Book Review: The Colors of Blue

20744355Title: The Colors of Blue
Author: Lance McCulloch
Release Date: November 2013
Length: 264 pages
Series?: no?
Genre: romance, chick lit
Format: e-book
Source: Smith Publicity

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

In the new inspirational novel The Colors of Blue, Colorado native and chemical engineer turned fiction author Lance McCulloch introduces his readers to a compelling narrative of two emotionally shattered and vulnerable people, who gain a second chance at love and life through finding each other.

Sara Field has a unique gift – she can see the auras of others.  However, her gift for picking up colors fades after her fiancé betrays her in the most heartbreaking way possible.  Meanwhile, Rick Wheeler has suffered the tragic loss of his wife, and finds himself collapsing under the pressure to build his financial empire. Together, Sara and Rick connect, feel comfort in one another, and fall in love during one extraordinary weekend in rural Colorado.

As the story unfolds, readers see two very broken people fall in love as McCulloch ties together the beauty of nature and the human spirit.  The themes of adventure, love, intrigue, passion, and happiness are woven together tightly in this epic romance. Through strongly developed characters and rhythmic prose, readers are taken on a riveting journey that joins two hearts together and provides a renewed promise of true love and lasting happiness.

This emotional, inspirational, and uplifting novel also reveals:

  • How the purity and beauty of nature can restore our spirit
  • The power of finding a love that transcends time
  •  The importance of mourning the loss of a loved one
  • Why we need to understand and overcome grief to move forward
  • How to revive our identity and true colors after a devastating loss
  • How taking up a simple hobby such as fly-fishing can help us look inward and gain an introspective view of life

“Although The Colors of Blue is fiction, it is loosely based on the true story of my father’s recovery from my mother’s death,” said McCulloch. “I also wrote it as a means of escaping the depression of my failing company.”

Review

When Lance’s rep at Smith Publicity asked if I’d join on his blog tour and sent the book, I was very intrigued by the title. I had no idea what it meant, and now I know that it means everything. Everything that is important, at least.

Lance has written a beautiful novel that is not a typical romance novel. If you’re looking for a typical romance, this is not it. This is SO much more.

Sarah Field can see and feel the world in colors. No, she’s not crazy. After she begins growing up, she loses her colors. They come back when she becomes a kindergarten teacher. She lives with her fiance, who has business ties to her sister’s fiance. Right there should have given me a tip off: business and family don’t mix.

Greg asks her a funny question one morning during the regular routine of getting out the door to work…and Sarah finds a bobby pin in the closet.

She teaches a large number of kindergarten students. Her principal tells her they will be absorbed into the remaining two kindergarten classes because she is losing her job due to budget cuts. She points out there would be over 50 kids in each class, which is not possible because there is a cap in the low 20s for the lower grades. That was one major flaw I saw in McCulloch’s writing, but I knew that losing her job would allow Sarah to make some changes in her life, and it would also be something for her moneybags fiance to hold over her, to use to entice her back. Although, I don’t think the man knows the definition of entice, or seduce. He is not suave in the least.

Sarah’s sister is getting married, and her moneybags fiance’s family is footing the bill for the entire bridal party to indulge for a week at a Tres Padres outdoor resort. The men are all about fly fishing, and the women all about gossip. Sarah doesn’t quite fit in with her sister’s friends, and the one she knows will give her moneybags fiance the ammunition for a shattering blow.

While Sarah is relaxing and resting, she gets to know the Tres Padres manager, Huff. They share a love for the history of the land, and they develop a close relationship. She meets his wife Maria, who also has the colors.

Also there to relax for a while is Rick Wheeler, billionaire in disguise. All, especially moneybags fiance, take him for a fishing guide. He has a gentle nature and disposition, has quick wit and sees a spark with Sarah. He has been caught in the grief and emotions ever since his wife’s death, and he’s just not ready to move on. Or so he thinks. 😉

Sarah and Rick build a gentle romance within the vast expanse of the beautiful Colorado mountains. McCulloch knows what he’s writing about, and he paints vivid pictures of the landscapes and the adventures. Rick and Sarah are both well-rounded characters in their own right, but bringing them together brings out even more from them. He leaves  readers to come to their own determinations about their true character, and Sarah’s sister is the one who set me up with two very wrong thoughts about Sarah and Rick. I underestimated them both, and I find that they are indeed very strong and resilient.

Meanwhile, moneybags Greg has also been invited on the trip so that he may rekindle his ego with Sarah. She puts him off and puts him off and he thinks he’s making headway, then realizes he might be losing out to Rick, and delivers Sarah with a shattering blow that has some serious ramifications. I thought there would be more detail about those ramifications, but there weren’t. Greg thinks he’s won her back, put field guide Rick in his place, but now everyone just thinks he’s an asshole.

Since this novel is third person point of view, McCulloch has taken liberties and given readers a semi-omniscient viewpoint. Readers will be exposed to Rick’s dreams. Most of them are about his past, especially about his wife, and one of them is so sadly sweet and beautiful that I cried. Rick was an amazing and wonderful husband, and it broke my heart to read the way their lives played out to the end. It was beautiful and heartbreaking. It was also the last dream Rick had about his wife in the novel, so I feel that it was closure for him and a sign from his wife, urging him to follow through with her last words to him.

Rick never tells Sarah who he really is, very much like the two leading characters in Saltwater Kisses (review coming soon!), although this novel had strong characters so they did not behave the same was as the main two in Saltwater Kisses, for which I was immensely grateful.

I don’t want to spoil it, but one woman laughs herself all the way to the magazine stand and back when Rick appears in a segment about the richest and hottest men. The magazine is mailed to Greg’s business office. Oh, you will enjoy that part! 😀

I’m left asking myself a few questions about Lance McCulloch and his debut novel. Will there be more Colors books? Will we hear Nancy’s story? Will we hear Maria’s story?

I’m looking forward to more Colors books. I want to hear Maria’s story very badly. She is a vivacious and energetic woman, and I want to hear her and Huff’s love story.  I also want to hear Nancy’s story (the MIL of Sarah’s sister).

Oh, and the colors of blue? That’s love.

7731618About the Author

The Colors of Blue is Lance McCulloch’s first novel.  He wrote this novel as a way to cope with the loss of his parents.  He lost his mother to cancer and then his father in the crash of Egypt Air 990 in 1999.

McCulloch has one brother who currently manages his family’s cattle ranch.  He worked for Fujitsu Microelectronics for several years in Portland, Oregon, followed by Cirrus Logic in the San Francisco Bay area. Then, he launched his own business in 2003.

Born and raised in Durango, Colorado, McCulloch holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from University of Colorado.  Currently, he resides in Colorado with his wife Jennifer and their three wonderful daughters.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Book Review: Serenya’s Song

Title: Serenya’s Song
Author: Mysti Parker
Release Date: April 201220628483
Length: 288 pages
Series?: Tallenmere #2
Genre: Romance, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Format: e-book
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

No one ever said love was easy…

Serenya Crowe may be a half-elf commoner, but she’s no ordinary woman. With the ability to interpret dreams, and a birth defect that forces her to wear gloves, she’s endured gossip and the cruelty of her husband, Sebastian, The Earl of Summerwind. All she’s ever wanted is to live a quiet life and raise a family. When she meets the new stranger in town, her world and her heart, are turned upside down.

Wood-elf Jayden Ravenwing is an ex-secret agent who wants nothing more than to forget matters of the heart. He left the bustle of Leogard and his failed marriage to make a fresh start in Summerwind. He never planned to fall in love again, especially with the enchanting Serenya Crowe.

When a strange portal opens on the Crowe property, Jayden is thrown into an investigation, knowing that if he fails, Serenya and everyone in the town may die.

Together, he and Serenya must overcome an ancient evil, and their own inner demons, to save Summerwind and find the love they’ve always dreamed of.

Review

I had no idea where this book was coming from prior to finishing the first book, A Ranger’s Tale, because there was no one in the first book named Serenya…until reading the epilogue. The epilogue of A Ranger’s Tale is set five years later, and Serenya’s Song takes place during that passage of time, so the epilogue kind of gives away a big detail from Serenya’s Song.

Serenya’s Song is kind of like a spin-off of A Ranger’s Tale: several characters return, and it follows a character’s life from A Ranger’s Tale.

In A Ranger’s Tale, Caliphany’s second husband, leader of the secret government agency L.I.O., has the king annul their marriage. Although his L.I.O. coworker Lilly does care for him, in the second book she has moved on and is engaged herself, so some amount of time has passed.

Jayden Ravenwing is broken and done with the world. He wants to reside in peace and fulfill the musician’s dreams within him. Little does he know the woman he knocks down with his horse one dark knight is the muse for his soul, his fine arts counterpart. and he will go to the ends of the earth for her.

But Parker has definitely added a twist and some serious mystery in the mix. Serenya’s father rescued her after birth, fleeing an unknown pursuer. She is now a grown woman and experiencing some very odd and unusual things. Her titled husband is controlling and manipulative, and insanely jealous. He knows something about what is happening to her, and is exploiting it while keeping Serenya controlled.

Jayden has found a very dangerous element that could cause massive destruction to Summerwind, and is keeping an eye on things in the area. Then some very strange things start occurring. He calls in for reinforcements and sets up an investigation, and things get even stranger.

I felt that the focus in this novel was more on Serenya than Jayden. She is an extremely compassionate, loving character. She is beautiful, a musician and artist, and can interpret dreams, but she as born with a distinct deformity: claws. I was disappointed throughout the novel at each point in which Serenya would not stand up to her husband, and took and responded to his forced advances. She lives as a titled woman in a beautiful house and pretends to have the perfect marriage, but that is all far from the truth. She is powerless, and eventually finds power (although, I don’t think she realized she was again being used and in essence, powerless), but makes a better choice. Her decision strikes me oddly given all of her giving in, but it is a decision that saves Summerwind and those she loves.

About the Author

200025_103787076370825_4452630_nMysti Parker (pseudonym) is a full time wife, mother of three, and a writer. Her first novel, A Ranger’s Tale was published in January, 2011 by Melange Books, and the second in the fantasy romance series, Serenya’s Song, was published in April 2012. The highly anticipated third book, Hearts in Exile, has already received some great reviews. The Tallenmere series has been likened to Terry Goodkind’s ‘Sword of Truth’ series, but is probably closer to a spicy cross between Tolkien and Mercedes Lackey.

Mysti’s other writings have appeared in the anthologies Hearts of Tomorrow, Christmas Lites, and Christmas Lites II. Her flash fiction has appeared on the online magazine EveryDayFiction. She has also served as a class mentor in Writers Village University’s six week free course, F2K.

Mysti reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication, and is the proud owner of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Review: The 7th Day

18810289Title: The 7th Day 
Author: Nika Lubitsch
Release Date: August 2012
Length: 147 pages
Series?: n/a
Genre: Suspense, Thriller
Format: e-book
Source: author
Challenge: n/a

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis

Sybille and Michael are a happy couple, finally expecting their first baby. But then Michael disappears without a trace. Sybille finds herself in the middle of a living nightmare. When her husband is found, stabbed to death, there is one suspect only: his wife who is charged with murder. While listening to the witnesses´ testimonies in court, Sybille in her mind revisits her life with Michael. On day seven of the trial, suddenly the truth dawns on her. Now, she only has to find a way to prove it.This devious mystery is set in Berlin and at a secret place, which is so secret that some readers recognized it.

Review

Some people are born victims. 

They are a power couple, a couple of means and privilege, and this trial will not escape anyone’s eye. She is famous for her journalist work, and her husband for his work as a business attorney.

