December 18, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week

This is a meme hosted by Leah at Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! 

Best Minerva McGonagall line?

I love the old McG! She's so badass she could own the gingerbread newts outta anybody. You just try crossing her and see how well you do at the ICU of St. Mungo's. She was always this sassy teacher in the books, but she really outdid herself in the last book, Deathly Hallows, where she basically held the first line of the battle at Hogwarts. I love her to pieces and she is one of my absolute favorites from the books. I also have a ton of her favorite quotes, but the best one ever is:

'Is it true that you shouted at Professor Umbridge?'
'Yes,' said Harry.
'You called her a liar?'
'You told her He Who Must Not Be Named is back?'
Professor McGonagall sat down behind her desk, frowning at Harry. Then she said, 'Have a biscuit, Potter.'
'Have – what?'
'Have a biscuit,' she repeated impatiently, indicating a tartan tin lying on top of one of the piles of papers on her desk. 'And sit down.' (OP12)

Isn't she just the best? She was so cool in OotP where Umbridge was just suuuuch a nuisance. For example:

'I would also advise Transfiguration, because Aurors frequently need to Transfigure or Untransfigure on their work. And I ought to tell you now, Potter, that I do not accept students into my NEWT classes unless they have achieved "Exceeds Expectations" or higher at Ordinary Wizarding Level. I'd say you're averaging "Acceptable" at the moment, so you'll need to put in some good hard work before the exams to stand a chance of continuing. Then you ought to do Charms, always useful, and Potions. Yes, Potter, Potions,' she added, with the merest flicker of a smile. 'Potions and antidotes are essential study for Aurors. And I must tell you that Professor Snape absolutely refuses to take students who get anything other than "Outstanding" in their OWLs, so
Professor Umbridge gave her most pronounced cough yet.
'May I offer you a cough drop, Dolores?' Professor McGonagall asked curtly, without looking at Professor Umbridge.
'Oh, no, thank you very much,' said Umbridge, with that simpering laugh Harry hated so much. 'I just wondered whether I could make the teensiest interruption, Minerva?'
'I daresay you'll find you can,' said Professor McGonagall through tightly gritted teeth. (OP29)

Or ...

'That will do,' she [Professor McGonagall] said and silence fell immediately. 'Mr Finnegan, kindly come here and hand back the homework – Miss Brown, please take this box of mice – don't be silly, girl, they won't hurt you – and hand one to each student –'
'Hem, hem,' said Professor Umbridge…
'Right the, everyone, listen closely – Dean Thomas, if you do that to the mouse again I shall put you in detention – most of you have now successfully Vanished your snails and even those who were left with a certain amount of shell have got the gist of the spell. Today, we shall be –'
'Hem, hem,' said Professor Umbridge.
'Yes?' said Professor McGonagall, turning round, her eyebrows so close together they seemed to form one long, severe line.
'I was just wondering, Professor, whether you received my note telling you of the date and time of your inspec–'
'Obviously I received it, or I would have asked you what you are going in my classroom,' said Professor McGonagall, turning her back firmly on Professor Umbridge. Many of the students exchanged looks of glee. 'As I was saying, today, we shall be practising the altogether more difficult Vanishment of mice. Now, the Vanishing Spell –'
'Hem, hem.'
'I wonder,' said Professor McGonagall in cold fury, turning on Professor Umbridge, 'how you expect to gain an idea of my usual teaching methods if you continue to interrupt me? You see, I do not generally permit people to talk when I am talking.'

'As I was saying: the Vanishing Spell becomes more difficult with the complexity of the animal to be Vanished. The snail, as an invertebrate, does not present much of a challenge; the mouse, as a mammal, offers a much greater one. This is not, therefore, magic you can accomplish with your mind on your dinner. So – you know the incantation, let me see what you can do…' (OP15)

Sources: gif - text

December 17, 2014

Dystopia Reading Challenge End-Of-Year Giveaway!

This year has been a blur! It all passed faster than I expected or had time to process. That also means we are nearly done with DRC for 2014! We are nearing the end of the year extremely fast and as promised, I have a few goodies for you guys! I told you all that if you participate in DRC this year with reviews of dystopian books you qualify for a grand prize end of the year!

And here it is! The winners will be two and all you have to do is enter into the Rafflecopter below to take part. All prizes are of course INTERNATIONAL!

1. A book up to 15 $ off TBD.
2. An e-book of RUINATION by Amanda Thome, kindly offered by the author.

1. Only participants of DRC can enter this giveaway.
2. You must have at least one dystopian review to enter this giveaway (I'll check!).
3. You are eligible only if TBD ships to your country (e-book prize is either .epub or .mobi).
4. Winner has 48 hours to respond to my email or I pick another winner.
5. I am not responsible for lost physical items in the post as the prize will be sent to you directly from The Book Depository.
6. I reserve the right to disqualify anyone breaking any of these rules!
 Winners will be announced on Christmas! Good luck!

