Friday, August 26, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Authors: J.K Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 308
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Purchase this book:
AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

Nineteen years later, the story of Harry Potter continues. This time though, it's told by the next generation. On Platform 9 3/4, both Albus Potter and Rose Granger-Weasley are preparing themselves for the beginning of their Hogwarts careers. Neither of them knows just how crazy their lives will get the moment they board the Hogwarts Express.

Can I just begin this review by saying that the authors of this novel sound like they could be in, like, a band or something.

"Introducing.... the Jays! J.K Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jaaaack Thorne!" 

Okay now that that's been said...

This novel/script thing was amazing. I read in in, like, 3 hours or something. I couldn't put it down. I was reading a mile a minute, and it was all very emotional. I mean, it's been years since any of us have cracked open a Harry Potter book for the first time, and I know that I thought it was all over when I read the last page of the last book. It was almost like Deja Vu, opening up this book. Of course, there are a few major differences. 

Firstly, this is a new gang. Yes, our original characters are featured, but for the most part, this story follows Albus Severus Potter, and his best friend Scorpius Malfoy. And then, of course, there's the fact that this isn't told in novel format. It's told through mostly dialogue, because it's in script format. 

I was originally worried that the whole script thing would be difficult to read, but I found that it actually flowed really well. It goes pretty fast given that you don't have to read a "he said" followed by a description every time someone talks.  Are there a few holes in the story that are only filled through visually seeing the play? Yes. Did it completely ruin my reading experience? No. 

I can see why some people don't like this book. Some crazy, unbelievable stuff happens. We just got a lot of new canon information. And yes, some things do seem a little too fanfiction-y. However, I still gave this one five stars, because when you brush all the technicalities and analytical stuff aside, you're left with a suspenseful, emotional, gripping story that left me in a state of complete disarray. 

The characters are fantastic. The dynamic between the characters is perfect. The dialogue is full of witty, clever, humorous lines, and the book brought back so many different emotions. This is something for fans that never really finished the last book. This is something for people that have wanted the world of Harry Potter to live on and on and on. Always. 

So just go into this one with an open mind, and don't try to attach it to the series. It's its own thing. Five stars. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Versatile Blogger Award

It's my pleasure to announced that I was nominated for the "Versatile Blogger" Award over on the blog LiveLove&Laugh:). This is a great blog full of positive, happy messages, so go check it out! Before I get into this post, I'll list out the rules.

R u l e s 

- Thank and link back to the blogger that nominated you
- Share the award on your blog
- Nominate around 10 other bloggers
- Share seven facts about yourself

S e v e n  F a c t s

- I love falling asleep to the sound of a rainstorm. It's very soothing. In fact, I just love the sound of rainstorms in general
- I'm low high key obsessed with Hamilton
- I love doing Yoga, and I typically do it twice a day
- I have a newfound love of bagels
-  I have an aloe vera plant that I've yet to name (ideas??)
- My favorite fruit is a peach. I love chopping them up and putting them in my vanilla yogurt substitute
- I'm lactose intolerant

N o m i n e e s 

- Lara Liz @ Another Teen Reader
- Eve @ Edge of Night
- Annika @ Hiding Books
- Cilla @ Paved with Books
- A.S Damea @ Reviewing Dreamer
- Eve @ Twist in the Taile

Those are all my nominees. They're all awesome bloggers, and everything they post is just fantastic, so go check them out! Don't feel pressured to post if I nominated you. It's completely voluntary. If you do, make sure to let me know! On the flip side, feel free to join in even if I didn't nominate you.

That's all I've got for you today. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Six of Crows

Title: Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 465
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Purchase this book:
Amazon • Barnes & NobleBook Depository

In the dirtiest, grimiest depths of Ketterdam, Kaz Brekker makes a deal. Or perhaps a death wish is a better word.

In the dirtiest, grimiest depths of Ketterdam, Kaz Brekker makes a death wish. And he brings a handful of companions with him.

For 4 million krunge apiece, Kaz agrees to break into the Ice Court, the most heavily fortified court in the world, and find the man responsible for creating a drug that's killing Grisha. Of course, there's the matter that the Ice Court has never been successfully broken into.

I. Love. Six of Crows. Oh my gosh. I mean, I was expecting to be let down given how long it took me to get through it (a month), but I LOVED it. It was beautifully written, beautifully executed, and beautifully done. But where do I start?