The higher you climb, the farther you fall.

It’s true, Sybille is on trial for her husband’s murder. Yes, she thought about it before hand. Yes, she went to find him after his strange disappearance. Yes, she was going to give him a reckoning…

But she doesn’t remember any of it.

Today, they will try to prove that I planned to commit the crime. Of course, I did. I just didn’t get around to it. 

That’s of little consequence, though, as soon police find her with the bloody knife on her hotel nightstand – the very knife that brutally stabbed her husband. Of course she did it!

Sybille’s dear old friend, Ulli, is her defense attorney. He is very well known, and one of the best; her husband said so many times before his sudden disappearance. But Sybille and Ulli know each other besides Ulli sharing a business space with her late husband: they used to be lovers, before Michael came into the picture. In fact, Ulli is the very one who introduced Sybille to her husband. I found this very odd, and immediately thought there were all kinds of ways this trial could go wrong for Sybille, often referred to as Bille. I could not help but keep coming back to the term “jilted lover,” regardless of how Bille describes the ending of their relationship. I also thought this would be considered a conflict of interest, and Ulli should not be allowed to represent Bille, but that’s just my opinion.

The prosecution calls up every single witness that could remotely give any opinion or testimony about Sybille’s character: her former boss, her mother’s cleaning lady, various police officers and investigators, a psychiatrist, and lastly the waiter and all of the patrons but one who dined with Sybille in her hotel’s restaurant the night her husband was murdered. They paint a disparaging, ugly portrait of her. How funny one’s actions can be misrepresented.

Throughout Bille’s seven day trial, she shares her own narration from the courtroom of the goings-on of the trial, almost in journal entry form. Strangely though, she intersperses her own flashbacks of Ulli, his wife (who is Bille’s best friend from college), and her husband throughout various points in their relationships, and Bille is in no way to be taken as a Madonna for the sexual references and descriptions she makes of her relationship with Ulli so long ago. This part was difficult for me to wade through and separate at first, as I had no idea where this was leading, but after a time I got used to the style and technique that Lubitsch was using.

Also included with Sybille’s stream of consciousness of the trial and her past memories is the summary of the day’s trial by one of the local papers in an article, and they take Sybille for all she’s worth, make her out to be the most horrendous, using quotations out of context and applying sinister connotations to her actions.

This book shocked me in several ways, and it all comes about in the ending, which I can’t tell you about. 🙂 Suffice it to say that Sybille is indeed disgraced, but the ever-hungry journalists are dying for an inside scoop – and they get it. Sybille agrees to write her story for Cosmos magazine, in return for which they will not edit her writing, but they will also conduct their own investigation of her husband’s murder…

The novel includes Sybille’s installments of her story for Cosmos magazine, as well as a letter from her husband, and an installment from the writers of Cosmos about what they uncovered on this insane journey that Sybille sent them on to find out just what happened to her husband, and get the answers she so desperately needs. You will be shocked at what you find!

A very good read. I recommend to all who enjoy the thriller and mystery genre, as well as if you like a twist!

fd7a6b6e18960ad8956e17.L._V379018045_SX200_About the Author

Nika Lubitsch lives in Berlin, while her soul lives in Florida. Having been rejected by all German publishers, The 7th Day was at the top of the bestselling list only one week after its publication at Kindle, surpassing even „Shades of Grey“. The novel stayed number one in Germany for 100 days, making Nika Lubitsch the most successful KDP author of the year in 2012. The “Queen of E-Books”, as a major German magazine dubbed her, again landed a number one hit in the Kindle charts with her second mystery Das 5. Gebot (The Fifth Commandment). A major production company has already bought the film rights. The 7th Day is currently translated by publishers throughout the world. The manuscript also has been reviewed by Amazon crossing, but didn´t correspond with their “idea of what a best seller in English should be like.” However, a thumbs-down is the biggest motivation an author can get: Just you wait …

Find the author: Website| Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway & Book Review: Pieces of Tracy

PiecesOfTracyPieces of Tracy by J. Daniel Parra (Diversion Books, 2013)

Genre: fiction, chicklit, romance, cultural influence

This is a very special review for me. I was contacted by a marketing/publicity representative for Diversion Books, who asked if I’d like to be part of a blog tour for a hot, new summer book. I had no idea what a blog tour even was, but I was indeed interested! I ended up signing up to do a review, have an author guest post, and author interview AND a book giveaway! I am happy and excited to be a part of this.

