Monday, October 31, 2016

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Guest Post

Quick Note: Welcome to the final HP book series guest post! I can't believe today is Halloween already. I still have more Harry Potter posts (and giveaways) I want to share, so I'm moving HP month into November with Thankful for Harry Potter month. Follow along! 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows guest post by Marissa
Follow her on Twitter

Deathly Hallows.. ahh.. where do I begin? It’s the book that ended it all. We wrapped up loose ended mysteries, met new characters, lost favorite characters, and saw our golden trio all grown up. Because of all of this combined, Deathly Hallows means different things to so many different people. Some love it, some hate it, but one thing is for sure: everyone has strong feelings for it.

I don’t remember the release of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows. I was in the sixth grade, and even though I was an avid reader, I didn’t like to read books for my age. I was too busy reading Gone With the Wind to care about a boy with glasses.

Worst. Mistake. Of. My. Life.


I didn’t get into Harry Potter until my late middle school or early high school years, and even then I only became obsessed with the movies. Unfortunately, I never got to go to any midnight movie releases, which makes me feel like I’m not as much a part of the fandom as all of the other hardcore fans. However, in my defense, when I say obsessed, I mean obsessed. I would say in the span of five years I probably watched the movies over three hundred times. Sometimes I would just let them play in the background while I did other tasks because not only was I obsessed, they became comforting.

When I finally read the books, I was 19. I read all seven in about five days. I’m a double major at university, both of which are English based, so I have about zero free time to read. But I also have a four hour round trip commute to said classes, so I am in a perpetual reread of the audiobooks which I looooooove. I’m only on Goblet of Fire right now so I can’t make any comments about Deathly Hallows but if it’s as great being read to me as it was when I read it, well, I know I’ll love it.

The thing is, it’s hard for me to see why people hate the ending to the Harry Potter series, because, of course, I love it so much. I love it all, even and especially the epilogue. That’s where a lot of people tend to turn sour with the whole series. And now, with everything new coming out in the Wizarding World, people are taking that sour feeling they felt at the epilogue and transferring it to the new content.

I see a huge correlation between how someone felt about the ending of Deathly Hallows and how they feel about things like The Cursed Child, which is directly related to Harry Potter’s story. Interestingly enough, those who didn’t like the ending of Deathly Hallows, seem to be extra enthused with new content not directly related to the Harry Potter story, like the Fantastic Beasts franchise.

I’ll admit, there are things about the ending that I didn’t love, even though I loved it overall.

Most of the deaths, I can forgive JKR for. Most. But I cannot forgive her for Fred Weasley. Cannot. Will not. Shall not. Nope. I can forgive her for Remus. I can forgive her for Tonks. I can even forgive her for Hedwig. Fred Weasley? Nope. It’s one of those deaths that I don’t think she actually needed to do, and even she says she regrets it. PETITION TO CHANGE THE ENTIRE SEVENTH BOOK AND BRING FRED BACK PLEASE.

I don’t know though. Other than theloveofmylife Fred Weasley being brutally killed on the page in front of my eyes, there’s not a whole lot about Deathly Hallows I have beef with. (That’s a term the kids are using these days.)

As it were, I would have to implore the Harry Potter fandom to reconsider their stance on the ending of it all. Otherwise, we’re going to continue to get more divided as a fandom. And we know what Dumbledore said, “We are only as strong as we are united; as weak as we are divided.”


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Groupon Goods: The Sure Fire Way to Save on Gifts!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own. #Groupon #ad

I've talked about Groupon on my blog before, so I wanted to remind you of all the amazing things you can get as we approach the holiday season. I can't believe Halloween is tomorrow! While you can search your local listings on Groupon, you can also look at Groupon Goods and get all kinds of wonderful deals on gift items for you, your friends, and family! One of the things that I love looking up on Groupon are their magazine subscription deals. I subscribe to a lot of magazines, and I find a year-long subscription makes an awesome gift, so definitely try searching to see what you find.

Just recently, I signed up for a year's subscription to Oprah Magazine, for $5! That's one year of Oprah (12 issues) and all for only $5. You really can't beat that, right? There are a lot of other great subscriptions available too - Teen Vogue ($5), Better Homes and Gardens ($5), Martha Stewart Living ($5), and a lot more! Really, truly, something for everyone on your list!!

If you aren't into magazines, or you already subscribe to everything you want, then I thought I'd share a couple pictures of some other fun items you can get when searching Groupon Goods.

Any Hunger Games fans? You can get The Hunger Games: Complete Collection on DVD or Blu-ray for $34.99.

