Sunday, July 31, 2016

Harry Potter Progress: Deathly Hallows
hosted by Faith @ GeekyZooGirl and Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

From last night's midnight release for Cursed Child at Barnes & Noble. Face paint (classic Harry, of course) and the beautiful wand that chose me at Olivander's.
Right. So I meant to post loads more during Harry Potter Month than I actually did. Sorry about that. Stuff and reading made the schedule crazy sauce. I did manage to get some thoughts down to turn into blog posts, so before I settle in for the last of Deathly Hallows, if I can finish it one go, I wanted to get some of these thoughts out there, before they become null and void.
Apologies upfront if there are any misspellings; I've been primarily listening to the series, not reading it.

Spinner's End -Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
*fangirl flail*
Snape vowed WHAT NOW?
I don't think you understand. From the very beginning, ever since I read Sorcerer's Stone, I've wondered whether Malfoy is going to wind up standing against Voldemort, instead of with him. Up to now, I've formed a theory that towards the end Pansy Perkinson would wind up his girlfriend -and get killed by or because of Deatheaters. That would set Malfoy against Voldemort and his Death Eater parents. I liked this theory. It involved heartache, a harsh reality check, and the moment when Draco Malfoy has to decide what kind of man he wants to be.
It pales in comparison to what I see coming down the road now.
Snape has vowed to assist and protect Draco in accomplishing some impossible task for the Dark Lord? What if... What if Snape dies to keep this vow?
Now there's a wake up call for Draco Malfoy. Because the most magnificent way to pull that off is for Snape to protect Draco against the hand of Voldemort himself, once it's quite clear on whose side he truly stands. And there Draco will be, having watched his favorite teacher become an enemy who died to protect him from the Dark Lord who set him up to fail as a punishment for his father.

Granted, I have no idea how this part of the story goes down. This is a theory right now.

But holy crap I love it.

So this is already a tad outdated. First of all, I see Draco's parents slinking out of Voldermort's grip the first substantial chance they get. Draco's impossible task for the Dark Lord was getting Death Eaters into Hogwarts and, possibly, killing Dumbledore. Not quite sure yet whether that was part of the actual task. At any rate, it's been done. Completed. So unless Snape's vow extends past helping Draco with the task -again, not sure- Snape wouldn't be compelled to protect Draco. Well, under the Unbreakable Vow, anyway. Which leads to the not outdated bits of my theory. I'm still far too attached to this idea that Snape's eventual reveal as a traitor to the Death Eaters and consequential death will be what pushes Draco to make his own choice. There have been so many influential teachers at Hogwarts for Harry, I would love to see the equivalent of that affect Draco just as much.

This is all, of course, assuming that Draco Malfoy EVEN TURNS INTO A HALF DECENT GUY! I have been convinced from the start -the very first book I stated in my review that I wanted to see a good development in Draco, and that hasn't changed. Especially after Half-Blood Prince. Good gravy, I want to see it time ten now!

Neville Longbottom -Somewhere between Order of the Phoenix finale and Half-Blood Prince
I save this for last, because this is where all the feels are. Seriously. This is my Most Desired Moment. Please, please let me have it!

I really like Neville. I like that he's forgetful, and a little clumsy, and that Harry and the gang like him anyway. In the very first book he caught me with his all around adorableness, but at that end, when he stood up to his friends and won Gryffindor that House Cup -! That did it. That won me over.
And then to find out about his parents? Heartbreak, man. Makes me love him even more.

I'm really interested to see what the last books do for him. At first, I hoped that Neville would finally find the courage to stand up to Snape, but there was something I read online a while back, a comment someone made about how Neville considers Snape his greatest fear and he faces him on almost a daily basis. That's like Ron sitting in front of a giant spider for hours throughout the week without running away screaming!

That's when I realized I don't really want Neville to stand up to Snape. Don't get me wrong; it would be cool to see. A good huzzah moment for the beloved Longbottom. But what I really, truly want?

See, the whole thing is that Snape thinks Neville is worthless, stupid, and slow. Seriously. As a student, Snape thinks Neville is a failure. And Snape doesn't hesitate to voice that opinion. That's half the reason why Neville is so afraid of him.