Book review: City of Stairs

Thank you Broadway Books for NetGalley ARC!

Goodreads synopsis
A densely atmospheric and intrigue-filled fantasy novel of living spies, dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, ever-changing city-from one of America's most acclaimed young SF writers.

Years ago, the city of Bulikov wielded the powers of the Gods to conquer the world. But after its divine protectors were mysteriously killed, the conqueror has become the conquered; the city's proud history has been erased and censored, progress has left it behind, and it is just another colonial outpost of the world's new geopolitical power. Into this musty, backward city steps Shara Divani. Officially, the quiet mousy woman is just another lowly diplomat sent by Bulikov's oppressors. Unofficially, Shara is one of her country's most accomplished spymasters-dispatched to investigate the brutal murder of a seemingly harmless historian. As Shara pursues the mystery through the ever-shifting physical and political geography of the city, she begins to suspect that the beings who once protected Bulikov may not be as dead as they seem-and that her own abilities might be touched by the divine as well.

The synopsis of the book is very intriguing, and I was very excited to start this book. I really enjoy books with gods, but not in traditional way of the real world - this sounded more like mythology, which has always interested me.
The start of the novel is a bit confusing. There's so many new things, names, ideas... I got a feeling there were a lot of real-life inspirations in this new world of the book, drawn from all kinds of eras - we had polis states, trains, cigarillos, even cars... it was a mix of ancient and new(er), and I have to admit it was confusing from the beginning. I was hoping it would all evolve better because I hate when I have trouble imagining things. The book makes me feel blind. Towards the end I made my own image of things and everything became more bearable.
There was also a big lack of descriptions at the start. I had no idea what the world looked like, I had a vague idea on the people, but not on their clothes, the things they used in daily lives, materials that made the cities and so on... Was I looking at brick or concrete? Were there crinolines and top hats or something more modern? I wished for more building, because it was like a black screen while at the cinema, with only the sound to guide you. Mostly, it was a clash of many old and modern cultures all wrapped into this fantasy world that takes A LOT of getting used to but it's not so bad when you familiarize yourself with it.

"Forgetting... is a beautiful thing. When you forget, you remake yourself... For a caterpillar to become a butterfly, it must forget it was a caterpillar at all. Then it will be as if the caterpillar never was & there was only ever a butterfly."

It was a book with a slow progress. I was pretty down by how slowly it went on, how long it took to get me even slightly interested, and how I just wasn't in the feeling to read most of the time. I have started this book months ago and it's only gotten interesting recently. Once I passed about 50 % it started picking up. There was still a lot things happening that seemed unrelated, there were endless descriptions and a million story threads slowly making one thick rope, but the time it took to get there was just too much. It takes a lot of talent to make an interesting story with a million side-stories and detailed descriptions. One person with great talent like that is GRRM. I was never once bored during the massiveness that are his novels. It takes forever to read but it's all good. Here it was much less so. The book has a lot of fillers and things that maybe become important only later on, if ever, so it's really hard battling through those passages to get to the delicious core of the story.
Because the book itself is a good one. The story is really engaging once you go through the initial confusion, once you get somewhat familiarized with the world, its people etc. and can focus on the plot more. It also gains when twists finally make a proper appearance. There are some hints at the start but the book takes forever to pick up. After about half, maybe more, there are finally some proper twists - things you take for granted turn out to be possible lies, people you trust turn out to be possible betrayers and so on, and you never really know what's real and what is not, and you'll just have to finish the book to learn the truth. That was the only thing that kept me reading this book. I finally got so invested I had to learn the truth, I had to finish and see what is going on. I am pretty happy I didn't ditch the book sooner because I would miss on some things.

"Humans are strange. … They value punishment because they think it means their actions are important—that they are important. … it's vanity."

It was not something that would blow me away and make me remember the book forever, but it was just original enough that it had me in its clutches, and just twisty enough towards the end that I finished. Maybe I am not used to such slow progress in books and I am a bit out of practice with fantasy novels, but I was a bit let down. Everyone is praising this book, and I especially noticed the praise from authors I like, so maybe that's why I went in too excitedly.
Despite all my complaints it was a decent novel. I am glad I gave it a chance because towards the end it was really good, much better than the start. If you manage to read through half the book becomes worth reading. The one thing I liked from the start was the fact that it has grown up characters and it's not a YA. Not that I have anything against YA, just I read so much of it now that I need adult novels to even it out, mix the genres more as well. In that sense it was a welcome read, and after it turned all my beliefs upside down I started to enjoy it. It's definitely not for everybody but fantasy lovers that are sick of kick-ass sixteen-year-olds might really enjoy it.

 Despite all the flaws it has a certain charm.

