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Review: Twice Upon a Time — by Aya Ling

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com. 

Title: Twice Upon a Time (Unfinished Fairy Tales, #2)

Author: Aya Ling

Rating:  ★★★★★★ (6 of 5)

Genre/Pages: Fairytale retelling / 319

Summary: “Seven years have passed since Kat left Athelia. Through the intervention of the goblin king’s baby daughter, the book is re-opened and Kat is transported back to Story World. Upon learning she is given a second chance, Edward is determined not to let her go this time. His chance of succeeding, however, seems like nil. Kat doesn’t remember anything of their past, she loathes life at court, and she’s anxious to return to modern world. Not to mention that there’s a price to pay for tampering with the book again…”

Cover Review: Absolutely gorgeous. More self published authors need to follow Aya’s example, because this cover is positively breathtakingly perfect. This is the kind of book that I want to have on my shelf not only because it’s amazing, but also because the cover is just so pretty.

My Review: So I was actually lucky enough to be able to beta read this book in exchange for honest feedback. Honestly, I am SO thrilled that Aya let me be part of her beta reading group because, even though I may not always be the nicest of beta readers, I love getting to see the process of how authors write the books that I love so much. I have always loved Aya’s books. They make me happy. 

Characters: I cannot possibly say enough good about these characters. I absolutely adore every single one of them. This is really where Aya’s incredible skill as an author shines through – her characters. They are all complex and thought out with detailed enough sub-plots that she could write spin-off books about each and every one of them if she so chose (man, I hope she does that. How could would it be to have a spin-off story dedicated entirely to Henry and Ella?). I love her characters so much. I know I gush about books and authors all the time, but I promise you, Aya Ling is one of the very best. 

Plot: I hate amnesia as the catalyst to a romance. It’s so dumb. It makes me incredibly angry. But… Aya Ling pulled it off. She actually wrote a fairy tale with star-crossed lover amnesia that I enjoyed reading. And I really enjoyed it. It was a page-turner, for sure.

Content Advisory: Things got a little bit…erm… heated, at two different points, and there was a sexual assault that almost happened, but it didn’t, and scenes of a sexual nature were almost entirely off-page, so you don’t have to worry about anything explicit. A few swear words here and there, but not much.  

To Sum It Up: Aya Ling is a masterful storyteller who has the ability to make you instantly fall in love with the world and characters that she creates. If you love, or even like, fairy tales, you need to read Aya’s books. I recommend Twice Upon a Time to readers 13+.

Attention: This is a scheduled, pre-written, post. I am serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Jan. 2017 through Jul. 2018, and will not be checking my blog email, or updating my blog during that time. (I may have some already written posts scheduled go live during that time, but I will not be active on my blog, and these posts are completely my own opinion and are not representative of the opinions or stances of the church). For more information about Mormon missionaries, go to: lds.org or mormon.org.

Any book requests or other communication received in that time will not be responded to until after July 2018.

TBR Spotlight: Life After the Undead — by Pembroke Sinclair

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com.

Title: Life After the Undead (Life After the Undead, #1)

Author: Pembroke Sinclair

Genre/Pages: Zombie Post-Apocalyptic / 248

Summary: “Seventeen-year-old Krista must quickly figure out how she’s going to survive in the zombie-destroyed world. The one advantage humans have is that the zombies hate humid environments, so they’re migrating west to escape its deteriorating effects. The survivors plan to construct a wall at North Platte to keep the undead out, and Krista has come to Nebraska to start a new life.

Zombies aren’t the only creatures she has to be cautious of—the other survivors have a dark side. Krista must fight not only to live but also to defend everything she holds dear—her country, her freedom, and ultimately, those she loves.

Join Krista in her quest to survive in this thrilling apocalyptic novel by Pembroke Sinclair.”

Cover Review: This cover is a significant improvement on the one I first got from Pembroke, but it’s still not my favorite thing ever. It’s trying to hard to be mainstream, with it’s simplistic cover with random clipart as the focal point. BUT, I’d pick it up. It looks clean, professional, and intriguing.

Why I put it on my TBR list: I’m a huge fan of the author, and so when she offered to send me some of her YA novels, I happily accepted her offer. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t able to get to them before I left on my mission, so this spotlight post will have to suffice for the time being, and to serve as a reminder that I need to read them as soon as I get back. 

