Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J K Rowling

Published by: Scholastic

Year of Publication: July 21, 2007

Categories: Fantasy, YA

Pages: 759

Summary (from Goodreads): Readers beware. The brilliant, breathtaking conclusion to J.K. Rowling’s spellbinding series is not for the faint of heart–such revelations, battles, and betrayals await in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that no fan will make it to the end unscathed. Luckily, Rowling has prepped loyal readers for the end of her series by doling out increasingly dark and dangerous tales of magic and mystery, shot through with lessons about honor and contempt, love and loss, and right and wrong. Fear not, you will find no spoilers in our review–to tell the plot would ruin the journey, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is an odyssey the likes of which Rowling’s fans have not yet seen, and are not likely to forget. But we would be remiss if we did not offer one small suggestion before you embark on your final adventure with Harry–bring plenty of tissues.

The heart of Book 7 is a hero’s mission–not just in Harry’s quest for the Horcruxes, but in his journey from boy to man–and Harry faces more danger than that found in all six books combined, from the direct threat of the Death Eaters and you-know-who, to the subtle perils of losing faith in himself. Attentive readers would do well to remember Dumbledore’s warning about making the choice between “what is right and what is easy,” and know that Rowling applies the same difficult principle to the conclusion of her series. While fans will find the answers to hotly speculated questions about Dumbledore, Snape, and you-know-who, it is a testament to Rowling’s skill as a storyteller that even the most astute and careful reader will be taken by surprise.

A spectacular finish to a phenomenal series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a bittersweet read for fans. The journey is hard, filled with events both tragic and triumphant, the battlefield littered with the bodies of the dearest and despised, but the final chapter is as brilliant and blinding as a phoenix’s flame, and fans and skeptics alike will emerge from the confines of the story with full but heavy hearts, giddy and grateful for the experience.

Review: Every time I read this book I feel sad – sad that the series is over and there will be no more Harry Potter books. I remember the first time I read Philosopher’s Stone, it was during the Christmas break of 2001/2002. I was home from university and needed something fun to read after all the studying for exams I had done. I instantly fell in love with Harry, Hermione, and Ron.

To be honest, I was a little disappointed when I had finished this book. J K Rowling had given little clues throughout the last few books about the story lines of Deathly Hallows (like the locket with RAB inscribed on it). Knowing how crazy Harry Potter fans are, she should have known that people would figure out that it was Regulus. It doesn’t seem like that big of a leap to figure it out. I felt like she didn’t realize that people would get it, and so she felt like she had to change things to keep it interesting for readers. (While I don’t know if that’s true, it’s how I feel – I’m in no way speaking for Rowling!) Can you tell I wasn’t impressed with the whole Deathly Hallows story line?

Two of my favorite supporting characters are Neville and Professor McGonagall. I was so happy when Neville came out of the hole at the pub in Hogsmeade. I didn’t realize how much I missed him in the book til he actually showed up. I loved the fact that McGonagall magiced the desks and suits of armor to help in the fight – totally something I could see her doing.

I’m glad that Harry and Voldemort fought one on  one. I think if anyone else was involved it would have taken away from what the whole series was driving at. But at the same time I find it kind of unrealistic that all those people would just be watching while the fight would happen – that no one would feel the need to jump in and help either Voldemort or Harry.

There were definitely sad parts to the book – you knew people were going to die, it was just a matter of who. The first one that made me cry was when George lost his ear while he was pretending to be Harry. I felt for all the Weasley’s – I felt like I was a Weasley – I didn’t want my brother hurt.

Another really sad part. He had done so much for Harry and the Order, he was so brave and only wanted to do the right thing, and then Bellatrix had to kill him. I think part of what made it so much sadder was that Harry dug his grave by hand, instead of using magic. I knew exactly what Harry was feeling, cause I felt the same way.

The last sad part that made me cry was when Fred was killed. I couldn’t believe it had happened the first time I read the book – I had to read it a couple times before it actually sunk in. I was devastated. I knew characters that I liked were going to be killed, but I still didn’t want it to actually happen.

All in all, Deathly Hallows was a great book. Although I wasn’t entirely impressed with part of it, the other books in the series helped to carry it through – you can’t not think about the previous books when reading this one.

Image: goodreads.com

Disclosure: I purchased this book.

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Sleepless by Cyn Balog

Published By: Delacorte Press

Year of Publication: July 13, 2010

Categories: Fantasy

Pages: 224

Summary (Goodreads): Eron De Marchelle isn’t supposed to feel a connection. He is a Sandman, a supernatural being whose purpose is to seduce human charges to sleep. While he can communicate with his charges in their dreams, he isn’t encouraged to–after all, getting too involved in one human’s life would prevent him helping his other charges get their needed rest.

But he can’t deny that he feels something for Julia. Julia, with her fiery red hair and her sad dreams. Just weeks ago, her boyfriend died in a car accident, and Eron can tell that she feels more alone than ever. Eron was human once too, many years ago, and he remembers how it felt to lose the one he loved. Eron has always felt protective of Julia . . . but now, when she seems to need him more than ever, he can’t seem to reach her . . .

