Uncategorized

Heading out!

Okay, folks! This blog is officially on hold for the next week while I travel to visit family in Colorado! I’ll tell you all about it when I get back from the mountains. Since I didn’t finish my Goblet of Fire posts, I might pop in to post them while I’m gone, but I’m not making any promises.

Anyway, lovelies, have a wonderful week, and I will see you soon! ūüėė

Books I've Read

REVIEW: Becoming the Witch

Becoming the WitchTitle : Becoming the Witch

Author: J.M. Davies

Pages: 180

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Rise of Orion #0.5 (prequel)

Edition: eBook ARC from Xpresso Book Tours

Blurb: As Miss Elizabeth Marshfield, I’ve never had a choice. My marriage to Sir Charles Dempsey is arranged. Love plays no role in this, but my sizable dowry does. On my eighteenth birthday, as I promise to honor and obey, eerie voices unlock a curse and an ancient magic I didn’t know I possessed, and they won’t rest until I answer them.
My husband suspects I’m mad‚ÄĒand mad, I may well be. But this cold-hearted brute cares naught for me as his mistress warms his bed.

I don’t know who I am anymore. Even the blacksmith, Barnaby, can’t disguise his contempt, despite saving me from a fall from my horse. So why does this insolent man affect me so? He reveals he’s a Roma called Raven, and the birthmark of the moon I have branded on my wrist proves I’m entwined in his destiny. Even talking with him could mean the hangman. But my heart has spoken, and I know nothing will ever be the same.

For once‚ÄĒI will choose my fate, even if it leads to a noose around my neck.

Review: So this was really interesting. I’ve never read a prequel for a series that I hadn’t read before, or even heard of, really. I will say that this book definitely makes me want to look into the¬†Rise of Orion¬†series because this prequel was really good! Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for the review copy!

It was also really short, which since I’ve been reading a lot of behemoths lately, was nice.

I really enjoyed the writing in this. It was crisp, clean, and had lots of details that made the world really come alive on the page. It made the scenery really stand out, both the heaviness of the Dempsey estate and the wildness of the Roma camp, and it also made the abuse that Elizabeth goes through feel very visceral and real. Those scenes were difficult to read, but they are supposed to be. This is not a happy story, but these events set into motion future events later in the series. One thing that Elizabeth deals with is hearing the voices of her past lives, so I can only guess that she will be coming back in a future life at some point? I hope so.

Speaking of Elizabeth, let’s get into the characters. Elizabeth is a really well-written character, a spunky, independent young girl who is forced into a marriage with a very controlling man. Watching her change over the course of the story, trying to escape, and ultimately succumbing to her fate was a very well-written story arc. Sir Charles is a terrible villain who, on top of being an abusive and horrible husband (even flaunting his mistress right in his wife’s face), is also part of some sort of secret society that we only get hints at here. It definitely made me want to learn more.

There are lots of other supernatural elements — the magic of the Roma people, vampires, werewolves, witches — that are only touched on here, but I can only assume we get more details into these different groups as we go into the series itself. There was a bonus chapter included , the first chapter of book #1, so I know that the prequel is set in a different time period — it’s in the 1800s, whereas the series itself looks to be a modern, urban fantasy. Still, I really enjoyed this author’s writing style, so I would really like to continue reading this to see where it goes.

GoodReads rating: 4 stars

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Chapter 33

HPGOF Banner

In Chapter 33, Voldemort is back and as terrifying as ever! Let’s go!

Oh man. This is absolutely horrible and wonderful! We’ve heard about Voldemort over the course of four books now, and we finally get to see him in the flesh! He was always this vague threat in the background, something that used to be powerful, had lost that power, and might be finding a way to get it back — and now he’s here! Such a great reveal. I remember the first time reading this. My heart was in my throat the entire time.

Voldemort seems really happy to have a real body again. Wormtail is still bleeding on the ground and that giant snake is also there, slithering around. When Voldemort asks for Wormtail’s arm, Wormtail thinks that he’s going to heal the hand that he JUST CUT OFF, but instead Voldemort wants his other arm. On that arm is a tattoo of the Dark Mark. When Voldemort touches it, Harry’s scar bursts into pain again and Wormtail also cries out. Voldemort muses on how many will return to him, and then turns to Harry.

“You stand, Harry Potter, upon the remains of my late father,” he hissed softly. “A Muggle and a fool . . . very like your dear mother. But they both had their uses, did they not? Your mother died to defend you as a child . . . and I killed my father, and see how useful he has proved himself, in death . . .”

