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Rainy Day's Books, Video Games and Other Writings

Book Review: To Kill A Kingdom

To Kill A Kingdom Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

I originally heard about this book after reading Tiana’s book review on her blog The Book Raven. The premise of the book sounded really interesting to me so I decided to give it a read. And I enjoyed it so much.

I found To Kill A Kingdom to be quite an engaging story. What made me so interested in this story was reading it from the perspective of two characters who have a lot more in common than they know. While Lira and Elian both were fighting the same war on two different sides, it becomes obviously clear that they are more similar to each other than different. When Lira and Elian meet each other for the first time, you as the reader can see that both characters want the same thing: for the war between the sirens and humans to end. You can also tell that they’ll both do whatever it takes to achieve that goal even if that results in their own death. I found seeing this story being told from both of their perspectives to be interesting, but also enjoyable because I found both characters delightful. I found Lira’s perspective especially enjoyable for me because I’ve never read a book where the point of view in the story was told from the perspective of a siren. But at the same time, I enjoyed reading the story from Elian’s perspective too as a siren hunter/pirate.

Another reason I’ve enjoyed reading this book so much is because I love stories featuring mythical creatures such as mermaids and sirens. I especially love the way sirens were portrayed in this story because it made you sympathetic to Lira’s character. As a reader, you originally recall sirens from stories as being creatures who would sing to lure their victims to their death. While that origin story is an important part of the plot in the book, you find out that there’s more to sirens because of Lira. She gives you a better understanding of why sirens kill people to begin with and does her best as the story progresses to work on bringing peace between humans and sirens. She isn’t your typical siren and I love her for it.

I also love this book because I haven’t read too many books that feature sirens as a main character, especially ones like Lira who start questioning their upbringing. She and many of the other characters in this story go through a tremendous amount of character development that allows them to question their morals. The two characters who face development the most are the two protagonists, Lira and Elian. Lira has grown up her whole life believing humans to be her enemy and taking the hearts of princes to prove her worth as the next Sea Queen. Whenever she becomes human, however, she begins questioning her choices and realizes that everything she’s grown up believing about humans is wrong. Elian, the prince of Midas turned siren hunter/pirate, discovers siren hunting as being his true calling in life despite being heir to one of the most powerful kingdoms. Then one day he saves a mysterious woman from drowning in the ocean after he’s already plotting on finding an item that’s said to destroy sirenkind for good. This woman he barely knows agrees to help him and while he’s reluctant to trust her to begin with, he starts warming up to her as they get closer to what he’s searching for. As the plot of the story continues and he realizes who the woman really is, he still trusts her when the plot reaches its climax. It’s when he trusts Lira with his life despite her being a siren that he starts realizing that maybe not all sirens are bad and that if they work together, they can kill the Sea Queen and create peace between humans and sirens. Both of these characters overcome their initial beliefs about each other’s kind which allows them as characters to develop and do exactly what they need to make things right between humans and sirens.

What I’ve found I love the most about To Kill A Kingdom is the references to The Little Mermaid you can see throughout the book. First, there’s Lira and Elian who both are very similar to the main characters in The Little Mermaid. While Lira isn’t a mermaid, there are definitely quite a bit of similarities between her and Ariel, such as both of them being princesses and getting turned into a human. Elian is like Prince Eric in that he’s also a prince who also seems to love traveling in the sea. Then there’s the Sea Queen who punishes her daughter by turning her into a human who’s robbed of her siren song, just like Ursula turns Ariel into a human without a voice. The Sea Queen is also a lot like Ursula too in that she wants to make sure she gets what she wants but also does the best she can to destroy both Lira and Elian once her original plan is thwarted. While the overall plot in To Kill A Kingdom isn’t at all like The Little Mermaid and there are some obvious differences between the characters, you can still see similarities between the two stories and I really enjoyed seeing them while I was reading this book.

The only thing I didn’t enjoy when reading To Kill A Kingdom was when I finally finished reading the book. I really loved reading this story so when I was finally done with it, I was sad to see it all end. It was a book I was enjoying immensely so I didn’t want to leave the tale behind.

Other than being sad when this book ended, I overall loved reading To Kill A Kingdom. The story as a whole was interesting because of the two unique perspectives of the characters telling it. I loved hearing this book from Lira’s perspective who let us know that not all sirens are bad, which allowed us to see these mythical creatures in a different light. I appreciated that both of the main characters had character development that made them realize that they could work together to bring peace to their world. And I really loved seeing the references to The Little Mermaid story that I love so much, but was glad to see that this book didn’t follow that plot completely. I believe this book along with The Night Circus are my two favorite reads of this year so far, and I highly recommend giving this book a try.