Characters. My favorite part of this book was the characters. For the most part, our main characters are Kaz, Inej, Jesper, Wylan, Nina, and Matthias. They're the team breaking into the Ice Court. And I know, usually 6 characters is quite a bit to keep track of, but each one is truly different and special. Each character is developed, complex, and flawed. We have Kaz, the head of the Dregs, which is the thievery group the six come from. Kaz is the brains of the group. Inej is Kaz's right hand, and she's an acrobat. There's nothing she can't scale. Jesper's the one who'll crack a joke whenever he deems appropriate (or inappropriate), and he's a good shot. Wylan's super smart, and I'm high-key shipping him with Jesper. We have Nina, the Grisha Heartrender who's sassy, saucy, and sarcastic. And then there's Matthias, stone cold, stiff hearted, and grudgingly in love with Nina. Who's my favorite? I'm still unable to decide between Jesper, Wylan, and Inej. 

So the characters do make up a great bit of my love for this book, but something else I appreciated was how Leigh Bardugo didn't make having LGBT+ characters that big of a deal. I feel like some authors tend to make it seem like having said characters is an enormous thing, and they act like they need to be hugely recognized for being so "forward" and "out there". But Leigh Bardugo didn't even make it seem like anything was different from any of the (start of any) heterosexual relationships. And I don't know, I liked how she made it just another part of the story, just another part of life. 

Moving onto the actual plot, I loved the twists and turns. It was completely unpredictable. And while I did take a half star off for being a little slow moving at parts, I feel that's often inevitable in high fantasy. But especially at the end, I was on the edge of my seat, clutching the book in terror as we ran through the storyline. 

I would highly recommend you read Six of Crows. It's not necessary that you read Leigh Bardugo Grisha Trilogy beforehand. They're completely unrelated, and I would've been fine skipping over the trilogy and jumping right into this amazing story. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Weird Things in Fantasy

When you hear the word "fantasy", the first things that come to mind are among the lines of, "magic" or "impossible". And while things like potions, dragons, and spells certainly fall under the list of things I love about fantasy, there are just some oddities that occur in practically every YA fantasy, and I just have difficulty believing them. In today's post I'll be talking all about those peculiarities.

1. Nobody has to use the bathroom. Like... ever. 

This is true for a lot of books, not just fantasy, but it's just so annoying! We read all about the fantastic 14 course feasts the characters enjoy, but where does it all go? I mean, I wouldn't mind living in a world where I never have to use the bathroom, but it just doesn't seem likely that such a world would ever exist. Unless, I suppose, it's also a world where nobody has to eat or drink.

2. Relig-ion? More like Relig-one!

Okay, I apologize for that pitiful attempt at humor. But (shout out to my friend for pointing this out) it seems like most fantasy worlds only have one religion, and all the people in that world practice that one religion. I mean seriously, if you can think of a book series that includes multiple religions, please let me know!

3. Prununcyatshun (Pronounced: 'pronunciation'

What is everything so dang hard to pronounce in fantasy? I don't mind tweaking spellings or creating new words, so long as I can still read it, but must it be hard to sound it out? Not to point fingers, Leigh Bardugo, but we can't read your mind!

4. I don't 'technology' 

 It would appear that as smart as people can be in fantasy worlds, technology and computers are not a thing.  Why? Does it suddenly become Science Fiction if rooms have light bulbs instead of candlelight?

5. Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love

So I don't know if anyone else picked up on this, but I feel like the lines between different sexualities are pretty blurred in fantasy. Meaning that society tends to be more accepting, or not even acknowledge a difference between sexualities. (Which is awesome!)

Okay so these are my five fantasy oddities. Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Things Are Not What They Seem

Title: Things Are Not What They Seem
Authors: Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Fantasy
Pages: 268
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Source: Received from the authors in exchange for an honest review
Purchase this book:
AmazonBarnes & Noble

It's just your typical, hot summer day in Central Park when a strange pigeon lands next to Jennifer as she sat watching her younger brother. To her complete bewilderment, the pigeon spoke to her (in nothing less than a posh British accent). Moments later, a hawk threatens Jennifer and the pigeon. And so begins a mad chase across the city as Jennifer tries to help the pigeon regain his human body and escape the evil, talking hawk.

This book had its ups and downs for me. Let's start with the ups.

