Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8) by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne

Published: July 31, 2016
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

My Thoughts
I absolutely loved this eight installment of the Harry Potter series! It made me wish I could experience this magical world from the very beginning.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is narrated as a script, and where others might find this format distracting, I did not have any issues falling into this fantastical world I’ve been missing so much.

As we reenter the world of wizards and witches, we learn that Harry Potter is struggling not only with his job at the Ministry of Magic, but also with his son Albus who feels the burden of being the son of the infamous Boy Who Lived. When Albus finds an unlikely friend in Scorpius Malfoy, they both take on an adventure to change some events of the past, but not without some devastating consequences.

From beginning to end, I felt like I reentered the world of Harry Potter that I know and love in great detail. All of the characters felt the same from Ron and Hermoine to Harry and Draco. I enjoyed meeting the next generation, and I truly hope J.K. Rowling finds a way to keep this story going for decades to come. There is so much potential to take this series in so many different directions, and I hope that happens.

Great addition to the Harry Potter series! This will always be one of my favorites. Fantastical and simply amazing.
5 Snowflakes

Friday, September 23, 2016

Adult Coloring Book: Wuthering Heights: A Coloring Classic by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights: A Coloring Classic by Emily Bronte
Adult Coloring Book illustrated by Elisabetta Stoinich
Publisher: Doubleday Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 27, 2016
Purchase Links: Penguin Random House | Amazon
Bring to life the classic Victorian story of Wuthering Heights and the love affair of Catherine and Heathcliff in this gorgeously detailed coloring book. Intricate linework combines with iconic quotations and gothic scenes to create an evocative book that will inspire creativity and take you on a windswept journey across the Yorkshire moors.

My Thoughts:
With the recent popularity of adult coloring books, I have to say that The Coloring Classics by Random House are my favorite. I recently received a copy of Wuthering Heights, and oh my! What an amazing collection of pictures to dive into. Aside from this classic being my absolute favorite, it goes without saying that Elisabetta Stoinich did a beautiful job of bringing Emily Bronte’s story to life.
As in the novel, the illustrator did a wonderful job of using parallel elements to compare and contrast the people and scenes that ranged from whimsical and light to gothic and dark.

I really enjoyed adding color to the playful pages of young Heathcliff and Catherine. I used bright colors and defined outlines to bring out the element of how full of life these two characters were at a young age. The caption that reads, “They both promised fair to grow up as rude as savages… It was one of their chief amusements to run away to the moors in the morning and remain there all day,” and was depicted perfectly in this scene.

There was another page I wanted to point out, which I felt captured the unrefined darkness of Thrushgrove Grange. In this page, the intricate detail of the home was balanced with the ghostly darkness of this character’s feelings. Adding sharp colors to this page, I feel did the job of portraying Catherine’s haunted moments in the story.


Of all of the pages in this book, I must admit I spent the most time with Heathcliff and Catherine’s dream scene. Theirs is a passionate tale of doomed love, and Stoinich did a brilliant job of illustrating the connection between these two characters. This page alone, I invested around three hours to truly capture the perfection of the scene and their moment together. I loved the caption that reads, “Disturbed her? No! She has disturbed me, night and day through eighteen years – incessantly – remorselessly – till yesternight; and yesternight I was tranquil. I dreamt I was sleeping the last sleep by that sleeper, with my heart stopped and my cheek frozen against hers. ~Heathcliff” At first, I felt a bit overwhelmed on how to conquer these pages, but once I started added color, the pages just came to life on their own. This is one of my favorites by far.
One last page that I added very little color to was the final scene of this book. This page has no quotes, but the minimal illustration truly captures the stormy romance of Wuthering Heights. Beautifully done!

Thank you to Random House for offering me an opportunity to sample The Coloring Classics.
5 Snowflakes

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Review: Girls Like Me by Lola St. Vil

Girls Like Me by Lola St. Vil
Publication Date - October 4th, 2016
Publisher - HMH Books for Young Readers
Fifteen-year-old Shay Summers is trying to cope with the death of her father, being overweight, and threats from a girl bully in school. When she falls in love with Blake, a mysterious boy online, insecure Shay doesn't want to tell him who she is. But with the help of her two best friends, as well as an assist by Kermit and Miss Piggy, ultimately Shay and Blake’s love prevails. Girls Like Me is a fun and fresh poetic take on teen angst, social media and online anonymity, and high school romance.

My Thoughts:

Hmm, I am not quite sure what to think of this book. The synopsis caught my attention mostly due the mention of an overweight character, but also the inclusion of an online aspect (which kind of sounds a lot like Cinderella Story with Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray) sounded interesting to me. While there were things about this book that I liked, in general, it was bit of a disappointment if I am being completely honest.

It has been a year since fifteen-year-old Shay lost her father. Ever since then, she has been living with her stepmother who continually tries to change Shay, mainly focusing on the way she looks through diet. At school, Shay is continually bullied, especially by Kelly, the most popular girl in the bunch. She is called a pig, people "oik" at her when she is around as a result of which she has learned a way to avoid possible embarrassing situations, like P.E. class. With a help of her two best friends, Shay navigates the halls of her high school like she's on a battlefield.

