Double Down (Lois Lane, #2) – Gwenda Bond

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Source: Goodreads

 

When nothing news-worthy comes her way, Lois is stuck writing a human interest story about an artist painting a community mural. Not her idea of great. It does, however, put her in a prime location to see someone she knows collapse in the street in a bad part of town. On top of that, she’s got a maybe-maybe-not virtual boyfriend and a convicted ex-mayor who might just be innocent to deal with. Once again, Lois Lane is in over her head with only one way out: solve the mystery, and get her story.

 

This sequel to Bond’s first Lois Lane adventure, Fallout, is even better than the first. Now that the characters have been established, the reader gets to learn more about the city that serves as the backdrop to this wonderful series. Metropolis is a big city on a small island, and Lois Lane is determined to protect every part of it from evil, whether that means going up against principles, mayors, or mobsters.

I really enjoyed the flow of the plot in this one. There weren’t many slow parts, I was never bored, and the twists were timed perfectly for effectiveness. While I wasn’t kept guessing at everything until the end, I did enjoy how Bond had Lois put the puzzle pieces together. The character relationships are all developing and morphing, which I find immensely interesting.

The secondary storyline was almost too much for me, but I found that it fit well in the end, and after all life doesn’t wait for it to be a convenient time to drop issues on you. While it does complicate Lois’ storyline, I like that she has this connection with Clark even though he’s not physically in her life. It adds another dimension to her character, and also somewhat polarizes the two parts of her life as business and emotional. I’m interested to see where Bond takes that relationship in relation to the rest of Lois’ life.

Ultimately, this book was well-written and the action did not disappoint. Definitely recommended if you enjoyed the first one or if you enjoy Superman/Lois Lane stories. I still feel that Lois is just the antidote to the superpower-dominated major hero category that we all need in our lives. Her values and gumption are just the sorts of things that people everywhere can look up to and aspire to with rationality rather than impossibility.

 

Curio Street Reads Rating:  4.5 Stars

 

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Fallout
Book #3 – Triple Threat

Fallout (Lois Lane, #1) – Gwenda Bond

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Source: Goodreads

Before Superman came to Metropolis, the city had another unlikely hero: Lois Lane. The daughter of an army general, Lois has moved more times than she can count and she’s been kicked out of even more schools. When her father takes a permanent assignment in the city, Lois does her best to put down roots and avoid trouble, but it seems trouble isn’t done with her just yet. Before long Lois is on the case of some school bullies with freaky mind control talents, and she’s landed a brand new student reporter job to help her figure it out.

A series based on Lois Lane pre-Superman? Sign me up! As a child, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman with Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher was one of my favorite shows, though I probably watched it mostly in reruns since it originally aired from ’93-’97 when I was still a toddler. I always though Lois was SO cool. She was probably my first female hero, actually. I started writing my own newspapers soon after that so you can see what a major influence the show and the character had on me, haha! Anyway, ever since then I’ve been very interested in Superman and especially Lois, who is just a bad a** reporter who only really needs saving because she falls in love with Superman and then everyone puts her in danger to get his attention. But this series is before Superman really exists.

Lois is just a normal high school student, struggling with the inequalities of this world. The story in Fallout started a little slow, and with my brain stuck in the 90’s (or actually, high school would have been the late 70’s or 80’s for Hatchet’s Lois), I wasn’t prepared for virtual reality headsets and cellphones. Once I accustomed myself to the fact that everything was happening in the modern day, I got sucked right in. Lois is spectacular – spunky, brave, smart, good, and a heavy dose of reckless. And her foes are on a level equal with anything Lex Luthor ever threw at Superman.

The vibrant characters, the high-tech backdrop with a side of high school politics and a heavy dose of up-and-coming reporter combined with murky intentions and fierce foes has created an immersive and captivating world that I can’t wait to explore more of in the next two announced books in the series. Lois Lane is the kind of hero everyone needs in their lives right now: no powers, just morals and smarts. I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves Superman and Lois, but especially to anyone interested in journalism or female heroes. Lois Lane is just one of those role models you’ll want to come back to again and again.

HHC Rating: 4 Stars

 

Other reviews in this series:
Book #2 – Double Down
Book #3 – Triple Threat

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2) – V.E. Schwab

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Source: Goodreads

Four months after the events of A Darker Shade of Magic, Kell and Rye prepare for the international magic tournament known as the Essen Tasch, while Lila sails dark seas in search of a new version of herself. In another London, long gone magic is brewing, threatening to upset the balance that has kept Red London safe.

OH MY GOSH, VICTORIA. Pardon my language, but having read the last half of the book in nearly one sitting today, my emotions are in pieces. It’s not just the cliffhanger, I swear. I have the final book, A Conjuring of Light, sitting next to me, waiting for me to finish typing this review before I dive in (and presumably drown).

