Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce (Fairytale Retellings, #1)

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The wolf opened his wide, long jaws, rows of teeth and bloodstained tongue stretching for her. A thought locked itself in Scarlett's mind, and she repeated it over and over until it became a chant, a prayer: I am the only one left to fight, so now I must kill you.

I picked up Sisters Red after hearing a pretty great review of it on another book reviewing blog. I bought it a few weeks ago and just now got around to reading it. My reaction? I love almost everything about this book.

You'll often hear avid readers getting "book hangovers," meaning basically that after they've finished the book, they have trouble starting a new one or thinking about anything besides the book they have just finished because they're still in that world. As many good books as I read, I don't usually experience that as much anymore. I still often find my mind going back to a good story or book that I really enjoyed, but I don't often have trouble breaking away from thinking only about a particular story for a day or two after I've finished it. But I definitely experienced that with Sisters Red. Long after I'd finished it, I was still poring over the tale and everything that had happened within it.

Sisters Red is the shared story of Rosie and Scarlett March. When they were children a werewolf (or Fenris, as they're called by those who are familiar with them) attacked them, killing the grandmother who raised them as well as taking Scarlett's eye and leaving scars all over her body. To save herself and her sister, Scarlett killed the beast; and ever since, she has had an all-consuming passion to hunt Fenris so that no one else has to suffer the way she and her sister have.

When a good friend of the sisters and an excellent woodsman and Fenris hunter, Silas, returns from a long family visit in California, things start changing. Not only does Rosie suddenly find herself drawn to the woodsman, she also begins to guiltily dream of a life where she isn't constantly fighting Fenris. But, more immediately, something is changing about the Fenris. They're getting bolder and more numerous, drifting into territory they had long abandoned. As more and more lives come in contact with the murderous creatures, the three are going to have to come up with a plan to take them on and fast. Otherwise, they could lose a lot more than they already have.

A modern and incredibly well-done spin on the old Red Riding Hood tale, Sisters Red was a compelling read from the very start. Not once did I lose interest or feel the tale was moving either too slow or too fast. Pearce did a fantastic job at pacing her story just right, as well as creating characters that the reader can identify and empathize with.

In particular, the relationships Pearce portrays really struck a cord with me. The loyalty between Rosie, Scarlett, and Silas was beautiful and the fierce love that each portrayed for the others was absolutely stunning. Their love for each other was probably the thing I loved most about this book. No matter how much fighting there was or how high the tension got, you never once doubted that each would do anything to protect the others and I cannot say enough how beautiful that is to me.

I would definitely suggest this to everyone, particularly lovers of fairy tales. It was an all-around wonderful book and I will definitely be snatching up the next Jackson Pearce novel I see. I'm thinking her Hansel and Gretel retelling looks like just the right book to be the next addition to my bookshelf.

Rating: ~★★★★★~

[Click here for my review of book 2: Sweetly and book 3: Fathomless]

The plan forms in my mind slowly, more like a tide coming in than a wave crashing over me. I am confident, I am capable, and I will not wait to be rescued by a woodsman or a hunter. I will escape.

Friday, September 7, 2012

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

"Molly, how many times do I have to tell you? They didn't report it in the press because Fudge wanted it kept quiet, but Fudge went out to Azkaban the night Black escaped. The guards told Fudge that Black's been talking in his sleep for a while now. Always the same words: 'He's at Hogwarts . . . he's at Hogwarts.' Black is deranged, Molly, and he wants Harry dead."

[Click here to see my review of book 1: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and book 2: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets]

Now in his third year at Hogwarts, we rejoin Harry in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in the midst of his summer vacation. He is still living with the Dursleys and very unhappy about it when his Aunt Marge goes too far in insulting Harry's deceased father and ends up being blown up like a balloon from the force of Harry's anger.

Panicking over his accidental used of magic outside of school (which is strictly prohibited), he runs out of the house and soon catches a fleeting glimpse of a large, black dog just before leaving for the Leaky Cauldron.

As the school year begins, Harry continues to catch fleeting glimpses of what he soon finds out may be a Grimm, a death omen. Nearly every time he has seen this apparition, he seems to have a near death experience. And now his Divination teacher is even predicting his death.

To make matters worse, Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban. Black was placed in the high-security wizard prison twelve years ago for the murder of thirteen Muggles and one wizard not long after the defeat of Voldemort. The clues all point to his return to Hogwarts where he intends to finish the job he started so many years ago: He's coming to kill Harry Potter.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is my second favorite book in the entire series, topped only by Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixJ.K. Rowling never falters in her masterful storytelling. Her magic with words is equal in strength to the magic in the story, it draws you in from the first page to the last.

Walking along with Harry as he discovers more about his parents and more about himself is always a treat and this book is so riveting that you simply have to find out what happens next. Rowling brings back the characters you've already fallen in love with, only to make you love them even more and introduce even more wonderful people you won't soon forget.

This book was absolutely wonderful and I so enjoyed rereading it. I suggest it to anyone who wants a magical story, great characters, and a journey that will last with you long after you've finished the series itself.

Rating: ★★★★★

[Click here to see my reviews of book 4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, book 5:Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, book 6: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and book 7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.]

"You say you remember him at Hogwarts, Rosmerta," murmured Professor McGonagall. "Do you remember who his best friend was?"
"Naturally," said Madam Rosmerta, with a small laugh. "Never saw one without the other, did you? The number of times I had them in here--ooh, they used to make me laugh. Quite the double act, Sirius Black and James Potter!"