December 16, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Read In 2014

I have had both a good and a bad reading year. I started off very well, reading more then expected and even being ahead of my challenge on Goodreads. Last three months have been crazy though. I have been reading a bunch of books that did not engage me, and with work and other things on top I have fallen behind terribly. I failed my own Dystopia challenge as well, which is just another failure, but all that means I'll try extra hard in 2015! Still, I managed to read nearly 70 books in 2014 and here are ten best ones!

This weekly meme is from The Broke and the Bookish.

December 11, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week

This is a meme hosted by Leah at Uncorked Thoughts. The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/films/J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related!

Favourite dragon species?

According to Harry Potter Wiki there are more dragon species than the four in The Goblet of Fire, and those are:
I have no idea what these are like except that the Horntail is a vicious beast. She's a feisty bastard and that's why I like her. I think I'd want a night black dragon though, to go out in the night, take the advantage of the cover of darkness and fly around. Opaleye sounds pretty though. So I pick

Hebridean Black

Whatever that is. I wish we had some photos or something. We might get to know these beasts better in the new movies!

It has dark rough scales, ridges along its back, and a tail tipped with an arrow-shaped spike. The Hebridean Black has brilliant purple eyes and can grow to be up to thirty feet long. Its favourite food is deer, although it has been known to carry off cows.
The Hebridean Black is more aggressive than the other dragon native to the British Isles, the Common Welsh Green, and thus requires a territory of as much as one hundred square miles each. The MacFusty clan take responsibility for the dragons, and have done for centuries.

Sources: gif - text

December 10, 2014

Book review: Frankenstein

It was okay.

Guest post: What Christmas Movies Came from Books?

'Tis the season to be jolly. As great as Christmas movies are, you'd be astonished to learn that many of them were books before they lit up the big and small screen. Here are a few that successfully bridged the gap:

1. A Christmas Story is actually based on the book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd. The movie (available to stream through Amazon) focuses on a Christmas when a lad desperately wants a Red Ryder B.B. gun, and uses all of the charm he can muster to convince the adults in his life, including Santa, that he deserves it. Peter Billingsly starred as Ralphie in the movie, and Shepherd himself voiced the adult Ralphie.

2. Another film, The Polar Express is based on the book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg. A child is spirited away on a magical train to meet Santa. He is given a sleigh bell, but loses it. The boy's faith is restored when it mysteriously reappears. The movie, starring Tom Hanks was a box office hit, and nominated for three Oscars. The film has long been on DVD, and the novel, which won the prestigious Caldecott Medal, is available in hardcover and Kindle versions.

3. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, a family film centering on a young woman put in charge of directing the church play, is derived from Barbara Robinson's novel of the same title. With a busy single mother, six siblings are left to their own not-too-savory devices. They participate in the Christmas play solely to eat the tasty church snacks, but eventually get a lesson that ends up feeding not just their stomachs, but their souls. The book was adapted into a television movie starring Loretta Swit. While the TV special may be more difficult to locate, the book is always redistributed this time of year through major booksellers (even Wal*Mart!).

4. Christmas with the Kranks, one of Tim Allen’s classic holiday films, was surprisingly adapted from Skipping Christmas, written by John Grisham. As a couple is preparing for a quiet noel season, their plans are turned upside down when their daughter unexpectedly comes home and demands they have a great holiday together. Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis play the parents in this crowd-pleasing laugh fest (available on demand with DirecTV and Amazon).

5. Olive, the other Reindeer is derived from Vivian Walsh's tome of the same name. A dog fears that Christmas might be canceled, due to an injured reindeer. She mishears the words "all of the other reindeer" and thinks they are calling her name, Olive. En route to Santa, she runs into unlikely characters that pull together to help her save Christmas. This animated television movie (which is also free on Youtube) featured Drew Barrymore as the voice of Olive, and Ed Asner as the voice of Santa Claus.

6. The Small One is a Disney retelling (on Youtube as well) of Charles Tazewell's story of the same name. A father and his son depend on donkeys for their livelihood. When one ages past the point of usefulness, they have to sell it. Just as they are about to sell the donkey to be killed for his hide, a man needing a sweet-tempered animal to carry his expectant wife offers to buy him. As the woman rides off on the donkey, the little boy gazes in amazement as a star rises in the sky.

7. The Christmas Box is a based on Richard Paul Evans' bestseller of the same name. This story centers upon the theme that you can think you're doing someone a favor, and it actually turns out to be the best thing for you. A man moves his family in as caretakers of a well-to-do widow. What they learn changes their lives, making them realize that Christmas really is a time of miracles. Maureen O'Hara played the widow and Richard Thomas was the handy man in the movie.

While some of the movies added a special twist to the original book, in almost all cases the plots stayed true to the books' messages. They illustrate that the messages of love and goodwill toward men ring true in the hearts of young and old alike, which is why these movies will never lose their appeal.
About the Author
Spencer Blohm was a freelance entertainment and pop culture blogger for He received his degree in potions from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He currently lives in Chicago with his owl, Roberta.