A lot of people have been celebrating 100 years of Roald Dahl so you might want to invest in this 15-book collection. It's worth $207.59 but you can get it NOW for only $39.99. How awesome is that?

These are both items that I would absolutely love to get and you can get them too, and many other items, by visiting Groupon Goods and searching for your interests!

What would you get?


Saturday, October 29, 2016

Win Your Choice of Hogwarts House Lantern (U.S./CAN) - Nov 12

I'm very excited about today's giveaway. It's an item that I would absolutely love to own for myself! Maybe one day...

This Etsy shop Storybook Craft Collective has some of the cutest items. You can get night lights, lanterns, back lit shadow boxes, and they all deal with some of the stories we love: Harry Potter, Wicked the Musical, Snow White, and more!

How awesome is this Phantom of the Opera lantern? I'm just showing two of the sides, the other two have different decorations. You can get this lantern for $40 and you have the choice of a black or white lantern.

As for Harry Potter items, check out this Harry Potter Horcrux inspired Vinyl Frame Set, which you can buy now for $40. 

Harry Potter Horcrux Inspired Vinyl Float 3x5" Frame Set Hogwarts Deathly Hallows Ravenclaw Hufflepuff Gryffindor Slytherin

Finally, the Harry Potter Lanterns!

This is the Medium Slytherin Lamp, but there are Large and Mini sizes as well. You can also choose from the other three houses as well, but I love Slytherin so I'm sharing this one! This lamp is $35 and you have the choice of different lanterns: black with frosted, black with clear, white with frosted, white with clear.

Want to win your choice of Medium Harry Potter House Lantern? Of course you do! 

Giveaway Time!

-U.S. and Canadian Entries only
-Must be 13 years of age or older, or have parental permission
-Ends November 12
-Neither I nor the Etsy shop are responsible for lost or broken items in the mail

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Win a Harry Potter Chest (INT'L) - Ends Nov 12

Today I'm sharing a fun giveaway from Kirsty, who runs the Etsy shop The Burnt Tree. She makes some great Harry Potter themed items but what's even better? She's offering an INTERNATIONAL giveaway. Read on!

How awesome is this Harry Potter trunk? This particular one is 9 cm x 5cm x 5cm and it's perfect for your rings and other little trinkets. You can buy it for $12.49. 

One of my favorites is this Deathly Hallows Harry Potter trunk. It's a bigger size, as you can see in the photo, so it's $55 but it would make such a cute accessory for a room. Kirsty mentions using it as a wedding box in her posting, which I quite like too!

Harry Potter inspired potion box complete wth potions. Gift for Harry Potter fan, Harry Potter inspired potion chest.

Another favorite of mine is this Potions Box trunk. You get the awesome trunk WITH the little potions bottles. I love all things Harry Potter and I swear I'll create an HP themed room someday, so this would be such a fun decoration. Or if you have a younger child, they can play "potions" with this! This whole set is available for $33.74.

Definitely check out Kirsty's whole site. She has other Harry Potter items, Tolkien inspired items, Alice in Wonderland, and more!

Giveaway Time!

-Must be 13 years of age or older, or have parental permission
-Giveaway ends Nov 12
-Neither Kirsty nor I are responsible for lost or broken items in the mail

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Guest Post

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince guest post by Dana
Follow her on Twitter

Choosing a favorite Harry Potter book is hardly an easy task. While I can easily narrow it down to my favorite 4, I feel incredibly guilty leaving the others out (except for Chamber of Secrets, I just can’t seem to love it). After much internal debate, I decided to choose Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince for this post. It may not be my “you can only pick one Harry Potter book to read for the rest of your life” favorite but it has some of my FAVORITE and most memorable scenes in it.

I remember when it first came out and I devoured it in the wee early morning of July 16, 2005. I recall the thrill of trying to figure out who the Half Blood Prince was and the devastation of Dumbledore’s death. I’m fairly certain I cried for the entire day and it took me about 2 hours to read the final 3 chapters because of the tears.

With every subsequent reading as time went on, I began to realize how insignificant the entire plot line of Harry’s previously used Potions book. What is always most memorable to me are Harry’s “lessons” with Dumbledore in which we get to dive into the pensieve along with them to discover the secrets of Tom Marvolo Riddle’s history.

