Sorcery and Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (Cecelia and Kate, #1) – Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer

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Source: Goodreads

 

Magic is in the air in Regency England. Cousins Kate and Cece find themselves separated for the London season, with Kate off to London and Cecelia stuck in the country. Known to their family as troublemakers, it is no surprise that the distance between them can’t prevent these two from getting into a scrape of epic proportions. And it all starts when a witch attempts to poison Kate at the Royal Society of Wizards induction ceremony.

 

I picked up the Kate and Cecelia series in middle school because Patricia C. Wrede was one of the co-authors and I had just finished and adored The Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Little did I know that this series would blow me away as well! Wrede and Stevermer write back and forth in letter form in character. This was quite confusing at first, but once I got into the swing of things I forgot that it was presented in letters and simply became wrapped up in this world where magic exists alongside my favorite time period. The letter format eliminated the need for chapters, and also placed the reader in a forever-cliff-hanger so that I found myself reading quite past my bedtime because I needed to know what was going to happen next.

Kate and Cece are strong and independent female lead characters – MY FAVORITE – and the men whose problems they become entangled in are delightfully equal parts pride and chivalry.

This is one of those series that I just want everyone to read because it’s so innovative and unique. I can’t wait to dive into the second book, The Grand Tour.

 

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

 

Other reviews in this series:
Book 2 – The Grand Tour
Book 3 – The Mislaid Magician
Book 4 – Magic Below Stairs

Reviews for other works by these authors:
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles
Book 1 – Dealing with Dragons
Book 2 – Searching for Dragons
Book 3 – Calling on Dragons
Book 4 – Talking to Dragons

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay (Fantastic Beasts, #1) – J.K. Rowling

fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-j-k-rowlingSource: Goodreads

Newt Scamander loves magical creatures and is determined to teach the wizarding world how to live in harmony with them. When he arrives in New York City in the winter of 1926, it is meant to be for a brief visit on his way to Arizona. Unfortunately for Newt, evil is afoot, and it will take all of his skills and the skills of his new American friends to defeat it before it destroys the city and exposes wizarding kind to the world.

For once, I had no expectations. This wasn’t anything like Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. J.K. Rowling wrote the entire screenplay herself. She helped produce it, and all of the directors and producers and talented filmmakers from the original Harry Potter movies were on board. I had no worries about whether or not it would be any good. I had faith. But I am not an expert on the 1920’s, and I am especially not an expert on the wizarding world in the 1920’s. So it was that I went in to see the film with no expectations except that there would be magic.

I saw the film twice before I read the screenplay, though because I pre-ordered it, the book arrived the same day that the movie came out. Because of this, I could see everyone clearly in my head as I read. I tried to be objective, however, impossible as that was.

There was a lot of scene setting included in the screenplay, despite the lack of details that were clearly added during the actual filming. I loved the descriptions of how people were standing, or what the characters might be thinking as they contemplated something. The script was full of tidbits that would help the actors get into character, and it made me love each of them more for it. My favorite part of all was that the script confirmed my thoughts on the fates of some of the characters that I had been continually worrying about since I had watched the film. Knowing from the bits of notes and descriptions what was going to happen to them between films has been an enormous blessing.

To make this book/screenplay even better, it’s short enough that you can read it in one sitting if you like, and therefore you can read it multiple times a day if you should so choose. I really hope she prints the rest of the screenplays as the films come out. I think it would be a very nice collection to have, and I love how descriptive and thoughtful the scenes are.

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 #7 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Book #8 – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4) – J.K. Rowling

 

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Source: Goodreads

Fourteen-year-old Harry Potter is ready for his fourth year at Hogwarts; preferably a quiet one where nothing goes wrong and no monsters try to attack the students. Unfortunately, this is Harry’s life we’re talking about, and things are never easy or simple where Harry is concerned. After a terror-filled night at the Quidditch World Cup, Harry finds himself thrown into hot water again as students arrive from other European wizarding schools to compete in a time-honored traditional trial by magic. Harry will need all of the help he can get to survive the challenges that face him in the coming year, but will it be enough?

This fourth book in J.K. Rowling’s best-selling series is a marked turning point from Juvenal Fiction to YA. The tone of the book becomes darker as Harry’s life becomes more dangerous, and all of the characters begin to hit the dreaded puberty.

I absolutely love how the characters were developed in this book. There were so many new people to introduce and examine because of the visiting schools, and we gain a much better picture of the overall state of the global wizarding community. It’s no surprise that at over 700 pages this is one of the longest books in the series. It’s a whopper of a book to be sure, but it reads very quickly. Rowling’s writing is so compelling that it is extremely hard to put the book down. I ended up finishing the last 300 pages in one sitting. Whoops. What is sleep, anyhow?

There is just so much about this book that I love, not the least of which is Hermione coming out of her shell and becoming a much bigger character. Ron kind of takes a back seat in this one as he spends much of the story grouchy and jealous of various people and happenings.

Hermione though, Hermione shines in this book. She’s in her element, studying anything and everything to help Harry out with his situation, and mediating between Harry and Ron, and just generally being the voice of reason in an otherwise crazy world.