IMG_0214 copy
J Daniel Parra

You can follow J Daniel Parra on Twitter and like him on Facebook for updates.

Meet Teresa Felicia Santana León. In New York, she’s Tracy León, a would-be artist and telemarketer who falls for an older tycoon, Bruce Babich. When Bruce’s mother sends her to Rome to find a stolen painting, Tracy assumes an alter ego, the zesty Felicia Santana. In Rome, she meets a younger artist named Mario Giordani who helps her on her quest. 

Before long, she is juggling two romances and two distinct identities: Tracy, demure trophy wife wannabe in New York’s high society, and wanton, thrill-seeking Felicia in sultry Rome. Against the backdrop of these exciting cities, she follows her divided heart, even if it leads her in the wrong direction. 

The secrets behind the stolen painting send her on an unforgettable journey that prompts her to re-examine her own talents and inspirations. As the pieces come together, Tracy faces a life-changing choice, one that will lead to surprising discoveries about love and her own identity.

Sounds exciting, right? I was very impressed with this debut novel based on the synopsis and had high expectations. I couldn’t wait to start reading, and I finished the book in a couple of days. I was so into this book! Let me tell you why….

New York
New York

Tracy Felicia Santana is a child of Texans, with big dreams of graphic design and putting her love of art to work in New York. She leaves the nest and moves to New York and gets started. She marries Diego Leon, a man in her realm of work. But Diego wants the limelight and a wife at home, not so much in the workforce. Tracy puts all her dreams and her graphic design classes out of her mind and does what Diego wants her to do. Instead of climbing the ladder in the art world, Tracy stays working in the circulation department for ArtHouse.

Through Tracy’s reminisces, if you can call them that, she makes it clear that Diego washed away her dreams and her motivation to pursue them. It’s a sad, downtrodden fact that a lot of women today face once they are involved in a new relationship or one that evolves into a hasty marriage, as Tracy’s did. She has low self-esteem and no direction for her life; she’s just going through the run-of-the-mill, day-to-day mundane routine, trying to stay afloat in pricey New York.

Since then, Diego has divorced her and married the woman he was cheating on Tracy with…and then he dies, suddenly. Somehow, Tracy and Diego’s second wife, Donna, become best friends. The antics of Diego draw them together. They reminisce about their time with Deigo, and the ending of the novel is very reflective of relationships and the past:

But only the good parts remain. Isn’t it amazing how kind your memory can be? Ultimately, you only remember the happy times. 

Donna is almost a foil of Tracy: she does not hide her beauty, she is an actress and she goes after new adventures. Tracy is content to stay in her little hole in New York. She doesn’t keep in regular contact with her family or “have a life.”

One day, Tracy’s boss at ArtHouse shares some more bad news. On that crappy day, she escapes to MoMA, where the art gives her an escape and lifts her mood. There she meets toy billionaire bachelor Bruce Babich, an Australian transplant, and they hit it off.

Map of Ancient Rome
Map of Ancient Rome

…And then enters Sophia Babich, Bruce’s socialite mother, as soon as Bruce shows interest Tracy. She gives Tracy an ultimatum: find and return a long-ago stolen painting of Sophia that was done by the famous Henri Matisse, or no Bruce. Talk about a hard assignment!

Where is Tracy even to start? She knows virtually nothing about the painting or the woman who stole it. She sets out for the only place that is connected to the woman: Italy. Little did she know what she’d find in Rome…or who.

