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

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3) by J. K. Rowling
Publisher/Year: Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 435
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort.

Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter’s defeat of You-Know-Who was Black’s downfall as well. And the Azkaban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, “He’s at Hogwarts…he’s at Hogwarts.”

Harry Potter isn’t safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst.

What I thought

I honestly think that this will always be my favorite book of the series. There’s too much that I love about this one for it to be otherwise. I loved the first two books enough as it was, but it was really with PoA that my love for the series turned to obsession. The writing in this one takes on a different tone–less childish, if you will. But even that goes to show Rowling’s brilliance because the tone of her writing changes along with her characters as they grow in age. I digress.

One of the things I love the most about PoA is the character development of the trio. They aren’t just a Scooby Doo-esque group of friends who always get the bad guy in the end. They, too, are flawed and face things like fear, stress, anger, betrayal, and disappointment.

Of course, I also love the introduction of two of my favorite characters (Remus and Sirius), which brings me to another point. Something I’m noticing during this re-read in particular is that this movie is the first that really starts to leave things out from the books (at least in my opinion). Remus, Sirius, Crookshanks, Hogsmeade, Snape, Buckbeak, the Marauders, the Time-Turner–literally all of my favorite parts of this story have so much extra depth to them in the book.

I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that my copy of PoA is the most battered out of the rest of the books. It’s just my favorite, without a doubt. I love it dearly!

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
Publisher/Year: Feiwel and Friends, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 226
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms. She’s thrilled that her own name is a homonym, and she purposely gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein) which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Not everyone understands Rose’s obsessions, her rules, or the other things that make her different–not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father.

When a storm hits their rural town, rivers overflow, roads are flooded, and Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now, Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search.

Hearts will break and spirits will soar for this powerful story, brilliantly told from Rose’s point of view.

What I thought

I was absolutely blown away by this little book, and I dare say that it’s one of the best I’ve read so far this year. Going into this one knowing the basics–this is about a girl with high-functioning autism who loses her beloved dog during a hurricane–I knew it might be a bit of a difficult read, if you will. I never expected to feel so fiercely for Rose, and I certainly never expected to find myself in tears multiple times toward the end of the book. I think that in itself stands as a testimony to the quality of Martin’s writing. I can’t personally speak for the representation here, but I will say that this book opened my eyes in a lot of ways. I think this would be a great one for parents and children to read and discuss together. Martin’s writing is heartfelt, and she truly brought Rose and her story to life for me. I could go on and on, but being that this was a shorter read, I don’t want to give anything away. Suffice it to say that Rain Reign will be on my mind for some time to come, and I would absolutely recommend this to anyone.

Pretty Revenge by Emily Liebert

Pretty Revenge by Emily Liebert
Publisher/Year: Gallery Books, July 2019
Format: Kindle
Pages: 320
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐


The name of the game is revenge–no matter the cost–in this emotionally charged thriller reminiscent of The Wife Between Us and The Perfect Nanny.

Kerrie O’Malley, jobless and in an unfulfilling relationship, can isolate the singular moment in her life when things veered off course–the night she was irrevocably wronged by someone she looked up to. Eighteen years later, when Kerrie sees the very woman who destroyed her life on televesion, a fire ignites inside her. The stakes are high. The risks are perilous. But she’ll stop at nothing to achieve the retribution she deserves.

Jordana Pierson is a gilded New Yorker who appears to have it all: wealth, glamour, a successful and handsome husband, and a thriving wedding concierge business. Her record is spotless. Her business is flourishing. No one knows the truth about her and the dark shadows of her past.

No one, that is, except Kerrie.

Exploring just how far someone will go for vengeance, Pretty Revenge is a riveting, compulsively readable novel bursting with twists and turns and plenty of suspense.

What I thought

First thing’s first–can we talk about this stunning cover?! It’s SO eye-catching!

As for the inside of this book, unfortunately, although I enjoyed my time spent reading this one, it fell flat in some ways for me. For a novel that’s described as a thriller, I guess I just wasn’t…thrilled enough. Reading this one required a lot of suspension of disbelief, which I can certainly look past, but then the big reveals along the way, plus that ending, were not dramatic enough for me. The story just kinda flopped.

On a more positive note, I really enjoyed the fact that by the end, I was feeling sympathetic towards both narrators. It was far less “good guy versus bad guy” than I was expecting. I love when an author can show that there’s more than one side to a person, and Liebert successfully created multi-faceted main characters. Not only that but her writing in general flows very well, making this a quick, easy read.

All in all, although I was pretty disappointed in this book as a thriller, I did enjoy Emily Liebert’s writing. So even though I don’t think I’d ever re-read this one, I would like to try some of Liebert’s other books.

**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this e-ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinions or my review.