 

Confessions of A Reader #4: I Reread Books

Oscar Wilde Book Quote

Hello everyone! Welcome back to yet another one of my Confessions of A Reader posts. For today’s topic of discussion, I’ve decided to confess to you all about my love of rereading books.

Ever since I discovered my love of reading, I also came to realize how much I love rereading books I enjoy. I think part of the reason why I love it is because I feel like you discover something different every time you read a book. Even when you’re reading a book you’ve read once before, you notice something different than the previous times.

The reason I enjoy rereading books is because it allows me to relive some of the best moments in a book I love. It reminds me of the reason I enjoy a particular book and helps me notice story elements I didn’t see before. I also find with rereading books making even more memories so that whenever I do reread a book again, I have more memories associated with the book.

I also love rereading books because it’s nice to see myself enjoying a book all over again. Whenever you read a particular book and see that you really enjoy it, sometimes when you read it a second time your feelings aren’t the same. As you get older or change as a person, your perception of a particular book might change along with you. I’ve noticed this happen to me, but discover myself still enjoying the books I’m rereading. I just see certain moments in the book through different eyes than my first go around.

There isn’t anything a book in particular needs to do for me to consider rereading it. If there’s a book in particular I enjoy and find myself wanting to read it again, I’ll do it no questions asked. As long as I enjoyed reading it the first time chances are I’ll read it again.

But I sometimes also give a book I never finished reading a second chance. The reason I attempt to read a book I never finished a second time is because I want to like the book and want to see how the story turns out. I also wonder if my thoughts on a book will change at all if I read it at a different point in my life. Or if I’ll still not finish the book once again.

I really love rereading books. It allows me the opportunity to notice something different in a book I love while also letting me relive the moments in a book I enjoyed. I also find that with time, rereading a book has benefits, such as giving you a different perception of the book you love.

But what about you? Do you enjoy rereading books at all? If so, what do you look for when deciding on a book to reread? Or are you like me and just reread books whenever you feel like it?

Please let me know your thoughts and feelings in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you about your thoughts on this blog post.

Book Review: Cujo

Cujo Book Cover

Rating: 3 stars

“Once upon a time, not so long ago, a monster came to the small town of Castle Rock, Maine.”

Cujo used to be a big friendly dog, lovable and loyal to his trinity (THE MAN, THE WOMAN, and THE BOY) and everyone around him, and always did his best to not be a BAD DOG. But that all ends on the day this nearly two-hundred-pound Saint Bernard makes the mistake of chasing a rabbit into a hidden underground cave, setting off a tragic chain of events. Now Cujo is no longer himself as he is slowly overcome by a growing sickness, one that consumes his mind even as his once affable thoughts turn uncontrollably and inexorably to hatred and murder. Cujo is about to become the center of a horrifying vortex that will inescapably draw in everyone around him—a relentless reign of terror, fury, and madness from which no one in Castle Rock will truly be safe… 

As an avid reader who doesn’t mind horror novels, this book didn’t meet my expectations. I didn’t mind the premise of the story because I love dogs and a dog turning rabid with rabies sounded right up my alley. Instead, Cujo made me feel more sad than horrified, which wasn’t something I was expecting.

However, I did have some enjoyment with this story. What I liked about this book was the premise. A dog who’s very loyal to his family one day goes chasing after a rabbit only to get rabies and tries to kill any human that gets close to him. I found this plot to be interesting because as someone who loves animals, I was invested in finding out how Stephen King was going to make this story more horrifying for his readers.

I also enjoyed how Cujo became associated as the monster Tad was starting to see in his closet in the beginning of the story. When Tad, Vic and Donna first meet the Camber’s dog Cujo, both Vic and Donna are weary of their son interacting with him. Both of them already saw him as a monster before he became infected with rabies. So it made sense later on in the story that he was the monster Tad saw in his closet. It was a nice parallel for these characters who already began seeing Cujo for the creature he became.

While this story wasn’t all that frightening, I did enjoy the horror elements King incorporated into the book. From monsters in the closet to somnambulism and a dog that turns wild, I thought these elements in the story made it a much more interesting read. You see all of these elements of horror in this book via the characters in the story. For example, you find out from Charity that her son Brett used to have a serious case of somnambulism that seems to return in the book while they are away from home. He’s seen walking around the house in a trance feeding their dog Cujo. This scene foreshadows that something bad is about to happen even though none of the characters have any clue what that’s going to be. It’s horrifying because you as the reader already know that Cujo is infected with rabies.

