Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Minor Characters Who Play Major Roles

Minor characters are, by definition, minor, but that's never stopped us from loving (or hating) them. Here are some of my favorite minor characters who still played a big role in the plot. *Please, to avoid all spoilers, do not read the write-up about any character from a series you've not completed. *

Luna Lovegood - Harry Potter by J.K Rowling
Luna Lovegood has always been one of my favorite characters. She's bold, intelligent, easy-going, and fearless when it comes to being herself. Sure, she's only a minor character, but where would Harry Potter be if Luna hadn't led him into the Ravenclaw common room to search for the lost diadem. (Let's be realistic- Harry isn't smart enough to get into the common room on his own). On top of that, she fought in the Battle of Hogwarts, and again in the Department of Mysteries when she was only 14.

Peter Pettigrew - Harry Potter by J.K Rowling
Before you freak out, Peter Pettigrew is not one of my favorite characters. However, he played an enormous role in the rise of the Dark Lord. He was the flesh of the servant, willingly sacrificed. He revived his master. If it hadn't been for him, the resurrection of Voldemort could have been prolonged, and Cedric might have lived, for it was Pettigrew who cast the killing curse upon Cedric- Voldemort merely ordered him to do it.

Magnus Bane - The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
Magnus Bane definitely makes it onto my list of favorite characters. Not only is he a fun character to read about, but he definitely had a large role in the plot of TMI. He was called upon in numerous occasions to help out the institute, and if he hadn't been there to help, there's no doubt that the Lightwoods & Co. would've failed at whatever crazy venture they were up to. 

Raphael Santiago - The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
Raphael was the Institute's strongest tie to the Children of the Night, and he served to be one of great help in the end. Plus he sired Simon when Simon turned into a vampire. If it hadn't been for him, there, helping Simon "learn the ropes", Simon might have not successfully turned. 

Celeste Newsome - The Selection Series by Kiera Cass
Celeste Newsome has always been one of my favorite characters. My personal weakness is bad (whether that be actually bad, or bad in relation to the main character) characters who turn good. I'd list a few others, but I'd hate to spoil anyone. Anyway, Celeste was such a complex, but amazing character, and I couldn't help but sympathize for her. (Unfortunately, there is no on screen adaptation for me to pull an actor from, and I feel uncomfortable using fan art). 

Gale Hawthorne - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Maybe I should start this off by saying that I 100% ship Gale with Katniss over Peeta, but I personally think that Gale was a really important character that we tend to overlook. He was Katniss' childhood friend, which very well means that he helped shape Katniss' personality. Plus, he was there for her family while she was off in the Hunger Games. When she got back, he was still there for her, her faithful friend.

Jessamine Lovelace - The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
Jessamine Lovelace is another character you have to sympathize. All she wanted was to be normal- mundane. She was sick of the nonsense and informality of the Shadowhunter world, and jumped at the first chance she got to be freed. And let's not forget that she did have a pretty big role in the movement of the plot, even if she was on the wrong side of things. 

Rachel Elizabeth Dare - Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Oh how I do hate the official character art.... Anyway, R.E.D is such a spirited, creative, awesome character, and she just deserves much more admiration. She's an oracle- she prophesied the Prophecy of Seven. I'd call that pretty major.

Thanks for reading! Who are some of your favorite minor characters? 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1)
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal
Pages: 456
Rating: 4 stars
Purchase this book:
Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository

Mara Dyer can't remember how she almost died. She woke up on a Sunday in a hospital bed, her family's worried faces peering down at her. On Wednesday, they told her, she survived a building's collapse. She was the only survivor of the four who had taken a trip to the run down insane asylum, the other three being her best friend, her boyfriend, and another tagalong friend. Traumatized by the loss and not being able to remember how any of it happened, the Dyer family picked everything up and moved to the opposite end of the country. There, Mara met Noah, a rather mysterious boy who seemed to have his own secrets.

