Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (My Thoughts)

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What a legendary start to an incredible book series! Rather than writing a review, I’ll be writing about what I thought about this amazing book because there is quite honestly no way I could adequately review such a renowned novel. First off, let me just say that I know that I’m most definitely late to the party regarding reading this novel, but better late than never, right?! I was hooked right off the bat as JK Rowling just has a way with words that is so eloquent and imaginative.

My favourite part of this book (and believe me, this was hard to decide on because I loved the whole book) was when Mr. Dursley was purposefully trying to ensure that Harry did not read the Hogwarts letter. The lengths he went to, so as to ensure that the letters did not reach Harry, are quite hilarious. But how can a muggle match up to a wizarding school? He actually thought he had a chance in making sure that Harry never received his letter. As if!!!

After reading the first book, I would say that my favourite character by far was Harry Potter (surprise, surprise)! I just love his personality and how he defeated ‘You Know Who’ when he was a baby. Let’s see if my favourite character changes once I read the next book.

I’m the kind of person who reads a book before watching the movie, but this wasn’t the case for this series unfortunately. I watched all the movies (not in chronological order) prior to deciding to read the novels. I truly regret this decision because I know tad bits of information about the future storyline while reading, but this does not hinder my curiosity to keep reading and immerse myself in these books. Now that I’ve started reading the books, albeit quite late, I have decided to read the book first and once I’m done, I watch the movie with my family to clear up any questions I had regarding the things I didn’t understand when reading. I feel as though this is the best way to truly understand and enter the wizarding world.

I guess you could say I’m a little obsessed at this point. I get so excited when I pick up the book. Reading is a fabulous stress reliever for me, now that university is back on. Reading these books helps me escape the real world, even if it’s just for a few hours, and I couldn’t ask for anything better.

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What I Learned in 2017

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2017 has been a pretty significant year for me. I have started to rethink what I want to do with my university degree, I’ve struggled a little closer to the end of the year, however I have also learned a ton this year. This short post will concisely go over what I’ve learned this past year, and a follow up post will be uploaded later which will outline my hopes and plans for 2018.

Importance of spending time with family and friends.  I’ve realized that family and friends should always come first and work / school should come after. I feel so at ease when I spend time with them and doing so just makes those stressful times all the more bearable. Time is truly valuable, and you won’t get that family time back in the future.

Have a designated time in the day to do something you enjoy. Some things that I enjoy doing is reading, watching movies / tv shows and spending time with family and friends. I’ve found that doing something I enjoy allows me to take a break and recharge for what’s ahead. It’s okay to take a break and gather yourself.

When it comes to university, I realized the importance of understanding concepts rather than little details. Although understanding concepts may be incredibly time-consuming, everything will come together in the end. Chasing good grades is not the way to go. Rather, chasing genuine knowledge and understanding what you’re learning is of utmost importance because the good grades will follow and you’ll have increased knowledge at the end of the day. 

School is important but your health is far more important. When you feel yourself getting stressed, take a break because there’ll always be one more test or assignment that you can work on to improve your mark. One bad grade won’t ruin your life. It has taken me a while to realize this and I’m so glad that I finally did. To take care of my health, I relax with family and friends, read a good book, go to the gym for a good workout or just totally disconnect from social media and meditate. These methods have proven to be incredibly effective in me taking care of my health.

Hope you enjoyed reading this post and I also hope that your 2017 was full of life lessons and self-improvement. Stay tuned for my post on my plans for 2018. Here’s to 2018!

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The Accident by S. D. Monaghan (NetGalley)

Stacking it up & Sunday Post

The Accident by S. D. Monaghan
★★★★★

First off, I would like to thank Bookouture for approving my request to read and honestly review this novel! This was made possible through NetGalley! So, what an interesting novel! The beginning was very intriguing, and you get right into the book from the start. I had to take quite a few breaks while reading this one because I had a lot of things going on (i.e. interviews and presentations), but I always found myself wanting to get back to the book because it was that good. It has alternating point of view chapters, and is quite suspenseful. 

David and Tara are a wealthy, married couple who have it all. They are about to move into their new dream home and begin their lavish life together. They have a baby on the way and they cannot wait to raise their kid in this beautiful, custom home. One mistake can easily alter your life, as the cover of this book suggests. In an instant, Ryan is falling off a balcony because of a punch David just threw. What has David done? Why has he done it? He had such a great life ahead of him…… 

For some reason, I instantly liked David. He seems perfect, yet he is flawed and emotional just like everyone else, which makes his character more relatable than those goody-goody, perfect characters that make an appearance in other books. In fact, all the characters are well-developed, which makes the book all the more interesting. This book is incredibly well-written. Monaghan does a fabulous job hooking the reader in. I read every word carefully because it was written that beautifully. 

There was quite the twist in this novel, which was very unexpected. I would like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book as it kept me on the edge of my seat, which is why I gave it a solid 5/5 stars. Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did! 

Have any of you been able to read it in advance yet? Let me know what you thought of it! 