“You can’t Apparate inside the Hogwarts grounds, how often do I have to tell you?”
~Hermione Granger

But that’s not all. No, this is the book where Hermione finds her passion(s). This is the part of the story when Hermione begins to take note of the world around her. She discovers boys, and she discovers human rights issues (which may sound a tad boring compared to the magical world, but I assure it is NOT), and with a little magic on her side, she finds the confidence to be herself and speak up for what she wants. Best of all, she’s not afraid to tell it like it is (I’m looking at you, Ron), and put people in their place (Also you, Rita Skeeter). It just makes me so happy to see the character of Hermione grow so much in one novel.

Not everything was cake and roses in this book, though. There is a lot of darkness and a lot of plot set-up for the final three books, which of course means a lot more Voldemort. As much as we wish Harry’s path wasn’t headed in that direction, the Dark Lord is a continual evil that plagues our young protagonist.

Overall, this is an amazing read. The first time I read this book, I was 8, and I was moving. To me, it was the darkest thing that had ever happened in my life. I was leaving all of my friends, and in the 90’s/ early 00’s, this basically meant that aside from long-distance calls on the landline or writing snail-mail, I was losing everyone I knew. Having something, like the Harry Potter series, that followed me from house to house and had characters that were going through turmoil like I was was remarkable in itself. The fact that they overcame their problems and made new friends with people from new schools helped me to overcome my fear of never having friends again and ultimately helped me adjust to a new town.

I highly recommend this book to literally everyone. Tissues required.

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 #5 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Book #6 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
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

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3) – J.K. Rowling

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Source: Goodreads

Harry has never liked living with the Dursleys, but after his latest accident, he’s not even sure they will take him back. As the thirteen-year-old wizard heads back to Hogwarts for his third year, dark shapes are looming nearer, and Harry might not even be safe in his school’s enchanted halls. On top of that, mysterious figures from Harry’s past turn up, bringing with them new information about the night Voldemort was defeated. Will Harry survive the year? and if he does, will he be living on the streets?

This third book in the Harry Potter series is almost universally acknowledged as the favorite. Until I re-read it, I had nearly forgotten why. If I love the second book for showing us more of the castle and the characters, I adore the third book for introducing us to more of the wizarding world as a culture. There is so much history in these pages. Besides the glimpse in the first book, this is the first time we learn anything about Harry’s parents and their time at Hogwarts. This is the first time we hear about magic in other cultures, and we get to meet more magical creatures thanks to Hagrid.

Of course, the characters haven’t stopped developing. Hermione, Ron, and Harry all grow in so many ways in this book. They learn some hard truths about the world and about friendship and trust. If you’re a fan of this series, you already know that about 100 of the 10,000 Harry Potter references people make daily come from this book. It is one of those books that stays with you years after reading it, and even after you’ve forgotten most of the details like I did, it never really leaves you.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the beginning of the turning point in the books, from juvenile fiction to young adult. It only gets darker from here, but the light Harry finds in this book serves as a guide towards his ultimate destiny. I’m giving this book 5 stars because I can’t find a single thing wrong with it. There aren’t even any slow parts to speak of. Highly recommended.

HHC Rating: 5 stars

Follow along on my journey to the 8th story, The Cursed Child, with the links below!

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Book #2 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
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 #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

Wicked Business (Lizzy & Diesel, #2) – Janet Evanovich

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via Goodreads

Baking queen and magical item detector Lizzy Tucker is back on the case of the missing SALIGIA stones with her pals Deisel, Carl, and Cat 7143. This time, they’re searching for the Luxuria stone, the stone of lust, before it falls into the hands of one of the quickly multiplying number of bad guys and helps bring about hell on earth.

The sequel to Janet Evanovich’s Wicked Appetite Wicked Business takes place in and around Boston in October, seemingly making it a great fall read. I was so looking forward to Lizzy and Deisel’s next adventure, however, this story left me with mixed feelings and a lot of questions.

After the first book introduced the chemistry between Lizzy and Deisel and we were told they couldn’t act on it without one or both of them losing their powers, I, as a reader, assumed the stone of lust would probably be the last stone they would locate. Until then, we would enjoy the building of their relationship. When they find the stone, something would happen and the consequences of that would mean one of them would have to save the world alone. All of this would, of course, happen while avoiding Wulf, who was established in the first book as a very creepy and evil dude whom we should definitely fear.

All of this, of course, was proven wrong by this second book’s very existence. First of all, they’re searching for the luxuria (lust) stone now? Not in another five books? Second of all, they basically act on their feelings and there are no consequences? Third, every character in this book seems a little thin, if not straight up wimpy. Lizzy is afraid of everything, Deisel isn’t even half of his usual suave self from the first book and his guest appearances in the Stephanie Plum holiday stories, and Wulf basically became a crybaby? Even the monkey isn’t as rude to everyone. Fourth, going back to the Wulf problem, he’s been waiting to ruin Lizzy, yet in this book he meets a girl and now we’re supposed to feel bad about everything that’s happening to/around him?