Mirror, Mirror (Grace #1) by Staci Stallings

Mirror, Mirror (Grace #1) by Staci Stallings
Publisher/Year: Spirit Light Publishing, 2014
Format: Kindle
Rating: ⭐⭐


A Contemporary Christian Epic-Novel

California golden girl, Sage Wentworth’s life looks perfect from the outside looking in. She’s got money, friends, and all the social status a girl could want. But underneath the glitz and glamour, Sage’s perfect existence holds many dark secrets–secrets even she herself doesn’t know. When she is unceremoniously sent to live with her biological father’s family in North Carolina for the summer, Sage finds herself swimming in very unfamiliar waters with seemingly friendly sharks poised to eat her alive on every side. Can Sage navigate these treacherous waters long enough to get back home, or has life for this golden girl changed forever?

Luke Baker has always considered himself a slacker of the first order. He’s not particularly athletic, musical, talented or intelligent. In fact, his “talents” such as they are run more in the vein of helping people when they most need it, and right now, that talent is much-needed by his best friend, Jaycee Lawrence who is facing the arrival of the stepsister she had gladly forgotten ever existed. A whole summer trying to talk Jaycee down off the ledge while simultaneously fighting like mad not to fall for her gorgeous, unattainable older sister? Yeah, this should be fun…

What I thought

Sometimes those free Kindle books turn out to be winners for me, and sometimes, unfortunately, they don’t. Sadly, this was one of those books that just wasn’t for me. I did like the story well enough to finish. Admittedly, I did want to see how things would turn out with Sage and Luke. However, as a whole, I think this novel was in need of some serious editing. I felt like it was entirely too long, and there were quite a few typos. The writing has heart, but some of the minute-by-minute detail could have been eliminated without being too detrimental to the overall plot. And I’m sorry, I know this is something so minor, but if I had to read the phrase “Eep!” or “He put his hand to his beltline” one more time, I could have screamed.

I truly don’t enjoy disliking a book, but unfortunately, this wasn’t for me. It had a sweet message, though, so even though this wasn’t my favorite, plenty of other readers have enjoyed it. I’m a firm believer in the fact that there’s a reader for every book, so if this sounds like something you might be interested in, I say go for it!

American Supernatural Tales edited by S. T. Joshi

American Supernatural Tales edited by S. T. Joshi
Publisher/Year: Penguin Books, 2007
Format: Paperback
Pages: 477
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


The ultimate collection of weird and frightening fiction by American writers

It takes an unusual caliber of writer to deliver readers into the terrifying beyond–to conjure tales that are not only unsettling, but unnatural, with elements and characters that are all the more disturbing for their impossibility. From Edgar Allan Poe to Stephen King, American authors have excelled at journeying into the supernatural. You’ll find them here, including H. P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and others. An unprecedented anthology of phantasmagoric, spectral, and demonic writing, American Supernatural Tales celebrates our enduring need to be spooked and horrified.

What I thought

If you are looking for a collection of “supernatural”/horror short stories, look no further. This was a solid sampling of stories from some of the genre’s best authors. I was so excited to dive into this one to not only read selections from some of my favorite authors, but also to discover some of the other greats that I hadn’t read before. As with any collection, there were some stories that I enjoyed more than others, but for the most part, I really liked what I read and even found a few new favorites. I also really enjoyed Joshi’s introduction and found his commentary on the genre to be fascinating, although I highly disagree with his opinion of Stephen King. All in all, I thought this was a comprehensive anthology and one I’d like to add to my own shelves!

Here’s my rating of each story:

–“The Adventure of the German Student” by Washington Irving ⭐⭐⭐
–“Edward Randolph’s Portrait” by Nathaniel Hawthorne ⭐⭐⭐
–“The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe ⭐⭐⭐
–“What Was It?” by Fitz-James O’Brien ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Death of Halpin Frayser” by Ambrose Bierce ⭐⭐
–“The Yellow Sign” by Robert W. Chambers ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Real Right Thing” by Henry James ⭐⭐⭐
–“The Call of Cthulhu” by H. P. Lovecraft ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis” by Clark Ashton Smith ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“Old Garfield’s Heart” by Robert E. Howard ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“Black Bargain” by Robert Bloch ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Lonesome Place” by August Derleth ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Girl With Hungry Eyes” by Fritz Leiber ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Fog Horn” by Ray Bradbury ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“A Visit” by Shirley Jackson ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“Long Distance Call” by Richard Matheson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Vanishing American” by Charles Beaumont ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Events at Poroth Farm” by T. E. D. Klein ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“Night Surf” by Stephen King ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“The Late Shift” by Dennis Etchison ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“Vastarien” by Thomas Ligotti ⭐⭐⭐
–“Endless Night” by Karl Edward Wagner ⭐⭐
–“The Hollow Man” by Norman Partridge ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“Last Call for the Sons of Shock” by David J. Schow ⭐⭐⭐
–“Demon” by Joyce Carol Oates ⭐⭐⭐⭐
–“In the Water Works (Birmingham, Alabama 1888) by Caitlin R. Kiernan ⭐⭐⭐⭐