Supernatural: The Usual Sacrifices by Yvonne Navarro (Book Review)

The Usual Sacrifices is book fifteen in the series of TV Tie-in novels from the CW show Supernatural, and is written by Yvonne Navarro. It takes place during season ten between episodes 10 (The Hunter Games) and 13 (Halt & Catch Fire).

…possible spoiler warning for those not familiar and up-to-date with the TV series…

Continue reading “Supernatural: The Usual Sacrifices by Yvonne Navarro (Book Review)”

Supernatural: Cold Fire by John Passarella (Book Review)

Cold Fire is book thirteen in the series of TV Tie-in novels from the CW show Supernatural, and is written by John Passarella. It takes place during season ten between episodes 12 (About a Boy) and 13 (Halt & Catch Fire).

…spoiler warning for those not familiar and up-to-date with the TV series…

Continue reading “Supernatural: Cold Fire by John Passarella (Book Review)”

Supernatural: Mythmaker by Tim Waggoner (Book Review)

Mythmaker is another Supernatural TV Tie-in novel from Tim Waggoner. It’s actually the fourteenth book in the series, but takes place before book 13, Cold Fire, chronologically. With the events occurring during season ten between episodes 8 (Hibbing 911) and 9 (The Things We Left Behind).

In Corinth, Illinois a young artist called Renee Mendez is unknowingly summoning a host of ancient Gods to her hometown. They manifest as she paints them onto canvas, seeking out allies for a coming war. Drawn to the strange occurrences, Sam and Dean Winchester head to Illinois posing as FBI Agents, in order to infiltrate and eliminate the god infestation.

…spoiler warning for those not familiar and up-to-date with the TV series…

Continue reading “Supernatural: Mythmaker by Tim Waggoner (Book Review)”

The Hunger Games: Book 0 – The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Book Review)

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a prequel novel in the Hunger Games series from Suzanne Collins. The story takes place many years before the main trilogy, during the 10th Annual Hunger Games event and is told through the eyes of a young Coriolanus Snow.

Coriolanus is better known as President Snow in the later books – and portrayed on-screen by Donald Sutherland in the film trilogy. However, during Songbirds and Snakes Coriolanus is a young student seeking extra credit and a University Scholarship, by taking part in a new Mentorship scheme for the Hunger Games.

In order to make his dreams a reality, Coriolanus must mentor a winning tribute in the Annual Games. However, he’s paired with sixteen year old Lucy Gray Baird from District 12, a musical performer unlikely to survive the trials that lie ahead of her. But will the odds turn out to be in Lucy’s favour? 

I debated whether or not to write this review, as I wasn’t all that keen on the main trilogy. My major gripe that I had with those novels was the amount of time dedicated to the build-up of the Games, as opposed to the Hunger Games themselves. At first Songbirds and Snakes appears no different in composition, however what time we do have within the Games this time is much more detailed. We’re given descriptions of the death of each tribute, provided with a list of tribute’s names, as well as those of the Mentors assigned to them, and regular check-ins telling us which tributes are still in play within the arena. This makes it easier to keep track of events.

I wish Suzanne had chosen a different district to focus on in this story though, rather than just sticking with the overused district 12, as I’d have enjoyed learning more about the other districts and their ways of life, rather than a rehashing of familiar places.

Having spent some time deliberating why President Snow was chosen to feature in this prequel story, I realised that this was probably because Snow was the only character that made sense. There were no other major players – at least none that currently spring to mind – from the main trilogy, whose backstory would have even been remotely interesting to read. So choosing Snow was the logical choice. The obvious question being, how did he become President?

Despite having now learned more about Coriolanus Snow and his tough upbringing I’m still not sure I’m warming to this particular character. Still don’t like him, he’s not endearing enough or interesting enough to warrant such a long book. The story becomes extremely stretched out and unengaging as it crawls along towards the end, and as a result I can only rate The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes at 2 out of 5 stars.

It has a somewhat enjoyable start, which peters out into pointless drivel, dotted with the hints of the obligatory romance now common to most young adult novels these days. It still leaves a number of questions unanswered, and I suspect that that means there will be another book to come.

See also:

Book 1 – The Hunger Games

Book 2 – Catching Fire

Book 3 – Mockingjay

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K Rowling (Book Review)

The famous young wizard, Harry Potter and his closest friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, begin their 6th year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, with its increased security measures in light of the now public return of the Dark Wizard, Voldemort. 

Their fellow student, Draco Malfoy, high profile son of recently imprisoned Death Eater, Lucius Malfoy, begins acting in a rather strange and un-Draco like manner, even before their return to Hogwarts, making Harry inclined to believe that Draco is treading in the footsteps of his father as a servant to the Dark Lord. However, Harry has trouble convincing those around him that Lord Voldemort would be in league with an untrained, sixteen year old wizard.

