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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Just to make it official

This is something that's been on my mind for a few months. And originally, I thought maybe I would just end it by never posting again. But in a strange way, I do feel like I owe it to anyone who might still be following me to make it official: this is the end of blogging for me.

This hasn't been an easy decision to make. It's hard to just give up on something that has been a major hobby of mine for 7 years. But ultimately I'm just not feeling it anymore. I still love to read and to discuss reading. I just haven't been feeling up to blogging for about a year now.

When I look back at seven years of book blogging and think about the comments I've received, the experiences I've had, and the friends I've made as a result of it, I feel extremely happy and fortunate. And I'm very sad to be ending my blog now... but also satisfied in knowing I have made great memories and connections that I will hold on to for a long time to come.

And to everyone who has ever followed me, read or commented on my blog: THANK YOU. It's been a truly amazing 7 years of blogging.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Rest in Peace, Mü

My dear Mü,

Three and a half years together is not nearly enough. But I can honestly say that you made me smile every single day you were apart of my life, and that is worth everything to me. I can only hope that I enriched your life as much as you enriched mine.

I'll always remember how adventurous you were, how excited you were to try new things, and how you often got yourself into tricky predicaments.

Adventurous Mü

In a predicament
But most of all, I'll remember our evening/weekend cuddles. Curled up with a book and a ferret was my happy place. I am convinced you were the sweetest ferret there ever was.

Cuddles with Mü
Rest in peace, Mü.

RIP, my girls, Stela and Mü

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday: Penguin Summer 2017 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which upcoming, eagerly anticipated releases are highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the Penguin Summer 2017 Catalog:

The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
Date: July 18, 2017
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No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn't enough.
The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.
Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

Indian folklore + a master library + beautiful cover = consider me intrigued! The Library of Fates seems to have a great mix of familiar storytelling elements that I know and love and completely new-to-me elements, as well.

Warcross by Marie Lu
Date: September 12, 2017
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For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.
Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

The synopsis of Warcross is SO similar to Ready Player One (a book I loved). But I do hope it'll have enough added originality to stand on its own right because it could be really great!

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
Date: September 19, 2017
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Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.
Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family's island mansion called Tu Reviens.
Jane remembers her aunt telling her: "If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you'll go." With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn't know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.

Kind of a cryptic synopsis here, but I am curious nonetheless. Admittedly, I have not read Graceling yet (please don't hate me), but I am fully aware of how much people love Kristin Cashore's books - so perhaps Jane, Unlimited will become my first of hers.

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Penguin Summer 2017 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Penguin Summer 2017 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Monday, May 1, 2017

Top Ten Weird A.F. Book Covers

Cover Theme Freebie this week for Top Ten Tuesday, so I'm going for Top Ten Weird A.F. Book Covers. Enjoy.

1. Strange Relations

Ummmm, those are some mighty strange relations there indeed.

2. Catflexing: A Catlover's Guide to Weight Training, Aerobics & Stretching

You know, my work out routine has been getting a bit stale lately. Anyone have a cat they can loan me?

3. The Second Experiment

I can't say I've read the synopsis for this one, but I CAN say I would give this a read nonetheless, just to figure out WTF is going on here.

4. Dinosaur Erotica

Now, those who know me know I love dinosaurs in a BIG way, always have. But these dinosaur erotica novels? HELL NO. AND WHY.

5. Liberace: Your Personal Fashion Consultant

Because who wouldn't want to pair knee-high argyle socks with short shorts and a fringed, sequinned jacket?

6. Knitting With Dog Hair: Better a sweater from a dog you know and love than from a sheep you'll never meet

You know, now that they mention it, wearing knitwear from an anonymous random sheep IS rather impersonal.

7. The Finnish Harry Potter Covers

Oh Finland, WHY? I do actually like that this artist has their own consistent artistic style for these books, but I just don't get the noses.

8. The Rifleman

I mean... how unfortunate. But the cover designer here is completely clueless.

9. Hail Hibbler


10. But... You're A Horse

*notice human hands on horse*
... I think I'll just leave it at that.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday: Random House Summer 2017 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which upcoming, eagerly anticipated releases are highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the Random House Summer 2017 Catalog:

No Good Deed by Kara Connolly
Date: July 18, 2017
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Ellie Hudson is the front-runner on the road to gold for the U.S. Olympic archery team. All she has to do is qualify at the trials in jolly old England. When Ellie makes some kind of crazy wrong turn in the caverns under Nottingham Castle—yes, that Nottingham—she ends up in medieval England.
Ellie doesn’t care how she got to the Middle Ages; she just wants to go home before she gets the plague. But people are suffering in Nottingham, and Ellie has the skills to make it better. What’s an ace archer to do while she’s stuck in Sherwood Forest but make like Robin Hood?
Pulled into a past life as an outlaw, Ellie feels her present fading away next to daring do-gooding and a devilishly handsome knight. Only, Ellie is on the brink of rewriting history, and when she picks up her bow and arrow, her next shot could save her past—or doom civilization’s future.