The story was hilarious, engaging, and fun. The characters were unique, and each had an individual personality. The character of the speaking pigeon was a humorous little bird, leaving me laughing upon multiple occasions. And the other characters involved in the story: Jenny's brother James, James' friend Sleepy, and Jenny's friend Kaytlyn all brought interesting things to the story. 

And I thought the story itself was an interesting one. The plot wasn't completely predictable, and I did feel emotionally connected to the characters and what happened to them. Something else I really enjoyed was Jenny's passion for Latin. A now extinct language, it's not exactly a normal hobby for a young middle school girl. Recently, Emma @emmmabooks on YouTube uploaded her #WENEEDDIVERSEHOBBIES video. In this creative video she talks about how the majority of main characters in stories don't have interesting, diverse hobbies. It's all the same stuff, and usually plays an enormous role in the plot. Seeing someone so passionate about something so unique was really refreshing, and reminded me of Emma's video. (So check it out if you haven't!) 

However, I must say that a few things annoyed me. Firstly, parts of the story seemed way too easy. I hated how some things just came together out of pure luck. I'd be more okay with it if it had only been a couple times that events were a little too convenient, but it seemed like every potential challenge was evaded because the characters lucked out. 

Another small annoyance was how everybody was convinced the talking pigeon was a ventriloquism act! I'm sorry, but there's no way for it to be ventriloquism if the pigeon is 12 feet away and nobody's lips are parted. I get that the authors were trying to make people disbelieving of something that shouldn't exist, but literally every single person was assuming it was ventriloquism when it's honestly more likely that the pigeon is actually talking. It just got so annoying how nobody would accept that the pigeon was talking. 

Other than the stated problems with the novel, I did enjoy it. I thought it was funny, fast moving, and unique, and I'd recommend it to anyone seeking a fun, light, middle grade fantasy! 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

July Wrap Up [2016]

This month was a much better reading and blogging month for me, so I can proudly present a full, complete wrap up for July. 


I picked up a copy of Isla and the Happily Ever After, the final book in the Anna and the French Kiss trilogy (despite the fact that I've yet to read Lola and the Boy Next Door... oops!) Then, I went book shopping with a friend and finally got my hands on a hardcover of Insurgent. I've had every book in that trilogy, including the short story collection except for Insurgent for the past two years- it was time. On that outing, I also bought The Square Root of Summer, and was gifted I'll Give You the Sun. Then, me having no self control, bought Alexander Hamilton, a biography about- you guessed it- Alexander Hamilton, and also Hamilton: the Revolution. I've started both of the aforementioned books and am enjoying them greatly. 

  • This month started off with a bridal shower in which I ran into a bunch of relatives who all seemed to know me, despite me not knowing them. (#awkward)
  • I celebrated the 4th of July at home with my family, and then travelled back to my hometown to visit friends of mine. (Que Hamilton, insane heat, late nights, and sleeping in.) 
  • At home, I've continued to run with my cross country team, preparing for our season to begin, and ended up going to cross country camp for a week, which was a BLAST. 

 Shout out to me for getting done with THREE review requests this month! 

I'm catching up on my Goodreads Reading Challenge! I'm 52% of the way through, having read 39/75 books. 

Here's a sneak peek of some of the things you'll see next month:

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Interview with Author Tiffany McDaniel

Hello! I was lucky enough to interview Tiffany McDaniel, the author of the amazing novel, The Summer That Melted Everything. I gave this book five stars- so be sure to check out my review! I hope you enjoy getting to know Tiffany McDaniel.

Hello and welcome to The Tree of Books! Could you introduce yourself? 
I’m an Ohio poet and novelist who gets really excited (too excited really) by a hot fudge sundae and a good Saturday night movie.  

Your novel, The Summer That Melted Everything, is about to be published. What is it about?
The Summer that Melted Everything is about an eighty-four-year-old man named Fielding Bliss, who is looking back on his life during one summer in 1984 when he was thirteen-years-old and his father, Autopsy Bliss, invited the devil to their small town called Breathed, Ohio.  Who answers the invitation ends up being a boy in overalls and bruises.  This boy’s arrival comes the first day of a hell-hot heat-wave that carries through the entire course of the summer.  This is not just a story about the heat, but a story of everything that melted in that heat.  Family, friendships, innocence, and even lives.  Puddles of all of these things melted down.  That is what this story is.  A man trying to survive ferrying these puddles, which to him have become oceans he must cross to once again find the bliss of his name.