Memory loss is something that pretty much always draws me into a book. When the first chapter kicks off, and the main character remembers simply nothing about how they came to be in that state, I'm instantly dying to know what happened. This is, as evident via the synopsis, a factor in the Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. So there's the memory loss, but there's also the hallucinations. Yes, not only is Mara unable to remember how her friends died, she's frequently visited by them. As you can tell, it's quite the eerie premise. I personally love creepy books, so this particular novel instantly captivated me. But let's dig down a little deeper.

The characters, for the most part, are developed fine. I personally found Noah to be a little too perfect, and a little too much of a cliché. I thought Mara's relationship with her siblings was also a little too perfect. They never fought, never argued, never seemed to be on each other's bad side. And her dad was just kind of... there. I think it would have been better if the author had established Mara's relationship with her dad, as well has built up the father's personality just a bit more. 

The plot was definitely something that had me glued to the book. It's paced nicely, and you go through it very quickly, but I do have to say that the chapters sometimes cut off at awkward points. I'm a fan of short chapters; I seem to read books faster when the chapters are shorter, but I like when the chapters at least cut off at the right points. I feel like some of the chapters could've been joined together to be one. On the contrary, there were some chapters that ended, and then the next chapter would pick back up and never resolved the "cliff hanger" from the last chapter. However, I can hardly complain, as the plot is just so captivating. She does a nice job of dropping little hints and bits of information early on to have them come into play later in the novel. I love when authors plan that far ahead.

Another positive I have is the flashbacks. Usually, the flashbacks in books are boring and anticlimactic. However, these flashbacks were something I looked forward to. It's so cool seeing them walk through the run down insane asylum, and I wasn't bored- ever. 

So all in all, I really enjoyed the Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. I would recommend it to you if it sounds interesting, and I do hope you like it! I know Cassandra Clare blurbed it on the front cover, so if you trust her opinion, I would definitely suggest giving it a shot. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Books for the Beach

Now that spring has sprung, and with it, spring break- here's a post devoted to some beach-ready books! 

This book is centered around the beach and the ocean. Reading this book is perfect for lounging in the sun on the warm sand- or at least wishing you were. 

This is an adorable contemporary that takes place in Paris- and nothing says spring break like a trip to Europe! 

3. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater 
Perhaps you're feeling a nice contemporary fantasy? The Raven Boys kicks off the lighthearted, fantasy masterpiece by Maggie Stiefvater.

This story takes you all across the world, and through different time eras. If you're stuck at home this spring break, picking up Passenger is sure to give you the most exciting spring break ever. 

5. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Feeling a lighthearted, fun contemporary? Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell will certainly satisfy your trip to the beach. 

Finally, this powerful contemporary based on one family trying to get through life together will give you a strong rush of affection for everyone in your life. 


Thanks for reading- I hope you all have a wonderful spring!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Lady Midnight

Title: Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Pages: 668
Rating: 5 Stars
Purchase this book:
Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository

Emma Carstairs has been searching for answers ever since her parents were killed five years ago. But, for the first time, pieces of the huge puzzle come together, and Emma begins to realize that her parents' murders might've been linked to something much, much bigger.

Is there anyone out there who didn't like this book? Honestly, it was absolutely amazing. I was pulled in from the very start, and in love with these characters instantly. Cassandra Clare doesn't fail to bring us that lovely, fast paced plot woven in with smaller sub plots, and I was definitely invested in them all.

Let's start with the characters. Something I was worried about was reading something from a whole new set of character's perspectives when Jace and Clary and crew were still alive and present, but the characters of Lady Midnight were just so beautiful and profound, and I, like I said earlier, fell in love with them instantly. Our main character, Emma, is feisty, sarcastic, and funny. Sarcastic characters are always some of my favorites, and Emma didn't disappoint. I found myself laughing at a lot that she said. Our other main character is Julian, Emma's parabatai. His life revolves around his deep love for his siblings and Emma. He's an artist not only when he's painting, but with every way he lives his life. He's just so driven by love and devotion, and it's a beautiful quality to have. 

