Monday, 13 February 2017

Sarah's Review of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2


Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is the Eighth Story in the Harry Potter series, and it takes place nineteen years later.

This book is actually a screen play so it isn't written in the normal fashion that we have come to know and love from J.K. Rowling of the Harry Potter series. But that doesn't spoil anything! It was different to see it written out that way, but once you get started you hardly even notice it's a play because the storyline and the movement of the characters dialogue is so engaging. It is a very easy read and as the acts are short it was very easy to read in increments or continuously.

In Harry Potter and The Cursed Child we see Harry as a grown up man. Harry is now working at the Ministry of Magic, is married to Ginny and together they have three school-aged children. Harry Potter never had it easy growing up and is still finding things difficult as an adult.

Harry is still struggling with his past as it doesn't want to stay in the past where it belongs. Harry's youngest son, Albus, is struggling with being a Potter and the legacy that entails, something he didn't want.

Without giving too much away, we find the past and present coming together in a terrifying way. Both father and son have to be honest and put their pride aside to work together. All while realizing that sometimes the darkness come from the most unexpected places.

It was very comforting to begin the story with familiar characters whom still possessed their original personalities. I was very glad that Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny had very much of the same characteristics just in a more grown up atmosphere. Even without the descriptions other than stage directions, you could still get a very good sense of their characters and their personalities through their spoken language.

Harry's youngest son, Albus, is whom the story centers upon. And we see him struggle with beginning school at Hogwarts and living up to his father's name. We also see a very unlikely friendship develop right from the beginning. Albus takes very quickly to a boy named Scorpius Malfoy. Yes, Draco Malfoy's son. And despite the relationship between Harry and Draco, the two boys quickly become best friends. And through their trials and series of unfortunate events, we find that they are able to teach their father's something about true friendship and ultimately bring Harry and Draco closer together. Draco's character has grown a lot since we last saw him.

I thoroughly enjoyed how raw the emotions were for all of the characters involved. We see how aging can mature us into something we never saw coming. We also bear witness to Harry's uncertainty as a parent just because of his childhood experience. But it also shows us how what happened to us in the past does not have to pre-determine our future. What happened in the past to Harry, not having a dad and being treated poorly, does not need to be repeated. Harry can shape his own children's lives for the good even though he didn't have anything to compare it to from his childhood. Harry shows us that we should learn from our past and strive for better, while continuously moving forward. The friendship between Albus and Scorpius shows what true friendship is and how strong of a bond it can hold.

The whole idea with the time turner was fantastic. It shows us how, even though we may feel insignificant at times, what we do can and will determine the future and the course of not only our lives, but the lives of those around us. We all play a part in this world and we all make an impact, whether big or small. We are all important in the roles we play in life and we have a significant effect on the lives of those around us, even if we may not feel that way. Remember, you are important.

If you are a huge Harry Potter fan like myself, and you have not yet read this, then I suggest you get your hands on a copy today! You will enjoy it! And even if the style isn't quite the same, at least you will know where the story has gone and what Harry Potter and the gang are up to now. Happy reading!



Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Sarah's Review of City of Slaves by Stephen R. Burns


In Stephen R. Burns' second installment of the Desolate Kingdom Series we once again are entered into a world one hundred years after the angels had brought the Storms that had almost eliminated all of humanity. Only one city remained, and it was located on the West coast. People in this city thought they were safe.
They were wrong. Instead, the angels came back and brutally killed a third of the city, while taking the other two thirds as slaves. Cale Edsen (Sendz) was a soldier who had survived, one of the only ones, but the horrors he had seen and what he had failed to do still haunted him. So for nine months he had turned to the bottle, living along the alleys of the Empty Gate, the worst part of the city, yet the only part that hadn't been taken by the angels. Cale thought this was it, that his life was over. But then he killed one of the creatures with his bare hands. Hands that were oddly stronger than they should have been and resembled the creature he had just killed.
But his story's not over yet. In City of Slaves, the angels know exactly who and what he is and they are coming for him.

