Showing posts with label J.K. Rowling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label J.K. Rowling. Show all posts

Sunday, July 29, 2012

This n' That: Vacation, Hex Appeal edited by P.N. Elrod + Reading Update

Hey everyone! It sure has been slow around here lately... sorry about that... but, I'm getting ready to go on vacation and have been going a bit nuts cleaning up at work and getting ready for my little bit of summer sunshine and relaxation.

I have been reading, don't get me wrong! I've been relaxing as much as possible in between the craziness. Plus, I've been doing my regular summer young adult reading with the kids in the family. So far, I've re-read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone, Book #1, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Book #2 by J. K. Rowling, with the young ones and following up the books by watching the movies. It has been fun!

Besides the fact that these books are so much fun to read along with the kiddies, I guess what really strikes me about those two books is how age appropriate they are, and how the writing changes, becoming more complex as the characters grow older. But those first two books are perfect for 9 and 11 year old kids.

But those two are not the only books that I've been reading that contain magic or magical beings. I finally finished the Hex Appeal Anthology edited by P.N. Elrod. Here's the summary for the book:

Fall under the intoxicating spell of their hex appeal…

In the magical world that lies hidden beneath our own, witches and conjurers play deadly games. They know just the right spell to kill a man with one kiss—or raise him back again. And they’re not afraid to exact sweet revenge on those who dare to cross them. But what if you’re the unlucky soul who falls victim to a conjurer’s curse? And if you had the power to cast a magic spell of your own, would you use it?

In this bewitching collection, nine of today’s hottest paranormal authors tell all-new, otherworldly tales. Spellbinding stories featuring bigfoot, albino vampires, professional wizards, resurrected boyfriends and even a sex droid from the twenty- third century named Silicon Lily. But as our conjurers are about to discover, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hexed. And sometimes, even the best spun spells can lead to complete and utter mayhem.
This anthology really turned out to be a wonderful read. It includes stories from Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine, Carole Nelson Douglas, P. N. Elrod, Simon R. Green, Lori Handeland, Erica Hayes, and Carrie Vaughn. They are all about characters who have been hexed. My favorite stories are:
Retribution Clause by Ilona Andrews, a story set in the same world as the Kate Daniels' series, but one that introduces new characters and a new city. I absolutely loved this short story, and the characters. The main character is Saiman's cousin -- also of the same species -- but much nicer partners a fascinating, feline-like powerful witch with lots of secrets. The story is scary, full of action with some understated sexual tension between the two main characters and a good ending. I would love to read more about these characters and this city because as it often happens with these writers and this world a short story is never enough for me.

Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden character appears in Bigfoot on Campus. He is another character that so far I seem to love in short stories although I have yet to read the series. In this one, Harry helps Bigfoot, Strength of a River in his Shoulders, by saving his son who is in danger from his vampire girlfriend. Of course there is more to this story! Narrated in the first person, this one is exciting and a bit on the sweet side.

How do you feel? by Simon R. Green. This is a Nightside story that covers Dead Boy's backstory. I really loved this nightmarish, dark story of betrayal and revenge with a touch of futuristic love. A speculative fiction short story that might not be for everyone, but is perfect for me!

Outside the Box by P.N. Elrod was a tale of vampires and the witches who help them. I really liked this one, but wish... oh how I wish that these two characters had their own continuing tale told in the future. They need follow-up. :)
Although those were my favorite stories, all the stories more or less fit the anthology's theme and they were all worth reading. Grade B-.

What am I reading right now? Well, I'm still reading Sexual Revolutions in Cuba: Passions, Politics and Memory by Carrie Hamilton. That book is a trip and a half. I keep swinging from anger to disbelief in some sections, but overall I'm really enjoying it and I'm reading it slowly and only when I can really concentrate. This is a book that will probably be read by my brothers as well as a few personal friends because it's such a great study.

However, in between, I've picked up a few category romances (because of the length) and other contemporary or romance suspense reads.

What books am I taking on my vacation? My Kindle with tons of books in case I get the chance to read. (Yeah, right!) And in print, You Will Meet a Stranger Far from Home: Wonder Stories by Alex Jeffers and 2012 Wilde Stories edited by Steve Berman. Those two books have short stories that I'll be able to read in between other activities. :)

Hope you all have a great week!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (Re-read)

This was actually an unplanned re-read. :) My husband asked me some questions about the end of this series and having read this book in 2007 when it first released, I remembered the overall plot but the details escaped me. I began skimming the book looking for the answers he wanted and when I couldn't find them... well... I got caught up and re-read the whole book! Definitely not planned since this book is 759 pages long! But, I'm glad I re-read it, now I'm ready for the upcoming movies and the details are fresh again. :D

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows is the last book of J.K. Rowling's amazing YA Fantasy series and although it is the one with all the answers and it provides an incredible finish, it is not necessarily my favorite.

The story picks up right as Harry is about to turn seventeen and the protection spell that has been keeping him safe throughout the years is about to expire. A rush by the Order of the Phoenix to keep him out of the hands of the Death Eaters and away from Voldermort is on... and the book begins with a bang! Lots of action, permanent changes and more losses for Harry.

As the powers of the Dark Lord gain strength so does his power over the Ministry of Magic, life deteriorates for the general population and specially for Harry's friends and the Order of the Phoenix. Muggles, muggle born magicians and their friends are particularly in danger and begin to disappear. In the meantime, Harry, Ron and Hermione stick to Dumbledore's plan to continue searching for Horcruxes in an attempt to weaken and destroy you-know-who. Terrible stories and rumors about Dumbledore and his family circulate and Harry begins to doubt Dumbledore's real intentions, his love and true character.

Once the three friends are forced to leave on their journey, the story meanders with Harry, Ron and Hermione going from pillar to post trying to figure out things without much success. Of course, everything they do and the little they do find out has a purpose and eventually it all makes sense and becomes part of the big puzzle, but in the meantime the whole process slows down the pacing in this story to a crawl. At this point, the book becomes a tough read for quite a while and this is a long book... but once you get past that, the fun begins again. I do recommend that during this slow time, even when tempted, you not skim because you'll miss important details as Harry chooses between what is right and what is easy once the Deathly Hallows come to light.

The pace picks up during the second part of the book as the pieces of the puzzle begin falling into place. This is a re-read for me, and it still amazes me how Rowling ties up so many threads and uses seemingly insignificant details from all the books in this series to come up with the final answers. I must admit to being a bit disconcerted about those answers in the end. They were quite "brilliant" actually... brilliant in their simplicity and always there, really. But I know I didn't figure out those answers until I read them, and that I really appreciated.

What else did I love about the book? The characterization. How can I not appreciate character growth and development? I figure when you feel as if you know characters inside out by the end of a series, that's great development and that happens with more than just the central characters in this series -- Dumbledore and Severus Snape are great examples. Secondary characters are so incredibly important to this series' great success. In this book, Neville is also one of those minor characters whose growth I most noticed and appreciated. He is such a key character and one I think is often overlooked.

The second part of the book is action packed, there's a great battle with sad losses and great victories, all of it quite spectacular. In the end I couldn't help but feel for Harry... all those losses and all that sacrifice along the way from childhood to young adulthood. I wanted happiness, peace, love and a family for him, he deserved that and more. Rawling does give the reader a glimpse into Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny's futures that I found sweet and a little nostalgic. A classic young adult series, no question about it. Brilliant!

Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Harry Potter Series, Book 7
Released: July 2007
Grade: B

Nath's 2010 Re-read Challenge
Orannia's 2010 Big Book Challenge

Favorite Harry Potter books:
  • Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince