Review || Z by Michael Thomas Ford

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Title: Z
Author: Michael Thomas Ford
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Edition: Kindle (292 pages)
Publisher: HarperTeen (Jan. 1, 2010)
Date Read: 2/15/2017

Goodreads || Amazon || Barnes & Noble


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Josh is by far the best zombie Torcher around—at least, he is in his virtual-reality zombie-hunting game. Josh has quickly risen through the player ranks, relying on the skill, cunning, and agility of a real Torcher.

But luckily for Josh, zombies exist only in the virtual world. The real zombie war is now more than fifteen years in the past, and the battle to defeat the deadly epidemic that devastated his family—and millions of others—is the stuff of history lessons.

Charlie is the top-ranked player in the game. Since all the players are shrouded in anonymity, Josh never expects Charlie to be a girl—and he never expects the offer she makes him: to join the underground gaming league that takes the virtual-reality game off the screen and into the streets. Josh is thrilled. But the more involved he gets, the more he realizes that not everything is what it seems. Real blood is spilling, members of the team are disappearing, and the zombies in the game are acting strange. And then there’s the matter of a mysterious drug called Z…


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Z is not a book that I would have ordinarily picked up. But… I needed a book with a title starting with Z for a reading challenge. As I was scrolling through a Goodreads book list, trying to find a book that looked halfway interesting, I happened upon this one. I wouldn’t say I was blown away, but I was quite impressed with the story. This isn’t a really well known book, therefore my expectations weren’t very high – which I think, in the end, was a good thing. A sci-fi novel full of gruesome zombies, and a diverse circle of friends you can’t help but love, Z truly exceeded my expectations and more.

“The First Rule of Torching: Cleanse with fire.
The Second Rule of Torching: Save all humans.
The Third Rule of Torching: You can’t bring them back.”

A unique twist to the original zombie story, Z had me flipping pages like a mad woman. I don’t want to say too much… and spoil it for you! But I was so intrigued by the concept of the plot, and wanting to know what would happen next. It wasn’t really a mystery, since you pretty much know from the beginning what’s going on (even though the main character doesn’t), but it still has that eerie, mysterious vibe to it. The author did a fantastic job setting the mood and creating the action that makes a reader want to continue reading. And quickly!

“His skin was the light blue of a Duster. His eyes, like those of everyone who used a lot of dust, were a peculiar mix of iridescent blue and purple swirling around a gold pupil in a hypnotizing pattern.”

You know how sometimes you open a novel, and you have no idea what you’re about to be in for? This was one of those times for me. Z is what I would consider a “diverse hidden gem”. When I chose to read this book, I had no idea there would be such a diverse group of characters within the story. So when I discovered the many POC characters – a Latina girl, a Chinese girl, an African American guy – I was pleasantly surprised… and also thrilled to death! These kids from such different ethnicities and backgrounds work together throughout the story, and become so close with one another that they begin to rely on each other. I loved that! Each one not only had their physical differences, but personality differences as well, and that was clearly portrayed in the writing. The characters were represented very well and it was hard not to fall in love with every one of them.

This isn’t your average zombie story. Between the descriptive writing and the diverse cast of characters, Z is a novel that definitely deserves more attention than it gets. This is a quick, easy read, full of action and adventure. If that’s what you’re looking for in a novel, then I highly recommend picking this one up. It’s an absolute page turner.

Rating: untitled-design-13

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Posted in Four Stars, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

BEAT THE BACKLIST || Knockin’ those books off my TBR that have been there for ages…

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Some of you have heard of the Beat the Backlist challenge, created by Austine @ NovelKnight.com. For those of you who haven’t, it is a challenge created to help knock some of those backlist books off your TBR! You know, those books that have been sitting on your shelf for months, maybe even years? Yes, those!

Not only will the challenge allow you to knock backlisted books off your TBR, but there’s a Hogwarts mini-challenge, as well! It’s not a requirement to participate in the mini-challenge, but I’m going to, so I can see how many points I can rack up for Gryffindor this year. And according to January’s win (Slytherin!), it looks like the Gryff’s need some more assistance.

That’s where I come in.

I had every intention of signing up for this challenge at the beginning of the year, but I got busy and sidetracked, and it just didn’t happen. So, that’s what I’m doing today. I wanna show y’all a few books I plan to read in the next few months for the Beat the Backlist challenge, and my personal point goal!