Through these memories the readers meet Marvolo Gaunt (Voldemort’s Grandfather) and his children Morfin and Merope. The family has a ring with the Peverall coat of arms engraved on it and a locket that belonged to Salazar Slytherin, whom they are descended from. Merope yearns over Tom Riddle, a muggle who lives down the way. When Morfin and Marvolo are sent to Azkaban, she concocts a love potion which she gives to Tom. They run off together and eventually she believed that his love was real enough that she stops giving him the potion. Tom returned to his home and left Merope alone and with child. The locket is the only possession she has of any value and she sells it to Borgin for far less than it was worth. It is believed that she then stopped using magic and died after giving birth to Tom. Later, Dumbledore visits the orphanage where Tom resides and offers him a place at Hogwarts. When talking with Dumbledore, Tom is suspicious and then overjoyed that he’s different from most people. He tells how he can make animals do things and bad things happen to people. He also has a tendency to take souvenirs from others.

Tom excels at Hogwarts and gathers loyal followers. He is obsessed with his parentage and tracks down his uncle and father during one of his summer breaks. Tom kills his father and muggle grandparents and then modified Morfin’s memories so that he believes he was the one who did it. Also at Hogwarts, Tom uses Professor Slughorn to gather information about Horcruxes and how they’re made. Once finished with his schooling, Tom goes to work at Borgin and Burkes after his request to remain at Hogwarts as a teacher is denied. His job involves the acquisition of items for the shop. On one such trip, he visited multiple times with Hepzibah Smith in the hopes of procuring goblin made armor. Because he is so charming, Hepzibah shows Tom her most treasured items: a golden cup that is said to possess special powers and belonged to Helga Hufflepuff and a locket that once belongs to Slytherin. She died two days later and the items were missing from her home. He resigned from his job and that was the last time Tom Riddle was seen for a while.

About ten years later, Tom returns to Hogwarts to again request a job as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. By this time, he is known as Voldemort and has recruited his loyal Death Eaters. He tells Dumbledore how he has been experimenting with magic but it is to no avail. Dumbledore refuses Tom a job, saying that they both know that he doesn’t really want to teach. From then on, Hogwarts had never been able to keep a DADA professor for more than a year.

I just love these glimpses into the past so much, perhaps it’s the history major in me! The fact that they omitted some of these scenes is my biggest disappointment with the movie version. These bits of the book explain so much about Voldemort and what’s to come for Harry. Dumbledore, knowing his end is coming, gives Harry practically everything he can to help him for when the time comes that he can’t be there.

At the end when Dumbledore is laid to rest and a wizard is saying a few words, Harry recalls with a smile what Dumbledore’s idea of a few words was.

“Nitwit. Blubber. Oddment. Tweak.”

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Choice of Harry, Ron, or Hermione Ornament (U.S.) - Ends Nov. 12

Another Etsy shop offering up a great Harry Potter giveaway today. This shop is Called and Chosen and it's run by Alexandra. She creates the most wonderful ornaments and figurines. She even has ring holders, cake toppers, etc. This is one shop you need to visit for yourself! 

Before we get to the Harry Potter items, I thought I'd share a couple items I really liked from Alexandra's shop. 

You can get this really cute fox ornament for only $10! Want custom colors? Alexandra would be happy to work with you!

There are even a lot of fun character options, like Sadness from the movie Inside Out.

Sadness Ornament, Inside Out ornament, Sadness Cake Topper, Sadness Christmas ornament, Christmas ornament, Inside Out Caketopper

You can get this Sadness ornament for $15 and you are given the choice of making it into a cake topper too if you want!

Now...let's get to Harry Potter! 

Luna Lovegood Ornament, Luna, Luna Lovegood Caketopper , Luna Lovegood Christmas ornament, Hogwarts Christmas ornament, Christmas ornament

One of my favorite options is the Luna Lovegood ornament. It's fun seeing secondary HP characters being featured and Luna is one of my most favorite characters! Luna's ornament is $17.

Any Hedwig fans out there?

Hedwig Ornament, Hedwig figurine, Harry Potter ornament, Hedwig Christmas ornament, Hogwarts Christmas ornament, Christmas ornament

You can get this cute little Hedwig ornament for just $8! What an adorable stocking stuffer! 

Finally, we have options for the giveaway. One winner will get their choice of a Hermione ornament, a Harry ornament, or a Ron ornament. Each of these are available for $17 or you can get all three for $50!

Harry, Hermione, and Ron Ornament Set, Harry Potter ornament set, Cake Toppers, Hogwarts Christmas ornaments, Christmas ornaments

I love that they each are holding something iconic to their character! Which one would you choose for your Christmas tree?

Giveaway Time!