That's also why I don't want to see Neville simply stand up to his terrifying teacher. Instead, I want to see Neville impress Snape. I don't know how or why, but I hope with all of my fangirl heart that Snape will witness Neville do something so incredibly wonderful and brave and courageous that he can't even help a look of admiration on his face, that he can't even try to hide how impressed, surprised, and startled he is.

I'm not even sure Neville Longbottom needs to notice; he doesn't need to see that look on Snape's face, even if the rest of the world does. Because with whatever this deed is, I want Neville to realize he doesn't need Snape's approval, or even his grandmother's. I want him to realize just how much he's worth, exactly as he is, with the confidence to stand up to his friends when he knows it's right, the determination to excel at Defense Against the Dark Arts against all odds, the resolve to take on Dolores Umbridge when Harry needs a distraction, and the courage to brave the Department of Mysteries when Voldemort himself could very likely be there.

That is what I really want to see.

Here I go...
Also, I'm annoyed Ron has stormed out on Harry and Hermione and he better get his butt back into gear.
Bonus points if Neville's Heroic Moment involves Beatrix Le Strange.
And Lupin! My heart aches for my favorite tortured werewolf but -sorry, guys- Harry was totally in the right place to tell Lupin off. I hope he swims in that guilt until his fingers get all pruny and he realizes Harry is right and BY GOLLY ROWLING IF HE OR TONKS OR THAT BABY DIE I WILL NOT FORGIVE YOU!

Keep the pages turning!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Everything I Knew About Harry Potter I Learned From Studio C | Part Two
hosted by Faith @ GeekyZooGirl and Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

Welcome back for Part Two! (If you missed its predecessor, just click here.) As part of Harry Potter Month, I've decided to share one of the biggest exposures I had to the Wizarding World, long before I decided to read the series:

The brilliant sketches of Studio C!

Right, um, so understanding that they do mess around with the characters quite a bit in this next set of sketches -which die-hard fans might not like- they're still HILARIOUS.

Ahhh, Christmas time at Hogwarts...

Being homeschooled myself, I can totally relate to this.
(Also, this makes so much more sense now that I know all the curses. XD)

Just Ask Sevy.

This is basically the quintessential time travel piece of all time. Drink it in.

While yesterday's Snape on The Bachelorette came in at #2 on my favorites list, this has to be #1 by far because it's Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings -and it's so true!

As I promised, the sketch with 'J.K. Rowling', and it's all about the power of story. This is a great one for all of us writers out there too, so enjoy. ;)

I hope everyone liked taking a look at my pre-reading-Harry-Potter existence!

If you liked these, Studio C has done themed sketches for more fandoms, including Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, assorted superheroes and villains, and The Hunger Games Musical Parody.

Did you find a NEW favorite today?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Everything I Knew About Harry Potter I Learned From Studio C | Part 1
hosted by Faith @ GeekyZooGirl and Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

If you've been frequenting my blog, you know that this year I finally broke down and read Harry Potter for the first time. You'll also know how much I'm enjoying it. =)

But what was it like, you wonder? Having grown up in a world obsessed with Harry Potter- without it?

This is a pretty good look, right here. Studio C, a sketch comedy group I adore, has done a number of Harry Potter-themed sketches and they are all freaking fantastic. (And, um, even better now that I understand all the references. ^_^)

For years, the following sketches were the only insight I had into this strange Wizarding World and I think you'll agree it's an interesting -and hilarious- hodge-podge of truth and misinformation. It's been fun sorting it all out. 

I admit up front. I have an ulterior motive for posting these. As fantastic and hilarious as Studio C is, they're not always widely known. Plus, I hope I get to be the one to introduce all you Potterheads to these brilliant sketches, especially everyone participating in the Harry Potter Month, as a kind of 'thank you' for making my first read through such a fun experience.

But I also want to know what other kinds of fun Harry Potter-related videos and assorted Internet-shenanigans YOU love. I'll be finished with the series soon, and I feel like there's a huge extension of the Wizarding World out there on the net that I need to explore afterwards but I don't know where to start! So please. Tell me your favorites. Dig through your old bookmarks and pages and find me all that Harry Potter gold. Either leave suggestions in the comments, or by all means, write your own post and link it here! I'll check them all out!