I think what I enjoyed the most about Cujo is that I felt sympathy for him. He never had a clue that his whole life was going to change all just because he chased after a rabbit. In this story, I felt sympathy for him because he was just so care free up until the point he got bitten. He was just a normal dog who suddenly turned into a monster. And I felt for him once that happened. He was in pain from that moment until he died, which to me was more sad than terrifying. In essence, this book made me sympathetic to Cujo because it made me more aware of how rabies impacts animals. It gave me a better understanding of rabies as a disease so I feel like I learned something new while feeling for Cujo.

However, there are a lot of things with this book I didn’t particularly enjoy. For one, I hated how the story switched back and forth between characters. While I normally don’t mind books that have multiple points of view, I felt like in this story it just dragged the plot along. Once Cujo was infected with rabies and started his killing, I felt like there were certain moments that didn’t need to be in the story. You as the reader know already that certain characters aren’t going to be in town when everything really begins, but I didn’t feel like we needed to see exactly what they were doing. This bothered me because the plot of the story didn’t pick up or interest me until close to the middle of the story. So the rest of what I was reading just felt like filler up until Cujo’s rabies took over.

I also didn’t like most of the characters in the story besides Cujo and the two children in the story Tad and Brett. None of the adults in the story had much in the way of character development and I just didn’t particularly care about anyone in the story. I liked the children in the story because they still had their childhood innocence, but none of the adults were people I really wanted to get to know. I think it had to do with the adults having no idea what was going on around them while the children seemed to have more of a sense that something bad was coming. Either way, I wasn’t fond of too many of the characters so I didn’t really care what happened to them.

I especially didn’t care for how it all ended. I was hoping that the ending would be seriously grim with Cujo killing all of the characters in the story, minus Tad and Brett. Instead, it was sad because Cujo deserved a lot more than what he was given and I felt a little terrible for Vic and Donna. I think this is why I had a hard time seeing this book as horror because all the moments I wanted to feel scared I felt sad instead. I felt sad for Cujo who went from a friendly dog to a monster in the blink of an eye. And I felt bad for Tad and Brett, both for different reasons I can’t reveal without spoiling the story.

Overall, I did enjoy reading Cujo because the premise is interesting and the horror elements King did incorporate into the story made it a more fascinating read. But the plot was bogged down with too much information , characters I wasn’t particularly invested in, and an ending that made me more sad than scared that I did have a hard time continuing to read the story to find out what happened next. The idea behind this book made me fascinated to read it, but its execution didn’t meet my expectations at all so I came away from this book disappointed that it didn’t meet its full potential. However, I haven’t read too many of Stephen King’s books so the way I feel about this one isn’t going to stop me from reading more of his work.

 

Book Review: Look For Me

Look For Me Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner’s latest twisty thrill ride, Detective D. D. Warren and “Find Her“‘s Flora Dane return in a race against the clock to either save a young girl’s life . . . or bring her to justice. 

The home of a family of five is now a crime scene: four of them savagely murdered, one—a sixteen-year-old girl—missing. Was she lucky to have escaped? Or is her absence evidence of something sinister? Detective D. D. Warren is on the case—but so is survivor-turned-avenger Flora Dane. Seeking different types of justice, they must make sense of the clues left behind by a young woman who, whether as victim or suspect, is silently pleading, look for me.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit more than I thought I would. But at the same time, I wish I’d read this book later after realizing it’s the ninth book in a series. It made this read a little difficult because some of the characters in the story more than likely played an important role in earlier books.

However, I still enjoyed reading this book for a number of reasons. Part of the reason I enjoyed this book so much was due to the characters and the story. I found the detectives involved in the case to be enjoyable because I loved seeing them really put their best effort into finding out the truth of what happened. I also enjoyed Flora Dane as a character. I know part of that is due to my own experiences in life (in particular being a domestic violence survivor) and I felt like I learned a whole lot from her. In essence, I felt like I could really relate to her character and the rest of her little band of misfits. I also loved what she brought to the story with regards to finding out information and trying her best to help others who’re dealing with their own personal traumas, like Sarah. I really enjoyed watching her help detective D. D. Warren but also trying her best to make sure Roxy was safe. I also loved her relationship with D. D. Warren despite their characters being portrayed as different from each other. Their interactions with each other made me chuckle , made me interested in seeing what trouble Flora was going to get herself into next.