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About the Author
S. D. Monaghan grew up in Dublin and has travelled quite a bit. He has a degree in psychology and he has also studied screenwriting. He has taught English in Thailand, which shows how much of a well-rounded individual he is. At the moment, he is working on his novels in Dublin.
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Stay Up-to-Date with Current Events

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Keeping up with current events is an unwritten part of our role as global citizens. Current events shape what goes on around us, and how we function in society. These events shape our decisions as well as inform our perceptions of the world. An easy way to stay up to date with current events is through reading or watching the news.

Now how do you access the news / stay updated on the happenings around the globe?

We have a plethora of accessible resources right at our fingertips, yet we rely on the most unreliable sources for our news. This is not to say that platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat are inherently bad for staying updated, but rather that these sources do not always provide the full, accurate context or story of events. Use Facebook and Snapchat as a starting point for your information, and be curious. Turn to other platforms such as Twitter, news websites or even your TV news to find out more.

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Personally, I like to read the news on Flipboard (this post is not sponsored by Flipboard, I just felt the need to inform others of its’ usefulness). Flipboard is an incredible app that compiles news from various news outlets into a board-style layout, similar to the pinboards that you find on Pinterest (see the three screenshots below). Flipboard allows you to choose the news topics (i.e. Politics, Business & Tech, World News, etc.) that you’re most interested in reading about. This app allows me to read the latest news wherever and whenever I feel like doing so. It has never given me any problems, crash / bug-wise, and is the most convenient app to use.

I also like how Flipboard compiles articles from various news outlets as it tries to mitigate the bias that is so prevalent in news broadcasting. You need to read stories about the same event from a variety of articles to get a better sense of what occurred. Many news agencies have political ties, so evidently their articles will be skewed in favour of a certain ideology or political party. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read an article that was clearly so biased that I just stopped reading it because I knew I wasn’t getting the factual picture of what actually occurred.

That’s about it! There is a part two for this post, which will be uploaded soon. I hope you enjoyed this post, and let me know how you stay updated with current affairs.

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A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

★★★☆☆

This was an absurd book. In an okay way. Let me give you a summary taken directly from Goodreads before I get into my thoughts:

Karen and Tom Krupp are happy—they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished—her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse—complete with phone and ID—behind.

There’s a knock on the door—the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.

The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.

Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.

Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.

Home intrusion-related things always terrify me. There’s something so hair-raising about the idea of someone being in your house without you knowing. They’re right under your nose, but you’d never know they’re there. That’s the scary part. It’s kind of like a ghost. You don’t know it’s there, but it is. That spooks me out so much. So that’s why I picked up this book. I was looking for a nail-biter, something where I’m on the edge of my seat, ripping through the pages to find out what comes next.Image result for a stranger in the house

Honestly, I was disappointed in that respect. That part of the book, that I thought would be touched on throughout because of the title, was like trying to see stars in the city at night. It was barely there. I feel like I’m justified in wanting something more from the home-intrusion aspect of the book. It was lacking.

I haven’t read any other books from Shari Lapena as of yet, but I going to assume her writing style is similar through all her books. In that case, all her books could be read by a 10 year-old. I don’t mean the content itself, but the way in which she writes is so simple. When I read, I want a challenge. Something to test my vocabulary. I don’t want to read, what I think, is next to a children’s novel. Maybe her plan is to focus on the plot and not the wording. I think that writing style is important and it’s definitely something I look for.

Onto the story itself. I enjoyed it. There are many twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. That’s about it though. It wasn’t the most amazing thing I’ve ever read, that’s for certain. One thing I loved about this book is the tiny amount of characters. Usually, the amount of trouble I have remembering characters and their names is astounding. It was so easy to remember everyone. More books need to be like that. You really don’t need hundreds of characters to make a good book.

Overall, this book was very average. I’m not obsessed and I don’t completely hate it. It’s alright. This isn’t a recommendation of mine, though.

Thanks for reading!

My All-Time Favourite Movies

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Before I get started, let me make it clear that I’m no movie buff. But I have watched my fair share of movies.

I’m not going to give away the movies, in case you want to watch it. I’m really into action, suspense, and mystery movies. Also, you’ll notice a trend in these movies….because Christopher Nolan is just too good.

1. The Dark Knight (2008)

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This movie became a classic the moment it was released. I don’t think anyone can deny that this movie is amazing. I’ve watched it countless times and yet I still find things that I didn’t notice before. You can watch this movie over and over again and not get bored of it. You’ve got to love Heath Ledger’s Joker in this. He’s pretty much what makes this movie good, other than Christopher Nolan’s directing. Ledger’s role is iconic.

 

2. Dunkirk (2017)

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In 2016, I found out Chris Nolan was making a new movie (finally) and I was very excited. He hadn’t made a new movie in a few years then and I felt deprived. I discovered that the movie would on the the Miracle of Dunkirk. I’ve always been really interested war movies and war in general.

