BOOK REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

3._SY475_Title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Author: J.K. Rowling

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 34 mins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Read Start Date: October 14, 2019

Read Finish Date: October 18, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.

Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.

My Review: I have read this book 3 times in all, and everytime I enjoy it as much as the first. I really love the writing style of J.K. Rowling. It is very tongue-in-cheek, light, and just overall super fun! In fact, the entire story is just fun! A young orphan boy forced to grow up with his nightmare relatives, live in a closet beneath the stairs, finds out that he is a wizard…and not just any wizard, but the wizard who, as an infant, lived through an attempted murder on his life by the infamous dark wizard “He Who Shall Not Be Named.”

Suddenly, his life changes from one of misery to one of greatness and prophecy, and he is whisked away by a half-Giant to his first year of wizarding school, where he meets other kids his own age who also have magic powers. Harry makes friends (for this first time in his life) and they get into all sorts of hijinks at the school: from fighting trolls to hiding illegal dragons, wearing invisibility cloaks and going searching for a hurt unicorn in the Forbidden Forest. I was always constantly amazed at the imagination of J.K. Rowling — for example, jelly beans of every flavor — even vomit and beeswax!

Although this book is written for children, adults of all ages will find this book equally great and fun. This book is a definite read (and re-read!). I cannot recommend this book enough.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle

10838718Title: Many Waters

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Book Length: 332 pages

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Classics, Science Fiction, Children’s Fiction

Read Start Date: July 31, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 23, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Some things have to be believed to be seen.

Sandy and Dennys have always been the normal, run-of-the-mill ones in the extraordinary Murry family. They garden, make an occasional A in school, and play baseball. Nothing especially interesting has happened to the twins until they accidentally interrupt their father’s experiment.

Then the two boys are thrown across time and space. They find themselves alone in the desert, where, if they believe in unicorns, they can find unicorns, and whether they believe or not, mammoths and manticores will find them.

The twins are rescued by Japheth, a man from the nearby oasis, but before he can bring them to safety, Dennys gets lost. Each boy is quickly embroiled in the conflicts of this time and place, whose populations includes winged seraphim, a few stray mythic beasts, perilous and beautiful nephilim, and small, long lived humans who consider Sandy and Dennys giants. The boys find they have more to do in the oasis than simply getting themselves home–they have to reunite an estranged father and son, but it won’t be easy, especially when the son is named Noah and he’s about to start building a boat in the desert.

This is the fourth book in the Time Quintet series.

My Past Reviews:

See my review of A Wrinkle in Time: Time Quintet Book 1 here.

See my review of A Wind in the Door: Time Quintet Book 2 here.

See my review of A Swiftly Tilting Planet: Time Quintet Book 3 here.

My Review: The events of this book seem to take place somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd book. Unlike the other 3 books, this book was heavy in the Christian overtones. I would say that this book was nothing but a Christian overtone, as basically it is the story of Noah, before, and up to the time that he built, the ark. I wasn’t too thrilled about this book. Meg and Charles Wallace are not really part of this book, and only the twins Sandy and Dennys (my least favorite characters) are part of the story.

The overall story is rather dry — nothing really happens, and it is rather boring. I think that this is why it took me almost 2 months to read. I didn’t dislike it though, which is why I am giving it 3 stars instead of 2. Since I doubt this story will impact the remaining books in the series, this one can probably be skipped without much ado.

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

50033Title: Dandelion Wine

Author: Ray Bradbury

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 30 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Classics, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

Read Start Date: September 22, 2019

Read Finish Date: September 28, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: The summer of ’28 was a vintage season for a growing boy. A summer of green apple trees, mowed lawns, and new sneakers. Of half-burnt firecrackers, of gathering dandelions, of Grandma’s belly-busting dinner. It was a summer of sorrows and marvels and gold-fuzzed bees. A magical, timeless summer in the life of a twelve-year-old boy named Douglas Spaulding—remembered forever by the incomparable Ray Bradbury.