Open to: U.S. only
Prize: winner's choice between Harry, Hermione, or Ron
Ends: November 12
Enter if you are 13 years of age or older, or you have parental permission
Neither Alexandra nor I are responsible for lost or damaged mail

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Guest Post

source: photo by Michelle
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix guest post by Michelle
Follow her on Twitter
Check out her blog, Pink Polka Dot Books

The first time I read the Harry Potter series, it was almost like a religious experience for me. From the first sentence of the first book, I was completely enamored, couldn't wait to read more, and knew that I'd probably never feel that exact way about a series ever again.

During my first read of the series, my favorite book hands-down was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. And believe me, I know this is NOT a popular favorite to have.... but I'm used to being the black sheep of reading, so it's cool :)

7 Reasons Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Is An Important Installment In The Series:

1. It's the book that comes after the "After" moment.
  • When the incident in the graveyard happens, it's clear that the games are over and things in Harry's world have just gotten real. Nothing was ever going to be the same again. With the start of the fifth book, it was obvious that the dark times had begun and that Harry's childhood is officially over.
2. It was the start of Harry not being able to count on Dumbledore
  • Before this book, it seemed like Dumbledore had all the answers. He was almost like a father figure for him at times. Before this book, I was VERY trustful of Dumbledore, knew that he would swoop in when times got too tough, and knew that he would help Harry understand what was going on with his wise words.
  • But then Dumbledore isolated and abandoned Harry after one of the most hellish moments of his life. The summer after the graveyard thing, there's radio silence from the wizarding world-- and it's on Dumbledore's orders. When Dumbledore showed up to Harry's disciplinary hearing, he's relieved to finally be able to talk to his mentor.... but Dumbledore brushes him off. He then spends the rest of the book acting like he barely knows Harry-- and even though Dumbledore believes he's doing this to protect Harry, it still supremely sucks.
  • When Harry finally gets the chance to go off on Dumbledore-- it was one of the BEST moments in the whole series. It's also nice that J.K. Rowling got us in the mind-set that Dumbledore isn't going to be the one Harry can count on because as we learn later, he really can't.
3. Umbridge
  • Dolores Umbridge might be my favorite villain in any book or movie ever. And by favorite, I mean least favorite because I've never hated anyone as much as I hated that vile woman.
  • There's something supremely creepy about her toad-like appearance mixed with the pink bows and cat adorned china. You just don't expect someone as evil as her to have an office full of doilies.
  • Why I hated her more than Voldemort is that she's masquerading as one of the good guys. She's somehow in a high position at the Ministry of Magic and she uses that position to justify all her crazy-doings. At least Voldemort is out in the open about his badness.
4. Luna Lovegood
  • We meet LUNA in this book!!! And I freaking love Luna. On that note, there's a CREW of new characters introduced and most of them are AWESOME (except Cho Chang, because she sucks).
5. Dumbledore's Army
  • The beloved D.A. is put together in this book because of Umbridge's refusal to teach them any real defenses against dark magic. This might be the most important thing that Harry, Ron, and Hermione do because without the D.A. I don't think they would've been able to succeed going further.
6. Epic Final Battle Scene
  • All the main players show up in the Ministry of Magic for a showdown. It's my favorite action sequence in the whole series.
7. It showed me that J.K. Rowling wasn't messing around.
  • This book is full of failure. Dumbledore fails Harry by not keeping him in the know. Harry and crew are deadly wrong about the Department of Mysteries and they fail to come out of it unscathed. The bad guys fail to secure the prophecy. Everyone loses in this book. And when Rowling kills off a major character (and Harry's last shot at a real family), I knew that no one was safe.
So yeah, this isn't a sexy choice as #1 favorite Harry Potter book. Harry is moody and angsty, the mood of the book is dark and depressing, and nothing ever seems to work out in the hero's favor. BUT-- I think the series needed this book to show us that it's more complex than a typical good vs. bad, hero always triumphs story.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Review by Lauren

source: copy from BloggingForBooks; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryIn Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it's falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you're constantly reminded that no one looks like you. 

In "How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet's Confessions", Kaling gives her tongue-in-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty, ("Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn't the land of appropriate-this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman s traditional hair color is honey blonde.") "Player" tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. ("I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.") In "Unlikely Leading Lady", she muses on America's fixation with the weight of actresses, ("Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they're walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.") And in "Soup Snakes", Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend, B.J. Novak ("I will freely admit: my relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell.") 
Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who's ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who've never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.