How evil do you have to be to kill your own parent? And how evil do you have to be to call a mother’s sacrifice “useful?” Voldemort continues telling how his mother had died giving birth, but his father had left him behind in a Muggle orphanage. Sure, it’s a tragic story, but that doesn’t excuse all the horrible deeds he’s done since then!

They are interrupted by the arrival of Apparating wizards, all hooded and masked, cautiously looking around and then dropping to their knees to kiss Voldemort’s robes. Voldemort greets them, but also says that he can sense guilt. None of his followers tried to find him. They all believed he had been defeated and was gone for good, claiming to have been forced into his service instead of working for him willingly.

“And then I ask myself, but how could they have believed I would not rise again? They, who knew the steps I took, long ago, to guard myself against mortal death? They, who had seen proofs of the immensity of my power in the times when I was mightier than any wizard living?”

It really sounds like he’s talking about the horcruxes here, and I wonder how many of the Death Eaters truly knew what he had done. We know the diary was one, and that Lucius Malfoy had it in his possession, but he was also pretty flippant about it, handing it over to 11 year old Ginny Weasley. I wonder how much the Death Eaters understood the depths of what Voldemort had done.

Voldemort casts¬†Crucio¬†at the first Death Eater who begs forgiveness. He’s not in a forgiving mood, apparently. He wants repayment for their abandonment, although Wormtail has started to earn his way back. The thing is, Wormtail did not return out of loyalty — he returned because of fear. Still, the fear worked and helped Voldemort return, so Voldemort decides to heal Wormtail’s stump. He gives Wormtail a shining silver hand to take its place.

So let’s see, who all do we have in Death Eater masks, huh? Voldemort names the one he just¬†Crucio-ed Avery. He also addresses Lucius Malfoy. Voldemort is not happy with Lucius, especially since Lucius has spent the last years pretending to be respectable and not trying to find his master.

“My Lord, I was constantly on the alert,” came Lucius Malfoy’s voice swiftly from beneath the hood. “Had there been any sign from you, and whisper of your whereabouts, I would have been at your side immediately, nothing could have prevented me –”

“And yet you ran from my Mark, when a faithful Death Eater sent it into the sky last summer?” said Voldemort lazily, and Mr. Malfoy stopped talking abruptly. “Yes, I know all about that, Lucius . . . You have disappointed me . . . I expect more faithful service in the future . . .”

I get the feeling that Lucius was perfectly happy being an ordinary terrible person without Voldemort being around.

Other named Death Eaters: Macnair (the executioner who almost killed Buckbeak!), Crabbe and Goyle (fathers of the Crabbe and Goyle we know), and Nott. According to Voldemort there are six that are missing. Three are dead. One is too afraid to return. One has left him forever and will be killed. And one, his most faithful servant, has already reentered his service and is at Hogwarts. More deliberate misdirection, and I love it! How easy is it to believe that the Death Eater at Hogwarts is Snape! We already know that he used to be one, and now Voldemort is basically naming him as such! And that’s not even who he’s talking about! It’s so brilliant!

Just as a guess, the one who is too cowardly to return has to be Karkaroff, right? I’m pretty sure it is.

Whoever this servant at Hogwarts is, he is responsible for making sure that Harry arrived at Voldemort’s “rebirthing party.” But how did this all happen? Turns out that Harry’s mother left a special protection on him, some sort of old magic that Voldemort didn’t anticipate. The steps he had taken to repel death had kept him alive when the¬†Avada Kadavra¬†spell rebounded, but only just. He was powerless and unable to use a wand.

“I remember only forcing myself, sleeplessly, endlessly, second by second, to exist . . . I settled in a faraway place, in a forest, and I waited . . . Surely, one of my faithful Death Eaters would try and find me . . . one of them would come and perform the magic I could not, to restore me to a body . . . but I waited in vain . . .”

If you are a Death Eater standing in this circle, how are you not peeing your pants a little right now?

In his weakened state, Voldemort was able to possess the bodies of others, so when Quirrell came upon him in the forest, he used him to gain access to Hogwarts and to potentially steal the Sorcerer’s Stone to return to power. Well, we all know how that turned out.

Wormtail heard about Voldemort’s whereabouts after faking his death and living among the rats. He returned to serve Voldemort, but made the mistake of running into Bertha Jorkins. This was how he found out about the Triwizard Tournament and set his plans in motion. Bertha was also able to tell him of a faithful Death Eater who would be able to help him, but they needed to break a Memory Charm on her to get to the information. After that, they killed her.