What I also enjoyed when reading Look For Me is the case as a whole. A sixteen year-old girl goes missing during the murder of the rest of her family while she’s taking their two dogs on a walk. You as the reader begin to learn more about Roxanna Baez’s past, which involves a lot of emotional twists and turns. You learn how terrible the foster care system can truly be, how it can affect the children involved as well as how cruel the world can really be. You start to feel for Roxanna like I did as D. D. Warren and Flora continue uncovering the truth of why her family was murdered. The reason I enjoyed this case so much is because it’s emotional. D. D. Warren goes back in forth on her belief that Roxy is someone involved in the shooting of her family and Flora does whatever it takes to uncover the truth of it all. It’s an emotional rollercoaster with an unexpected twist that hurts your heart even more, making it a read I really enjoyed.

What also made this book an emotional read for me were the chapters that involved Roxy writing about the perfect family. These chapters were actually mostly about Roxy talking about her own family, including the problems they were dealing with, such as their mother being an alcoholic and having to go into foster care. I really enjoyed reading these chapters because I felt like we as the reader were introduced to Roxy even though you don’t meet her in the story until close to the end. It made me even more sympathetic to her character and everything she was going through. These chapters also made me believe like Flora that Roxy had nothing to do with the death of her family.

However, there are some problems I have with Look For Me. In this book, the twist of discovering who actually killed Roxy’s family and why wasn’t at all what I was expecting. The killer also wasn’t someone I wanted to be heavily involved in the case either. I was already emotionally invested in this book because Roxy lost her whole family and had no idea who killed them. But I feel like making this person the killer made me feel terrible for Roxy. I felt terrible for her because she’s pretty much lost every person who’s ever cared about her. While I do understand the killer’s motivation, I really hated how this was done and wished it was someone else entirely. While it made for a neat twist in the story, I just truly wish someone else was involved because I didn’t want Roxy to lose anyone else in her life.

I also feel like while we learned a lot about Flora Dane and her past, we didn’t particularly learn a lot of information about D. D. Warren. Maybe that’s because this is the ninth book in the series and all of the information you learn about her as a detective has already been uncovered, but she just seems like someone I want to know more about. I feel like there might be some similarities between her and Flora that would allow them to become friends, but the author just hasn’t disclosed them yet. Again though, I haven’t read the rest of the books in this series so this criticism mostly stems from what I’ve read from this book.

But overall, I really enjoyed reading Look For Me. I thought the characters were really interesting and sympathetic, and the case as a whole was a huge emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end. I loved hearing from Roxy via the chapters that centered around her writing about what it means to have a perfect family. The only criticisms I had for this book were the twist of uncovering who the killer is and not learning as much about D. D. Warren as I’d like. But overall, reading this book just made me want to read the rest of the series so I can see what all I’ve missed. Because I believe with all my heart that this series is probably a really good one that I need to one day invest in reading.

 

 

 

 

Three Years of Blogging and There’s Always Something New to Learn

Three Years Blogging Image

On July 28, 2015, I started my blog here, not knowing how much my life would change. I didn’t realize starting this blog how much I’d enjoy writing on it, using my words as a way to express how I feel about a book I finished reading or a video game I was currently playing.

I didn’t realize in 2015 that I would find myself a writing community that I could call home. A place I could go to whenever I had books I wanted to discuss and read other’s talking about similar things as me. I didn’t realize I’d find a place full of people I could relate to even though life was taking us on separate journeys.

Three years later, and I still feel like I’m learning something new when it comes to blogging. In my third year of blogging, what I’ve come to discover is that I’m learning more about myself as a blogger.

These past couple weeks I haven’t been doing quite as much writing as I’d like. I think a lot of that is because I’ve been dealing with a lot emotionally and needed some time away to just reflect and take a break from writing until I felt like I had something I could write about. As a blogger, I’ve come to realize that giving yourself a break from your blog every now and then is okay. Especially if you have a lot in your personal life you’re trying to deal with and can’t focus on writing anyway.

I’ve also come to realize during my third year of blogging that I can write posts that others can relate to. I see this through both of my Confessions series where I talk about the things I do as a writer and reader. Knowing that people in the WordPress community can relate to what I’m writing makes me as a blogger/writer happy. It makes me feel like I’ve finally found a place where I can be myself and others will accept me.