To be honest, I've never watched Mindy Kaling all that much, but I do know a bit about her and I think she's a great actress. I've wanted to read her memoirs for awhile now, and while I still need to check out her first one, I saw this one up for review on BloggingForBooks and I knew I had to check it out. I'm definitely glad that I did!

Mindy is amusing and real. She actually talks about not liking the term "real" when it's related to the way she looks, because it's almost as if they are vaguely insulting her, and I have to agree with that. I think of "real" as someone who seems down-to-earth or at least like someone who doesn't let fame go their head. You can't tell if a celebrity is real or faking it, but sometimes, like with people such as Mindy, you get the distinct impression that they really are how they present themselves. I think Mindy seems like a great person. She has faults and things about her that you might not like, and that she doesn't necessarily like either, but you can still see her and read her stories and believe she's ultimately a good person.

Why Not Me? is full of essays about Mindy's life, mostly focusing on her time in Los Angeles and being an actress. Granted, she still talks about issues and topics that anyone can relate to such as beauty standards, dating/romance, work (no matter what work you do), and more. Sure, you get fun stories about her dating someone who worked for Obama and working on a TV show that she created, but these are still enjoyable to read. I like celebrity memoirs that give you a look at their "real life" as well as their more "famous life" if you will.

Whether you know Mindy really well or not, I do think you should check this one out. Get it from your library even! It's a quick, entertaining read.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Swapoween Gift Reveal: What I Gave + What I Got

I love all things Halloween so I had to take part in the Swapoween Swap hosted by Chaotic Goddess Swaps and it was a lot of fun. This year, they had odd numbers so the person I sent to is not the person who sent to me but it's nice to get to know two bloggers this way!

First off, I gave to Kristen from The Book Monsters. I always love getting a fellow book lover in swaps just because I know ONE thing that they would love to receive. If you'd like to see what I gave Kristen, check out her post on Instagram.

Now, here is what I received from the lovely Elizabeth at Elizabeth Blair Books. She did such a good job at shopping for me! I just loved it all!

I opened up the box and saw this fun Halloween card and lots of orange and black tissue paper!

Elizabeth sent me so many fun goodies, I had to break it all up into different photos. In the one above, you can see the two Halloween socks (I'm wearing the orange/gray ones now), three awesome mystery/thriller books, and a book with lots of fun Halloween party ideas. I love throwing parties, so this was such fun! I also got awesome Halloween/fall themed bookmarks - I especially love the ones that you can color in!

I also got this really cute tumblr. If you can't read it, it says "if the shoe fits...wear it" and it's got lots of fun witchy shoes!

Even better? Elizabeth put a few Cadbury Scream Eggs inside the tumblr! I LOVE these.

Finally, all the other goodies that I got! As you can tell, Elizabeth did not skimp on the candy. I love that she put the candy and the Larabar's in cute Halloween bags. I included one at the top of the photo so that you could see!

Thank you SO much Elizabeth. You did a fantastic job; I seriously love it all.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Win 1 Dozen Harry Potter Cookies (U.S.) - Ends Nov 12

Cookies inspired by Harry Potter - listing for 1 dozen

Distinctly Delicious Desserts by Jennifer is a great Etsy shop where you can buy all sorts of different cookies. You can choose from Holidays, Sports, Animals, and more! And since it's Harry Potter month, you can even buy 1 dozen Harry Potter cookies for $32 on Jennifer's Etsy shop. This is what one U.S. winner will get if they enter the below giveaway. Before that though, let's take a look at some of Jennifer's other fun creations.

You can get Superhero Character Cookies, inspired by Marvel:

Super Hero Character Cookies (inspired by Marvel)

Another set of cookies I thought my readers would enjoy are these Alice in Wonderland Inspired Cookies - you can get 1 dozen for $36.

Full size Alice in Wonderland inspired cookies - listing is for 1 dozen cookies

I just love the details! I wish I could decorate a cookie half as well as Jennifer does!

Giveaway Time:

-winner gets 1 dozen HP cookies
-open to U.S. only
-must be 13 years of age or older to enter; unless you have parental permission
-we are not responsible for lost/broken items in the mail
-giveaway ends November 12

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Guest Post: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Goblet of Fire Guest Post
By: Maria Zuppardi

Twitter: @MariaZuppardi

The fourth Harry Potter book is kind of super amazing, if you haven’t read it already! I find that this is the point where this series takes a dark turn. We start this book off with the murder of the Riddle family that Harry is dreaming about - not exactly a nice scene at the beginning! This is however offset through the (temporary) excitement of the Quidditch World Cup, which was such a good match! I get so into it whenever I read it….I mean who doesn’t?