When Shay logs into an online platform recommended by her friend, she starts to chat with a guy with a username inspired by Waiting for Godot. The chats with this Godot guy make her happy and allow her to really be herself without the weight and all, but as Godot starts to suggest that they meet, Shay panics. Can he really like her because she looks a bit different than other girls?

Throughout the book, Shay struggles with her self-image and the way she is. She is at the most tender age when it comes to body image and such, and though I could feel for her struggle, I continually kept hoping that she would gain confidence and embrace who she is. I know it is not so easy (especially as someone who has gone through the struggle of accepting my body), but I feel like as this book processed, the way it probably wanted to express that "you are okay as you are" started to slip a little bit.

What I appreciated about this novel was the author's attempts to use the verse format to express the story. I often feel like this format allows the author less room to really flesh out the characters, and while St. Vil didn't completely succeed in my books, nevertheless, the verse format was probably my favorite thing about this book. As a media student, I also found the utilization of social media into the plot quite interesting, but that, for some reason, fell kind of flat towards the end of the novel.

I think Girls Like Me has a lot of potential, but unfortunately, I was left a bit unimpressed. The high school dynamics felt a bit too generic and the relationship between Shay and this mysterious online guy seems just a bit too underdeveloped. I raise my hat for the attempt to use the verse format though, which in the end, kept me reading until the last page.
2 snowflakes

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #1)Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Purchase: Amazon
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.
 

My Thoughts:
This book was so FREAKING FUN!!  I don't think I've ever read a book like this before and I just want more from Kerri Maniscalco!!!

Stalking Jack the Ripper is based on the infamous murder Jack the Ripper as you can tell from the title.  What I found fascinating is how the author managed to keep so many of the details intact, but still created a completely unique story line.  Not only was it unique, but it was filled with gore, creepishly delicious murders, and so much fun!  Ms. Maniscalco didn't shy away from the less than pretty things that happened during that time and by picking Audrey Rose as her main heroine it gave her a reason for describing things in such detail.  I loved every single minute of it!

I think my favorite part was Audrey Rose.  Yes I won't lie she had a few TSTL moments, but I totally forgave her for them because the author did a great job explaining her background.  All Audrey Rose wanted to do was become a brilliant scientist.  She loved performing autopsies and looked at it like a puzzle.  Unfortunately for her in her time this was unacceptable for a lady and so she had to hide inside her uncles lab.  The author wove in a rich background that makes it clear Audrey Rose was hidden away and kept from learning about the ways of the world.  This made me forgive her when she ran into danger without a care in the world.

She wasn't always alone though and I loved Thomas for always being one step ahead of her!  He was the best character ever!  I loved his banter and he always laid everything on the table even if Audrey Rose sometimes skipped over his endearing words.  I think..no I know he is my favorite character of all time.  He treated her with respect and as an equal and she needed that more than anything.  I loved him to pieces.

My only complaint is that I felt the ending was a bit soft.  I know where the author was going and I understood the overall dilemma, but I wish the author wouldn't have taken the easy way out for her ending.  She didn't shy away from anything else in this story so I was a little saddened by this.  Honestly though it didn't take away from the brilliance of this story.  It was a strong story and I absolutely believe the ending, even though soft, added an extra layer to the overall plot.  I happened to guess who the villain was early on in the story, but with the ending the way it was I didn't see a few things coming and that made it fun.

Kerri Maniscalco is definitely on my favorite authors list and if this book is any indication she will be around for years and I will always be first in line to buy her books!  I still have goosebumps!!

5 snowflakes



Thursday, September 15, 2016

Adult Coloring Book: William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet A Coloring Classic

Romeo and Juliet: A Coloring Classic
Illustrated by Renia Metallinou, Bethan Fanine
Published: July 5, 2016
Publisher: Doubleday Books for Young Readers
Paperback: 80 pages
Bring to life the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet in this wonderfully romantic coloring book. Beautifully detailed linework combines with iconic quotations to perfectly capture the passion and tragedy of literature's greatest pair of star-crossed lovers. Features a gorgeous foiled cover!

My Thoughts
Beautifully depicted coloring book that's kept me captivated for hours.
William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet A Coloring Classic is absolutely gorgeous. There is so much to enjoy in this book especially the carefully selected quotes that you can decorate with a careful hand.  I loved how they pulled passages from the story and added scenic brilliance to the moment!
"These violent delights have violent ends and their triumph dies, like fire and powder, which, as they kiss, consumes." ~Friar Laurence
"I fear, too early; for my mind misgives some consequence yet hanging in the stars…" ~Romeo

The illustrators, Metallinou and Fanine, did an amazing job at creating perfectly drawn scenes that make you feel like the story is coming to life as you add color to the pages. You can get lost in a page for hours with the intricate detail.
Overall, Renia Metallinou and Bethan Fanine did a fantastic job of illustrating this classic. This work of art will keep me busy for weeks. I can't wait to add color to the rest of these pages! Love it!

Thank you to Random House for offering me an opportunity to sample the first set of coloring books.
5 Snowflakes