Thursday, June 9, 2016

Harry Potter House Book Recommendations

Harry Potter House Book Recommendations

There are a lot of fun aspects to the Harry Potter universe for its die hard fans. Like many of us, I have visited Pottermore and got sorted into a house (Ravenclaw!). I have had detailed discussions about which houses celebrities and various characters would be in, as well as which combo houses I'm suited to (I think I'm actually more of a Huffleclaw). I've walked the streets of Diagon Alley (in Florida) and had a wand pick me. It was made of willow and I've worked magic with it:
Willow wood has powers of protection, especially against natural disasters. Willow people are strong and flexible; they recover quickly from the unexpected. Willow people should face new challenges confident that each encounter only makes them stronger.
Knowing how strongly fans dig into the HP world, I decided to build a Suggested Reads list for each Hogwarts house. The books are all YA or YA-adjacent.

If you haven't officially been sorted into your Hogwarts house, click on the link above for Pottermore to find out where you belong, then peruse the lists below to find a great new read!

Books for Gryffindors:

  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Read Player One by Ernest Cline
  • The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
  • Front Lines by Michael Grant
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  • Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
  • The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
  • Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
  • Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Books for Hufflepuffs:
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chboskey
  • The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
  • To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
  • Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan
  • Legend by Marie Lu
  • The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  • Winger by Andrew Smith
  • Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
  • Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson

Books for Ravenclaws:
  • A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann
  • Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
  • Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
  • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
  • Illuminae by Amie Kaufman
  • Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • Jackaby by William Ritter
  • Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  • Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman
  • Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Books for Slytherins: 

Now it's your turn: tell us your Hogwarts House and if you think any of the books above would be better suited for a different House, or if the list is missing a great title for a specific house! 

Book Review: White Cat

White Cat (Curse Workers #1)
By Holly Black
“Pet the cat dude," says Sam. "She brought you a present. She wants you to tell her how badass she is."

"You are a tiny tiny killing machine." Daneca coos.

"What's she doing?" I ask.

"Purring!" says Daneca. She sounds delighted. "Good kitty. Who's an amazing killing machine? That's right. You are! You are a brutal brutal tiny lion! Yes, you are.”

In Cassel's world, some people can do magic and some people can't, but everyone knows it exists. The majority of the non-magic users fear people who do magic, so magic is outlawed. Therefore, the magic users tend to band together in organized magical groups, and since magic is outlawed, these groups participate in organized crime. In other words, a magic mafia.

That's right - a magic mafia!

So Cassel's family are all magic practitioners and are connected to a major crime family. Cassel, though, (if I may steal a term from Harry Potter) is a squib - the only non-magic person in a magic family of con artists. His mother is in prison, his brother is interning at a law firm trying to get her out, and his other brother is an enforcer for the mafia don's heir apparent. Cassel's grandfather does the dirtiest work of all - his touch can bring death.

In this world, all magic is used through the power of touch; everyone wears gloves to keep from getting "cursed." But for every magic touch the magic wielder uses, he or she get's a whiplash-type effect. So if you are a memory worker, you lose your own memories. If you can kill someone with a touch, a part of your body dies (Cassel's grandfather is missing many fingers). So magic wielding isn't all fun and games, but Cassel still feels like the black sheep in the family because he doesn't have a gift.

To make matters worse, he killed his best friend.

The story follows Cassel as he tries to make a normal life for himself, but is finding that hard to do with his last memory of his best friend, his confusion about why he killed her, and other major family issues. And considering the fact that his best friend is the Don's only child and Cassel's family is keeping the secret that Cassel killed her, the issues are vast and troublesome. The story has a lot of twists and turns, but it is an engaging urban fantasy mystery. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes an edgier read with a supernatural twist!

Audio Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) 
By Laini Taylor
Narrated by Khristine Hvam
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” 
Karou is a teenager who attends a school for the arts in Prague. She has blue hair and tattoos, the most obvious of which are the eyes on each palm and "true" and "story" on each wrist. She's also a brilliant artist and her friends love to look at her sketch book for the fantastic creatures she draws there. In addition to the beautiful drawings, Karou tells stories of the different "characters." What her friends don't know is that these creatures are real, and they're Karou's family.

Karou's family are Chimera - creatures made up of different animal parts (kinda like the Sphinx). Unbeknownst to Karou, her family has been fighting a war for a century: a war against the angels.

Enter Akiva, a beautiful angel who comes to earth to close the portals Karou's family uses to access our world. Akiva meets Karou and the sparks (and flames) fly. They fall in love, but there's far more to their story than either could possibly guess.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a mesmerizing mix of love and hate, peace and war, romance and tragedy. Taylor has fused together two worlds in a fascinating and believable way and Hvam narrates it beautifully. And just when you have hope that everything will work out for our star-crossed lovers, Taylor comes along and sucker punches you. Thank heaven's there's a sequel!

This is a great story for anyone who enjoys paranormal romance, mythology, or stories that take place in foreign locales. Highly recommended.

P.S. Check out this book trailer I did for Daughter of Smoke and Bone!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Manga Review: Behind the Scenes!!

Behind the Scenes!! Vol. 1 
By Bisco Hatori
"I prefer shade to sunlight." -Bisco Hatori, Behind the Scenes!! Vol. 1
This series has a lot of promise - a college "art squad" who creates the costumes, set designs, etc. for the campus film groups. The squad has a fun variety of characters and I think it'll be interesting to see where their stories go. 

The only draw back (and the reason I didn't give this a higher rating), and one I felt happened with the Ouran series, too, is that it feels like too much is jammed into the first volume. Not just story-wise - Hatori does have a lot of characters to introduce in this ensemble - but even visually. There are a few pages and frames that have so much going on that I can't really tell what's happening in the picture. In Ouran, this settled down after a bit, and then I was fully immersed, and I hope that's the case here as well. 

So far this series is starting out pretty tame, even though it takes place in a college setting. It looks like it will be a good fit for artistic types, particularly high school students. I'd recommend the series for anyone who's interested in film making, particularly the "Behind the Scenes!!" work it takes to get the film made.

Looking forward to finding out what happens next and excited to start a new series by the only manga artist/writer I've really gotten into. 

Bonus Factors: Steampunk elements, art/design

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Book Review: The Curse of the Tenth Grave

The Curse of the Tenth Grave (Charley Davidson #10) 
By Darynda Jones
"There are those in this world who, when they have to get up in the middle of the night to pee, turn on the light. And there are those who leave it off...I pee in the dark, baby." Darynda Jones, The Curse of the Tenth Grave. 
Review contains mild spoilers for the book and the series. Read at your own risk!

Things have really changed for the characters in the last few books in the series. Charley is back home in Albuquerque and back on a few new cases, all whilst rocking some new major powers, which makes her narrative even more interesting. On the bright side, she manages to solve her cases (per usual) without being beaten and mangled at the end of the book (not per usual). I really appreciated that, and hope that's one side effect of her new celestial powers. But with all that, she's still the same snarky, slightly juvenile character I've grown to love. It really makes me wonder what she was like in her "past life." Was she always like this? Was she once noble and serene? Or was she faking noble and secretly snarky the whole time, and now she's getting to be her true self? I'd read that novella!

The way things are progressing, I'm wondering where this series will lead. Do we have bunches and bunches of books to look forward to until the Big Event? Or will Jones fast forward at some point? Either way, I'm in it for the long haul!

**I received an Advanced Review eGalley of this title from NetGalley**