I liked the chaotic feel to this book; Harry was always on edge when he didn’t know what to do about an upcoming Triwizard Tournament challenge, or because of the mystery behind Rita Skeeter and her Harry + Hermione rumours, the threat of the Dark Mark and the implications behind it - this was such a crazy book to read because again, it was a different feel from the first three books, but I like it! At this point, Harry and the gang are older, J.K. Rowling’s audience is getting a bit older so it makes sense that she would write this differently.

My favourite part of the book was the ending, when Sirius ends up at the castle almost losing his mind about what Harry went through. Sirius is my favourite character, so any part he’s in I just LOVE! Harry never had a father figure growing up, so it was nice to see Sirius taking on this role way better than Vernon Dursley. Sirius has done better parenting for Harry in over a year than Vernon ever did.

Honourable Mentions

  1. Dobby. Bless him for being a paid member of the Hogwarts faculty! Even though he’s not the most liked elf in the kitchen, he’s really doing something right and following something he believes in. He wants to redefine the boundaries and create a better life for himself and other elves.
  2. Dobby (again) - just because he gave Harry the gillyweed which helped him for the second challenge.
  3. Hermione for always being badass, and figuring out a few key facts along the way.  
  4. Barty Crouch Jr. Let’s face it, it takes some serious dedication to act like a world-renowned Auror. And convince everyone around him that he IS one. Although obviously not done for the right reasons, it’s still a pretty cool undercover mission.
  5. Voldemort. He isn’t the most feared wizard of all time for nothing! From literally going to a gross-looking thing and growing into a full-fledged man was a frighteningly awesome scene both in the book and the movie.
Overall, I think this book was great preparation for the deaths in the other books. There’s really not much to critique here, because I love this book! It’s my second favourite one in the series because of all the action and the amount of new characters introduced. I loved meeting the different wizarding schools. Most of all though, I love J.K. Rowling’s writing ability and how she conveys a story that the whole world can fall in love with.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lucian Divine by Renee Carlino Cover Reveal

Alicia here, with the cover reveal for Renee Carlino's next book! I can't wait to read this, especially because it's paranormal, and I looooove me some paranormal.

Anyways, enjoy!

We have the beautiful cover for the upcoming release from Renee Carlino, LUCIAN DIVINE releasing on JANUARY 9, 2017. Get ready for this breathtaking and unforgettable story!


“My guardian angel is a drunk.”

Evelyn Casey's life is at a standstill. She's in her mid-twenties, struggling with the dating scene in San Francisco. Nothing seems to be working out, and she’s starting to think that she’ll live out her days in her crummy apartment with her overbearing roommate, Brooklyn. It's absurd, but sometimes Evey longs for a guardian angel to show up and save the day.

And then he does. Seriously. His name is Lucian and he's a guardian angel, been on the job for two thousand years. His sudden presence in her life is both good—he's brilliant, witty, and warm—and bad—he's brilliant, witty, warm, and hot as ----. But as perfect as Lucian seems, he’s got problems of his own. He’s taken up drinking and he’s brazenly inserted himself into Evey’s life, going against the greatest cosmic law ever created.

For Evey, the rules are simple: You are not allowed to hook up with your guardian angel. But sometimes fulfilling your destiny requires a leap of faith, a confrontation with God.

Yes, God as in God.

Pre-order now Available

iTunes | B&N | KOBO | AMAZON PRINT | 

Kindle to come

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Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women's novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher's Weekly. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she's not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate.

Learn more at


Gryffindor Harry Potter Scarf (U.S. only) - Ends Nov 12

Harry Potter Inspired Infinity Scarves

Today I am excited to share the Etsy shop I Sew for Sanity. The various items that you can find in this shop are infinity scarves, applique shirts, corn hole bags, and garden flags. While she only offers one Harry Potter themed item, it's something that I think a lot of you would love. Yes, you can buy a Harry Potter Infinity Scarf for $15 (regular length) or $17 (long length). Even better? You can choose between the four Hogwarts houses! I think I'd want to own one of each!

Despite these being the only HP items, I still wanted to highlight some other fun items from the shop-
Cancer Awareness Infinity Scarf with embroidered ribbon of your choice!

With it being October and breast cancer awareness month, I'd suggest checking out this Cancer Awareness Infinity Scarf

Another really cute item is this Customized Tooth Fairy Pillow.