Three years later and there’s always something new to learn. But as long as I have this blog, I believe anything is possible. Thank you to everyone who’s been following my blog from the beginning and everyone else who’s following my blog too. I know I definitely couldn’t have made this all possible without all of you. I look forward to continuing my blog and writing more posts that all of you will enjoy.

Confessions of A Reader #3: I Don’t Read Books Because They Are Popular

Popular Science Fiction Fantasy Books

Hello everyone! I’m sorry it’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog post. I didn’t mean to take so long to write on here again, just really couldn’t think of anything to write and am dealing with some personal things right now. Either way, I’m back with another confessions post that I hope you all will enjoy.

For this confessions post, I’d like to say I don’t read books because they are popular. What I mean is that I don’t particularly like to read the books everyone else is talking about. Not unless the story, plot or something else in it makes me fascinated enough to want to check it out right away and see what the fuss is all about.

I’ve actually come to discover for the most part that I don’t particularly enjoy reading the books considered popular in the world today. What’s made me come to this realization is my review of The Girl On the Train, my experience with reading The Handmaid’s Tale so far and looking back at my experiences with reading other popular books. For those who haven’t read my book review of The Girl on the Train, I can tell you I wasn’t particularly fond of that book. I found none of the characters  likeable and the plot was terribly formulated even though it definitely kept me reading until the end. It was a disappointing read for me and left me really looking for another book to make up for it. My experience with The Handmaid’s Tale so far hasn’t really been any better. I don’t know what it is in particular about this book I’m not enjoying, I just know I’m not enjoying it because I’ve already stopped reading it and am in no hurry to continue where I left off. Now when I started reading this book, I was excited to see where the story would take me. I didn’t have any thoughts or opinions before that made me believe I wouldn’t enjoy it. It wasn’t until I started reading The Handmaid’s Tale that I realized I wasn’t enjoying it quite as much as I was hoping for. I’ve had this same experience with other popular books in the past where I tried to read them and I just wasn’t into what I was reading. One particular book that comes to mind is The Lord of the Rings. I’ve tried getting into these books on several occasions only to stop reading at around the same part of the story. Like my experience with The Handmaid’s Tale, I’ve tried getting into these books only to find myself stopping and not wanting to continue where I left off.

Confessions of A Reader #3 The Handmaid's Tale Book Cover
The book I’m currently trying to finish reading. It’s not my least favorite read, but I’m having a hard time really getting into it. Image can be found here.

There are of course exceptions to my preferences, like my love for the Harry Potter series, The Hunger Games, and Game of Thrones. I’ve enjoyed reading all of these books, but for other reasons that had nothing to do at all with their popularity. Each of these books made me feel like I could be in the world the author was describing and made me feel like I was a part of the character’s journey. I also discovered my love for these books right before their popularity, at a time when other readers had their sights on enjoying other books.

I’d also like to bring up classics in this discussion. The books which are by authors that everyone seems to have read at some point in their lives. These books get read due to required reading for school, or because you as a reader want to check them out yourself due to your own curiosity. The reason I want to bring these books into this discussion on reading books for popularity is because these books are just as popular among readers today. What I’ve come to discover when it comes to me reading classic books is that I either like what I’m reading or hate it completely. It’s a lot like when I read popular books that I don’t enjoy them because I have a hard time reading them. But sometimes I hate them because I don’t like the characters. Like whenever I had to read Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights for one of my college English classes. I was interested in reading it, but found that I didn’t enjoy it because I really hated all of the characters. So I found myself unable to get into it.

However, I’ve also found a lot of classic books that I do enjoy reading and would definitely read again. Some of my favorite classic books are Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. I’ve also enjoyed reading some of Shakespeare’s works with Macbeth being my favorite of his works that I’ve read so far. All of these books I enjoyed at a different time in my life and for different reasons too. Dracula is a classic I enjoy because I love the unique way the story is told and I enjoyed reading a story that I can thank for bringing vampires into the world the way we see them in stories today. I love both Pride & Prejudice and The Great Gatsby because I find both books to be just really great stories. With both of these classics, I had no trouble picking them back up and wanting to continue to explore the world that could be found within each of their pages.

But at the same time, there are still a lot of classics I have yet to read. The classic books that come to mind for me are books I personally hope to one day read because they all sound like something I might possibly enjoy. These books include To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, and The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

However, despite the amount of classic books I hope to one day read, I don’t want to read any of these books or any other books because of their popularity. I like to read books because it’s something I enjoy.