With that out of the way, shall we begin?

This was the first one I ever saw. I'm not even going to spoil it. ^_^

In which I met Dobby for the first time.

More Dobby! And Jason Bourne. Which works surprisingly well for both canons. XD

This one. Basically takes the cake. This is probably my second favorite of the lot because it's ridiculous that it works. It was hilarious before I read the series, but now that I've read them -Studio C nailed Snape. Jason does an amazing job impersonating Alan Rickman's take on the character, but more than that -this is exactly how Snape would act on the Bachelorette.
You heard me.
The Bachelorette.

Unlike most veteran Harry Potter readers, I know the TRUE reason of Voldemort's insecurities.
(Oh yeah, and if you didn't catch it in the Bachelorette one, Snape's in love with Harry's dead mom. *spoiler warning*)

Okay, I think that's all the videos Blogger is going to take for one blog post. Don't worry -this is only half the sketches!

Tomorrow I'll show you my favorite Harry Potter sketch of all, plus a bonus sketch featuring J.K. Rowling. (Just to be clear, not the actual J.K. Rowling, but Mallory doing a fantastic impersonation of her.)

Also, don't forget to check out more Studio C on YouTube! They have hundreds of fantastic sketches and they just keep getting better. ^_^

Which was your favorite?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Exploring My Bookshelves #4 -A Book I Wasn't Sure About + Unboxing

Exploring My Bookshelves #3
A Book I Wasn't Sure About
created by Victoria @ Addlepate and Book Nerds
co-hosted by Shannon @ For the Love of Words
The meme: Every Friday, participants share a photo of their
bookshelves and post on a specific topic or question about them.
Granted, there are a lot of books that I wasn't sure about. (Honorable mention here to Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz; a book about a guy who can see ghosts, because that makes perfect sense for a girl who gets the heebie jeebies from the tamest of ghost stories. But I love it!)

However the book that takes the cake is this one.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (check out my review!)
Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard! The first book in the "Harry Potter" series makes the perfect introduction to the world of Hogwarts. -via Goodreads
For years I've avoided reading it and assumed it overhyped. In the end, I only deigned to read it because a.) as a book blogger and booktuber, I figured I ought to at least give a try to the series so many other book bloggers and booktubers gush about and to which so many other books are compared and b.) as a writer, I wanted to see for myself this book that so drastically and fantastically changed the landscape in MG and YA publishing and heralded in a new Golden Age for these areas.

In the end, I fell in love with them. In fact, that book I'm holding is my very own, brand new copy, because I just bought the boxed set, baby!

Witness the Glorious Unboxing!!!

So yeah, that makes this another Harry Potter Month post. ;)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

REVIEW: The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian
by Andy Weir
Science Fiction
4/5 stars

I grabbed this book because of the movie, like many people probably did. The difference with me is that I really put my foot down about not reading this book. Even when The Martian hit theaters, even when everyone raved about how good it was, I waited until the movie came to the cheap theater in town (months after release) before I saw it. Usually, I'm adamant about reading books before seeing their movie versions, but for this one I was just as adamant I would see the movie first. To be honest, I never expected I would read this book.

Why? Partly because I heard it had a lot of swearing -one of the things I draw the line at- but also because I honestly wasn't sure I'd like the story.

I mean, it's about a guy stranded on Mars, all alone, fighting to survive. Intense? Yeah. Moving? Probably has its moments. But enjoyable? I anticipated an adrenaline-pumping film I'd watch once, maybe twice, but I couldn't see that a story like this would be entertaining enough for more than one evening, not when there weren't even conversations or aliens or anything.

Boy was I wrong.

What made this story was Mark Watney -his personality, his sarcasm, his snarky little asides, and his disparaging remarks about disco music. While the plot of the story is intense and daring, I wouldn't have cared a lick if Watney wasn't such a believable and entertaining personality. Without his jokes, crash course in 70s pop culture, and his random declarations of facts like 'I'm basically a space pirate' (with the undeniably logical explanations, to boot), I would have set this book aside a loooooong time ago.