I enjoyed almost all of the relationships developed in this book. They seemed real, genuine, and true, and I found myself immediately standing behind the different pairings as they came up. There was one or two that I simply didn't feel any actual emotion between the characters, but I'm wondering if perhaps you're not supposed to like the coupling. All personal preferences aside, the relationships were beautifully developed. 

Another thing I loved was how involved Edgar Allan Poe and his works were in this book. Edgar Allan Poe is my favorite poet of all time, and I was thrilled to see his poem Annabel Lee show up in this book. Plus, all the chapter titles were lines from the poem, which I also found rather cool. 

This entire book was just perfect, and it's going to kill me to wait a whole year for book two. I 100% recommend this novel to you, as long as you've read TMI and TDI (unless you're okay with getting spoiled), and I know it won't let you down. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Green Books

Happy St. Patrick's Day! In celebration of this lucky little holiday, I compiled a list of green books that'll protect you from getting pinched today.

So happy St. Patrick's Day to you all, and thanks for checking out my little list!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Reflections of Queen Snow White

Title: The Reflections of Queen Snow White
Author: David Meredith
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 155
Rating: 3.5 stars
Source: Received for review from the author
Purchase this book:

Queen Snow White has grown weary with life as she loses each of her loved ones. First her mother, then her father, and finally her beloved husband, King Charming. She's pretty much given up on the prospect of joy when she stumbles upon the magic mirror of her evil stepmother. This mirror not only reflects one's appearance, but it also reflects the beauty, or ugliness, within. As the mirror shows Snow White what she's been truly feeling deep down inside, she begins to realize that perhaps joy can be found once again.

I really loved the writing style in this book. It's so poetic and descriptive, yet simple and easygoing. It was a unique read in that sense. But on top of that, the plot was something new and different. You see Snow White in her old age, her daughter grown up and getting married, but the mirror transports you through the life of Snow White starting from a very young age, and leading up to her present self. What we get to see of her past creates a pieced together retelling of Snow White, and it's a more developed, thought out take to the fairy tale we're all familiar with.

I'm sure you've seen Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and perhaps you can agree with me on the statement that it's a rather straightforward plot. None of the characters are all that unique, nor does the evil queen really have a motive for being evil. She's just jealous. On top of that, Snow White and her prince instantly fall in love. With no explanation or rationale. In this novel, each character has a story, a past, and drive. The story is much more complicated, and Snow White's life is filled with many darker aspects. 

So I enjoyed reading this fairy tale where not everything just happened magically- where everything got a believable explanation and had a reasonable purpose. Plus the Evil Queen got a real name, which is a plus because I've always been bothered by that aspect of the story. Snow White is also older than the 14 year old girl she is in Disney's take, which makes the whole thing seem that much more believable.

Although I found it a little difficult to get into in the beginning, I would say give it a shot if you're interested in knowing what comes after the "happily ever after"!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Childhood Favorites


Today I'm going to take you down memory lane and recall some of my favorite books from when I was younger!

1. Warriors by Erin Hunter
This (lengthy) series was one of the first fandoms I joined, and consequently threw me into a life filled with rapid reading and large checkouts from the library. 

2. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate Dicamillo
This story remains one of my all-time favorite books. I remember reading this book, finishing it, and immediately turning back to page one and reading the whole thing again. I would repeat this over, and over, and over again. 

3. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate Dicamillo
Another story by Kate Dicamillo, and another beloved book that I read multiple times in my childhood. I never did see the movie...

4. Wish Stealers by Tracy Trivas
I remember my mom bought this book for me quite randomly, and I absolutely loved it. It's so magical, and I enjoyed the mystery involved in the plot. 

5. Scott O'Dell
Honestly, I can't devote number 5 to just Sing Down the Moon. I devoured anything written by O'Dell, my favorite probably being Island of the Blue Dolphins

6. Roald Dahl
Once again, an author I couldn't get enough of. I believe it was my 2nd Grade teacher who introduced me to this author, and after that I read anything by him I could, and ended up doing a project on him the following year. 

7. Ramona Quimby by Beverly Cleary
I really enjoyed these books, simply because I found myself able to connect strongly to Ramona's older sister, Beezus. 