Meanwhile, Harry’s least favourite Professor, Severus Snape has finally achieved his dream of becoming the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts, a position that seems to be jinxed, but which side is the ex-Death Eater loyal to these days: Dumbledore or Voldemort?

Can Harry discover what Draco Malfoy is up to and prevent him from causing trouble? Is his theory about Malfoy joining the dark Lord correct, or will Ron and Hermione prove Harry wrong?

 

The Half-Blood Prince is the first Harry Potter novel not to begin by discussing Harry’s present circumstances at the Dursley family home, instead setting the stage from the enemy’s perspective.

Despite being much shorter than its predecessor, the Half-Blood Prince is not really the most engrossing of stories and I feel that at 3.5 out of 5 stars it may be one of the weakest novels in the series. Most of the book is mundane and positively dull with all of the excitement appearing near the end.

Also the fact that House-Elf’s can ‘apparate’ inside Hogwarts really bothered me, and distracted me a little, as apparition shouldn’t be possible considering all of the additional enchantments that have been put in place to ensure the safety of the students. I know Elf magic is different to Wizard magic, but I feel that it is a tremendous flaw in the storyline which throws up a number of plot holes.

 

See also:

Book 1: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Book 2: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Book 3: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Book 4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Book 5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Book 7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K Rowling (Book Review)

Lord Voldemort, the powerful wizard that murdered Lily and James Potter 14 years ago, has returned and is currently keeping a low profile as he recruits more Death Eaters and followers. Professor Albus Dumbledore believes that Voldemort may be seeking a dangerous weapon and has called forth the Order of the Phoenix, a secret society of the Dark Lord’s enemies, in an attempt to foil the newly reborn wizard’s plans.

Meanwhile, young Harry Potter is back living with the Dursley family on Privet Drive and is frustrated at being kept in the dark about Voldemort’s plans, especially considering the strong connection between them. When two Dementors suddenly appear out of nowhere and attack him and his cousin, Dudley, resulting in the illegal use of magic in front of a muggle, he is threatened with expulsion from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and Harry’s fury finally boils over.  

A technicality during the disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Magic, allows Harry to return to Hogwarts, but the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Umbridge has been appointed by the Ministry to inspect the teaching standards at the school, causing problems for both Harry and Professor Dumbledore. 

The situation for both students and teachers at Hogwarts takes a nasty turn after Harry and his friends are discovered breaking the strict new school rules imposed by the Ministry of Magic, and Professor Dumbledore takes the blame, leaving Professor Umbridge in charge as the new Headmistress.

As if Professor Umbridge’s presence at Hogwarts wasn’t bad enough, Harry struggles to juggle the stress of his Ordinary Wizarding Level Exams, with his nightmarish connection to Lord Voldemort, which allows the young wizard to catch glimpses of the Dark Lord’s intentions.

Just what exactly is this weapon that Voldemort is searching for and what is its purpose? Can the Order of the Phoenix find the object first and prevent Lord Voldemort’s evil plot from coming to fruition?

The immense, 800 page long, 5th volume of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, called the Order of the Phoenix is the most elaborate and detailed of the seven novels. It offers answers to some of the obvious questions that have cropped up in previous volumes, surrounding Harry’s background and the link that exists between him and Voldemort. It is this aspect that makes the Order of the Phoenix, at 5 out of 5 stars, such an important read for fans of the series.

See also:

Book 1 – The Philosopher’s Stone

Book 2 – The Chamber of Secrets

Book 3 – The Prisoner of Azkaban

Book 4 – The Goblet of Fire

Book 6 – The Half-Blood Prince

Book 7 – The Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K Rowling (Book Review)

During the summer holidays Harry Potter has a dream that Lord Voldemort and his servant Wormtail (AKA Peter Pettigrew) are plotting to murder him and he suddenly finds himself wide awake with the lightning shaped scar on his forehead burning. A few days later he attends the Quidditch World Cup Final with the Weasley’s and Hermione, where Death Eaters attack Muggles and Voldemort’s Dark Mark is summoned.

Meanwhile, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is playing host to the first Triwizard Tournament in over a century, a magical competition between the three largest European Schools of Wizardry: Hogwarts, Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. One champion from each school is to be selected by the Goblet of Fire to compete in three dangerous and potentially deadly tasks, but somehow Harry Potter’s name is also drawn as a 4th competitor, much to everyone’s surprise.