As hard as I found A Darker Shade of Magic to get into, A Gathering of Shadows is the utter and complete opposite. You’re thrown right in, the worlds you met in the first installment bright and welcoming alongside everything you never knew. The action is near non-stop, what with the tournament and the enemies plotting, and Kell and Lila’s constant dancing around each other’s feeling that is only amplified by Rhy’s own issues bubbling to the surface.

The writing is superb, dragging you along in its current as if you were drowning in the Isle. I was reading in a Starbucks one morning and had to leave because I kept laughing, squealing, and gasping with every sentence. I’ll admit that just about everyone felt a little flat in the first book, but not anymore. It’s as if they’ve all been hooked up to air pumps and made into 3D. I feel like I haven’t breathed since I started reading at 8 am this morning. I only took a break because it’s Sunday and I had to go the church (it’s really hard to concentrate on God when all of your favorite characters’ lives are in potential peril). And then I came home and haven’t left my room since. This book. Everything about it is brilliant. It has easily cemented its place on my 2017 favorites list, and my family and friends can now expect it to be shoved down their throats in the very near future. Also, Delilah Bard is my favorite human.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – A Darker Shade of Magic
Book #3 – A Conjuring of Light

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7) – J.K. Rowling

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Source: Goodreads

Harry James Potter is about to turn 17. He’ll finally be a full-fledged wizard, legally allowed to cast spells outside of school. He’s also leaving home for the last time. The magic that protects him at the Dursley’s ends the night of his birthday, and he’ll be free game for any dark wizards who wish him harm. With a whole list of things to do before he can even attempt to face-off with Lord Voldemort and stand a chance of surviving, Harry will make some of the toughest choices of his life.

This book. THIS BOOK. Oh my goodness. When I first read it (9 years ago) in 2007, it was July, and I had just finished my freshman year of high school. We always pre-ordered the Harry Potter books because if you didn’t it was sold out for like a month, and by then everyone had already told you what had happened. So, on the morning of July 21st (or it might even have been the 20th. They sometimes delivered a day early back then because there were just too many copies that had to be shipped out.) it just happened that no one was around except me when the UPS man arrived. I took the package and sprinted up to my room, where I closed the door, tore the book out of the box and immediately started reading. I didn’t even bother telling anyone it had come, because when the previous book arrived my mom and brother had started trading it back and forth to read it, and I had had to wait through an entire agonizing week of listening to them talk about it before I was allowed to read it. Their reasoning was that I read too slowly. So this was a combination of excitement, straight up selfishness, and maybe even a wish for revenge.

I hid the book under my pillows whenever anyone came into my room (thank goodness they always knocked so I had time to hide it), and I only left to use the bathroom or attend meals. It was summer. I didn’t have responsibilities. In the end, it took me about 36 hours to read the entire 759-page novel, and I don’t think I slept more than 3-4 hours. It was worth it. Not just because I loved the book, but also because the look on my brother’s face when I knocked on his bedroom door and handed him the book whilst saying, “Here you go, I just finished it.” when he didn’t even know it had arrived yet was PRICELESS.

Of course, I’ll have to argue about whether I read the whole book in 36 hours or not for the entire rest of my life, but who cares. I know I  did it, and that’s all that matters. And they thought I read too slowly. HA!

So, clearly, you can see how much I love this series. The first book came out in 1998 in the U.S.A., when I was just 6 years old, and my mom read them to us the next year, so we read books 1 & 2 back-to-back before eagerly awaiting the publication of book 3. For all intents and purposes, I learned to read with the Harry Potter books. Those 10 years of my life were incredibly magical because of them, and don’t even get me started on going to see the films. I was that child that immediately poked holes in all of the book/film differences the second we left the theater, to the point where my family banned me from speaking for the entire rest of the day after we saw the last three movies. I’m a pretty diehard fan.

Rereading this series has been pretty magical, too. There’s nothing like reading it for the first time, not knowing what’s coming, but reading it a second time is pretty amazingly wonderful also. I really appreciate all of the secondary characters a lot more now. Everyone is human to me, even Hannah Abbot who we hear about a total of maybe three times in the whole series. When I first read the books, and the films came out, I desperately wanted to be Hermione. To the point where I wanted to hate Emma Watson for getting the part, even though I was only 8 when the casting happened and was too young (and not anywhere near British enough) to try out. Hermione was smart, she was pretty (but not too pretty), and she had great friends. During my reread, though, I found that I identified a lot less with Hermione, and a lot more with Ginny. She’s quiet, she’s fierce, she’s determined, and yet she can still be silly in love sometimes, like when she sent Harry the singing valentine in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Her peaceful courage and undying loyalty are two of my favorite things about her, and I identify so hard with that. I’m even considering dying my hair red, though not exclusively because of my admiration for Ginevra Molly Weasley. I’ve been thinking about it a lot longer than I’ve been rereading the series.