This story takes place roughly nine months since the last book left off with many new characters. We were briefly introduced to Cale in the first novel, but this book is about his life and his world. We learn a lot about the angels, the city, and Cale himself. The brutalities that he had to endure and the life he has had to survive. We are also introduced to a very strong heroin, Naz, who proves that family isn't always what we are born into.

Burns writes with intensity and emotion that you are drawn into the book, right into action, from the first page. I enjoyed how the two main characters were so strong and substantial. Both his male lead and his female lead exhibited such endurance and modeled such power and firmness. All of Burns' characters have both masculine and feminine qualities that make them so endearing and equal.

The words Burns pens to paper depict so much more than a story. This story helps us to escape from the realities of life. No matter how bad our day is, or what we are facing, Cale's world is so much worse, and for a brief moment in time we are able to put our own worries aside. We find that our perspectives can change or be challenged and we can learn from their mistakes without having to make them ourselves. We find ourselves growing with the characters. A real life lesson I found taken away after reading is that family does not always mean blood relatives. Sometimes it's just the love and support we show each other that makes us family. We should never take those we love for granted. Unconditional love is just that, unconditional. How far would you go to save the ones you love?

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Sarah's Review of Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs

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Tempest Rising is a paranormal teen romance novel written by Tracy Deebs. It is about a young girl, sixteen, named Tempest Maguire. On land she loves living along the coastline of California and loves surfing even more. She takes care of her brothers and her dad, ever since her mom left. She also loves her long time boyfriend, Mark. Yet she holds a secret. One that has been pulling at her, pulling her under, towards the ocean. Among the water her secret hides. She is half mermaid, inherited from her mother who returned to the ocean years ago and left her to take care of her family. But now with her seventeenth birthday looming, Tempest is left with her own decisions to make. Decisions that are being made even more complicated due to a handsome newcomer named Kona, who's whole existence hints at something otherworldly. Tempest's heart is at stake, but danger also lurks threatening her life. The water's hold a world full of mystery and secrets, romance and adventure, but is it safe for Tempest?

This was the first paranormal romance book that I have read involving mermaids and I found it quite intriguing. I especially liked Tempest's character and how determined she was. Even though everything in her existence was pulling her towards the ocean's calling, she was determined to live a human life, unlike that of her mother, whom she felt abandoned them. Tempest felt a duty to her family and her friends. She had her brothers to take care of, and her father. And she was determined not to make the same mistakes her mother had. But we find Tempest's character growing even more during throughout the novel. She learns from what comes her way and takes it all in stride while trying to figure out the best possible life for her and for her family. She doesn't come across as a materialistic, egotistical, selfish person at all. You can tell from the writing that Tempest's character feels with her whole heart and wants to do the right thing, not only for herself but for everyone who is in her life. Tempest feels a whole range of emotions, including guilt, which plagues her throughout the story. The rest of the characters are just as strong even as secondary characters. It's easy to get wrapped up in all of the feelings they are experiencing through Deebs' phenomenal words.

 

The author, Tracy Deebs, does a fantastic job of pulling you into a world you could hardly imagine. Even before we enter the mysterious world of the ocean and the dangers and secrets that await there, her writing weaves a magical tale of romance and friendship that spans the times.

 

There are some realistic and thought provoking themes throughout Tempest Rising. Even though it is based in a paranormal world, we still see the struggles between right and wrong, good and evil. We see the struggle not only internally with Tempest as she struggles to understand her feelings and obligations, but also externally between Tempest and the danger lurking in the ocean. Another prevalent theme is of course love. It couldn't be a paranormal romance without it. We see Tempest struggle with the desires of her heart, but above all else, we see that love can conquer.

 

This book made you dive in and get lost in the pages. The characters are strong, well developed people whom one could easily relate to, aspire to be, or dream about. Tracy Deebs weaves a fantastical world of magic, romance, mystery and suspense. I am glad I picked up this book.