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hpboxsetHarry Potter (entire series) by J.K. Rowling

I’ve already re-read book one this year, and I started book two today. So my plan is to re-read the entire Harry Potter series for this challenge! I mean, there is a Hogwarts mini-challenge… so this fits in perfectly!

V.E. Schwab’s many books I need to catch up on…

Yes, all of them. (And of course, A Conjuring of Light. But that’s not a backlist book!) Anywho, it has taken me WAY too long to read these four books. Now is the time.

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For the Beat the Backlist mini-challenge, I’ll be playing for Gryffindor! (Go, Gryffs!) There are so many ways to earn points for your House, including Scavenger Hunts, Instagram Challenges, Cross Posting Your Reviews, and of course… just reading! You can find all the ways to earn points for your House HERE.

My personal point goal for this year is…

7,500

That may (or may not) be a big number, but I will be reviewing (and cross posting) all of the books I read. As well as participating in ALL of the challenges! So I will read my butt off trying to make this goal! I believe it’s attainable for the whole year, so wish me luck!

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Are you participating in the Beat the Backlist challenge? If so, which House are you playing for?

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Posted in challenges, Discussions | Tagged , | 31 Comments

Discussion || Character Lists & Maps

Hi, guys! I haven’t posted a discussion in a while, so I thought it’s about time for one, am I right? Today I want to discuss Character Lists & Maps. You know, those thingy’s sometimes in the front of books (mostly fantasy)? Yes, I’m sure there’s a specific name for these “thingy’s”. I just don’t know what it is!

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At the front of some books, most often times in fantasy, you’ll find a map and possibly a list of characters, as well as their role in the story. These lists can be quite long and intimidating sometimes, and the maps quite complicated. Of course, it’s not a necessity that you utilize them. But that’s what they’re there for: REFERENCE. What I want to address today, is whether or not these long lists of characters, and complicated maps, are worth the trouble.

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I know what you’re thinking… how could there possibly be any cons to such a helpful reference? Well, that’s the thing. Is it helpful? Let’s see…

PROS

→ You can get an idea of the characters beforehand aka Knowing What To Expect.

→ It’s not going anywhere. So if you need to flip back to the front to remember a location, or a character’s role in the story, it’s right there.

→ It can be fun! Checking out the map of a fantasy land can be entertaining, right?

CONS

→ It can get confusing. Yes, it sure can. There’s no way most of us will remember all those names and every location on the map… unless we sit there and study it for hours.

→ And who wants to keep flipping back to have to reference a character or location? (I don’t.)

→ If you do choose to keep flipping back to the front for reference, that can end up being pretty time consuming. Time you could be actually reading the book.


Ok, so it looks like we have a pretty even playing field with our pros and cons. Let’s talk about it…

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For me, I don’t think I have one time in my life read a character list all the way through, or sat and studied one of the maps in my books. Maybe this is a bad thing. Maybe I should. But I’ve never had a problem understanding the books even though I didn’t go through that process. In my opinion, I could take or leave the long character lists and the maps. I, personally, don’t utilize them. I always skip past. But I want to hear from you guys…

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How do you feel about character lists and maps? Do you utilize them? Have they helped you better comprehend a story? Or are you like me, and skip past them without ever referencing back to them?

So let me know below if Character Lists and Maps are…

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Posted in Discussions | Tagged , | 76 Comments

Standalone Sunday || 2.19.17

Happy Sunday, folks! I hope everyone is getting their readin’ on today! Time for some more Standalone Sunday recommendations. One of my favorite parts of the week. Let’s see what recommendations we’ve got for us today, shall we?


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Standalone Sunday is a feature created by yours truly where each Sunday we will feature a standalone book (not part of a series) that you loved or would recommend! There’s tons of focus on books that are part of a series… I thought it’d be nice to focus on some standalone novels, too!

Feel free to join in on this weekly feature by creating your own Standalone Sunday post! And you’re more than welcome to use the image I created. Link to your post in the comments below or make sure you link back to this post so I can check it out and add you down below!


sharpobjectsSharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.


Sharp Objects is one of those books you’ll never forget! It’s creepy and mysterious, with strange characters that you’ll grow to love reading about. I haven’t read many Gillian Flynn books, but this is absolutely one of my favorites of hers. If you haven’t read this one yet, you need to asap! It’s unforgettable.