Voldemort knew of a spell that would restore him to his old body, since the Sorcerer’s Stone would no longer be available, and he needed the blood of an enemy. It could have been anyone, since he had many, many enemies, but he wanted Harry’s blood so that he would be able to skirt the protection of his mother’s sacrifice. The Hogwarts Death Eater made sure that Harry was entered into the Triwizard Tournament and made sure that Harry would be able to win it, since the Cup was turned into a Portkey. It was a foolproof plan that worked perfectly, and now here we are.

And just in case we wondered how powerful Voldemort is . . .

Crucio!”

It was a pain beyond anything Harry had ever experienced; his very bones were on fire; his head was surely splitting along his scar; his eyes were rolling madly in his head; he wanted it to end . . . to black out . . . to die . . .

Here’s the thing, though: Voldemort doesn’t just want to kill Harry. He wants to defeat Harry. He doesn’t want anyone voicing any doubt that Harry is stronger than him in any way. He wants to prove that the fact Harry survived all those years ago was nothing but a fluke. And to do that, Harry will be given the chance to fight back.

“Now untie him, Wormtail, and give him back his wand.”

See you next time for Chapter 34!

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday – 6/12/19

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam at Taking On A World Of Words. Three questions, three answers:

What are you currently reading?

As I am getting ready for vacation, I am trying to concentrate on finishing¬†Kushiel’s Avatar¬†by Jacqueline Carey. That is my main focus at the moment, and hopefully vacation will give me some uninterrupted reading time. Also still plugging away at¬†Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire¬†by J.K. Rowling. My goal is to finish it before I leave for vacation, but we’ll see if I make it or not.

What did you recently finish reading?

I just finished¬†Becoming the Witch¬†by J.M. Davies, review coming tomorrow. I enjoyed it, despite being a prequel for a series I haven’t read yet.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Review-wise, I have a book that I need to start soon for an early July release –¬†It’s Our Time¬†by Diane Krauss. I know nothing about this book or this author. I found it by chance on NetGalley and requested it because the description sounded interesting. Besides that,¬†I will be starting¬†Tower of Dawn¬†by Sarah J. Maas¬†just as soon as I finish¬†Kushiel’s Avatar.

What are you reading this week? Please share in comments!

 

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Chapter 32

HPGOF Banner

In Chapter 32, everything goes wrong. Let’s go!

Before we get into the chapter, a little background on my Harry Potter reading history. I started reading the books after seeing¬†Sorcerer’s Stone in theaters. I’ll admit, I originally thought they were just kids books and, being a mature 23 years old, I thought I was somewhat above all that. Silly, silly me. Ended up going to the first movie on a whim and completely fell in love with it. I immediately bought the book and started reading to see what the movie left out. Then I grabbed¬†Chamber of Secrets¬†and read it, along with¬†Prisoner of Azkaban and¬†Goblet of Fire. Here’s the thing:¬†Goblet of Fire¬†was the last book out at that time, so I got this big huge revelation/cliffhanger and had to wait a few years to find out what happened when VOLDEMORT WAS BACK!!

I mean, yeah, everyone else did, too. But I had gotten used to getting the next book right away for the first four books. It was rough.

Back to the story.

Cedric and Harry realize that the cup was actually a Portkey and has transported them somewhere creepy: a graveyard. Quickly, they see a hooded figure carrying what looks like a baby or a bundle of something. Harry doesn’t recognize the person, but soon his scar starts to hurt with excruciating pain.

From far away, above his head, he heard a high, cold voice say, “Kill the spare.”

A swishing noise and a second voice, which screeched the words into the night: “Avada Kedavra!”

A blast of green light blazed through Harry’s eyelids, and he heard something heavy fall to the ground beside him; the pain in his scar reached such a pitch that he retched, and then it diminished; terrified of what he was about to see, he opened his stinging eyes.

Cedric was lying spread-eagled on the ground beside him. He was dead.

Just like that. JUST LIKE THAT! A major character throughout this book is gone. It’s so suddenly shocking and unexpectedly horrible.

The hooded man drags Harry towards a large headstone, which reveals the name on the stone, Tom Riddle, and the face of the man, Wormtail. That’s right. Old Peter Pettigrew. He ties Harry to the headstone and gags him while Harry watches the bundle that Wormtail had put on the ground. There’s something moving in it and Harry doesn’t want to see what’s inside. There is a huge cauldron set up by the grave which Wormtail sets a fire beneath. He grabs the bundle and unwraps a really ugly, disgusting thing.