My Review: I did not love this book, although it was certainly unique. Unlike other books, this book isn’t so much about people, but rather a town — Green Town, a small town in rural Illinois. There is not a main human character, but the book describes the town through individual stories of the people that live there.

Since there wasn’t really a main character, I didn’t feel any connection whatsoever to the characters, nor did I really care when stuff happened to them. And the pace of the book was super slow, and the sound of the narrators voice reading the audiobook was so monotone, that my mind would often drift away to other thoughts. I had to even rewind the story several times because when I came back from the mind drift, I didn’t understand what was happening anymore.

I am giving it a 3 instead of a 2 because there were some chapters that I did like, so it wasn’t all terrible. I’ve read some reviews of people who really love this book. So, I don’t know. Maybe I just missed something.

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Death Cure by James Dashner

7864437.jpgTitle: The Death Cure

Author: James Dashner

Book Length (Audiobook): 8 hours 55 mins

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Read Start Date: August 25, 2019

Read Finish Date: August 30, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: It’s the end of the line. WICKED has taken everything from Thomas: his life, his memories, and now his only friends—the Gladers. But it’s finally over. The trials are complete, after one final test. Will anyone survive What WICKED doesn’t know is that Thomas remembers far more than they think. And it’s enough to prove that he can’t believe a word of what they say. The truth will be terrifying. Thomas beat the Maze. He survived the Scorch. He’ll risk anything to save his friends. But the truth might be what ends it all. The time for lies is over.

Past Reviews:

You can find my review of the first book, The Maze Runner, here.

You can find my review of the second book, The Scorch Trials, here.

The Death Cure is the third and final book of the series.

My Review: This book was terrible. I mean, really. For so many reasons. The synopsis of this book makes it sound like some thrilling adventure — in reality it was so boring. For example, the main characters seriously spent pages looking for a hotel, finding a hotel, and then going to sleep in a hotel. Snore. And, how is there such a thing as a hotel in the first place? The whole Earth has been more or less wiped out by a virus, but don’t worry guys, the Hilton is still operating!

The characters also went into a Cafe. Again, seriously? Where do they get coffee from? It sure doesn’t grow in Denver (where the Cafe was). This did not make any sense. Also, the characters spend time looking for a taxi — need I say more?

Lastly, this book was utterly pointless. So Thomas survived the trials, good for him. And for what, oh yeah, I forget the variables and the patterns to build a “blueprint” for a cure. Ugh. Not how vaccines are developed. Besides this, nothing happens in this book. Basically, the characters just going around in Denver and the author describes how the virus is affecting people. Okay, that’s interesting I guess, but not for the FINAL book of a TRILOGY! This book is supposed to wrap things up, not introduce new concepts. It really seemed like the author had no concept on where to go with this book and so just did more world building — but again, not appropriate for a final book.

I was super disappointed in this book and it really made me question why I even wasted my time reading the whole series.

 

BOOK REVIEW: The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

7631105Title: The Scorch Trials

Author: James Dashner

Book Length (Audiobook): 10 hours 23 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Read Start Date: August 17, 2019

Read Finish Date: August 22, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze would mean freedom for him and the Gladers. But WICKED isn’t done yet. Phase Two has just begun. The Scorch.

There are no rules. There is no help. You either make it or you die.

The Gladers have two weeks to cross through the Scorch—the most burned-out section of the world. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

Friendships will be tested. Loyalties will be broken. All bets are off. 

There are others now. Their survival depends on the Gladers’ destruction—and they’re determined to survive.

My Review: This is the second book in the Maze Runner series. At the end of the first book, the Gladers are rescued and taken to a WICKED facility. The start of the second book puts them back into another “trial”, where they have 2 weeks to reach the “Safe Haven”. The Safe Haven is a long way trek across arid desert lands. Along the way the characters meet up with “Cranks” who are people infected with the virus “The Flare”, who become crazies. Oh and Thomas slept. Like a LOT.