Tracy discovers she is another person in Rome – and embraces it. She does as she’s asked, but experiences heartbreak and turmoil along the way. She got a hard bargain, but must pay up. But the secrecy and lies of Sophia Babich come to bite Tracy in the butt. It is indeed a twisted tale, very a-la Oedipus, that leaves Tracy in a very unexpected place.

Oedipus
Oedipus

OK, I said I had high expectations for this book. Tracy is a character who I’ve seen before in real life, but she gets a new lease on life, so to speak. Instead of fully using it, she squanders it.

All the moving around forced her to become a new person each time she had to fit in with a new class. 

About halfway through the book, I realized Tracy as a character was not going to really grow and develop. If she did, I would be shocked, so I think that was my biggest disappointment. As a military brat, Tracy was constantly moving and having to make new friends. She is used to taking on or creating new identities – it’s how she survived childhood and is very typical of women in new, unstable relationships. It is typical of women who have no sense of self, who latch on and become whatever it is their love source wants them to become. Indeed, Tracy finds herself in an identity crisis:

Who was she? At one time, she knew she could be anything she wanted to be. Right now, she only knew she did not want to be this person. Couldn’t she be more? 

 And in Rome…

She was her own creation here, despite loving Bruce and wanting to be with him. Bruce was an ocean away. This was Rome and she could be anything she wanted. 

She knew she was using Mario to get over Bruce. She had lost the man she truly wanted and in exchange, Mario served as the quintessential rebound man.

The Roman Coliseum
The Roman Coliseum

The ache from losing Bruce still gave her a great deal of pain, but now she had Mario, she reminded herself, a young stud with an amazing technique in bed. He served as a rebound man, not a partner or a man for always, just someone who would give her romance and passion at a time when she needed it most. 

But Rome was so good to Tracy!  In Rome, Tracy comes alive, exploring the very things she loves: the arts. Her life in Rome is the antithesis of her life in New York. She is bold, daring, exciting, sensual, sexual. She is willing to take risks, and she finds a man who supports her, gives her freedom and reign to be her own person, and who promotes and encourages her freehand sketches. Reading the bits about Rome through Tracy’s eyes made her endearing, and you just can’t help but root for her to follow her passions!

Later, when everything comes to a head, as these things always do, Tracy claimed to be “a victim of circumstance.”  This surprised me, since Tracy made conscious decisions, making several flights between New York and Rome. She gives insight to readers about her turmoil, leading up to the thought that she will make a definitive decision. But as things do when we humans weave our tangled webs, things did not go according to plan…and everything snowballs.

The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel

The end of the novel is tied up in neat little bows. It gives a pretty depiction of people, romance and romantic conflicts. People don’t act that way – at all! So that bothered me a bit. The only change in Tracy from beginning to end was she became more risky (hence, all the running away) and the thing I liked: she’s keeping up with her own art. Perhaps that’s a stepping stone to reclaiming herself, I hope.

I’m going to be bold and suggest that Parra is making a statement with this novel:

Be who you are.

Do what you love, what you enjoy.

Take risks, do something new.

Change your life.

Be strong.

And those things are very important to a full, happy life and are often overshadowed when new, unexpected things enter our lives.

Limoncello
Limoncello

Don’t diminish yourself by being two incomplete fragments when you can be one whole.

I want to share this book with certain women in my life who are like Tracy, to show them that they can be the person they were meant to be. This is a great read that gives a lot of cultural references about certain areas and aspects of Italy. Parra has infused this novel in rich Roman experiences, food, culture and art. If you want an in-house experience of Rome, but can’t afford the trip, this book gives a beautiful sneak peek to enjoy. Parra did a very good job including large amounts of Roman culture and life into this novel, and that’s not an easy thing to do. My hat’s off to you, Daniel Parra!

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win the book!

Want to know more about J. Daniel Parra? Toodle on over to my interview with him here. To read Daniel’s guest post about publication, go here. 