I mention a lot that I don't like prose and narrative as much as I like dialogue -which is true- but the underlying reason for this is personality. In so many books, I find that the narrative lacks any hint of a character's personality, which is something I really connect with. Take out the personality and what have you got? A block of descriptors with no feeling, that's what. The Martian is bursting with personality, which makes it interesting and entertaining, and it's all because of Mark Watney.

And because Mark Watney was such a likable and interesting character, I found myself reading detailed descriptions of space travel technology, computer programs, NASA regulations, physics and biology. And I don't even like science! (In fact, science overload is one reason I haven't read much sci-fi in the past.) Because Mark Watney is a snarky, entertaining character, he made every one of these subjects interesting by injecting his snark into it. I still can't believe I sat through it all.

If anyone else had written this book -if Andy Weir had chosen any other personality but Mark Watney's with which to tell the story- it would not have been a quarter as interesting as it was. Kudos, Mr. Weir.

There are definite differences between book and movie, as always, but this is one of the best adaptations I've seen. The movie really nailed the core of this book and the story and Matt Damon was amazing; he was even more Mark Watney than Mark Watney in the actual book is. ("I am dipping this potato in crushed Vicodin, because no one can stop me. It has been seven days since I ran out of ketchup.") For this reason, I think I actually enjoy the movie better, but the book is definitely worth a read, because there's still a lot of stuff they couldn't fit into the film.

As a caution to my readers: There IS a lot of swearing in this book; the 'f' word especially is used frequently, by many characters across the board. For the most part, the swearing was used in specific situations or instances. I don't have as much of a problem with the use of swearing in books and movies when it's 'called for'; it's when swearing is used just for the sake of swearing that I can't stand.

Harry Potter Moment of the Week 4: What 3 Characters Would You Have Lunch With and Why?
Harry Potter Moment of the Week
started and hosted by Leah @ Uncorked Thoughts
& co-hosted by Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows

What 3 Characters Would You Have Lunch With and Why?

James Potter. Lilly Potter. Harry Potter.

And why, you ask? WHY?!




I'm not invested in this series at all. Oh no.

(But if I wasn't so invested in Harry's emotional well-being -and obviously reserving my right to do this again once I finish the series if need be- I'd have to go with Fred and George and Dumbledore. I love Fred and George because they're hilarious, but they've got grit, too; it would be fun to hang out with them for an afternoon. Then Dumbledore is wise and kind, but he's got his own brand of mischief. I imagine we could all get into quite a bit of trouble. Especially if Fred and George were testing out new tricks. And Dumbledore was giving them pointers. That would be fun.)

All these Harry Potter emotions just remind me how far behind I am on Harry Potter Month posts. But I've got a week and a half left?

Who would you invite?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TTT: Books Outside the US

Top Ten Tuesday is a blog meme hosted by the ladies at The Broke and the Bookish
This week's Top Ten Tuesday is to pick books that take place outside the US because -especially for those of us who live there- most of the books we read take place inside it. So here's a list of some of my favorite non-US-based books. Of course, for me, most books I read that don't take place in the US, take place in the UK, so I'm afraid there's not a lot of variety here.

Saffy's Angel by Hilary McKay
One of my favorite contemporaries, Saffy's Angel is about the Casson family who live in England, but also prominently features Venice, Italy, and a trip to Wales.

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy (My Review)
Featuring an undead skeleton sorcerer detective, this one takes place in Dublin, Ireland and its 'magical' underground.

Benny and Omar by Eoin Colfer (My Review)
I only recently read this YA Colfer novel and it was so much fun! An Irish family moves for a job transfer to, of all places, Tunisia.

Artemis Fowl & The Wish List by Eoin Colfer (My Review)
Both are fantasy and both predominantly feature Ireland, though the Artemis Fowl series moves around quite a lot.

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
This is what I would call 'historical fantasy'. It takes place in Romania and, despite the presence of mythical creatures and the Otherworld, it is rife with Romanian culture and lore.

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
This book takes place among the magic and waterways of Venice, Italy.

Half Magic by Edward Eager
A delightful children's fantasy, Half Magic takes place in England.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (My Review)
A sweet love story and a WWII historical fiction, it takes place on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel.