TBH, I’ve never actually read a zombie book before. But this one doesn’t seem to cliche, and I know that the author writes well, so I’m going to give it a try. There’s a first time for everything, right? I really like the premise of rebuilding a community after a tragedy, because personally, that’s one of my favorite book tropes and I love to read it. So I’m super excited for that!

Like zombie novels? Looking to try something new? Make sure to pick up your copy of Life After the Undead!

Attention: This is a scheduled, pre-written, post. I am serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Jan. 2017 through Jul. 2018, and will not be checking my blog email, or updating my blog during that time. (I may have some already written posts scheduled go live during that time, but I will not be active on my blog, and these posts are completely my own opinion and are not representative of the opinions or stances of the church). For more information about Mormon missionaries, go to: lds.org or mormon.org.

Any book requests or other communication received in that time will not be responded to until after July 2018.

Called To Serve Him: My 18-Month Blogging Hiatus

Attention: This is a scheduled, pre-written, post. I will be serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Jan. 2017 through Jul. 2018, and will not be checking my blog email, or updating my blog during that time. (I may have some already written posts scheduled go live during that time, but I will not be active on my blog, and those posts will be entirely my own opinion, and not representative of the opinions or stances of the church).

Any book requests or other communication received in that time will not be responded to until after June 2018.

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This is a scheduled post. I’m writing this on Nov. 28th, 2016, but by the time you’re reading it, the date will be Jan. 4th, 2017, and I will be entering the Provo Missionary Training Center (MTC) for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as LDS or Mormon). I will be in the MTC for three weeks, to help me become the best missionary I can be. I will spend a total of 18 months serving the Lord in Provo, Utah, and I could not possibly be more excited!

I am ecstatic to be able to share this exciting news with you!
I have been called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! I will be serving in the Utah Provo mission for a period of eighteen months, and I will leave Jan. 4th. I’m super excited! Being able to dedicate a year and a half of my life to serving God and His children has been my dream since I was about 6, and by the time you’re reading this, I’ll have already begun to live that dream! I am so thrilled to be able to share the gospel and help show people how much God loves them. This church makes me so happy, all I want is to be able to share that joy with all of God’s children.

P.S. Anyone who’s interested in some more info Can follow these lovely links:

 Mormon missionaries: https://www.mormon.org/chat

Six Things You’ve Always Wondered About Mormon Missionaries: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Un9qtWGDPA

Jesus Christhttps://www.mormon.org/beliefs/jesus-christ

The Book of Mormonhttps://www.mormon.org/beliefs/book-of-mormon

The Purpose of Lifehttps://www.mormon.org/beliefs/purpose-of-life

Being a “Mormon”https://www.mormon.org/beliefs/church-community

Dealing with Depression: https://www.lds.org/youth/article/dealing-with-depression?lang=eng

Other sourceshttps://www.lds.org/

https://www.mormon.org/

My Favorite Song about Missionarieshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzLE0W9geVs

 

As a missionary, I will be completely dedicating my life to serving others and sharing the gospel, and because of that, I will not be checking this blog, posting on this blog, or checking my various email addresses associated with it for the eighteen months I am serving as a missionary. I will try and write as many posts as possible before I leave, so that I can schedule them to go live while I’m gone, but I will not be reading comments / responding to emails / etc., for the next eighteen months! 

Thank you all so much for the support over the past 4 years of blogging, I’ve loved every moment of it!

See ya in eighteen!

Love,

Lynette  

 “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” – The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2nd Nephi 25: 26

 

In Defense of Cursed Child

Warning: This will contain Cursed Child Spoilers. Read at your own risk.

I’ve already posted my mind-blowing Cursed Child theory / revelation, and my official review of the script itself, and now I will write the post I’ve been most apprehensive about:

In Defense of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Why I Still Love This Script

So without further ado, I present to you the 7 most  common attacks I have received since I began publicly professing my love of the book, and my response to them. This is not meant to attack the beliefs of others, and if you think Cursed Child is awful, that’s your opinion. This post is an explanation of why I love Cursed Child DESPITE all of the claims that it’s awful, and why I think readers on the fence about buying it, should at least give it a try. 

  1. “It isn’t canon!”

    https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/status/615498601809211393

    Jo, Jack, and John developed the story together. Jo was on set with the actors, she was at rehearsals, she was very involved in the process. Jo considers it canonical. This isn’t an adaption of what Jo wrote, it is the story that she wrote. Books are written by multiple authors all the time, that’s nothing new. That said, I think every fan has their own definition of the word “canon” nowadays, so I guess this one comes down to what each reader personally wants to read. Me? I’ve been advocating for the HP Encyclopedia from day one, so I’m always thrilled when Jo gives us more information about the Wizarding World!