No Good Deed has kind of a silly premise - an Olympic archer ends up back in time in the Middle Ages and assumes the role of Robin Hood - but honestly, I'm into it! I haven't seen any early reviews for it yet though, so I will wait and see how it is received before choosing whether to read it myself.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
Date: August 29, 2017
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She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .
Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.
Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.
Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

OMG YES!! Everyone who's read Leigh Bardugo's books knows she's a tremendously talented writer. I really cannot wait to see her try her hand at some superhero lore in Wonder Woman: Warbringer!

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Random House Summer 2017 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Random House Summer 2017 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Muggle Monday: Fantastic Beasts Audiobook Review

It's time for Muggle Monday, in which I highlight a significant piece of news from the Harry Potter franchise. This is somewhat inspired by the Mundane Monday posts by The Mundie Moms.

But let's be real as to why I made up this feature: I just want the opportunity to post something about Harry Potter.

This week, my thoughts on the updated Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them audiobook:

Publisher: Pottermore
Published: March 14, 2017
Pages: 128

A set textbook at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry since publication, Newt Scamander's masterpiece has entertained wizarding families through the generations.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an indispensable introduction to the magical beasts of the wizarding world. Scamander's years of travel and research have created a tome of unparalleled importance. Some of the beasts will be familiar to readers of the Harry Potter books - the Hippogriff, the Basilisk, the Hungarian Horntail ... Others will surprise even the most ardent amateur magizoologist. Dip in to discover the curious habits of magical beasts across five continents …

When it was announced that Newt Scamander actor Eddie Redmayne was going to record the audiobook of the updated Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them novella, I knew that was something I needed to experience. I absolutely loved Eddie as Newt in the Fantastic Beasts movie and so he has very much become the voice of Newt for me. It was fun to have him narrate this while in character - every mumbling, beast-passionate bit of him. Extra sound effects are added into this audio (beast noises and the like), which, while unnecessary, are nevertheless fun.

In this updated version of the classic Wizarding World novella, an intro from Newt himself has been
added (providing some curious tidbits about his backstory), as well as a handful of new creature descriptions not included in the original book (primarily the Ilvermorny House Beasts). Sadly, gone are the original scribblings by the Trio throughout the novella (the original book was presented as though it was Harry's actual textbook), which were brilliantly in character and SO fun.

A sample of the Trio's scribblings from the original Fantastic Beasts novella (2001)

If you already own the original book that was released in 2001, then I can't say it's entirely worth it to buy this new edition as it is almost entirely the same (and also, I suspect that this won't be the absolute final edition of this novella... Newt himself reveals that there may be more beasts to be revealed later), but I would still recommend checking it out from the library to read the new bits. And if you do wish to purchase this edition, then at least you'll be supporting Jo's human rights charity Lumos as 15% of the proceeds will go to the foundation.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday: HarperCollins Summer 2017 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which upcoming, eagerly anticipated releases are highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the HarperCollins Summer 2017 Catalog:

Wicked Like A Wildfire by Lana Popovic
Date: August 15, 2017
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All the women in Iris and Malina’s family have the unique magical ability or “gleam” to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love.
But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever?

Would you LOOK at that insanely gorgeous cover?! I know I can't stop looking at it anyways. The one time I was able to draw my attention away from the cover to read the synopsis for Wicked Like A Wildfire revealed a pretty intriguing premise too!

All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis
Date: August 29, 2017
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Speth Jime is anxious to deliver her Last Day speech and celebrate her transition into adulthood. The moment she turns fifteen, Speth must pay for every word she speaks ("Sorry" is a flat ten dollars and a legal admission of guilt), for every nod ($0.99/sec), for every scream ($0.99/sec) and even every gesture of affection. She's been raised to know the consequences of falling into debt, and can't begin to imagine the pain of having her eyes shocked for speaking words that she's unable to afford.
But when Speth's friend Beecher commits suicide rather than work off his family's crippling debt, she can't express her shock and dismay without breaking her Last Day contract and sending her family into Collection. Backed into a corner, Speth finds a loophole: rather than read her speech, rather than say anything at all, she closes her mouth and vows never to speak again. Speth's unexpected defiance of tradition sparks a media frenzy, inspiring others to follow in her footsteps, and threatens to destroy her, her family and the entire city around them.