Hood by Stephen R. Lawhead
I remember reading this a long, long time ago; it's a series I haven't finished yet, but really need to. It's a re-imagining of Robin Hood, set in Wales during the Norman invasion.

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (My Review)
Egypt! Egyptologists! Tombs! Mummies! Huzzah!

Dragonrider by Cornelia Funke
All over the place. Seriously. The Middle East. Europe. Tibet. The Himalayas.

What have you read that takes place outside the US?

Monday, July 18, 2016

#BookmarkMonday (5): Nature Bookmark

hosted by Aloi @ GuiltlessReading

Guiltless Reading
#BookmarkMonday is a weekly meme that started in 2009.
Click the widget for more details!
Made from construction paper, packing tape, and dried flowers and leaves from our garden, this nature bookmark was a mandatory craft during a recent visit with some family members. ^_^

Bonus points: Can you name the book?
Last week's answer was: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Friday, July 15, 2016

Expolring My Bookshelves #3 -Mythical Creature

Exploring My Bookshelves #3
Mythical Creature
created by Victoria @ Addlepate and Book Nerds
co-hosted by Shannon @ For the Love of Words
The meme: Every Friday, participants share a photo of their
bookshelves and post on a specific topic or question about them.

Kazul, King of the Dragons
Peter de Seve's cover artwork for Dealing With Dragons
This week's was a tough pick because I have so much fantasy crammed onto my shelves. And one can't just pick 'dragon' in general, can they? There are far too many different kinds and unique variations in every fantasy book.

Kazul wins out in the end because she is funny, wry, clever, and has been a constant in my reading life since I was nine.

Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Summary (via Goodreads):

A Princess's work is never done—not even when she becomes a queen!

Princess Cimorene is now Queen Cimorene ...and she's faced with her first queenly crisis—the Enchanted Forest is threatened with complete destruction!

Those wizards are back—and they've become very smart. (Sort of.) They've figured out a way to take over the forest once and for all...and what they have planned isn't pretty.

With a little help from Kazul the dragon king, Morwen the witch, Telemain the magician, two cats, and a blue, flying donkey-rabbit named—what else?—Killer, Cimorene might just be able to stop them.

And some people think that being a queen is easy.

Special Bonus! While I was searching for images of Kazul, I came across this dream casting for a Searching for Dragons film and it's beautiful. I especially love the choices for Telemain and Mendanbar. ^_^

What's a favorite mythical creature from your bookshelf?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Harry Potter Moment of the Week #3 -Favorite Ginny Moment
Harry Potter Moment of the Week
started and hosted by Leah @ Uncorked Thoughts
& co-hosted by Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows

Favorite Ginny Moment?

Thing is, I feel like the best of Ginny is still to come for me. I anticipate I'll find an even more favorite moment before the end, but for right now, just starting Half-Blood Prince, I have to say my favorite Ginny moment shows up on the journey to the climax of Order of the Phoenix. Harry is desperate to get to the Department of Mysteries and equally determined to keep her, Neville, or Luna from coming along.

And she dishes it out to him.


"I've got a broom!" said Ginny.

"Yeah, but you're not coming," said Ron angrily.

"Excuse me, but I care what happens to Sirius as much as you do!" said Ginny, her jaw set so that her resemblence to Fred and George was suddenly striking.

"You're too-" Harry began.

"I'm three years older than you were when you first fought You-Know-Who over the Sorcerer's Stone," she said fiercely, "and it's because of me Malfoy's stuck back in Umbridge's office with giant flying bogeys attacking him-"

-Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, page 761
Buahahaha!!! I LOVE THIS CHICK!

Thirsty Thursday & Hungry Hearts #1 -Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Welcome to Thirsty Thursday and Hungry Hearts, an original weekly meme hosted here at (un)Conventional Bookviews. So many of the books I read have food or drinks in them, some I’d love to try, and others I’d never ever want to taste… and I thought it could be interesting and fun to share some food and / or drink quotes…  If you want to participate, you can grab my logo if you’d like, or you can make your own, but please link back to me in your own post.

The idea of Thirsty Thursday and Hungry Hearts is to share a quote with food or drinks that showed up in a recent read, as well as if it’s something you think you’d like or not. Please share the title of the book it happened in, as well as the character who ate or drank the special little something you discovered between the pages of a good read. Please link up beneath, and visit other bloggers who are participating in Thirsty Thursday and Hungry Hearts as well.