Believing Harry to be seeking fame and attention, the backlash he faces from his fellow students, competitors and teachers leaves the young wizard feeling rather lonely. Especially since his best friend Ron, like everyone else, refuses to believe that he has been set up and did not enter his own name into the goblet.

Harry suspects that Lord Voldemort is to blame for the situation, probably hoping that the trials will kill him, but can he prove his innocence and finish the tournament alive?

The Goblet of Fire is the longest book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series so far, and despite its detailed descriptions and complex storylines, every word has a meaning and purpose. Rowling only fills the pages of her novels with important facts that are necessary to the plot, and her writing matures drastically with every book.

At 4.5 out of 5 stars, book number four plays host to a spectacular magical tournament filled with an extensive variety of magical creatures, while also continuing on with the main theme that runs throughout the entire series of novels, the connection between Harry Potter and his nemesis Lord Voldemort. 

See also:

Book 1 – The Philosopher’s Stone

Book 2 – The Chamber of Secrets

Book 3 – The Prisoner of Azkaban

Book 5 – Order of the Phoenix

Book 6 – The Half-Blood Prince

Book 7 – The Deathly Hallows

Divergent Trilogy: Reviews of Books 2 & 3

Divergent Trilogy: Book 2 – Insurgent

After all of the fast-paced action and excitement of Divergent, the follow-up seemed very lethargic and slow. Insurgent began exactly where Divergent left off with Tris, Caleb and Four on the run from the Erudite and Dauntless forces. In the early parts of the book the characters travelled around between different factions, without much of real importance or consequence happening.

I really struggled to read Insurgent as the story dragged without much real purpose. There was far, far too much focus on the relationship issues between Tris and Four, as they constantly bickered, kept secrets and repeatedly antagonised each other.

Having suffered my way to the end of this book, I discovered that the story didn’t really conclude in any meaningful way, but continues on into the next, and final, book of the series. If the dialogue in Insurgent had been trimmed down and there had been better focus, instead of all the confusion of running around between factions, this might have been interesting. However, I’m really disappointed in the direction of this novel and it makes me somewhat reluctant to continue reading.

At 1 out of 5 stars, I wouldn’t recommend Insurgent. Divergent was a fantastic book, but this one was just boring, stretched out with tedious, irritating and pointless dialogue to flesh it out. No real story progression or character development, with Tris constantly complaining and feeling sorry for herself.

 

Divergent Trilogy: Book 3 – Allegiant

Simply to round-out this series and complete my reviews, I pressed forward and read the final book in the trilogy. However, I found it difficult to focus with the story’s perspectives constantly switching between Tris and Four, as it was hard to keep track and distinguish between them. It seemed to be a persistent battle to remember which perspective I was following, as there was no difference between them and the chapters were so short that they switched viewpoints regularly.

However, one consolation was that this novel provided the answers to questions I had after reading the first book. But since this is revealed fairly early on in the story, it just makes it doubly difficult to finish reading. At 0.5 out of 5 stars I really can’t recommend Allegiant to anyone, as its only redeeming feature is the origin story. This book is extremely monotonous, and so long that I honestly thought it was never going to end.

If you really want to check out the Divergent series, then I suggest that you watch the movies. The films are a lot more entertaining and the story moves at a much faster pace. However all that cool sci-fi tech you see in the movies, they don’t exist in the books. Just be aware that, as with most adaptations, somewhere along the line the books and films become very, very different.

 

See also:

Divergent Trilogy: Book 1

The Hunger Games Trilogy: Book 1

Divergent Trilogy: Book 1 – Divergent by Veronica Roth (Book Review)

The Divergent Trilogy is a dystopian young adult fantasy series set in an alternate reality where the USA is split into different factions, with each faction having unique mannerisms, rules and dress codes. On turning 16, main character Tris must join her classmates in taking the Aptitude Test, which determines their future, by placing them definitively in one of the five separate factions: Abnegation, Erudite, Candor, Dauntless or Amity. Once decided during the Choosing Ceremony, each pupil then leaves to join their chosen faction and train to complete the initiation process. Failure is not an option worth contemplating.

….possible spoiler warning…

Continue reading “Divergent Trilogy: Book 1 – Divergent by Veronica Roth (Book Review)”

Supernatural: Carved In Flesh by Tim Waggoner (Book Review)

Carved In Flesh is the twelfth book in the series of TV Tie-in novels from the CW show Supernatural, and is written by Tim Waggoner. It takes place during season seven between episodes 12 (Time After Time) and 13 (The Slice Girls).

 

…spoiler warning for those not familiar and up-to-date with the TV series…

Continue reading “Supernatural: Carved In Flesh by Tim Waggoner (Book Review)”