Tomorrow’s blog tour stop for Daniel’s Pieces of Tracy will be with Cinta Garcia De La Rosa. Check out Daniel’s guest post at Indie Authors You Want to Read.  Monday, 7/22, the blog stop will be at Diary of a Mad Stitcher.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

cover art
cover art

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic Press, 2007)

Genre: fiction, young adult (YA), fantasy, supernatural, mystery, suspense

Curriculum Building Ideas:

  • Language Arts: Reader’s Notebook, Literary Circles, Guided Reading Groups, Writer’s Workshop, Sequencing, Plot, Character Map/Analysis, Inferences/Predictions, Connections (Text to Self, Text to Text, Text to World), Graphic Organizers, Book vs. Movie (i.e. Venn Diagram, Persuasive Essay), Reader’s Theatre, KWL Chart
  • Social Studies: design an issue of The Daily Prophet or The Quibbler – follow the attention of the media from the book, paying attention to the audiences of both literary sources; create a propoganda poster or pamphlet; studies of various types of government and policies
  • Math: “Design a Map” – based on information provided from the book of where Harry, Hermione and Ron travel

*Author’s Note: There have been numerous reviews of Harry Potter to date, and  Rowling has racked up many awards for her books.  I’m going to try to stay away from writing things that can be easily found in other reviews from years past. Note that I am now nearly 24 years old and this is my first time reading Harry Potter, which was published when I was in elementary school. I remember my mother reading them, and then my middle brother. I was into other genres, and for some reason I had an unfounded stigma toward Harry Potter. I have seen the first four movies; I didn’t really keep up with the latter movies. But I didn’t know what was going on because I missed out on so much that was in the books! I wish that I had read Harry Potter as I was growing up, instead of waiting – I feel that I’ve lost a lot of the magic in waiting, and also in seeing the movies before reading the books.

spoiler-alert
Spoilers from Book 6 – Read at Your Own Risk!

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 

The final book of Harry Potter has come! It is bittersweet. I started prepping this post, and then started reading the book. And then I started debating whether or not to even post a review of the book. I was afraid that I was going to give too much away, because there was SO much I wanted to share about the book…and then I finished the book and was in even more of a dilemma. It was a hard decision.

The last book gave readers quite a shock. The title referred to Severus Snape, who had been playing the double agent role for The Order of the Phoenix and Lord Voldemort. He also made an Unbreakable Vow to protect Draco Malfoy…and he killed Dumbledore with the Killing Curse. Was it because Malfoy was there? Because that was Malfoy’s task from Voldemort, and he choked? I surmise we’ll have our answer in this last book.

Where will this leave Harry and the Order? And what about Hogwarts? When I finished Book 6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I was overwhelmed with questions and anger and fear. And I hurt for Harry, for his loss and the loss of the Wizarding world. Rowling has spun a wonderful series, creating strong, relatable characters – and she also did a miraculous job as an author creating a bond between her readers and the characters she’s created.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part IRowling set us up in the last book to know that Harry plans to leave Hogwarts. Dumbledore gave Harry hope to defeat Voldemort – and the way to do it: Harry will need to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes that Voldemort has stored his soul within. He knows that there are seven pieces of Voldemort’s soul, and that his current body houses one piece, leaving six remaining. Harry destroyed Riddle’s diary with a basilisk fang in HP and the Chamber of Secrets. Dumbledore destroyed a second Horcrux piece – the Slytherin ring, accounting for his injured and shriveled hand in the last book. But there’s so much more to that story…The third known Horcrux was the locket Dumbledore and Harry set off to destroy in the last book, and it had been stolen – replaced with a replica and a note signed by R.A.B. Who is R.A.B.? Harry needs to find the remaining four, potentially five, Horcruxes.