I realized I didn't have a post for today and headed to the Book Blog Memes Master List where I found this one. Now, I haven't noticed myself paying much attention to food and drink quotes since I last read one of Brian Jacques' Redwall novels, but it just so happened the audiobook I was listening to about 20 minutes ago had a rather unforgettable drink scene.

So of course I couldn't refuse.

"...Will you get these ruddy things off us?"

Harry looked around; all three of the Dursleys were cowering with their arms over their heads as their glasses bounced up and down on their skulls, their contents flying everywhere.

"Oh, I'm so sorry," said Dumbledore politely, and he raised his wand again. All three glasses vanished. "But it would have been better manners to drink it, you know."

-Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling, page 51

REVIEW: Sword in the Stacks by Jen Swann Downey (Ninja Librarians #2)

Sword in the Stacks
Ninja Librarians #2
Jen Swann Downey
4/5 stars

(from PR Letterhead)
Shelve This Book Under “D” for Dangerous. 
(Also daring, dramatic, dashing, daft, and dazzling!)

After stumbling upon the secret society of time-traveling ninja librarians, Dorrie has finally joined Petrarch’s Library as an apprentice! One day, she’ll actually go on missions to rescue

people whose words have gotten them into trouble. For now she’s taking some interesting classes: 
  • First and Last Aid: When Nobody Else is Coming 
  • Spears, Axes, and Cats: Throwing Objects with Precision and Flair
  • Codes, Invisible Inks, and Smoke Signals: Keeping Secrets 101

But on a training mission to 1912 England, Dorrie finds herself dangerously close to a member of the Stronghold – the Library’s biggest enemy. This is her opportunity! Dorrie can spy on the enemy, find the missing key…and become a real Lybrarian!

But if she makes a mistake, Dorrie could lead their enemy right to the very place she’s trying to save…and everyone she cares about.

Thanks, NetGalley! They provided me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I'm very happy to say I was NOT disappointed in this sequel.

Let me explain. I've been obsessing over the first book in this series for almost two years, and when a reader obsesses like that -thinking back on all the great moments, good story, and fun characters- that same reader might possibly unintentionally set that book on a pedestal that the sequel just can't compete with.

With that first book on a pedestal or not, Sword in the Stacks was magnificent.

Picking up pretty much where we left off, Dorrie and Marcus must convince their parents to allow them to apprentice with the time-hopping, evil-fighting, censorship-opposing Lybrarians out to save the world -one piece of writing at a time.

Not only is this sequel magnificent, I might actually like it better than the original. Aside from the great story it tells -the daring adventures! the madcap run-ins with famous historical figures! the inevitable breaking of rules and general child-hero mayhem!- it really delves into a side of Librarianship that's important to understand: A complete lack of censorship.

Ever since discovering the series, I wondered how Downey was going to handle this specific aspect of her concept. The idea of the world-saving Lybrariad is that these heroic Lybrarians travel through time trying to save endangered writings and/or authors, whether from destruction, censorship, or death. This is fantastic when a Lybrarian saves an essay on human kindness or a book on anti-slavery, but what about works that hold disagreeable or downright horrible ideas? Downey jumped right in to address the Lybrariad's stance and I feel much more comfortable in this world now, knowing that there isn't any agenda-pushing going on here; instead, the Lybrarians of Petrach's Library -while themselves cannot be unbiased- strive to protect all writings despite their bias. This is, understandably, a tricky concept to portray, especially in middle grade, but Downey handled it with considerable tact and grace -plus she twisted it into another of her lovable madcap adventures!

(I keep using the word 'madcap', I know. Pretty sure that's an effect of the secret room that Dorrie, Ebba, and Marcus find, and the fact that they dub it the 'Scooby-Doo library'.)