What about you, my readers? How do you feel about popular books and classics? Are there any in particular you are interested in reading? Please leave your thoughts and feelings in the comments below.

Book Review: The Night Circus

The Night Circus Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

Two star-crossed magicians engage in a deadly game of cunning in The Night Circus, the spellbinding bestseller that has captured the world’s imagination

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.

Before I begin with my review, I’d like to quickly thank Shalzmojo for her review of The Night Circus, which can be found here. If she hadn’t written about this book, I don’t believe I would’ve been inspired to read this book recently.

Her review made me interested in checking out this book to see what it was all about. And I’m glad I did because I enjoyed each minute I spent inside Le Cirque des Rêves. I found this book to be such an enchanting read for me. I know it was due to the author’s vivid details about the circus, which allowed me to feel like I was actually there. I felt like I was in a circus of my own imagination, like I was seeing all of the tents mentioned and experiencing those same feelings and emotions. It felt really real to me and I couldn’t get enough of it. I also loved that this circus was only open at night. I feel like that truly added to the enchanting magic I felt when it came to the circus.

Besides the circus itself, I loved how magic was implemented into the story. It was fascinating to see magic coinciding with circus performances. I feel like it opens up you as the reader to the possibility that a magician’s tricks are actually real, not at all something fabricated. It isn’t at all an illusion, but something real that can be done. I also loved seeing the competition between Celia and Marco while learning more about their character background. I loved seeing both of them creating masterpieces in the circus for others to explore and enjoy and how they both collaborated together on tents.

As the reader, you also saw how Celia and Marco’s magic affected the other characters. I really enjoyed seeing that in The Night Circus too because it shows that magic has an effect on us all. While in some ways it was unfortunate how it impacted their lives, I was glad to see how important their part in the circus played into the events that transpired. I also loved meeting these other characters too from the different points of view the narrative took. I feel like multiple POV’s added a lot more to this story than it does to most of the other books I’ve read. You learned more about the circus from these characters and I enjoyed seeing how it changed their lives.

I both loved and hated Celia and Marco’s relationship. What I loved about it is that you could tell there was a connection between the two of them so much that it caused physical sparks to fly. I also loved it because I love both of their characters. They both have different backgrounds, which I found interesting because they both turned into powerful magicians. But I also hated it too because I felt like it was obvious that they were going to fall in love with each other. To me, it also felt like it was an instant love connection even though they didn’t really start being with each other until after the competition went underway. It wasn’t something I was particularly keen on happening in the story, but at the same time I had moments where I enjoyed seeing their love grow.

However, I do have some criticisms for The Night Circus which contributed to my four star rating. While I enjoyed all of the details Erin Morgenstern put into making this circus come to life, I still feel like I needed more from the story than was given. For instance, you as the reader don’t really learn all that much about the competition between Celia and Marco. You get all the information the main characters know about it, but you don’t truly learn all that much about the competition. Like knowing how long these competitions have been going on, who started them and why. I also didn’t as a reader feel like it was all that much of a competition. It was more of an endurance test to see which one of them could last to perform the most powerful magic.

I also feel like I just needed more of the circus as a whole. I feel like I need to know more about the minor characters who played a major role in creating Le Cirque des Rêves. I was curious about them and their role in the circus, but I feel like you as the reader don’t really get to know them as well. I also wanted to learn more about the other circus tents that weren’t heavily talked about in the book. I wanted to see the whole circus, not just the tents that played a crucial role in the storyline.

But at the same time, there were some characters whose stories I didn’t really care all that much about and would’ve been perfectly fine without. Bailey was a character with an interesting storyline, but I didn’t really care to hear that much from him in the story. I know his role in the circus is important and completely understand why he’s in the book. But I was more interested in hearing from the other characters in the story about the circus and why they love it so much.

I also wasn’t particularly fond of the way The Night Circus ended either. I completely get why Celia and Marco make their decision, but at the same time I don’t think it was the way the story felt like it needed to end. I understand it but it just didn’t feel right to me for some reason or another.

Overall however, The Night Circus is an enchanting and delightful read. One of my favorite books I’ve read this year so far because the circus felt so real to me that I felt like I was physically there. While I wanted more from the storyline, from the story itself to the characters and the competition, I still enjoyed reading this book all the same and was sad when I finally turned the last page.