Still, reading the first 300 pages of this book was agony. And trying to stop reading it is like wearing a Horcurx, or asking a dementor to please follow you around every second of the day while you wait to find out the fates of your favorite characters. It feels like there’s not a whole lot going on, and in the movie it doesn’t look like there’s a whole lot happening, but it is. Inside of you, the reader, and inside the characters. Everyone is rising to the challenge, marking off their to-do lists and gearing up for war. All 759 pages are needed because that’s how long it takes for you to be ready to fight the ultimate evil that is Lord Voldemort. That’s how long it takes for your courage to rise to the top, to stamp down your fears, and face the true evil head-on. And after countless deaths that you can still feel, echoing through the years, you are finally prepared for your destiny.

“That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children’s tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped.” pgs. 709-710 (US 2007 Edition)

So, yes. This book is wonderful, amazing, magical… everything you hoped and wished the final Harry Potter book would be. It is also heart-tearing, gut-wrenching, and exhaustingly sad, yet somehow we still love to read it.  This book, I am convinced, is why the series is so beloved to this day. Also, I blew off NaNoWriMo for a day in order to read the last 459 pages because I couldn’t take the waiting any longer. It was worth it.

HHC Rating: 5 stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’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 #6 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Book #8 – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Fantastic Beasts #1 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6) – J.K. Rowling

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Source: Goodreads

Strange things are happening, and they are no longer confined to the wizarding world. Bridges less than 10 years old collapsing in the middle of rush hour, hurricanes that never appeared on the forecast tearing apart communities, gruesome, grisly murders. Amidst all of the chaos, Harry Potter is headed back to Hogwarts for his sixth year. With stories about a prophecy concerning Harry and his parents’ killer circulating the school, Harry has a lot to prove. Newly reinstated to the Gryffindor Quidditch team, he would love nothing more than to have a normal year; but with every overheard conversation, every accident, and every potion he brews, Harry knows that this school year will be anything but normal.

After all the whining that goes on in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, this book is like a gasp of fresh air. It moves through the story well, character communication is good, Harry stops doing stupid shit stuff. Sure, there’s a lot of dating/ feeeeeelings going on, but rather than allow them to slosh all over the work of pure art that is this plot, Rowling offers these romances as a tasty side, occasionally even a foil to the storyline.

I must say, I love the fact that we don’t get to Harry until chapter three. And the way the secondary character storylines are woven in, Bill, Fleur, Tonks, Lupin, Malfoy, Snape, Dumbledore, Slughorn, Hagrid, Dobby, Kreacher, etc… I could go on all day. It is ruddy perfect is what it is. Even Percy the prat.

Like the fifth book, everyone grows so much. The character development is off the charts. Maturity shows itself in everything they do, and everyone gets there at their own pace. Every character is such an individual that it often occurs to me when I’m reading these books that J.K. rowling must have had some magical help because it’s just too amazing for words.

It would be too easy to spoil this book by attempting to talk about any particular scenes, so I will leave with a quote:

“He will only be gone from the school when none here are loyal to him,” said Harry, smiling in spite of himself.

Obviously, this is a big favorite and I highly recommend it. I’m sincerely upset that I only have one book left to read, and I am so thankful that I get to read Harry Potter and The Cursed Child right after it, but then, once again, I’ll be at the end.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’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
Book #8 – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Fantastic Beasts #1 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

Into the Wild (Warriors, #1) – Erin Hunter

Source: Goodreads 

Rusty is a house cat who dreams of living in the wild. He gets his wish when he wanders into the forest outside his family’s garden and meets Graypaw and the wild cats of ThunderClan. After leaving his life of boring contentment behind, Rusty, now known as Firepaw for his bright orange fur, enters a world where every hunt could be his last, and living means learning who to trust. Can he keep his friends safe? Or will the enemy find a way to destroy the clan he has grown to love?

Erin Hunter (a bunch of authors sharing one pseudonym) has created a world in which politics, religion, and loyalty can be tested and questioned. The characters, basically all felines, gain purr-sonality and distinguish themselves from each other pretty quickly in the story. Into The Wild is the first book of six, which make up the first sub-series (The Prophecies Begin) featuring the characters. As of September first, I believe there are five or six sub-series, each having six books, as well as a number of stand-alone novels.

I was disappointed with where the first book ended (spoiler: it’s a cliffhanger!), but since there are a ton more of them I’m not worried about being unable to find out what happens next. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the themes of clans, war, and monarchies, as well as cats in general. Some of the fight scenes are a little graphic for younger readers, but overall they are handled very well and are in good proportion to the rest of the book.

HHC Rating: 4.5 Stars