I didn’t really like the first book because I thought the whole premise of the books was stupid. Essentially, a virus has broken out globally and the Gladers were put through this first trial (the Maze) to find a cure? I mean, that makes literally no sense at all. How does going through a maze and fighting creatures help develop a vaccine? Did Dashner not pass high school science classes? Does the CDC set up Mazes to find the cure for Ebola? No. They don’t, because that’s stupid.

But ok. Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to give this series another shot and I read The Scorch Trials. Was it a huge mistake, eh. The book was entertaining, I will give it that. There was a lot more action than in the first book (although I have read reviews that say otherwise), which was good, and the author started to give more clues as to what was happening. But that is again where it got really stupid. Okay, so now, the Gladers have to get through these trials because the scientists at WICKED are looking at “variables” to try to find a vaccine. Again, I have to ask myself — huh? That is not how viruses work, sorry. Which is why I gave it only 3 stars, because the plot is not just unbelievable, it is totally ludicrous.

As for things like character development, I don’t really feel anything for the characters. Teresa betrays Thomas, oh well. (Although maybe she doesn’t because it was all an act?) There is a sort of love triangle now? Ho hum. I’m just unimpressed. And to be honest, if I have to hear the word “Shuck” (meaning F***) one more time, I will scream. It was like everything was a Shuck. This Shuck door. Shut your Shuck Face — I mean the word isn’t even used correctly! And it is SO NOT COOL! Sorry, but this book is not Battlestar Galactica.

BOOK REVIEW: The Lonesome Era by Jon Allen

45179333._SX318_Title: The Lonesome Era

Author: Jon Allen

Book Length: 424 pages

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Young Adult, Comic

Read Start Date: August 19, 2019

Read Finish Date: August 19, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Cute animal characters tell the tale of an awkward, coming-of-age, unreciprocated queer crush in Rust Belt America.

Camden is a cat! Camden is also crushing hard on his best buddy and terrible influence, Jeremiah. Young, bored, and trapped in their slowly decomposing Rust Belt town, Camden tamps down his burgeoning feelings for the local ne’er-do-well and allows himself to be dragged along with every awful idea, every hair-brained plan, and every threat to life and limb Jeremiah can come up with. The cartoon cast belies the ever-increasing volume of stupid and dangerous risk-taking Camden allows himself to be swept up into, endangering life, limb, and reputation. How much longer can this go on?

My Review: A fast and cute read! I really liked the artwork and found that the main character Camden was relatable. Who hasn’t had a teenage crush on a person that was bad for you? Since I was able to get through the book in about 30 minutes, I didn’t spend too much time thinking — only enjoying. I read a lot of reviews that said that they didn’t like the overall story because Camden is crushing on a guy that makes him feel worthless — but I think that this is all part of the teenage experience (at least mine) and it makes the story even more relatable because of it.

Anyway, you should check this book out and form your own opinions.

10 Book Reviews

Professional Reader

 

 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

BOOK REVIEW: A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle

77276Title: A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Book Length (Audiobook): 7 hours 24 mins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Classics, Science Fiction, Children’s Fiction

Read Start Date: July 24, 2019

Read Finish Date: July 31, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: When fifteen-year-old Charles Wallace Murry shouts out an ancient rune meant to ward off the dark in desperation, a radiant creature appears. It is Gaudior, unicorn and time traveler. Charles Wallace and Gaudior must travel into the past on the winds of time to try to find a Might-Have-Been – a moment in the past when the entire course of events leading to the present can be changed, and the future of Earth – this small, swiftly tilting planet – saved.

This is the third book in the Time Quintet series.

My Past Reviews:

See my review of A Wrinkle in Time: Time Quintet Book 1 here.

See my review of A Wind in the Door: Time Quintet Book 2 here.

