as such a…how to I put it…douchebag that really turns out to be a character with so many more layers than initially shown.  In fact, he was the saving grace for Scarlett (and the narrative) in many spots.

Probably an unpopular opinion: Dante? *fans self* A body covered in tattoos and a beautiful face to boot? *swoons*

Now, as someone who has had a struggle with her relationship with her sister (we are doing so much better as we’ve aged, by the way *Love you, Ginger!*), I think that for me what really made this story so impactful was the demonstration of absolute love and devotion between the two siblings.  Obviously it seems very one sided at the beginning as it is third person limited point of view, but the reader discovers it is a very equal love and something that both sisters suffered for.

All I can think of as I remember my mind blowing and wonderful late night read is that this is a story that I will come back to and re-read many times. Plus, who wouldn’t want to lose themselves in a fantasy world with Scarlett, Julian, and Tella?

**Trigger warning for parental physical abuse**

Pre-order a copy of Caraval now, I promise you won’t regret it.

4.5 Bards

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

14061957The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

I spent three books thinking Mal was gonna be the worst thing ever and I just didn’t see it at all? Maybe because I was expecting the worst, but I think Alina could have done a lot worse. Like the Darkling, for instance. And I get that that seems to be an unpopular opinion in the fandom, but here’s the thing, the relationship that Alina has with the Darkling reminds me so much of Buffy and Spike in Season 6 that I just cannot get behind it.

Every private interaction she has with the Darkling he talks about how she could “balance” him and make him a better man, and both times her response is that he wouldn’t do the same for her. She wants him, but she doesn’t want to want him, and that I think is the most important thing about Alina. She takes to power well, she’s a natural leader, but she doesn’t want to be a monster.

The Darkling is a terrible person. He has no qualms about using/killing people to get what he wants. Those rare moments of humanity we see in him are only brought out by Alina. He’s relying on her to be his gatekeeper, and honestly, I’m not here for that. But I also think that’s what makes readers love him so much. Bardugo does an amazing job of making this character, who should be totally unlikeable (he is the antagonist, after all), not just likable, but somehow relatable.

I don’t have super strong feelings on Mal one way or the other. I think the fact that he was important to Alina made him important to the story, but also that she didn’t necessarily need him. I will say that the best part about Mal is that he recognizes that. Like I’ve said, I kept waiting for him to screw up so badly that I would hate his guts and that never happened. Instead, I was always surprised by how much he cared about Alina to stop being so selfish and step aside for her be as powerful as she was meant to be.

I am not ruined. I am ruination.

Genya’s storyline has to be my favorite. “I hope the taste of me was worth it.” Just. Damn. That whole interaction with the King (and Nikolai!!! bringing his own father to justice!!!!! I just love him a lot, okay?) was one of the best parts of the series for me. I’m glad that she was able to come back from that and I’m glad that she stopped hiding herself after what the Darkling did to her face and I’m also glad for David and that he finally had some good words for Genya rather than just talking about science. (I’m never getting over this scene, sorry, not sorry.)

Nikolai continues to be the best thing ever. I love how just completely dramatic he is, but it’s not obnoxious, it’s just who he is. Bringing honesty and candor and just overall lightness to everything. I don’t have anything else to add. Except that I wish he were real.

I did like the ending, though I think it may have been more impactful if it had gone the other way. Overall, I loved the series, I read all 3 in 3 days. They were so easy to get into and they kept me on the edge the whole time I was reading. That being said, I don’t know if I would have loved them as much if I had read them before Six of Crows so I’m glad I read that first. 4 bards for the conclusion of this wild ride.

fourbards

 

 

 


Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

I am quite sad that it took me this long to read this novel, especially after seeing how much fellow book bloggers love it and recommend it.  I can see that there was not one bit of exaggeration in this, because I absolutely adored this book.

Novik has created something so rich here, as deep and vast as the Wood that surrounds the Valley where Agnieszka and Kasia live.  The story world is developed without being bogged down by excessive narration or description, and the characters are so fully realized that I felt I was watching Agnieszka’s story unfold in front of me.

The relationships between the characters are something that I found absolutely fascinating.  Agnieszka and Kasia’s

By Steendraws on tumblr

By Steendraws on tumblr

friendship seems to unburdened and easy at the beginning of the story, despite the assumption that Kasia will be selected by the Dragon to go and live in his tower for ten years.  However, when Agnieszka is chosen and Kasia *SPOILER ALERT* taken by the Wood, the secret resentment and underlying hate that comes out when trying to save one another was so heartbreakingly realistic and somehow beautiful, that their friendship not only survives but becomes stronger.

The Dragon, Sarkan, is grouchy, set in his ways, and easily frustrated, but he still is likable despite all of these traits.  I do find him unbearable at the moments where he is rude to the main character, but I think it comes from the confusion he finds in her magic, and the confusion in his feelings for her. Agnieszka took him by surprise, and it is obvious that he resents that very much.