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Standalone Posts Around the Blogosphere

Susan @ Susan Loves Books | Azia @ The Uncharted Word | Lois @ Lois Reads Books | Sofii @ A Book. A Thought. | Sinead @ Less Reality, More Books | Beth @ Reading Every Night | Anna @ My Bookish Dream | Kaytlyn @ The Bohemian Bookworm Didi @ Didi Oviatt | Diana @ Diana Prince Reviews | Melissa @ Book Nerd Momo


Have you read this book? What are some standalone novels you would recommend? If you want to participate in this feature, link up your post in the comments and I’ll add you up top!

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Posted in Meme's | Tagged , , , | 68 Comments

ARC Review || A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith

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Title: A Darkly Beating Heart
Author: Lindsay Smith
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction > Time Travel, LGBT
Edition: eARC Kindle (272 pages)
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Oct. 25, 2016)
Date Read: 2/12/2017

Goodreads || Amazon || Book Depository


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A time-travel story that alternates between modern day and 19th century Japan as one girl confronts the darkness lurking in her soul.

No one knows what to do with Reiko. She is full of hatred. All she can think about is how to best hurt herself and the people closest to her. After a failed suicide attempt, Reiko’s parents send her from their Seattle home to spend the summer with family in Japan to learn to control her emotions. But while visiting Kuramagi, a historic village preserved to reflect the nineteenth-century Edo period, Reiko finds herself slipping back in time into the life of Miyu, a young woman even more bent on revenge than Reiko herself. Reiko loves being Miyu, until she discovers the secret of Kuramagi village, and must face down Miyu’s demons as well as her own.


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Trigger Warning: This book contains thoughts and acts of attempted suicide and cutting.

If you go searching through my blog, you’ll find that I have published a few posts mentioning A Darkly Beating Heart and how I couldn’t wait to read it. Although it took me a little bit longer to get to it than expected, my anticipation finally won out and I actually sat down and read it! Woo! Yay for me, right? Well, yes and no…

“I have mastered the path of hatred, and I know now where it ends. It ends with my revenge.”

A Darkly Beating Heart was on my radar for a while, especially when I realized how diverse it was. Our main character, Reiko, is Japanese, bi-sexual, and suffers from anger, anxiety and depression, which she takes medication for. Majority of this story takes place in Japan, where Reiko goes with co-workers, thinking getting away from home may help solve her problems. Although this book is labeled as LGBT, and Reiko claims to be bi-sexual, it isn’t proven within the story. She has no female love interest, which is kind of what I was hoping for when seeing the LGBT tag. So I was slightly disappointed on that level.

“I clench my fists at my sides as a wave of anger rolls over me. I’m just livid, but I don’t even know what I’m angry about. I want to see blood pouring down that stage, feel the bones of someone’s head condense and crunch between my hands…”

When we are first introduced to Reiko, we can clearly see how angry she is. So, so angry. I wanted her to find the peace she was looking for. Whether that be in Japan, at home, or wherever. But that never happened. Reiko was angry throughout the entire story, until the very end. It was continually pounded into our heads how angry she was, so much that it just became boringly repetitive. I understand the author wanting her readers to become as consumed in Reiko’s anger as she was, but there comes a point where it just becomes too much. And this book hit that point, unfortunately.

The main focus here was Reiko, but I would have liked a little more development in some of the secondary characters as well. Her boss, Aki, was the only character that truly stood out to me because she had such a loud personality. Although she wasn’t likeable as a person, I enjoyed Aki as a character in this story, simply because she HAD personality.

“I am nothingness. An empty vessel. The core of me is rotted away, and I can never get it back. There’s nothing left to fill me but anger. There’s nothing left for me to sense but pain.”

Traveling through time between modern day Japan and historic Japan, Reiko encounters another angry soul like herself. I would have been more intrigued had the author not made historic Japan sound so terrible. I get that this was done for the plot, but a few niceties could have been thrown in every now and then, right?

Overall, I really did not enjoy this book. I feel the author used Reiko’s anger as filler throughout a lot of the story, and for a while I felt it was going no where. The very end of the book is when I started to like it, and by that time, it was over. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you want to hear over and over and over again how angry someone is. I hate that I was so disappointed in this novel when I was looking forward to it for quite some time. But they can’t all be winners, can they?

*I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Rating: untitled-design-15

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Posted in ARC Reviews, Reviews, Two Stars | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

Hockey & Sex? Yes, please! Parker Release Blitz! w/ Excerpt

Well, hello there! I hope this post finds you happy and healthy!… Yes, I know I’m a day or two late, but time management and all that junk really isn’t my strong suit. Lol!