  2. “Okay, who cares what she says, we shouldn’t be required to blindly love anything she writes.”
    This is usually the point at which someone accuses me of fan-shaming, and I have to go back say something along the lines of: “Look, I love Cursed Child, and I’m a diehard fan. You think Cursed Child is awful, and although I disagree with you, I don’t think that makes you any less of a Potterhead, and I’m certainly not attacking your for that belief.”

    No, we don’t have to blindly love whatever Jo writes — There are plenty of people who hated Goblet of Fire, or Deathly Hallows, or Pottermore, and to each his own. But I say, give it a chance. Don’t let what you’ve read on Tumblr or Reddit dissuade you from being open minded when reading Cursed Child, because I think there’s a very good chance you’ll at least feel nostalgically happy about the book, and you’ll probably at least love some aspects of it. Who knows? You might fall in love with the whole thing. Maybe you won’t. But please, give J.K. Rowling a chance.

  3. “The Golden Trio aren’t true to their characters!”
    This usually means one of two things: Either the person thinks that Harry said some dumb things in the book, or the person is upset that a black woman was cast to play Hermione in the stage production.

    To the first one I always say: Guys, look, this is the same dumb Harry Potter that we’ve known and loved since he went all caps-lock on his best friends in Order of the Pheonix. Honestly, I would think if Jo had portrayed a Harry Potter that never lost his temper, got upset, or said something he would later regret, that would be unfaithful to the character we know from the seven books. Harry may be an adult who defeated Voldemort, but he still has bad moments and stressful circumstances. And come on guys, if Ginny and Albus can forgive him, why can’t we?

    To the second one I say: 

    And this:

    https://twitter.com/EmmaWatson/status/683365894517477377?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

  4. It’s a script! Harry Potter is supposed to be a book / it just doesn’t come to life quite the same way as it does reading a book. Jo’s just doing this to get money. It’s basically fan fic.
    So I compiled a few different ones in this. Yes, it’s a script. My first time reading it, was actually when my friend Analee and I chose different characters and read it aloud, which gave it amazing depth and made it so much more enjoyable than it already would have been. Then, I proceeded to read it two more times alone, and I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Script books have their own kind of magic, and that’s why I say give it a chance anyway. I’m absolutely still petitioning for a filmed version of the original cast performing it, or at least an original cast audiobook. And if Jo was doing this “just to get money”, then she wouldn’t have fallen off of the billionaire list because she gave so much money to charities. And it’s not fan fiction, because it’s written and approved by the author.

  5. Bella + Voldy??? What the what???
    This one has already been explained by people with much more time on their hands, so I will direct you to the following two articles:

    How old is Delphi in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? The Timeline Explains
    This is the quick and easy answer to when Delphi was conceived, for the TL;DR person.

    Cursed Child: Did J.K. Rowling ever hint at THAT romance in the original series?
    Personally, I think this is the best answer. It is chock full of JKR quotes from the books and from interviews over the years.

  6. Time travel? Are you kidding me? That’s SO DUMB. Also, confusing.
    In this case, I will direct you to the following essays written by people much smarter than me when it comes to the theoretical science of time travel. Personally, I yell at The Flash everytime he runs back in time because it’s SUCH A DUMB THING TO DO, but now I’m getting off topic, hahaha.

    Albus Potter and the Lesson in Quantum Mechanics
    This is the most science-y answer I could find, and if you ACTUALLY want to know how time travel works in the Harry Potter verse, this is the place to look. And if you just want to understand the alternate timelines in Cursed Child, scroll down to the subheading “The Timelines in Cursed Child”, and it explains everything perfectly.

    Cursed Child Alternate Timelines Diagram
    This is a wonderfully concise visual explanation of each of the alternate timelines in Cursed Child, and where they were different. It’s the visual version of the above. Truthfully, this helped me the most to understand it.

    Confused by the Harry Potter and Cursed Child’s Timeline? Time Turner Craziness Explained
    This is a slightly less easy to understand explanation of each of the alternate realities, but it can be a good a supplemental source.

  7. Cedric Diggory, a death eater? Yeah, right…
    As a Gryffindor, I will direct you to the following article written by a Hufflepuff that finally made it possible for me to understand how alternative timeline Cedric could have turned evil:
    Why Cedric Being Evil in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is Terrifying to Hufflepuffs

    And I will leave you with this quote from Sirius Black: 
    “Besides, the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” -J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

So, there you have it. Those are my responses to the top seven complaints I hear about Cursed Child. So, give it a chance. I think you’ll probably 

 

Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — by J.K. ROWLING

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com.

Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Author: J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

Rating:  ★★★★★★★ (7 of 5, which I’ve never actually given any book before.)

Genre/Pages: Fantasy / 343

Summary: “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”

Cover Review: I love it. I love it so much. It’s perfect.

My Review: This will be my actual review. My next post will be my defense of Cursed Child, which will be me combatting the most common attacks I get for my public profession of my love of this book. I have now read this book three times, and I love it more each time.

So my friend Analee and I went to the midnight release party of this book at the giant Half-Price Books next to us, and you know what every HP fan was thinking:

 

So, this is a return to the Wizarding World in a play format. As someone who personally LOVES reading plays, that part wasn’t weird for me at all. It brings it’s own kind of special magic (though I absolutely am still hoping that they will do a film recording of the original cast performing it so that we can all watch their beautifullnes, cuz MAN that cast is amazing!). This isn’t Harry’s story, though. It’s the story of Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy. 

Characters: It was like returning home. This is the same Harry Potter that we have all known and loved since 1997. He’s all grown up now, with kids of his own, and how all of these character’s interact is wonderfully faithful to the original series and the original character development. We automatically fall in love with the new characters, especially Scorpius. Oh man, I love Scorpius. He’s the best.

Sometimes, authors of plays have trouble making the heart and soul of character’s come across well in the scriptbook, but Jo & Company did not have that problem. These characters make you scream, they make you cry, they make you laugh, but most of all, they make you love them. They are real. They make dumb mistakes. They have poor judgement sometimes, but at the end of the day, the moral of Cursed Child is the same thing we’ve seen throughout the entire Harry Potter series: Love conquers all. Family and friends are more important than any prejudice or bias. No dark magic can stand against Harry & Friends because they are there “Until the very end.”

Plot: It was about 2 am by the end of part one, and Analee and I were hardcore freaking out. Like, we couldn’t handle this plot. The ending of part one had me torn between two equally strong emotions: 

 

Personally, I loved the plot. I thought it was perfectly faithful to the formula of the Original Series, while still being a story completely of it’s own. It brought new light to aspects of the wizarding world that I had only ever wondered about, and it gave me a greater love and understanding for this series and universe that Jo has so carefully and painstakingly created and allowed us to enter.

Reading this script book with an open mind was like visiting an old friend after a very, very long time — it was like returning home. Read it with an open mind and I promise you will not be disappointed. It’s action packed, it’s heartfelt, it’s poignant, and crazy fun. This is the best book ever. I loved it more than I can possibly put into words. I highly recommend this script book to Harry Potter fans of all ages. I think everyone should read this book. 

P.S. Pro tip: This book is best read aloud with friends, to get the full scope of the play. 

Content Advisory: Some deaths, and intense fantasy violence, but nothing graphic.

To Sum It Up: Me, right after finishing it:

Review: Siren’s Song — by Mary Weber

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com.

Title: Siren’s Song (The Storm Siren Trilogy, #3)

Author: Mary Christine Weber

Rating:  ★★★★★ (5 of 5)

Genre/Pages: Steampunk Fantasy / 384

Summary: Nym and Draewulf prepare to face off in a battle destined to destroy more lives than it saves.

With the loss of Tulla still fresh in mind, Rasha’s fate unknown, and Lord Myles taken over by the dark ability, Nym and the few Bron soldiers rush to warn Cashlin’s queen. Only to discover it may already be too late for the monarch and her eerie kingdom. As the Luminescents are sifting through Nym’s past memories and the queen is reading into her future, Nym is given a choice of how to defeat Draewulf, but the cost may be more than she can bear. And even then there are no guarantees.

With that reality burrowing into her bones—along with the guilt of the lives she will sacrifice—Nym returns to her homeland of Faelen to raise an army of peasants through promises of freedom. But when the few friends she has left, along with the world and citizens she loves, are staring down the face of a monster and his undead army, will Nym summon every element her blood is capable of controlling . . . or surrender to a different strength—one of sacrifice?

Because in the end, death may be more merciful for them all.”

Cover Review: Absolutely stunning. This is serious cover goals. <3 I wish all books would get covers this beautiful, because I could stare at this for hours. ★★★★★ (5 of 5)

My Review: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book. I really loved the first book in the trilogy, and I enjoyed the second, but this one is on a whole other level of awesome. It was a series’ conclusion worthy of all of the heartbreak and emotional trauma that this trilogy has caused me from the time Storm Siren was released. 