It was hairless and scaly-looking, a dark, raw, reddish black. Its arms and legs were thin and feeble, and its face — no child alive ever had a face like that — flat and snakelike, with gleaming red eyes.

So yeah, not a baby. Wormtail is helping it, but Harry can see that Wormtail is also repulsed by it as well. He drops the creature into the cauldron and starts the spell, adding bone dust from the grave Harry is tied to. Wormtail also cuts off his own hand and adds it to the cauldron. The final ingredient is Harry’s blood, which Wormtail gets by cutting Harry’s arm with a dagger. Once the blood is added, Wormtail collapses to the ground holding his stump where his missing hand was. Harry keeps hoping and hoping that the creature drowned in that cauldron, that the spell didn’t work, that it’s dead. But it’s not. A tall, thin man rises from the cauldron and asks Wormtail for his robe.

The thin man stepped out of the cauldron, staring at Harry . . and Harry stared back into the face that had haunted his nightmares for three years. Whiter than a skull, with wide, livid scarlet eyes and a nose that was flat as a snake’s with slits for nostrils . . .

Lord Voldemort had risen again.

Since this is a pretty short chapter, let’s just stop for a moment and mention how wonderful this scene was in the movie. It’s so disgusting and raw and terrifying. If you hadn’t made the distinction before, this is where you know for sure that this isn’t just a kids’ story anymore. This would have scared me to pieces as a child! I haven’t commented much on the casting, but Ralph Fiennes and Timothy Spall are perfect in these two roles.

See you next time for Chapter 33!

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Chapter 31

HPGOF Banner

In Chapter 31, the final task is upon us. Let’s go!

You know things are getting serious when Dumbledore is worried, or at least, that’s how Ron and Hermione feel. They are also very surprised that Dumbledore still trusts Snape, knowing that he had been a Death Eater. Hermione is frustrated by many things: one, that Rita Skeeter was the one who told them that Bagman had a troubled past, and two, that Fudge would dare accuse Maxime just because of her heritage.

One thing that Harry hasn’t mentioned is what he had learned about Neville’s parents. He kept his word that he wouldn’t tell, but he can’t help thinking about it.

In the meantime, they continue researching and practicing spells for Harry to use in the maze. While practicing in an empty classroom, they see Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle standing outside. Malfoy is holding his hand up to his mouth and speaking into it, “like he’s using a walkie-talkie,” according to Harry. Hermione reminds them that electronic devices don’t work around Hogwarts and gets them back on task, but it’s still weird.

The morning of the third task, Rita Skeeter strikes again. There is a new article in the Daily Prophet about how Harry is possibly “disturbed and dangerous” due to his collapsing in class and complaining about his scar hurting. There are also quotes from Draco Malfoy, explaining that Harry can speak Parseltongue, which connects Harry to the Dark Arts. Harry doesn’t seem too upset by the article, but Hermione is still trying to figure out how Rita Skeeter seems to know all this stuff when she’s been banned from the grounds completely.

An odd, dreamy expression suddenly came over Hermione’s face. She slowly raised a hand and ran her fingers through her hair.

“Are you all right?” said Ron, frowning at her.

“Yes,” said Hermione breathlessly. She ran her fingers through her hair again, and then held her hand up to her mouth, as though speaking into an invisible walkie-talkie. Harry and Ron stared at each other.

“I’ve had an idea,” Hermione said, gazing into space. “I think I know . . . because then no one would be able to see . . . even Moody . . . and she’d have been able to get onto the window ledge . . . but she’s not allowed . . . she’s¬†definitely¬†not allowed . . . I think we’ve got her! Just give me two seconds in the library — just to make sure!”

When Hermione gets excited about an idea, she stops making sense. It’s really funny. She runs off, leaving Harry and Ron staring after her. Professor McGonagall comes up to tell Harry that the champions are having a reception after breakfast for their families who have come to watch the final. Harry doesn’t think he’ll have anyone, as he can’t imagine the Dursleys coming to Hogwarts for anything, but instead the Weasleys come! This is why they are the best! They knew that Harry wouldn’t have any family at the final task and decided to stand in for them. I love them so much!

Also, Cedric’s dad, Amos, is there and is mean to Harry because of all the attention Harry has been getting taking away from Cedric’s place as champion. Dude, it’s not Harry’s fault! Mr. Weasley even points out that Mr. Diggory should know how horrible Rita Skeeter is, but he doesn’t seem to care.