There was one other thing I longed to see in this book and my wish was granted.
We get to learn a little more about Millie. In the first book, she was the snotty brat who gave Dorrie such a hard time on her last visit to the Lybrariad, also implying that Dorrie wasn't good enough to qualify as an apprentice on her own merit. Once we found out she was the daughter of the Lybrariad's head of security, I've been dying to know more about her! There's the obvious 'mean girl' conflict here, but what I found most intriguing about it is Dorrie's stubborn desire to win Millie over. Instead of letting Millie bait her into fighting, or giving her the cold-shoulder in turn, Dorrie is determined to make friends with Millie, whether Millie likes it or not. Even in the first book, I found this adorable and refreshing, and I liked seeing more of this genuine kindness in Dorrie's character. I look forward to seeing where Downey will take these characters next.

Speaking of characters, I must admit my disappointment at Marcus. As fun as he remains in the sequel, and still as true to character, not a single Star Wars quote passed his lips. Not. A. Single. One. He's the same Marcus we know and love, up to his old shenanigans, he's just got some different obsessions now. Teenagers, right?

Last, but not least, concerning our favorite Lybrarian: Much as I love Hercule-Savinien de Cyran de Bergerac -with his expert swordsmanship, magnificent schnoz, fantastically ridiculous name, and swoon-worthy vocabulary- I enjoyed seeing Dorrie cope through most of the adventure without him. With the Lybrariad working double-time to solve the mysteries of the Foundation's return, most of their Lybrarians are hunting down clues, including her beloved Savi. And who does Dorrie wind up working with? Well, I won't spoil that. But this unexpected change in mentors forces Dorrie to face her disappointment, some of her self-doubt, and preconceived notions. Again, I adore Savi, not only because he's awesome, but because he's also a wise and patient mentor to Dorrie, but I liked that Dorrie has a chance to work with others, to maybe realize that she doesn't have to rely on just one mentor. I also think it taught her to rely a little more on herself.

To sum up? Another fantastic, hilarious adventure, with plenty of drama and intrigue -high stakes! high seas!- and good lessons learned all around.

The Ninja Librarians is a glorious mix of time travel, historical fiction, and the "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" game I loved as a child -this series knows no bounds!
I see kids all the time at my library devouring Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Treehouse books and I can't wait until their old enough I can switch them over to these.
[Dorrie's father] "Where did you meet these people?"
"In a dark alley," said Marcus. "They leaned out of a van and offered us a candy."
"He's kidding, he's kidding!" cried Dorrie.
Seriously, I adore Marcus!

Who is your favorite librarian character of all time?
(Admittedly, mine is probably Spud Murphy.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

TTT: Ten Facts About Me

Top Ten Tuesday is a blog meme hosted by the ladies at The Broke and the Bookish
So funny story.

The very first tag video I ever did on my booktube channel was '25 Facts About Me'. It was a hoot, so for this '10 Facts About Me' topic, I went back to that and picked out my favorite 10 of the lot. (Plus -if you want to know all 25- I included the video! Warning, it was during my early years of vlogging, so it's not stellar quality. Sorry about that.)

1. I'm actually a slow reader. This is really inconvenient for a book reviewer, considering it can take me an hour to read 50 pages. :P

2. I love pizza. I'm not kidding. I could eat it for every meal, for days on end. My bucket list actually includes a Pizza Tour of the world, where I hit up Italy, New York, Chicago, and every other place that has their own style of pizza, just so I can try them all.

3. I collect salt and pepper shakers. But only super awesome ones, you understand. I'll pick up the tourist-y ones sometimes, but what I really love are the sets that are nerdy, fun, or cutesy. Like a hot dog and a bun; neon-colored eyeballs from Halloween; the trash cans from the different sections of Disneyland. (As of my last visit, I own all of them. All seven. Seven. Are you kidding me, Disneyland?! You stopped on an uneven number?!) Growing up, I always wanted to start a collection, but I could never settle on what to start collecting. I finally decided on salt and pepper shakers because that was something one of my grandmother -who died long before I was born, unfortunately- collected. It was kind of a way for me to have a connection with her.

4. Don't freak out on this next one, but I watched The Fellowship of the Ring before I finished the book. At first, my dad even made it a rule that I had to finish the book first. But I was in the Tom Bombadil chapter and he wanted to watch it so bad he rescinded. Soon as I was introduced to Strider in the movie, I read as fast as I could to get to the Prancing Pony.