Fifth and finally, this book punches a bunch of holes in the series. If the luxuria stone is “broken” can Wulf even bring about hell on earth? Aren’t we safe from that now that the stone can’t be used for nefarious means? Does this mean the entire mission is over already? If the luxuria stone can be “broken”, can they all be? And if they can, is it possible they could be “fixed”? And of course, if Wulf is no longer the ultimate evil character, what is his role now in the series? Mildly annoying kind of bad guy? Or are we headed for a dreaded and surely very awkward love triangle? (PLEASE NO.)

This book just left me with too many questions. Overall the story was light and fun when I expected it to be a little more dangerous and, especially since they were searching for the stone of lust, sexy. Evanovich knows how to do sexy, and if you’ve ever read the Stephanie Plum series, you know this. Which is why I’m at such a loss with this book. I’m going to have to read the third book to see where she’s taking the story, but right now things don’t look too hot for Lizzy and Deisel. I probably wouldn’t recommend reading this one unless the third one turns out to be better; because this one definitely suffers from a second book slump at the very least.

HHC Rating: 2.5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Wicked Appetite
Book #3 – Wicked Charms

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2) – J.K. Rowling

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Source: Goodreads

Harry is back for his second year at Hogwarts School of Witcraft and Wizardry, or he will be if he can make it campus. Everything seems to be against him, from his aunt and uncle to his mode of transportation. Even the mysterious creature who warns him not to return to school at all. There are still evils for Harry to face at Hogwarts, but will he and his friends be up to the task?

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second book in J.K. Rowling’s worldwide best-selling Harry Potter series, and arguably one of my favorites if not my actual, outright favorite. My copy of the book has been read and re-read so much that only the last 5 chapters are still attached to the binding. It took me a little longer to read because of the condition of the book – I was babysitting, and you can’t read a book that’s falling apart while holding a baby in one arm – but I finished it!

There are so many great parts in this book. From my favorite quote,

“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
~Albus Dumbledore

to the introduction of some of my favorite characters (Ginny!), to delving a little deeper into Ron, Hermione, and even Draco’s characters, it is in this second book that we really begin to know them and their motives. The imagery is spectacular, the antics hilarious, and the magic real.

I can’t say I have any gripes about this book. Despite not having re-read the series in a while, I have seen the films a zillion times. The only thing that surprised me was part of the ending. The film has a sort of chase scene, but the book does not, and I’m still not sure which I like better. Overall it’s a masterpiece (and no second book slump!), and I recommend anyone to read it. On a side note, I’m listening to this playlist on 8tracks.com, and the song that just played as I typed that was from the film version of this book, so, that’s pretty awesome.

If you want to follow along with my re-read of Harry Potter as I journey to The Cursed Child, feel free to check out my reviews of the other books! I’ll update links as I post them. Happy reading!

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
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 #7 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Book #8 – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel, #1) – Janet Evanovich

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via Goodreads

Lizzy’s special talent is cupcakes. She can make anything well (with the exception of gravy), but her cupcakes are something magical. Literally. Or at least that’s what the big blond stranger standing on her doorstep keeps telling her. He also insists that it isn’t her only talent. Lizzy is a finder, one of only two in the known world, and Diesel needs her help to find and contain the SALIGIA stones before someone uses them to bring about Hell on Earth. Oh yeah, and magic is real, there’s a vampire-looking guy stalking her, some guy dressed in tights trying to maim her, a cat named Cat, and a very rude monkey named Carl. Together, Lizzy, Diesel, Cat, and Carl might just save the world. Maybe. If Lizzy doesn’t die or lose her magical powers first.

I’ve been a fan of Janet Evanovich’s work for a few years now, ever since someone convinced me to read the Stephanie Plum series set in Trenton and the surrounding parts of New Jersey, my home state. The Lizzy and Diesel series takes place in the same universe, with the addition of magic. In fact, Diesel even makes a few appearances in Stephanie’s life in the holiday novellas!

Wicked Appetite is set in the Boston metropolitan area. Lizzy has just inherited a house in Marblehead from her great aunt and started working at a bakery in Salem. Everything is hunky-dory until Grimwolfe Grimoire and Diesel (no last name) pop into her life and shake things up. Suddenly her life is in danger, spells are being cast, and people are acting very weird. The book moves pretty quickly, and Evanovich’s dialogue is always snappy and entertaining. Evanovich is a master at making the reader feel at home in her books. Her descriptions are so realistic that I often imagine being able to drive to Massachusettes and, using only this book, find every location at which something takes place within its pages.

Wicked Appetite is a great introduction to the series, in which each book describes the search for a SALIGIA stone, an ancient artifact said to contain great powers and represent one of the seven deadly sins: Pride, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath, and Sloth. Or, more precisely, Superbia, Avaritia, Luxuria, Invidia, Gula, Ira, and Acedia: SALIGIA. I would recommend Wicked Appetite to anyone excited to learn about a new city, looking for a little spontaneous romance in their life, or who enjoys witty banter. Wicked Appetite is right up your alley. Not recommended for anyone under the age of 12 or so, due to some adult themes.

HHC Rating: 4.5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #2 – Wicked Business
Book #3 – Wicked Charms