Customized Tooth Fairy Pillow

Now it's time for the Giveaway!

prize: 1 Gryffindor Scarf
Open to: U.S. Only
Must Be: 13 years of age or older, or have parental permission to enter
Warning: I am not responsible for lost/damaged items in the mail
Ends: Saturday, November 12 (so you have lots of time to enter!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Prisoner of Azkaban Guest Post


Prisoner of Azkaban Guest Post by Veronica
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Check out her blog, Grounded Wanderlust

           Harry Potter is one of those series that has defined a (my) generation. Everyone who has read the series, and loved it, probably has a favorite too. Out of all of the books, my favorite has to be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (on a side note, the Prisoner of Azkaban is also my LEAST favorite out of all of the movies).
            There are many, many reasons why this book is my favorite out of the entire series. Honestly, I could probably write an entire essay, but I’m going to try to stick to some of my top reasons. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that it has been a couple of years since I have read any of the Harry Potter books, but I still remember why I love each and every one! Also, a warning, this post will contain spoilers for those of you who have not read the HP books (I know you’re out there because my sister is one of you and my boss was one of you up until last April).
            One of the biggest reasons that Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite Harry Potter book is that Lord Voldemort does not directly cause all of the craziness. What I mean by that is, Voldy doesn’t pop up or order anyone to do anything in this book (he is indirectly responsible though a la Pettigrew’s betrayal). I don’t know why, but the fact that the evil actions of one person 12 years earlier had a snowball effect and caused all of the chaos in the third book really resonated with me.
            Another reason I loved Prisoner of Azkaban is the introduction of several important ANIMALS!!! From the very beginning, animals have played an important role in Harry Potter. Hedwig, Fluffy, Norbert, Mrs. Norris, and Scabbers are all animals that have had an impact on the story. Crookshanks (Hermione’s Cat), Pigwidgeon (Ginny’s owl), and Buckbeak (the Hippogriff) were all introduced in Prisoner of Azkaban that recur throughout the series and play significant parts in the story overall. Crookshanks especially was fun to read about.
            The main reason is that this is the first book where Sirius Black and Remus Lupin appear. These two are some of my favorites characters in the series too (they’re tied for top favorites with the Weasley twins). However, it isn’t just that they were introduced that makes me love them. I love the sense of history and depth they add to Harry’s character. Their addition to the series give us a startling glimpse at just how much Harry really lost the night his parents were murdered. I also like the more mischievous air they give to the series.

            There are about a trillion more reasons why Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite book in the Harry Potter series, but I think I will leave you with the three that really solidified the choice for me. I urge anyone who liked the movies but hasn’t read the books to just go ahead and read or listen to them. You honestly have no idea how much you’re missing by only watching the videos.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Personalized Book Review: Disney's Dream Big Princess

this is the book that I ordered
I love Put Me in the Story because of two reasons: 1. I love books and I think it's important to have them in kid's lives at an early age and 2. I think personalized gifts are really fun, and they can make a good gift great! I was given the opportunity to review a new Put Me in the Story book called Disney's Dream Big Princess. My sister-in-law wanted the book for my two nieces, so I added both of their names (It's used on the cover and throughout the book) and I used a photo of the two of them for inside the book. This is placed in the beginning of the book and at the end on a page that you can take out and hang out. I'd love to see people take this page and frame it for their girl's room.

Before I get into my review, I thought I'd share the pertinent information about this book in case you wish to order your own!

(personalized book)
Hardcover $39.99
Paperback $24.99

Get ready to DREAM BIG with your little princess! Families can now explore the stories of the 11 Disney Princesses as they share their adventures and dreams with Disney’s Dream Big Princess book by Put Me In The Story, the #1 personalized books site in the U.S. Greeted with a personalized letter and Princess Passport, little readers can check off the back of their passport when they meet each princess throughout the book. Whether readers are filling in their own dream restaurant's menu alongside Tiana’s or discovering treasures like Ariel, your child will learn that being a princess is more than just princes and’s about being brave, honorable, kind, and hardworking. Your little reader is encouraged to write, draw, and imagine all the things they can be, led by the adventurous, independent, and ever faithful Disney Princesses!

Review: I was given the chance to review the hardback personalized Disney's Dream Big Princess. While I love the hardback, especially for younger readers, you do have the option to get a paperback copy that is a lot cheaper. I think the paperback would be just fine for an older reader who can treat their book with more care. Granted, these aren't board books. The pages must be treated well or they could end up being ripped or folded too much.