What inspired you to write this novel?
I always say what inspires me are the characters themselves.  To me, my characters feel as real as any of us, so I’m inspired by my characters.  To do right by them.  I only hope I tell their truths as honestly as I can.  That I’ve given them their authentic life and the legs to stand on their own two feet.    

What genre(s) do you typically write/read. 
I typically write literary fiction.  But I read all kinds of genres from literary fiction to mystery, horror, short stories, poetry, non-fiction, YA, picture books.  I like my books like wildflowers.  Of all colors and mix.  

Why do you like this/these genre(s)? 
For literary fiction I love that the story is more about the characters.  You get to dive deep into the ocean with the characters and really uncover who they are and what lies on the sea-bed floor.  As far as other genres, they all have something special to offer.  Whether it’s a murder mystery or the brief flicker of a short story.  To me a book is beautiful on its own.  Its genre doesn’t matter to me, as long as the story and the writing is something I want to hoard in my soul.

Why do you write? 
Writing is the first thing I remember doing as a child outside of any external influence or direction.  As a child I was driven by that internal gear, and as I got older I realized I was writing story.  I wouldn’t realize writing was a profession I could have until much older, when I was in middle school and the guidance counselor came to my class to talk to us about what we wanted to be when we got older.  Writing was just so wonderful to me that I didn’t think I could make a life out of it.  My parents had jobs, very hard jobs that made them tired and not a lot of money.  So I thought that’s what I would have to do.  Have a job I didn’t like.  Though it took me eleven long, hard years to get a publishing contract, realizing I could have writing as a career, was like being told I could pocket all the stars in the night sky and have light with me forever.  Writing is my compass.  My lighthouse safely guiding my ship to shore.  I’m lost without it.

What do you do when you get writer's block? 
I’m pretty superstitious, so I don’t even mention it.  It feels like ‘Bloody Mary’ to me, as if you call its name it’ll appear.  It’s my boogeyman, so I just avoid saying its name.

What authors/books have impacted you as both a reader and a writer?
I came around to the literary heavyweights late in life, having spent my childhood and adolescent glued to R.L. Stine books.  So I can’t say any one author inspired me, but I will say my favorite authors include Ray Bradbury, Donna Tartt, Toni Morrison, Shirley Jackson, Poet James Wright, Agatha Christie, and Kazuo Ishiguro.  They all write magic.

What’s your favorite things about being an author?
Being introduced to the characters and falling in love with them.

Do you have any writing quirks?
I have one quirk, but it’s just too weird to say.

What are some things you wish you’d known when you first started writing seriously? 
That the journey to publication is long and difficult.  I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen.  I wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine.  So it was eleven years of rejection and fear I’d never be published.  It’s a hard journey to get a foot in the publishing door.  Especially when you write literary fiction, like I do.  Publishers don’t want to take risks on literary fiction because it could be a financial loss as it’s not as lucrative as say genre or commercial fiction.  I really believed I’d never get published.

What are some of the most interesting things you’ve learned through writing?
I’d say the process of getting a book published itself.  Writing the book is the easy part.  Getting it published is the hard part.  That to me is interesting.  Unfortunate, but interesting.  

What advice can you offer aspiring authors?
I feel for those writers still on the journey to publication.  To them I say never, ever give up.  Never turn your back on your dreams.  You owe it to yourself to stay the course.  It will happen for you.  You will get that rocket ship ride into the stars one day. Believe it.

Describe your routine to get in the writing mood. 
I don’t really have a routine.  I’m pretty boring in that I just sit there and type.  As long as I have story, I’m in the mood to tell it.

Do you listen to music as you write? 
Sometimes.  Never anything upbeat.  It’s usually sad instrumental music.  Rarely do I listen to anything with lyrics because I find them distracting.  Unless they’re lyrics that would make me want to paint my walls black.

What did you want to be when you were younger? 
A writer.  A witch most definitely, like one of the Sanderson sisters from Hocus Pocus or the cartoon witch from the Bugs Bunny cartoon.  I’m still waiting on my flying broom.  And yes, I still very much want to be a witch.  At least Halloween lets me pretend I can be.  Perhaps one day I’ll write a spell book…


It was such a pleasure getting to talk to Tiffany McDaniel, and I hope you pick up her new novel, The Summer That Melted Everything, when it's released on July 26th!