5. I once owned four copies of the abridged edition of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. At the same time.
I was actually aiming for an unabridged edition.

6. Sometimes, I prefer the movie over the book. This may sound like sacrilege, but occasionally I'll find a movie that I feel better portrays a character, an arc, a relationship, or a scene that just puts it over the book. Even if I don't hold the movie in its entirety over a book, there are often moments that are so much better onscreen than on the page.

7. At night, I check under my pillow for spiders. This isn't a random phobia that just popped up out of the blue one day -one night a spider actually scurried out from under my pillow.
I really hate spiders.

8. I often provide my own sound effects. This can make for a very interesting work environment in a library.

9. Occasionally, I slip into random accents (not always good ones) and funny voices. I do this so often when I'm working or writing, I sometimes forget to hold it in when I'm out in public.

10. Last, but not least, I seriously do burst into random song. Sometimes it's a genuine song -with music and lyrics- but a lot of times I just carry on a conversation or thought by singing it, especially if I'm annoyed with an object. Instead of growling at it, I sing at it.
You blasted piece of garbage/I hate you/I want to crush you

Honorable Mention: I am a conservative American and proud of it!
This one got me a bit of backlash when I posted the original video but the thing is: I'm not ashamed of it; I don't have to defend my position to anyone, let alone an Internet troll; and I'm not here to argue politics anyway. So there you go.

By the way, I forced myself out of that weird correlate-the-bookmarks-with-the-book phase. Mostly.

Monday, July 11, 2016

#BookmarkMonday (4): Page-Eating Monster

hosted by Aloi @ GuiltlessReading

Guiltless Reading
#BookmarkMonday is a weekly meme that started in 2009.
Click the widget for more details!

I pulled this out of a geocache once and never regretted the trade! Of course, if it was really a page-eating monster...

Bonus points for anyone who can guess the book!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

June Wrap Up

It's been a busier month than usual here on To Read or Not to Read? but I hope you're having as much of a blast as I am! Miss some of the recent goings on? No worries!

It was awesome to share the newly revealed cover of a middle grade novel I've been dying to read:

I also hosted a giveaway for Cheree Alsop's newly completed series GIRL FROM THE STARS SERIES. If you like tough heroines and space opera, check them out!

As you know, this was the Month of Memes! I had so much fun exploring corners of the book blogging world I've never seen before and I plan to keep on doing just that. I hope you'll stick around for more!

Top Ten Tuesdays is a meme I've been doing for awhile now and I really had fun with the two topics I participated in this month -especially the Favorite Heroines. I had no idea I had so many!

Now for some of the new memes I played around with.

Teaser Tuesdays are fun because it helps me keep ya'll updated on what I'm reading -which I'll be the first to admit I have gotten pretty terrible at. Don't look at my Goodreads 'Currently Reading' shelf. Seriously. Don't. Do. It. (I'm begging you.)

Shelf Control is exactly the meme I've been looking for! I have so many unread owned books glaring at me whenever I bring something new home from the library, so featuring one of these TBR beauties reminds me how good they sound. Look! I'm already halfway through The 39 Steps!

#BookmarkMonday is a fabulous idea! Have I ever mentioned how much I love bookmarks? How much I obsess over bookmarks? That I have a drawer full of them? Here's my chance to show off my collection!

I looooove Exploring My Bookshelves! Just another collection I get to show off. ^_^ But seriously, some of these topics are a little mind-bending. You answer specific questions based on your personal book collection. So far, this Father's Day one was my favorite. I *achem* went a little overboard.


Right. So. I'm a little into Harry Potter right now.

But just a little.

I swear.

Serendipitously, I came across an awesome weekly Harry Potter meme. So. Much. Fun. Unfortunately, since I haven't finished the series yet, I won't be able to participate every week, but I'll sure have fun with the ones I can!

And speaking of Harry Potter, July happens to be Harry Potter Month and participating blogs get to compete for points to win the House Cup.

I am so in.

Which means that all those Harry Potter book reviews I haven't gotten around to yet -any and all thoughts and predictions I've been taking notes on- are finally going to see the light of day on the blog this month.

Three cheers, anyone?

Thanks for visiting. Fly casual!

What was your favorite post from this month?