As for the actual book itself, this isn't a story like most Put Me in the Story books. Instead, it's very much a personalized book that gets kids thinking. Throughout the book, various princesses are spotlighted. There is a brief summary of their story and how they used friends, gifts, and other attributes to help themselves in life. Then, the section leaves with a question for the child (they use their name(s) every time, which I love!) or a place for them to fill out information. My nieces are still a bit young to fill this out themselves (especially the youngest who was born this year) but my eldest niece is five and she could still be asked the various questions, with her parents filling in the other information if they wish. If not, they can wait until they are older to fill out the book and instead, just read about the princesses and ask questions. Since this is a bit interactive, I do suggest your recipient be old enough to truly enjoy it!

One of the Disney Princesses featured is Merida and I wanted to share one of her pages, so you can see how there is a section for the children to fill out! I loved the mix of Princesses that this book featured, as it helps keeps things diverse. You get Cinderella and Ariel, but you also have Mulan, Pocahontas, and Tiana, so it's definitely a book for children of all backgrounds and races! I love that! 

Who is your favorite Disney princess? Would you buy this for a little one in your life? 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Review by Lauren

source: copy from BEA16; all opinions are my own

Official SummaryMoving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.
     The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestsellerIlluminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault. 
     Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy's most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and theHypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion. 
     When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station's wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.
     But relax. They've totally got this. They hope.


This was one of the top books that I wanted to get at BEA and it's actually one of the few that I waited in line for awhile to get. I'm not usually a big science fiction fan but I was so curious about Illuminae last year that I had to check it out. I'm so glad I did because it quickly became one of my most favorite books. Gemina was just as exciting. I didn't realize that this book followed new characters but it was great. It showed what life was like in on Heimdall Station, which is essentially a place to live in the middle of outer space. This book follows Nik and Hanna, who are very different people. Nik is part of a crime family who is doing some secret, illegal things on the ship. As for Hanna, she's what Nik calls "Highness" since she's the daughter of the captain.

I don't want to go into too many details on the actual events in the book, in case you haven't read Illuminae yet, but you definitely should! This book has a lot of pages but since it's written in such a unique format, it reads really quick. You get instant messages, emails, transcripts from videos, and more. I loved the way Illuminae was written and it's just as exciting in Gemina. It really adds to the overall story and you can feel the suspense while reading!

There is a lot going on in Gemina. There is the aftermath of the first book, getting to know Nik and Hanna, the invasion of their ship, and some other crazy scientific stuff that has your hands sweating and your heart racing. Definitely a must read!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Guest Post: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Chamber of Secrets Guest Post by Michelle
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I’ll be honest: The first time I read Chamber of Secrets, I was a little disappointed. It felt like the first book, just with a different obstacle. Since then, I’ve watched the movie a few times and have been persuaded to write about the book from a more forgiving light.

Yes, the second book is similar to the first, but there are several redeeming qualities, as shown through five quotes:

1. “Dobby wants to save Harry Potter’s life! Better sent home, grievously injured, then remain here, sir! Dobby only wanted Harry Potter hurt enough to be sent home!” — Dobby is introduced in Chamber of Secrets and remains one of my favorite characters (though Hagrid holds the top spot). He means well, but his efforts are so misguided. In trying to save Harry Potter, he nearly kills the boy wizard. His reasoning, at least in this quote, isn’t terrible. It also reminds me of the ways people can have good intentions but still produce bad (or unintended) results.

2. “Hearing voices no one else can hear isn’t a good sign, even in the wizarding world.” — For as much as the second book mirrors the first, it becomes clearer how dark Harry’s situation is. On top of dealing with being an adolescent, he must wrestle with wanting to do the right thing while having dark tendencies. What’s even more maddening, at least from my perspective, is that Harry didn’t choose these tendencies; they were infused in him.

3. “Honestly, if you were any slower, you’d be going backward.” — Because of all the heavy events and themes of Harry Potter, it can be easy to forget how funny the series is. I don’t think I’ve read another series or an individual book where the young characters have such sharp wits. It’s definitely one of my favorite aspects of the series and serves to keep the characters well rounded.

4. “You will also find that help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.” — Aside from the comedy, another of my favorite aspects about this book are the lessons, as this quote demonstrates. I tend to cut out “at Hogwarts” in this sentence to give it a more universal quality. Want something? Just ask. It often comes in a way you don’t expect, but you get what you need.

5. “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” — Going along with quote three, although Harry wrestles with darkness, he wants to make good choices. And like the previous quote, there is a lesson here. Everyone has tendencies toward some darkness, but we can all make sound choices and help produce decent outcomes.

do not own photo; source

Now it’s your turn: What are some of your favorite quotes from Chamber of Secrets?