We also find out that Percy has not been doing well due to Mr. Crouch’s disappearance. The Ministry keeps questioning him about the instructions that Mr. Crouch was supposedly sending in.

They walk around the grounds and then go back to the Great Hall for lunch, surprising Ron and Hermione. Harry notices that Mrs. Weasley is behaving a bit coldly towards Hermione.

Harry looked between them, then said, “Mrs. Weasley, you didn’t believe that rubbish Rita Skeeter wrote in¬†Witch Weekly, did you? Because Hermione’s not my girlfriend.”

It’s funny though. I have no idea which reason was behind Mrs. Weasley’s concern: worried about Harry getting his heart broken, worried about Ginny getting hers broken (since she has a crush on Harry), or worried about Ron getting his heart broken (since he definitely has a crush on Hermione at this point, and you know Mrs. Weasley knows that). In any case, it’s time for the third task! Everyone heads down towards the Quidditch pitch and, oddly enough, Harry actually feels somewhat confident about things. He at least feels more prepared this time. The champions are told that teachers will be patrolling the outside of the maze, so they can send up sparks to call for help. This actually seems much easier than the other two tasks.

Harry and Cedric get to enter the maze first, since they are currently tied for first place. They enter together and then split apart. Harry goes for a while without seeing any obstacles, but soon runs into Cedric again, who just got away from one of Hagrid’s Blast-Ended Skrewts. Harry does see a dementor, but casts his Patronus and finds out that it’s a boggart and dispatches it quickly.

The next obstacle is a weird golden mist that reverses gravity or something. Harry feels like he’s dangling from the ground, which is suddenly above him. He is able to pull away from it and starts looking for Fleur, who he heard scream, but doesn’t see her anywhere. He does run into another Skrewt, but is able to slow it down and get away. He keeps hitting dead ends, but then hears Krum casting a¬†Crucio on Cedric. He stuns Krum and helps Cedric up. Cedric is surprised, because he thought Krum was a good guy. Harry did too. They send up red sparks so that Krum can be picked up and then set off in different directions again.

Harry comes upon another new creature: a sphinx. It tells him that he has to solve a riddle to get past.

“First think of the person who lives in disguise,

Who deals in secrets and tells naught but lies.

Next, tell me what’s always last thing to mend,

The middle of middle and end of the end?

And finally give me the sound often heard

During the search for a hard-to-find word.

Now string them together, and answer me this,

Which creature would you be unwilling to kiss?”

There are several creatures Harry doesn’t want to kiss. Blast-Ended Skrewts come to mind! I was worried about Harry with this one, as he’s not necessarily known for his riddle solving skills. That’s more Hermione’s forte. Harry does figure it out though – the answer was a spider. True, I wouldn’t want to kiss a spider either.

Harry can see the Triwizard Cup now. He also sees Cedric ahead of him running towards it, but Cedric is attacked by a giant spider. Maybe the spider just wants a kiss? It’s feeling a bit miffed about the riddle? Together, Harry and Cedric manage to fight it off, but Harry’s leg is badly injured in the process. He tells Cedric to take the cup since he got there first. Cedric pulls Harry up and tells him to do it, since he’s helped him so much. They argue back and forth about who should take the cup.

“Both of us,” Harry said.

“What?”

“We’ll take it at the same time. It’s still a Hogwarts victory. We’ll tie for it.”

It’s a noble idea, and great for the school, but it sets in motion a tragedy that will take Harry a long time to get over. When they grab the cup, they are jerked away into a “howl of wind and swirling color.”

See you next time for Chapter 31!

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday – 6/11/19

tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Here are the rules if you want to play along:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) ‚Äúteaser‚ÄĚ sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn‚Äôt give too much away! You don‚Äôt want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!¬†

Raven stormed back into camp, refusing to talk to anyone who crossed his path, fearing he would throttle them with his bare hands. A war raged inside him, and right now he didn’t know how to control it. As Elizabeth sat quietly retelling him how she had been drugged by her maid, Sir Charles, and his mistress, a need to tear the man apart swamped him. What stopped him was the knowledge that he was also culpable. Even though she was Sir Charles‚Äôs wife, his instincts called for him to act.

~ Becoming the Witch by J.M. Davies

This book has been interesting so far. For one thing, it’s very short, as it’s the prequel to another series. I got it as a review copy from Xpresso Book Tours, but I know nothing really about the series itself. I’m enjoying this so far though, and might have to look into this series later.

Please share your teasers in comments!