All Rights Reserved takes place in a world where every word and gesture is copyrighted and costs money (and where people have first names like "Speth"). Sounds bizarre and nonsensical - but colour me curious nonetheless!

Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett
Date: September 5, 2017
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Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.
But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer every known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister, Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means cimbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then, Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.
The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and other dangers at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth about their mission and her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.

This one is set in a fictional Himalayan kingdom - a setting I can honestly say I've never come anywhere close to reading about. I've also been interested in the area since my dad climbed Mount Everest a few years back. So I can't help but be intrigued by Even the Darkest Stars!

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these HarperCollins Summer 2017 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the HarperCollins Summer 2017 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: March 28, 2017
Pages: 544
Source: For Review from Hachette Book Group Canada
Rating: 4.5 Stars

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around— and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In short: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor is a feast for the imagination.
In some ways Strange the Dreamer is similar to Laini Taylor's previous trilogy, Daughter of Smoke and Bone: there's an epic and bloody war between two races, with star-crossed lovers at its centre. But that's where the similarities end. Strange the Dreamer is as original as it gets in the world of high fantasy fiction. Of course, we could expect no less from the Queen of Imagination, Laini Taylor. Strange the Dreamer is indescribably, beautifully BIZARRE, in the best way possible.

The set-up of the premise of Strange the Dreamer is complex and slow going, and less persistent readers may lose interest. But the payoff of patience is worth it as the story gets truly underway. And once underway the story is, in short, unexpected. Just when you think you know exactly where the story is going, a turning point hits and you're sent spinning off in another direction, again and again, right up until the novel's very unexpected cliffhanger ending.

At the story's heart is affable librarian, Lazlo Strange. He is not the usual hero type, more like the friendly bookish wallflower type (and all the more likeable for it). The old tale of the orphan underdog who dreams and wants more out of life is given new legs by Laini Taylor's adept prose and development. A story with a premise so indescribably strange can really only be done justice by an author whose writing is as lyrical and dream-like as Laini Taylor's. And I eagerly await what she comes up with next in the sequel, The Muse of Nightmares!

Author Links:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday: Penguin Spring 2017 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which upcoming, eagerly anticipated releases are highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the Penguin Spring 2017 Catalog:

Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis
Date: April 11, 2017
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Khosa is Given to the Sea, a girl born to be fed to the water, her flesh preventing a wave like the one that destroyed the Kingdom of Stille in days of old. But before she’s allowed to dance – an uncontrollable twitching of the limbs that will carry her to the shore in a frenzy – she must produce an heir. Yet the thought of human touch sends shudders down her spine that not even the sound of the tide can match.
Vincent is third in line to inherit his throne, royalty in a kingdom where the old linger and the young inherit only boredom. When Khosa arrives without an heir he knows his father will ensure she fulfills her duty, at whatever cost. Torn between protecting the throne he will someday fill, and the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is at odds with his heart.
Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race whose dwindling magic grows weaker as the island country fades. Animals cease to bear young, creatures of the sea take to the land, and the Pietra – fierce fighters who destroyed the Indiri a generation before – are now marching from their stony shores for the twin’s adopted homeland, Stille.
Witt leads the Pietra, their army the only family he has ever known. The stone shores harbor a secret, a growing threat that will envelop the entire land – and he will conquer every speck of soil to ensure the survival of his people.
The tides are turning in Stille, where royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the rising sea calls for its Given.

I kind of don't know what to make of the premise of Given to the Sea... but I am undeniably intrigued by Khosa's strange affliction. I'll have to keep an eye out for early reviews to see how Given to the Sea is being received!

Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz
Date: April 11, 2017
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1777. Albany, New York.
As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.
Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

Sadly, I have not yet had the fortune of witnessing the wildly popular musical Hamilton. However, I can't help but be curious about the upcoming Alex & Eliza, which is hoping no doubt to capitalize on Hamilton's popularity. Again, I'll be on the lookout for early reviews!

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Date: May 16, 2017
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The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.
Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.

Beautiful cover + inspired by Mulan = GIMME!! And it helps that I've heard good things about Renee Ahdieh's prior series, The Wrath and the Dawn. So surely Flame in the Mist is bound to be amazing, right?!

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Penguin Spring 2017 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Penguin Spring 2017 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Muggle Monday: Prisoner of Azkaban Illustrated Edition

It's time for Muggle Monday, in which I highlight a significant piece of news from the Harry Potter franchise. This is somewhat inspired by the Mundane Monday posts by The Mundie Moms.