This book opens during the summer, with Harry grounded at the Dursleys’. A plan has been hatched to safely transport Harry and also the Dursleys, as time is running out on the charm that protects him at the Dursleys. The moment he turns 17 or no longer calls the Durlseys house his home, the charm is broken and Voldemort will come a-knocking. The plan is somehow breached, with all the members of the Order being attacked by Death Eaters throwing around Killing Curses like candy at a hometown parade. Needless to say, the Order suffers some serious loss, with one going missing. However, the Order will suffer more down the line. Get the tissues handy.

This is the comfort of friends, that though they may be said to die, yet their friendship and society are, in the best sense, ever present, because immortal. 

Readers learn that once again, the Ministry is keeping Azkaban escapes hush-hush, and other internal problems such as Death Eaters still working within the Ministry and gaining intel. The Daily Prophet is also suspiciously quiet. And a teacher (whom we’ve never heard of before, but who’s apparently been at Hogwarts for years) has strangely resigned…after leaving Hogwarts. I’ll give you three guesses as to what’s happened to her.

DH1_Albus_Dumbledore's_signature_with_Deathly_Hallows_symbolRowling has never left any of her books without action, and this one is definitely jam-packed – and mortally dangerous for Harry. The Ministry has been compromised entirely, Snape is in power at Hogwarts, Dumbledore’s name and memory are being tarnished salaciously…and Muggles are fearing for their lives like never before. The annoying Rita Skeeter has taken full advantage of the situation of the Wizarding world, and published a book The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, using The History of Magic textbook ‘s author Bathilda Bagshot as a source. It does contain some questionable content, and has Harry heavily questioning his relationship with Dumbledore. This snowballs and leads them onto some interesting discoveries about the past, all while still on the run. They also discover a symbol in the book Dumbledore left Hermione, and also found it on a grave in Godric’s Hollow. It is the same symbol Luna’s father, Xeno Lovegood, Quibbler editor, wore to Bill and Fluer’s wedding…a symbol that Krum identified as Grindelwald’s mark, a mark of very Dark Arts and other sinister sentiments.

Through their journey to find the Horcurxes, Harry, Hermione and Ron traverse the dangers of the Ministry to steal back the Slytherin locket that Voldemort used for a Horcrux. It was quite a nail biter. They take turns wearing the locket, but it holds a great power over the wearer, causing the wearer to act strangely…. and restricts the wearer in certain ways, posing a very strong danger. It’s almost as if Voldemort can see the situation and control the locket.

Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.

They learn that a group of Hogwarts students, including Ginny and Luna, tried to steal the Gryffindor sword from Snape’s new headmaster office. So it’s transported to a “safe” place….but it was a fake! The real sword, which is determined to contain basilisk venom, can destroy the Horcurxes. Like the locket, they now need to find the sword.

The trio learn of items that could make the owner the Conquerer of Death. Harry already has one, one is destroyed, and Voldemort is fiery pursuit after the final object: an old, powerful wand with a bloody past. Given that Harry and Hermione are wanted by the Ministry, and Ron would probably be taken on false charges, they go to the one person who knows the meaning of the symbol: Xeno Lovegood. He relates the long-held belief of The Deathly Hallows, and the three objects. It all stems from a fairy tale of three brothers. Through the strange connection between Harry and Voldemort, he learns that a wandmaker, Gregorovitch, had the Elder Wand, but it was stolen long ago by Grindelwald, but the most recent owner is someone dear to Harry.

Harry becomes consumed by the story of The Deathly Hallows, certain that he is the descendant of the youngest brother. He wants to throw the search for the Horcurxes to the wind, thinking of the Deathly Hallows and the prophecy. He thinks having all the Deathly Hallows will ensure that he can defeat Voldemort. Ron and Hermione quickly need to snap him out of it.

This book is gripping. It reveals so many histories and connections of the past, and true loyalties of many. In this book much weighs on Harry, least of concern to him his life. Harry exudes selflessnes, kindness and quite a bit of logic and reasoning. Dumbledore’s Army has come back full force. All is explained and comes full circle, but it may leave readers with a slight pain in your hearts.

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Who will prevail in the end?