Book Review: I Am Watching You

I Am Watching You Book Cover

Rating: 3 stars

What would it take to make you intervene?

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realizes they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

I Am Watching You is an interesting read, filled with mystery and suspense. It’s not my favorite book of its genre, but it was a nice quick read that I felt like I needed.

One of the things this book has going for it is multiple points of view from different characters who played a major role in the disappearance of Anna, which I both loved and hated. I found switching between the perspective of different characters in each chapter interesting because it made me yearn to find out more about what happened to Anna and the people she cared about. But at the same time, it annoyed me too. What annoyed me about it is that there were too many characters whose perspective we were hearing from. It also didn’t really add anything to the story either other than creating more suspense over who could’ve taken Anna. I think I would’ve preferred to only have the perspective of the two characters who played a major role in the storyline, Ella and Sarah. Not only because their perspectives in the story were the most interesting to read, but because they actually contributed to having more information on what happened. Plus, we didn’t really need Matthew and Henry’s point of view because neither of their perspectives contribute too much to the overall storyline.

I did enjoy reading I Am Watching You though because I found the story to be interesting. There was so much mystery surrounding Anna’s disappearance that I really wanted to find out what happened to her. I wanted to find out what secrets Sarah was keeping and to find out who was leaving the postcards to Ella. This book had so much mystery to it, making it a page turner for me because I wanted to find out the truth. Even if the truth of everything was too ugly to handle.

But at the same time, when I finally finished reading this book, I was disappointed. The story was interesting enough to keep me turning the page, but didn’t fully deliver. I think what made me disappointed in reading this book is that there are no hints at all to who the antagonist is going to be. Every time I thought I had an idea of who was responsible for Anna’s disappearance, the person was cleared of having nothing to do with her whereabouts. Then when we finally do find out the truth, it completely catches me off guard. It’s not at all a character we’d expect, a person with motives that nobody had any inkling of a clue about. The clue that reveals who really took Anna isn’t revealed until the end, almost as if the author had no more story left to tell so she just put it in the end to get the reader turning the page. So I was very disappointed when the mystery of this story was revealed to us because it just didn’t make all that much sense to me as a reader.

Another aspect of I Am Watching You that I didn’t enjoy was the overall storyline itself. It’s interesting, makes you want to turn the page. But with each different character’s perspective, certain moments in the story start becoming repetitive. It’s also very rushed, especially after the anniversary of Anna’s disappearance. You find out more information about what happened, secrets are revealed. But none of the secrets or information you find out is really that revealing to where Anna could possibly be. For example, the information Sarah was keeping secret wasn’t really that big of a reveal to the reader. It wasn’t anything that would’ve really helped the police have any clue as to where Anna had gone because we already knew she left Anna on her own while in London. I do feel sympathetic to her because of the other information she reveals to us, but none of that really helps find Anna.

While I Am Watching You is an interesting read, filled with a lot of mystery and suspense, that’s all it really is. It’s a good quick read, but will leave you feeling disappointed at the overall storyline and at the final reveal of what happened to Anna. Getting multiple perspectives of the story from characters who knew Anna adds another layer to the story, but is often repetitive, making it more of any annoyance than anything else. I enjoyed reading this book, but was overall disappointed when the truth of what happened was revealed.

 

 

First Impressions: Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery

Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery One

For the past couple months, I’ve been anxiously awaiting Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery to come to the Apps Store on my IOS. As a die-hard Harry Potter fan, I was really excited when I first heard this game was coming out. Now that it’s out here, I’ve been excitedly playing it in between completing other tasks at home.

For those unfamiliar with the release of this game, Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery is a new Harry Potter mobile game where the player gets to go to Hogwarts. As a Hogwarts student, you get to attend different classes where you earn different attribute points and if you successfully complete the class, points for your Hogwarts House. Along with attending classes, the game allows you to explore the Hogwarts grounds in order to complete the main game storyline.

From what I’ve played of the game so far, your character has an older brother who’s been missing since being expelled from Hogwarts. He’s expelled from Hogwarts because of his obsession with the Cursed Vaults, which your character decides they want to learn more about in order to find out what happened to their brother. So with the help from friends you’ve made at Hogwarts (Rowan, Penny and Ben, the first set of characters you’re introduced to during your first year), you set out to find out more about the Cursed Vaults and to find your missing brother.