Anywho, my lovely blogging bestie, author Jillian Quinn, owner of the blog Rant and Rave About Books, has released yet another awesome NA Romance novel – Parker! Be on the lookout for my review for Parker, coming up in the next week or so. Published February 15th, take a peek below to see why you need to grab a copy of this book as soon as possible!


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Parker (Face-Off Series #1) by Jillian Quinn

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Former collegiate athlete and successful sports agent, Charlotte “Coach” Coachman, is a straight shooter who has a very strict policy—no dating clients. The loves of her life are coaching little league basketball and managing the careers of her players, leaving no room for men. 


Coach hasn’t met an athlete she couldn’t handle and a deal she couldn’t close—until she meets Alex Parker, the NHL’s most notorious bad boy both on and off the ice. 


Alex is the best defenseman in the league, breaking records along with hearts. He’s made a name for himself as a womanizer, and after a scandal involving the owner’s granddaughter, Alex is traded to Philadelphia. Still reeling from the loss of his father, Alex is on a downward spiral, drowning himself in booze and women, until Coach takes him under her wing. 


She might be attracted to the sexy hockey star, and certainly not immune to his charms, but Coach can see that Alex needs her help, and coaching players is what she does best. Now that the lines are blurred and the passion between them is too strong to deny, Coach has to decide if Alex is worth making an exception to her rules.


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The clock on the table reads five in the morning, which is better than calling him in the middle of the night, something I’ve refused to do while he’s been away. He needs his rest and focus for the game even though I know he’d sit up with me all night if he had to.

Fumbling for my cell phone, I finally get a grip on it and slide my finger across the screen to open my Contacts. He not only found his way into my heart, but he also made it into my list of Favorites in just a few weeks.

The line rings three times before Alex answers, his voice hoarse and low but also with a hint of concern. “Charlotte, are you okay, sweetheart?”

“I needed to hear your voice,” I whisper as I sink back into the stack of pillows behind me, unable to stop myself from crying. “I miss you, Alex,” I choke out.

“I know, baby. I miss you, too. I’ll be home in two days.”

“I wish you were here.” Using my pillowcase, I dab my eyes and then rest my head on the cotton. “I feel so weak to admit that I need help. This was under control for so long—”

He sighs loudly into the phone, and I can hear him shifting his weight in bed. “I thought the same thing for a long time, Charlotte, but look at what you’ve done for me. Even the best head coaches need a good assistant coach, and the same thing goes for players. Do you think Michael Jordan would’ve accomplished half of what he did without an assist from Scottie Pippen or good defense from Dennis Rodman? Let me be your wingman, Charlotte.”

He always knows how to cheer me up, and working basketball into this conversation just gave him at least another ten more points in my scorebook.

A broad smile tugs at my mouth, and my heart swells from the overwhelming emotion that washes over me. “I think that’s the most romantic thing anyone has ever said to me. I’m actually surprised that you didn’t use Gretzky and McSorley. I have to say, I’m impressed with your basketball knowledge. You know that wouldn’t work on most girls.”

He laughs. “That’s because you’re better than most girls. You’re my girl.”

I am Alex Parker’s girlfriend. The idea excites me, yet at the same time, I’m equal parts nervous because Mickey will never approve, and no one can know about us.

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Parker is available NOW on Amazon! Go grab your copy now! What are you waiting for?

aboutjill

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Jillian loves Mafia men, sports, bad boys, dirty talkers, strong female characters, and books with plenty of heat, all of which you will find in her books. As a lover of all things bookish, she has a serious book hoarding problem and runs a book blog in her free time. When she’s not reading, writing, or blogging, she’s obsessively fangirling over hockey players and can be found wherever she can catch the next hockey game.

Stalker Links

Facebook | Twitter | Author Website | Goodreads | Bad Boy Mafia Newsletter

Posted in Discussions | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Review || Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

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Title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Book 1)
Author: J.K. Rowling
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Edition: Kindle (320 pages)
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (June 26, 1997)
Date Read: 2/9/2017

Goodreads || Amazon || Book Depository


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Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry.

Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come.


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Sixteen long years ago, I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the very first time, not knowing the effect it would have on me. This unforgettable tale led to my love of books and reading, and I will never forget that magical experience. After all these years of having the desire to reread this amazing piece of literature, the time had finally come. I was going to reread it… and that’s exactly what I did. But I wasn’t alone in my journey through Hogwarts once again. My blogging buds Jodie, Tiffany, Sammi, Stephanie and Jasmine tagged along with me for the adventure. You can find links to read their thoughts and opinions at the end of this review.