But let's be real as to why I made up this feature: I just want the opportunity to post something about Harry Potter.

This past week, the artwork for the cover of the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was revealed:
And it is yet another gorgeous cover to add to the previous illustrated edition releases from artist Jim Kay (see: Philosopher's Stone Illustrated Edition and Chamber of Secrets Illustrated Edition). Each book has been coming out roughly one year apart (the latest will be out October 3, 2017), but I wonder if they can keep that trend going with the lengthier books in the latter half of the series. It would be a shame if they had to keep the illustrations to a minimum despite the longer lengths.

Here's a taste of the artwork we have to look forward to in the upcoming illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (click to embiggen):

The Knight Bus
Portrait of Snape (with a Niffler stuffed into a jar?!)

Sadly, I have yet to have the full experience when it comes to these illustrated editions. The prices for each book are steep! And it's hard to justify shelling out the cash willy-nilly when I already own the series. But positive acclaim from fans has convinced me that I must own and experience these for myself someday - just need to save up for them or wait until my birthday comes around.

For those who have read the illustrated editions of Philosopher's Stone/Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets, what did you think? Is the rest of the artwork as gorgeous as the little teases that Bloomsbury/Scholastic releases?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Waiting On Wednesday: Random House Spring 2017 Catalog

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking The Spine in which upcoming, eagerly anticipated releases are highlighted on the blog.

This week, I've chosen to feature a few picks from the Random House Spring 2017 Catalog:

Shadow Run by Adrianne Strickland and Michael Miller
Date: March 21, 2017
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Nev has just joined the crew of the starship Kaitan Heritage as the cargo loader. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person to command her own ship, but she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can’t resist her, even if her ship is an antique.
As for Nev, he’s a prince, in hiding on the ship. He believes Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, and when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, Nev resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.
But before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole too, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive.
Nev’s mission to manipulate Qole becomes one to save her, and to survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. He may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power—and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

The synopsis for Shadow Run reminds me a lot of the short-lived TV show Firefly, which I loved. So if Shadow Run is indeed along the same vein, I could see myself very much enjoying it!

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
Date: March 28, 2017
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Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.
Her life might well be over.
In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.
As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

Blood Rose Rebellion sounds like the standard historical fantasy with court politics that I love. But instead of being set in a fictional world it is set in Hungary, which I find interesting. I haven't heard anything about Blood Rose Rebellion yet, so here's hoping it is well received!

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Date: May 30, 2017
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Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Five students walk into detention, but only four come out alive... it's like a Breakfast Club murder mystery! I would be lying if I said I wasn't super curious about One of Us is Lying!

How about you? Are you waiting on any of these Random House Spring 2017 reads? Are there any upcoming books from the Random House Spring 2017 Catalog that I didn't include here that you feel I should add to my list?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Series Review: A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 1999-2006
Pages: 3,436
Source: Borrowed
Rating: 4 Stars

Dear Reader, 
I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.
In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.
It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.
With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

Never has such a miserable tale of the depressing disasters that follow the lives of three unfortunate orphans been so charmingly absurd and enjoyable to read. Though the books are intended for an MG audience, the satirical humour spouted by narrator Lemony Snicket and more mature themes of moral complexity in the later books can be appreciated by an older audience. The books are incredibly formulaic and repetitive (essentially the orphans are passed off to a new guardian each book, Count Olaf shows up in a new disguise and attempts to steal the Baudelaire fortune, and the orphans use their smarts and talents to get away from him), but the repetitiveness had a more familial and calming effect on me rather than boring me.

I read the series in its entirety via audiobook, narrated by inimitable Tim Curry (except for books 3-5 which are narrated by Lemony Snicket himself). And I can't think of two people more suited to the narration of the gothic tones combined with the general absurdity of the stories presented in A Series of Unfortunate Events. If you're looking to try out the series for yourself or want to do a reread but don't feel like you have the time to fit all 13 books into your reading lineup, I would highly recommend checking out the series on audio.

Finally, let's talk about the Netflix TV Show. I can't speak about the movie adaptation starring Jim Carrey that was released in 2004 as I never saw it, but I understand it was not at all well received. However, I have seen the first season of the Netflix adaptation, starring Neil Patrick Harris and covering the first four books, and I am happy to report that it is most excellently done. It took me a few episodes to get into the rhythm of the story and characters, but once it hits its stride the show captures the gothic tone and absurdist themes of the books perfectly and is pretty faithful. Once again, this is proof positive that having the original author of the books (Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler) handle the script of the movie/TV show is the best way of ensuring that the adaptation is a good one.

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