 

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Sarah's Review of The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

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The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins is a psychological thriller like no other. It is written using only certain times of the day, the morning and the evening, with recall like no other. We meet our main character, Rachel, right away. We see life through her eyes and every day is basically the same. She takes the same train commuting in the morning as in the evening. Each day she travels the same stretch of track, passing by the same homes, stopping at the same stops. At one of these stops she has been watching a couple going about their ways on their terrace. She sees them every day and feels like she knows them. She even refers to them as Jess and Jason and believes they have the perfect life. Just like the life she recently lost. But one day she sees something shocking at their place and in that instant, everything changes. She comes forward to the police with what she has seen, but they view her as unreliable. Is she really unreliable? Wanting to be taken seriously, she quickly finds herself entangled up in the investigation and the personal lives of all of those involved.

The novel begins slowly, introducing the main character as mundane and boring, but an alcoholic. It took a while to get into the book, but once things start happening I found it hard to put down.
Hawkins writes through varying viewpoints, but never strays from her morning and evening structure of the book. It's imperative to have these other viewpoints in order to gain valuable information into the case and the lives of those involved. Rachel is an alcoholic who has trouble remembering things due to her blacking out, which in turn sets her up for a lot of self doubt and mystery. It lets us into the life of an alcoholic and how she feels regarding her struggles with dependency and her life as a whole. I found that all of the women took on roles of the battered woman or of being weak. I didn't feel as though there was a strong role model or anything of the sort throughout the book. It was more a case of who had it worse.

As a psychological thriller, it is really disturbing to find out that every single character has something to hide and nobody can be trusted. As their lives unravel and truths become told, it is unsettling to say the least. It really makes you view other people a little bit differently after reading this. However, this is quite the work of fiction. The lies the characters in this book reveal are shocking and huge and everyone seems to be hiding something.

The book is an absolute page-turner once you get past the beginning. But, you have to get past that part. I know a lot of people who put the book down part way in. I stuck it out and am glad I did. While it wasn't my favourite thriller, it was entertaining.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Sarah's Review of Unrivaled by Alyson Noel

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Unrivaled is the first book in Alyson Noel's newest series, Beautiful Idols. It follows the lives of a few people, who are just trying to make it in Hollywood. Everyone wants to be known for something.
The book centers around the hottest new starlet, Madison Brooks. Who wouldn't think twice of doing anything to get to the top.
Layla Harrison wants to be become a top writer behind a desk in New York. Aster Amirpour is getting tired of being told by directors that she's not the right kind of ethnic for the role. Tommy Phillips is dying to get his hands on a twelve string guitar and rocket to stardom, all while making his way back into his absent father's life.
Layla, Aster and Tommy find themselves, along with a few others, invited VIP into the glamorous and not so glamorous nightlife where they are dragged into a high stakes competition to target the famous Madison Brooks. Just as the competition starts to look promising, Madison Brooks disappears. And the others find themselves at the heart of the investigation.

This young adult novel carries such a sense of drama, suspense and intrigue. It takes a closer look into the world of the young Hollywood and the not so nice aspects of a star-studded town.

I love the way this book is set up. It actually begins with the disappearance of Madison Brooks and then backtracks about a month to where we meet the main characters and they begin what will eventually lead to her disappearance. In the beginning it was a little hard to keep track of all of the characters, but I quickly caught on and I found the story to just flow perfectly from one chapter to the next, even with the changing of viewpoints.

All of Noel's characters are strongly written with very distinct personalities. Each story is captivating and you are left wondering where the lies and deceit are. I found myself looking back after I finished the book to see if I missed any clues only to find that they were hidden for a reason. Quite the mystery.

The way Alyson Noel describes the situations and settings leaves your mind open to picture things accurately and completely, leaving nothing to chance unless it is supposed to be withheld. A good mystery always leave open-ended questions and clues throughout the storyline, delivering information only as it is needed and Alyson Noel handles this perfectly. I think this will series will be on the #1 list for years to come. Personally I can't wait to sink into the second novel in Beautiful Idols.

If you are a fan of Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars then you will instantly love this new series!