Because it had been so long since I’d read book one in the Harry Potter series, I hadn’t expected to remember a lot of the details. But I was wrong! When I began reading, it all started coming back to me, at the same time bringing back those feelings of magic and euphoria that I experienced while reading this in my childhood. It’s hard to explain in words, but this book put a spell on me back then, and did the same exact thing to me this time. This book is dripping with magic and enchantment, and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I literally devoured it, wanting more and more with each turn of the page.

“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”

In this book, you’ll find characters who are unique in their individual personalities and brought to life in such a way that you feel like you actually know them. Like they’re students in your classroom sitting next to you. Like they’re your best friend. J.K. Rowling does a fantastic job making you feel as if you are inside the story with the characters and going through their experiences right by their side. The one thing I feel this book is lacking is diversity. I would have liked to see more diverse characters. Of course, when I read this for the first time, I was nine years old and not really focused on diversity. I just wanted a fun, intriguing novel to read… and that’s exactly what Rowling provided.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is in the Middle Grade/YA genre, according to Goodreads. With that being said, I’d like to point out that the writing isn’t anything spectacular. It isn’t poetic or beautiful. But the thing is… it doesn’t have to be. The way this book was written is perfect and makes it easy to fly through, completely enthralled in the story without having any issues. The writing is detailed and descriptive, fun and exciting… without being complicated. And that’s just one of the many things I enjoyed.

J.K. Rowling invented a world that no other can compare to. Many authors have tried, but in my experience, no one has yet to live up to the creative mind of Rowling. I always wondered how my ideas on the story would change once I reread it after all these years… and to be honest, they haven’t! I was still just as amazed and blown away by this book as I was when I opened that first page sixteen years ago.

“To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.”

If you haven’t read this series yet… I am telling you right now… do it already! Seriously, what are you waiting for? If you want to be enveloped by magic and amazement, this is the one for you. I am so excited to continue rereading this series with my blogging buds, and we’ll be starting book two, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, in the next day or so. I know I will be reminded of my love for that book just as I was this one. Five shiny swords to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone… and to J.K. Rowling for her incredibly creative work!

If you’re interested in checking out my reading buddies’ reviews, you can find their links below, along with five questions we asked Tiffany, our spotlight reviewer for this book in the series.

Rating: untitled-design-12


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** Spotlight Questions for Tiffany **

*mild spoilers may apply*

Stephanie asked: If you could pick any sweet from the cart on the train, what would it be and why?

Tiff answered: I would choose the chocolate frogs as my favorite sweet is chocolate and I like the feeling of being able to collect the cards with each sweet you have.

Sammi asked: Who is your favorite bad guy in the book and why?

Tiff said: I would have to choose Professor Snape as even though he appears evil at the beginning he is only trying to help Harry at times and there’s meaning to why he’s not like the others.

Jasmine asked: Did you enjoy the book more rereading it or reading it for the first time and why?

Tiff said: I enjoyed the book rereading it more as it’s like meeting up with an old friend and jumping into their world all over again and I discover things that I have missed or forgotten every time I venture into it again. This time as I said I was reading the illustrated version so it also felt like I was reading it for the first time again as it had the pictures to enjoy as well.

Jodie asked: Who is your favorite character and why?

Tiff answered: Hermione is my favorite character as she reminds me of myself a lot as we both have very busy and messy hair which is hard to tame and we both are bookworms who like to try their best at school and stay out of trouble if they can. The fact that she also has a select few friends is very similar to myself as well. This is why shes’ my favorite character as I connect to her very easily.

I asked: If you could take one First Year course at Hogwarts, what would you pick? (Defense Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, Herbology, History of Magic, or Astronomy?)

Tiff answered: I would probably either take charms as I find spell work fascinating or Astronomy to be able to learn the different planets and moon cycles, etc.


Love your answers, Tiff! We’ll be doing a spotlight post for each book in the series, so be on the lookout for that! Below you’ll find links to all their reviews, so go check them out!

Tiffany @ The Book Nerd

Jodie @ For the Novel Lovers

Jasmie @ How Useful It Is

Stephanie @ Teacher of YA

*Sammi’s review will posted soon!

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Posted in Five Stars, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 47 Comments