Sandmen are forbidden from communicating with humans outside their dreams. But will Eron be willing to risk everything for a chance to be with the person he loves?

Review: With all the vampire and werewolf books (as much as I really like reading them), it’s always nice to have a change once in awhile. That change was Sleepless. It still has the kind of paranormal/fantasy feel to it while being on a totally different topic than anything I’ve ever read before.

First off, I thought most of the characters were great. I really liked Julia and Eron. I thought they were both believable and realistic, and I immediately liked both of them. I thought the author did a great job showing how different Eron was, because he lived during the early 1900’s, while at the same time not letting that being the only notable thing about him. (Hopefully that last sentence actually made sense outside of my head.)

The two characters that I didn’t like were Griffin and Chimere. I thought Griffin was incredibly self-absorbed. He thought the world revolved around him, and I got tired of it. I don’t want to give the ending away for my reasons about why I didn’t like Chimere, but I”m sure you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read it.

Usually I like reading books that I already know the rules to – vampires, werewolves, fairies – that sort of thing. I usually shy away from typical fantasy because I find it hard to get into the brand new world that the author is trying to get me to see. However I didn’t have that problem with this book. Even though I’d never read anything about sandmen before, and there’s no hard and fast rules about them, I still really enjoyed it. I attribute that to the author’s writing abilities.

If you’re interested in knowing more about Sleepless or the author, check out Cyn Balog’s site at cynbalog.com.

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from the library.

Image: Goodreads

Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

Published By: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Year of Publication: 2005

Categories: YA, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Pages: 548

Summary (from goodreads.com): Ah, Christmas! Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy, spending time with her friends in the city, attending ritzy balls, and on a somber note, tending to her ailing father. As she prepares to ring in the New Year, 1896, a handsome young man, Lord Denby, has set his sights on Gemma, or so it seems. Yet amidst the distractions of London, Gemma’s visions intensify–visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened, something only the realms can explain. . . .
The lure is strong, and before long, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world of the realms that Gemma alone can bring them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.
But all is not well in the realms–or out. The mysterious Kartik has reappeared, telling Gemma she must find the Temple and bind the magic, else great disaster will befall her. Gemma’s willing to do his intrusive bidding, despite the dangers it brings, for it means she will meet up with her mother’s greatest friend–and now her foe, Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task.

Review: I really enjoyed reading this book. In fact, I think I liked it better than the first one cause I knew more about the Realms. It was less explaining them and more about the story this time around.

I found myself liking Gemma more and more and disliking both Ann and Felicity. I think I’m drawn to Gemma because she feels like she’s different (well, she is different), and she’s trying to figure herself out and where she belongs in the world. Ann puts me off because she’s so self pitying, it just drives me crazy. And with Felicity, I’m not quite sure what it is, but I think there’s something more to her than what’s been revealed so far.

I wasn’t a very big fan of Thomas at the end of the first book, but I found myself liking him more and more throughout this book. I think I saw the more human side of him, instead of just how Gemma sees him.

Nell was such a tragic character in this book. She was doomed from the moment she was introduced to the reader. I really felt for her, and was glad the way things worked out for her in the end. I wont say anymore about her cause I don’t want to give anything away.

I thought the pacing was great, there weren’t any boring parts. I found the ball scenes a lot of fun to read about, with all the expectations of manners and etiquette. I love reading about cultures that are different from mine, and while it was weird to read about dance cards, I felt like I was right there.

I would definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for some fantasy and historical fiction. I already have the last book of the trilogy, The Sweet Far Thing, on hold at the library.

Image: goodreads.com

Disclosure: I got this book from the library.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Published by: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

Year of Publication: 2003

Categories: YA

Pages: 416

Summary (from goodreads.com): A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy–jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel. Gemma, 16, has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother’s death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls’ academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions “for a bit of fun” and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the “others” and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.

Review: At first I wasn’t quite sure to think of this book. While I didn’t find the writing amazing, I was intrigued by the storyline and found myself wondering where it was going to go next.

I found the characters were a little one dimensional – I would have loved to learn more about them, especially Gemma and Ann. And I have a suspicion that Miss Moore will also be making at least one more appearance.

I found Gemma easy to like, though I didn’t like Felicity and Pippa as much. Maybe it was because I found them hard to relate to – they’re so different than me. I’m intrigued by Kartik, I want to know what’s going to happen to him and Gemma down the road (I do suspect some romance between the two of them).

I really enjoyed reading about the setting and time – what it was like to be a sixteen year old in Victorian England. I thought the beginning of the book in India was a great contrast to life in England later on. It’s so interesting to see how people lived their lives hundreds of years ago.

I will definitely be reading the next book in the trilogy, Rebel Angels.

Disclosure: I borrowed this book from the library.

Image: goodreads.com