Story-wise, Uprooted is very much in the vein of the old epic poems, which are mentioned a handful of times in the novel, and it flows like a beautiful song.

I was blown away by this novel, and it was a perfect beach read for my vacation, one that helped me forget the heat and the humidity, but took me away to a beautiful tower, village, and enchanted Wood.

Highly recommend.

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards




Book Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy. 

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

I admit that I am a bit of a noob when it comes to Neil Gaiman.  Other than having read Neverwhere and Stardust, the only other exposure I’ve had to him is through the episodes of Doctor Who that he has written (‘The Doctor’s Wife’ is still one of the best episodes ever). 


So when a librarian friend of mine (Thanks, Genna!) told me that she had read The Ocean at the End of the Lane shortly after it was released, I knew that it was something I had to pick up.  I mean, everyone should trust the opinion of their librarian on what books are good and which ones to avoid. 

Anyway, I was surprised by how short this novel was when I picked up a copy, but after reading it I completely understand that the story could be no more and no less. Gaiman has an impeccable way of doing that.  Initially, I was put off by the middle aged nameless narrator since I was expecting more of a children’s novel based on what I had been told.  However, this narrator serves as the framework for the story that is told through the point of view of a young boy. 

The reader is quickly introduced to the sleepy, small town in Suffolk that serves as the setting.  For some reason all the countryside really reminded me of the use of the Moors in Wuthering Heights; especially when the narrator is running toward the Hempstock farm in the dark. In addition, Gaiman quickly involves us in the story world with the suicide of the man and the wonderful inclusion of Lettie, who serves as a guiding light for the narrator and his only friend. 


I want to encourage everyone to read this novel.  While Gaiman never truly explains where the Hempstocks are from or how long they have truly been a part of our world, he does include enough information for the reader to be satisfied and still be on the verge of asking a billion questions. 

Gaiman, you have sufficiently pleased me again. 

4 Bards. 


Waiting on Wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on: 

Release Date: September 24, 2013

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. 

But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills. 

Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. 

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience. He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

In Which Jessica Finally Reads…

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Haven’t read any of my other “In Which Jessica Finally Reads” posts?  Check them out: Sorcerer’s StoneChamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, and Goblet of Fire.

Where to start on Order of the Phoenix?  Oh yeah, this was a super long book!  870 pages?  I’m amazed and pleasantly impressed by the fact that so many younger children and adults are willing to hitch a ride to such a large novel with such heavy subject matter! 

Heavy subject matter indeed: Death, Treachery, Belief, Slander, Student Punishment, and Yellow Journalism. 

FINALLY, Harry was able to let loose his anger and annoyance at the fact that he continued to be left out of the loop and seemingly punished for his bravery by being sent to stay with his terrible aunt and uncle, and then attacked by dementors and doubted by the entire magic community! 

Sorry, I was a tad wound up for him as well.  I will say that I appreciated Rowling’s use of the Daily Prophet in the novel to explain how and why the entire magical world had seemingly turned against Harry and believed that he was a “nutter.”  As a huge history nerd, I really enjoyed this because it reminded me of the unit on Yellow Journalism that we studied during the Spanish-American war. Definition of Yellow Journalism: “Journalism that is based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration.”  Kudos, JK on using this. 

Now, as much as I am supposed to hate Professor Dolores Umbridge because of her anti-half blood agenda and how much she prefers to live in denial of the return of Voldemort, I can’t help but love her as a character.  She has everything a psuedo-villian needs when being introduced into a narrative towards the middle.  She has a clear agenda, she targets the main character, she reduces the most important subject to these students in order to gain control, and she has the looks of a non-threatening person.  How could you not love her as complete a character as she is? Plus, if it weren’t for Umbridge, Dumbledore’s Army would never have been formed. 

See? Do you see how I’m slowly being converted?  Despite my disdain for the first two books based on the slow pace, I have become invested in Harry’s story.  

I really didn’t like the lack of Dumbledore in this novel, especially since I’ve seen the next movie and I am aware of his fate.  However, I know I still have the sixth book to look forward to in regards to the headmaster.  

I also think that the battle inside the Department of Mysteries was much more intriguing and fast paced in the novel than in the movie.  However, when it came to Sirius’ death scene, I was just surprised at how quickly it happened in the novel.  Yes, it was still really sad, but there wasn’t a whole lot of description of it…just that it happened. I still think that Harry’s response was appropriately written, but I think that the acting in this scene in the movie really moved me more than in the novel.  But again, this is probably because I had seen the movie first. 

Overall, I am still really enjoying reading Harry Potter and I’m giving Order of the Phoenix 4.5 Bards. 



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