Harry Potter re-read: The Sorcerer’s Stone!

Anna: I finished my re-read of The Sorcerer’s Stone, rather The Philosopher’s Stone, and it felt so good! I got the 20th anniversary Hufflepuff edition at Blackstone’s when I studied in Oxford. 

This was such a nostalgic read. I’d forgotten the little differences between the book and the movie. There’s something equally heartwarming and heartbreaking about innocent little Harry who is just learning about the Wizarding World, and I loved re-living the beginning of Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s friendship. I’m also amazed by the foundation JK builds in this book,  as there is so much foreshadowing to events and characters in the later books. 

On to book two!

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Barnes and Noble Book Haul

Alexis:

Alexis: Book haul! 

Barnes and Noble is having a buy one get one paperback half off. 

I’ve been meaning to read Florida for a while now, but my professor recommend it so I finally picked it up! 

I’m looking forward to reading Vicious, as it’ll be my first VE Schwab read.

Have you read either of these?

 

Review: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Alexis: Happy National Read A Book Day!

Yesterday, I finished reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. This was my first Ann Patchett read, and I’ve been meaning to read her books for a long time. 

Bel Canto was not my usual read. Here’s a quick summary: In an unidentified South American country, famous opera singer Roxane Coss is invited to sing at Mr. Hokosowa, a businessman’s, birthday party. During the party, a group of terrorists burst into the house and keep the entire party hostage. What ensues is an unusual hostage situation that goes on for months and months. 

This book is basically a giant character study. As a reader, you are launched into the minds of a multitude of characters. You learn about their families, their fears, and their interests in life. You learn about their inner lives.

The book itself is very slow moving. Plot wise, not much happens. About halfway through, the hostage dynamic changes, which leads to some interesting developments. 

To be honest, I was a little bored with the first half. Patchett spend pages and pages on characters that I wasn’t interested in learning about. But most of the book is about Gen, Mr. Hokosowa’s translator. He was by far my favorite character. It was really interesting to see life from his language-based perspective.  

My biggest issue with this book is the ending. After spending so much time learning about the characters, the book ends abruptly. I know Patchett probably did this on purpose, but still. As the reader, it was jarring. Despite the fact that I guessed the ending, it still felt melodramatic when it happened. With some much time dedicated to talking about opera, this book did tend to lean on the melodrama. 

And then there’s the epilogue. I could deal with the ending, but the epilogue was wholly unneeded, and it honestly made no sense. Unfortunately, the epilogue is the thing I was left with, so I still have its bitter aftertaste in my mouth.

Overall, I enjoyed some sections of this book, and found other sections very slow moving. It wasn’t my favorite, but I enjoyed the overarching message. 

VERDICT: 3 stars

Review: Idlewild by Nick Sagan

Alexis: Read 4/7/19

A teenager wakes up in the middle of a pumpkin patch with amnesia. He doesn’t know who he is, where he is, or what’s going on. He only knows that he was shocked so badly that he couldn’t move, causing his amnesia, and that he knows someone named Lazarus is dead, and someone just tried to kill him, as well.

Idlewind is like a mix between The Matrix and The Maze Runner. I don’t usually go for sc-fi, but I found myself enjoying the change of pace. I truly loved the beginning of the book. I found it really original and creative, and I enjoyed Sagan’s worldbuilding. I loved learning about Halloween’s character alongside him as his memory slowly started to resurface. I liked Sagan’s conversational writing style and I found Halloween’s gothic character interesting.

I also enjoyed the structure of the book. The majority of the book is in first person from Halloween’s POV, while excerpts in the beginning of each chapter focus on characters from the past. Sections called “Pace Transmission”s intersect the chapters. At first, these make no sense, but I found them helpful as the book progresses.

It’s hard to talk about this book without giving anything away. I feel like it’s best to go into it without knowing much. My overall consensus of the book is that I loved the first ¾ of it, including the plot twists and reveals, but thought the ending fell flat. I also wasn’t a fan of how the characters progressed, and I also didn’t like the characterizations of the female characters. In that regard, Idlewild feels very early 2000’s.

However, if you’re in the mood for a creative, apocalyptic sci-fi read with a large dash of virtual reality, I definitely recommend it. Most of the book was 4 stars for me, but the ending knocked it down ½ a star.

VERDICT: 3 ½ stars

 

SPOILERS BELOW:

 

My biggest issue with the ending was the reveal of Mercutio as Lazarus’ killer. I felt like there wasn’t any buildup or real evidence or motivations for this to make sense. I also didn’t feel like I knew the secondary characters well enough, especially since Halloween himself was still figuring everyone else out. Because of this, Simone and Mercutio’s deaths didn’t affect me, and I’m not really sure I want to continue reading the series. Halloween’s reaction to the ending felt a bit melodramatic, even for his already melodramatic character.