I find that this plot in Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery is one of the many reasons I’ve been enjoying this game so far. It’s not too complex of a storyline, but enough to get me interested in playing this game to see where it goes. I’ve also enjoyed it too though because I finally get to play as a student who attends Hogwarts. Since I fell in love with the Harry Potter series, I’ve always wanted to be a student at Hogwarts, and this game allows me to do just that.

Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery Me Sorting Hat
Me during the Sorting Hat ceremony, where I choose Ravenclaw to be my house.

I’m also enjoying this game because it’s not too complex of a game. The controls are pretty simple, it’s mostly just pointing and tapping to get from one area to the next. The same with classes too where you just click on what’s highlighted in blue until you’ve completed that particular task. It’s also very slow-paced because a lot of the objectives you complete (classes included) involve using your energy under a certain amount of hours until you collect a number of stars. Once you get the number of stars you need, you then can actually take the class and learn a new spell, potion, etc.

As your taking these classes and progressing through the game, your character also gains attribute points. There are a total of three attributes that you can level up: courage, empathy and knowledge. Courage represents your bravery, empathy represents your ability to understand others, and knowledge represents your academic aptitude. None of these attributes have any real bearing on the decisions you make in the game at this point in time other than being able to say certain things to people if a particular attribute is at a high enough level. But I love all of these features and how simplistic this game has turned out to be because it makes it a very relaxing experience to play. While you’ll have to do a lot of waiting to get your energy so you can continue with your lessons, I don’t particularly mind because I use that time to do something else while waiting for my energy to refill.

Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery My Character Attributes
My character in Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery. Even though I’m a Ravenclaw at heart, in this game I seem to have an easy time leveling up my courage and empathy more so than knowledge.

While I love playing Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery, there are some things this game does need that would improve it for me. For one, I think it would be nice if there were more clothing and hairstyle options for your character. From what I’ve seen of the clothes, there is a lot left to be desired. None of them are things I’d honestly really wear, and the things I do tend to see that I like require more gems or coins than I currently have. It would actually require me to spend money on this game to buy them. While I wouldn’t necessarily mind spending money on this game, it has to be something really worthwhile for me to consider it. And right now, there’s really nothing in the game currently that I find worth me to spend my money on. So for now, I’m sticking with wearing my Hogwarts house robs until I can afford clothes for my character I actually like. There also aren’t a lot of hairstyle options for your character when you first start playing the game. It isn’t until later on that you unlock more hair options. But like with the clothes, those hair options require more gems or coins than I can afford, and I’m perfectly fine with the hair my character has right now anyway.

The one thing everyone who’s played Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery believes needs to be improved in the game is the energy system. While I agree in the sense that the wait time for energy needs to be reduced a little, what I really believe would improve this game immensely is if the game was a little more interactive. I think it would be cool if there were more things you could do in the game while waiting for energy for classes, whether it be side objectives to complete that give you attribute points or fun games you can play that level up your character. I think for me what would make this game exactly what I want it to be is if we as players could control our characters and if the choices we made in the game had an actual impact on the plot in the game, whether it be differences in house points we gain or lose or the people we become friends with and the spells we learn during classes. I want all of these different features in this game because I want it to feel more like I’m attending Hogwarts myself rather than it feeling like I’m just playing a game on my phone. I also think it would be nice to have games you can play while waiting for your energy to refill because it would give players something fun they can do (if they so wish), but it would also give them more opportunity to work on their attributes and leveling up their character.

Another feature this game is missing that would make it a really great gaming experience for me is a Sorting Hat quiz. While I don’t necessarily mind being able to choose the Hogwarts House I want to be in (since in the books, the Sorting Hat does say it’ll take the house you want to be in into consideration), I like the idea of taking a quiz to see what house I’d be placed in. While I know for people who identify with a certain house that might cause problems, I love taking online quizzes to see what I get and I think having one here would’ve been another way for people to see if they truly belong in the house they want to be in. I also think for a lot of people it would just confirm for certain the house they identify themselves as being in and would make playing this game feel even more like we’re attending Hogwarts.

So while I’ve enjoyed playing Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery, there are a few features I believe need to be implemented or improved for this game to be the Hogwarts experience I want for myself.  But I do believe this game is making a great start in creating a Hogwarts universe that all of us who love the Harry Potter series can be proud of.

What about you? Are you currently playing Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery? If so, what Hogwarts House did you choose and why? And if not, what Hogwarts House do you associate yourself with and why? What do you like about the game so far and what do you think about the game can improve? Please leave a comment below because I’d love to hear from you.

 

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