My Review: 9 years has passed since the last book. Meg and Calvin are married and expecting their first child. Charles Wallace is now 15, and Mr. Murry still gets calls from the President. On this particular evening, the call he received warns of an imminent nuclear war started by Madog Branzillo. In order to save the world, a time traveling unicorn and Charles Wallace (aided by Meg through Kything) must go into the bodies of the ancestors of Branzillo to change the course of history.

I found this book to be really interesting, as it chronicles the history of a family through several hundred years. I do not want to give too much away, but it starts out with a man and his brother (Maddoc and Gwydyr) coming from Wales to America before even Christopher Columbus. There is a struggle between brothers, which Maddoc wins, and thereafter marries into an indian tribe, and that is where the history begins. Both lines flow with magic, but only Maddoc’s line are “good”, whereas the line of Gwydyr is portrayed as “evil”. The legends of the Indians and the magical myths of the Welsh are passed down through the generations — with each generation using a magical incantation to help them (which is in truth the Rune of St. Patrick).

The Offbeat Unicorn wrote a really good review / summary of the book and its themes. You can read the blog entry here. Frankly, this blogger wrote a better review of A Swiftly Tilting Planet than I ever could, so I urge you to click on the link.

In closing, I liked the book, and I hope that you will too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle

18130Title: A Wind in the Door

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Book Length (Audiobook): 5 hours 27 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Classics, Science Fiction, Children’s Fiction

Read Start Date: July 21, 2019

Read Finish Date: July 24, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Just before Meg Murry’s little brother, Charles Wallace, falls deathly ill, he sees dragons in the vegetable garden. The dragons turn out to be Proginoskes, a cherubim composed out wings and eyes, wind and flame. It is up to Meg and Proginoskes, along with Meg’s friend Calvin, to save Charles Wallace’s life. To do so, they must travel deep within Charles Wallace to attempt to defeat the Echthroi—those who hate—and restore brilliant harmony and joy to the rhythm of creation, the song of the universe.

This is the second book in the Time Quintet series.

My Past Review:

See my review of A Wrinkle in Time: Time Quintet Book 1 here.

My Review: I had never even heard of this book as a kid, and I had never read it before this month, so I was going head first into a dark tunnel without a flashlight.

I liked this book a little less than A Wrinkle in Time. This book was a little hard to follow, and I wasn’t really sure what the point of the story was. Essentially, only a small amount of time has passed between the event of the two books (even though the events of Wrinkle don’t even get an honorable mention), and Charles Wallace is deathly ill because of his mitochondria. While reading the book, I was like huh? How can someone get sick because of mitochondria? Isn’t that the DNA that you inherit from your mom?

Well, after finishing the book. I did a little research on the internet, and it turns out that mitochondria are basically the energy producers in the body’s cells — the batteries if you will. If they are not functioning properly, then the person can get really sick, and it is thought that certain diseases such as autism, Parkinson’s, bipolar disorder, etc. are all caused by mitochondrial dysfunction. Interesting, I guess, but kind of a weird (and complicated) subject for a children’s book. I don’t really remember knowing what DNA was when I was 8-12 years old –but maybe that is good — maybe it teaches children something about science in a fun way?

Anyway, Meg Murry, Calvin O’Keefe and their new friend Proginoskes must go within the body of Charles Wallace in order to save him from the Echthroi (who are basically evil beings), and to restore balance to the “universe” of Charles’ body.

I read some reviews that called this a “christian book”, but I honestly didn’t notice — which is good, because I really dislike being hit over the head with religious themes. So don’t let that description stop you if religious books also bother you.

In general this book has mixed reviews, which is kinda how I feel about it — but I made a promise to myself to finish all the books of this series, so upward and onward!

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

33574273._SX318_Title: A Wrinkle in Time

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Book Length (Audiobook): 6 hours 27 mins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult, Classics, Science Fiction, Children’s Fiction

Read Start Date: July 19, 2019

Read Finish Date: July 21, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Out of this wild night, a strange visitor comes to the Murry house and beckons Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin O’Keefe on a most dangerous and extraordinary adventure – one that will threaten their lives and our universe.