Characters: You fall in love with these characters all over again, and you learn to love the newly introduced ones, as well. These character’s are very real in their struggles, and throughout most of the book, I just wanted to reach out and give them a hug. There were also a few times I wanted to talk some sense into them, but, you know… gotta have variety, right? It is such a sad thought that with this book I am leaving this world and these character’s behind forever, but Siren’s Song was a beautiful farewell. 

Plot: I am continually blown away by the world and storyline. The second book lagged a bit, because it’s entire purpose was to build up to this book, but let me tell you this: Siren’s Song was worth every bit of it. The war was depicted with relative realism, and the storyline is intense, but it’s really the character’s that make this plot so fabulous. This book is absolutely amazing! I loved it!

Content Advisory: Lots of death, war, and bloodshed. Graphic, but not explicit. Some kissing. 

To Sum It Up: With story and imagery as breathtaking and captivating  as it’s cover, this is a trilogy finale that you will be unable to put down. It’s heartbreaking, it’s moving, and it’s insanely action packed. I highly recommend this book to readers 12 and up. 

Review: Shadow Eyes — by Dusty Crabtree

 

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Cover image and summary from goodreads.com

Title: Shadow Eyes

 

Author: Dusty Crabtree

Rating:  ★★★★☆ (4 of 5)

Genre/Pages: Urban Fantasy / 328

Summary: “Iris thought she could ignore the shadows…until they came after everyone she loved.

Seventeen-year- old Iris Kohl has been able to see both dark and light figures ever since a tragic incident three years ago. The problem is, no one else seems to see them, and even worse…the dark figures terrorize humans, but Iris is powerless to stop them.

Although she’s learned to deal with watching shadows harass everyone around her, Iris is soon forced to question everything she thinks she knows about her world and herself. Her sanity, strength, and will power are tested to the limits by not only the shadows, but also a handsome new teacher whose presence scares away shadows, a new friend with an awe-inspiriting aura, and a mysterious, alluring new student whom Iris has a hard time resisting despite already having a boyfriend. As the shadows invade and terrorize her own life and family, Iris must ultimately accept the guidance of an angel to revisit the most horrific event of her life and become the hero she was meant to be.”

Cover Review: Not a fan of this cover. The font is pretty, and the colors are nice (and important to the plot), but it’s not a very aesthetically pleasing cover, or one that would make me want to pick up / buy the book. It could definitely use a complete revamp. 

My Review: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. First of all, Dusty Crabtree’s writing and imagery are absolutely captivating. She has a way with words that makes everything come to life beautifully. The world and premise are really creative — it’s an epic modern battle between angels and demons, it’s a story that embodies Dumbledore’s quote: 

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Characters: Honestly, the protagonist infuriated me at times, but that’s exactly what made her such a good character. She was so receptive and good at seeing what was wrong with everyone else, except for herself and her immediate circumstances. Then again, I suppose that is exactly what made her so relatable and realistic, because human beings tend to be pretty blind when it comes to themselves and their friends. That’s what enables Iris’ story to teach so many good and important life lessons. Each character exists to teach the reader different things (but not in a preachy way at all), and each character is in a different stage of their personal battle between good and evil. 

Plot: I loved the plot. It told the very real story of a teenage girl in a scary world overcoming her own personal evil. It was heartfelt, it was poignant, and it was meaningful. This is the kind of story that actually stands for something. It’s more than just a fun book to read, it’s genuinely good book, and an important story to tell. It was a fantastic read!

Content Advisory: Wow, this book deals with some really heavy topics. Alcoholism, date rape, drug use, teenage pregnancies, self-harm, suicide, blackmail, manipulation, miscarriages, cheating spouses, and car crashes, if memory serves. These things are always portrayed in a negative light, and is a story contrasting the battle between the light and the dark in the world. When I asked the author about it, she said: “There are some PG-13 things, but nothing major – it’s really more just descriptions of stuff leading up to something bad that never actually happens.  But everything (guy/girl stuff) is shown in a negative light – not condoned.  In fact, I have yet to get negative feedback on that from a Christian or person sensitive to that stuff.”

To Sum It Up: A beautifully written contemporary tale of the eternal battle between good and evil, this book is nearly impossible to put down. It’s engaging, gripping, and realistic. I highly recommend this book to readers 15 and up.