8. The Biography of Anne Frank by Ruth Ashby
I read this children's biography of Anne Frank when I was in elementary school, and I just remember crying my eyes out at the end. For some reason I continued to re-read this book, even though I knew the ending wouldn't change no matter how many times I read it. It wasn't until early middle school that I actually braved reading her translated diary. 


So those were eight of my childhood favorites. There are so many others that I just couldn't mention, but these were some prominent ones. What are some of your favorite books from when you were younger? 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Siren

Title: The Siren
Author: Kiera Cass
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 327
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Purchase this book:
Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository

Although she may look like a normal, 19 year old girl, Kahlen is not. She instead is a 100 year old siren, her voice and life taken by the Ocean until she's served her century long sentence in return for her life.  For when Kahlen's ship sank to the depths of the ocean, she was the sole survivor. The Ocean's sirens rescued her and offered her a choice. Live and serve She, the Ocean, for a century, and Kahlen could return to the world wiped clean of memory and as the 19 year old girl she looked to be, or she could die like everyone else aboard the ship. Like her parents. Kahlen chose life, and for 80 years she's been singing to large ships, killing everyone aboard and feeding She who lives on death.

I really enjoyed this book! If you aren't aware, this is a short, stand alone fantasy novel, and that's just something we don't get often in YA fiction. The plot was so beautiful, and it worked really nicely as one, stand alone book. 

It's a story about Kahlen, a siren who one day falls in love with a boy in Florida. But within that, it's about so much more. It delves deep into the meaning of true love and true sacrifice. Kahlen is prepared to risk everything for her love. Even herself. It's quite refreshing, the way the book displays the relationship between the two characters to be something actually true. Today's society presents relationships as something you can throw away or push aside. The connection between Kahlen and Akinli is so deep and real and solid, it's unlike most things I've read. 

But there are so many other complex relationships in this story. For example, Kahlen's "sisters", the other sirens. They all look out for each other, and despite their differences, you know that they all love each other dearly. And perhaps the most complex character of them all is the Ocean Herself. She's the mother to the sirens, and with that comes a motherly love as fierce and strong as a tempest. Perhaps a little too fierce, though, considering She isn't quite ready to share Her beloved sirens with anyone else. 

So if you're skeptical at all about reading this book, push all doubt aside and pick this book up right now. It's a very fast paced read, as Kiera Cass' writing style is not dense at all, and it goes quickly. I know you'll be touched by this beautiful, romantic novel. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Books I Want to Re-Read

Back in September of 2015, I decided I'd go ahead and read all of Harry Potter again. I mean, I've re-read this series before, but I figured it'd be fun to do it once more. So, here we are in March of the following year, and I'm just now finishing up that re-read. It started with me reading each book in a row, to me alternating between Harry Potter and another book, to me re-reading one book per haul of books I brought in. So, to celebrate me finally completing this re-read, I figured I'd make a list of all the books I would like to get around to re-reading this year!

1. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
I re-read this series a couple years ago, and I actually really enjoyed it! For some reason, even though I had practically just read the books at the time, I was on the edge of my seat, desperate to find out what happened next, even though I already knew! So, yes, I would like to re-read these books. However, this would not include the Heroes of Olympus considering I didn't like them all that much.

2. The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
I've never re-read this series before, so I don't know what the re-read experience is like, but I would really like to give it a try. I'd wanted to read these again right before Lady Midnight, but it's certainly too late for that!


3. Warriors by Erin Hunter
Here's another childhood favorite that I would like to re-read. This was a series that really got me into reading, and I just want to throw myself into this world once more! 

4. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
I read this book once when I was first learning about the World Wars in school, and it's always been one of my favorites. I think it'd be fun to read it again now that I've forgotten so much, and see what I take from it. 

5. The Selection by Kiera Cass
Here's another series that I personally enjoyed but have not re-read. Especially with the Crown coming out, I want to re-read all these books. 

So those were 5 books/series that I want to re-read sometime in the future! What books do you want to re-read?