My Review: Although L’Engle wrote it back in the 1960’s, it wasn’t until October, 2017 (when I was in my 30’s), that I read the book for the first time. I never realized that this book had been written so long ago. There is also a movie adaptation of the book (it came out in 2018), but I have never seen it.

Before reading this book for the second time, I also never realized that there are 8 books in total in the series, plus some other books in a different series that ties into the Time Quintet series somehow. This book was originally written for children, but it also has some intriguing aspects for adults, and some interesting themes, especially given when it was written — for example:

  1. Women (and young girls) are given strong roles. The mother is a scientist, and Meg the main character is good at math and science. I wonder how well this was received in the 1960’s. I think that even in 2019, though, it is good to give little girls good role models.
  2. Meg exclaims at one part of the book: “Like and equal are not the same thing!” I thought about this concept for a few days afterward. I wasn’t sure if the author was making a commentary on civil rights or communism (or both).

I read some reviews that said that the book was a Christian book, which confuses me a little bit since there seems to be a lot of science fiction, fantasy and time travel for a religious novel. Maybe it was because L’Engle mentioned Jesus, like once (in context to fighting the evil entity IT?)

Although I probably did not enjoy this book as much as I would have if I were a child, it was still a fun (and quick) story to read and I would definitely recommend it as a weekend read.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Rotters by Daniel Kraus

8572163Title: Rotters

Author: Daniel Kraus

Book Length (Audiobook): 16 hours 18 mins

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Young Adult

Read Start Date: June 17, 2019

Read Finish Date: July 2, 2019

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Grave-robbing. What kind of monster would do such a thing? It’s true that Leonardo da Vinci did it, Shakespeare wrote about it, and the resurrection men of nineteenth-century Scotland practically made it an art. But none of this matters to Joey Crouch, a sixteen-year-old straight-A student living in Chicago with his single mom. For the most part, Joey’s life is about playing the trumpet and avoiding the daily humiliations of high school.

Everything changes when Joey’s mother dies in a tragic accident and he is sent to rural Iowa to live with the father he has never known, a strange, solitary man with unimaginable secrets. At first, Joey’s father wants nothing to do with him, but once father and son come to terms with each other, Joey’s life takes a turn both macabre and exhilarating.

My Review: I had never heard of this book before, and I only started to read it because it was available as an audiobook from my library. From the subject matter, I wasn’t expecting it to be another young adult book (I seem to have read a lot lately), but after about 2 hours in, my first impressions are overall positive.

Essentially, Joey Crouch (nicknamed, of course, by the other kids as “crotch”) goes to live with his dad, the “garbage man” in a rural town of Iowa. Joey starts to be bullied because of his name, and his dad’s profession. At this point in the book, I really feel bad for him — but I am also a bit confused as to why he doesn’t seem to have any emotions about the tragic death of his mother. Her death doesn’t really seem to play into the story at all, except to give the reason / excuse for why Joey had to start living with his dad.

I am about 1/3 of the way through now, and my second impression is a little worse than the first. I am not sure why the author chose to have EVERYONE against the protagonist. He has conflict with his peers, his teachers, his father — there is not one good relationship. And yet, the author does not reflect this in the personality of Joey. Wouldn’t he be angry? Sad? Depressed? Overall, I am getting a lack of emotions from this book; like the characters are simply existing in the world, but not feeling anything. Even when the father takes him grave robbing for the first time, yes he gets physically sick, but there is still no emotion there. It’s only an action, and rather an inexplicable one, as the sickness comes on the morning after.

If I was supposed to feel sorry for Joey, I just didn’t. All of the emotions in this book were said, but not felt — if that makes any sense at all. It’s like, I can say I feel sad, but if I don’t act sad, who will believe me?

I wanted to like this book, I really did — but I just didn’t. It had glowing reviews on Goodreads, so I don’t know what I seem to be missing. The writing seemed to be decent enough, so maybe I will give Daniel Kraus another chance in the future.