The film has minimal dialogue, but it works. The actors tell the story so well through their expressions alone. It’s a chilling recount of how Dunkirk really happened. It’s very different than how I learned it to be. This movie shows how it really was.

3. Captain Phillips (2013)

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This movie was absolutely crazy. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. It’s a true story, based on the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of a U.S. cargo ship. Barkhad Abdi’s acting as a Somali pirate, was amazing. The story in general is very interesting, and the film is created in such a suspenseful way.  If you’re looking for a film that constantly has you biting your nails, this is for you!

 

4. Inception (2010)

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I still don’t understand this movie. And that’s why I’ll never get sick of it. I watch it over and over and get a different understanding of it each time. It boggles your mind and makes you think. It’s about stealing secrets through dreams and that’s about all I get from it.

It’s quite long, about two and a half hours in length. But trust me, it’s worth every minute of your time. If you are looking for a movie that really makes you think, watch Inception!

(All of the images in this post are from various sources found through Google Images)

The Amateurs by Sara Shepard

★★★★★

(spoiler-free)

Sara Shepard; the queen of teen fiction. I have a theory that she single-handedly encouraged the world’s population of teens to read again. It’s pretty understandable, I think. I mean, ever since the Internet was born, teenagers claim they’ve never opened a book or smelled the musty pages of a novel. It’s completely true actually. Students at my school never read for pleasure. Ever. I hear it all the time. If they do read, the only books they read are Sara Shepard’s. So yeah. She must have some pretty good books to make brain-dead teenagers actually want to trudge on over to the library rather than surf through Instagram mindlessly.

When I saw that Sara Shepard had a new book, I put it on hold in a heartbeat. For some reason, those stories about teenagers and their “struggles” never fail to entertain me. To get some insight into the book if you haven’t already read it, here’s a little summary taken directly from Goodreads:

Five years ago, high school senior Helena Kelly disappeared from her backyard in Dexby, Connecticut, never to be heard from again. Her family was left without any answers—without any idea who killed Helena, or why.

So when eighteen-year-old Seneca Frazier sees a desperate post on the Case Not Closed message board, she knows it’s time to change that. Helena’s high-profile disappearance is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place.

Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, she agrees to spend spring break in Connecticut working on the case with Maddy Wright, her best friend from Case Not Closed. However, the moment she steps off the train, things start to go wrong. Maddy’s nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin, doesn’t seem to want any help after all. Plus, Seneca has a secret of her own, one that could derail the investigation if she’s not careful.

Alongside Brett, another super-user from the site, they slowly begin to unravel the secrets Helena kept in the weeks before her disappearance. But the killer is watching…and determined to make sure the case stays cold.

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Mystery in a teen-y book was all I needed. I had been reading some pretty heavy books and needed a little break from that because I’m fragile. Maybe this is just me, but I thought that this would be a lousy mystery book. I mean, a group of teenagers solving a crime together just sounds boring. Well…I can’t even begin to explain how wrong I was. This book was GREAT.

The mystery keeps you intrigued throughout the book. It’s constantly being developed, even in the light-hearted situations. The characters were super dynamic. The personalities of everyone in their clique meshed together so well. The mystery was never quite solved until the very end. You think it’s over but then: IT’S NOT! Who doesn’t love that in a book? It’s no wonder there’s a second book coming out in November, titled “Follow Me”. Ominous. And I’m HYPED.

I’m NOT going to give this book away because I reaaally think you should read it. Even if you’re an old hag. I loved it! It’s not overly long or short. Thanks for reading!

The Versatile Blogger Award

Hi! I’m SK, co-author at Exclusory. I’ve been nominated for an award. Specifically, the Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you Pae for the nomination. It truly means a lot. Please check out her blog whenever you have the time!

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When you are nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award, you must obviously thank the blogger who nominated you with a link to their blog, nominate fifteen other bloggers to partake in this post and share seven facts about yourself. So, let’s get started. 

Some facts about SK:

  1. I’m in grade 11 right now.
  2. I started to dislike school this year because it’s gotten so hard.
  3. I would LOVE to live in Switzerland at some point in my life.
  4. I enjoy movies more than TV shows because I don’t like stories being stretched out. That’s not to say I don’t like TV shows at all, though.thin
  5. I’m a really boring texter.
  6. I love fries in all forms.
  7. I love gloomy weather so much. I wish it was always cloudy.

Now, I will nominate fifteen of my favourite bloggers. I nominate:

  1. Rafia
  2. Judanna
  3. Mary
  4. Hebah
  5. Carly
  6. Kirsty
  7. Kayla
  8. Dominique
  9. Katie
  10. Faye
  11. Caitlin
  12. Fiona
  13. Erica
  14. Shaiz
  15. Kris Marie

I cannot wait to read all your posts! Be sure to check out their blogs too. Until next time! 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

It’s about time I got my hands on this book. I’m really late, I know.

Though the library’s hardcover copy was gnarled and stained, I still had patience and flew through this book. My reaction: WOW!

I’m sure you’ve already read “Gone Girl” but here is a little summary: Nick and Amy Dunne seem to have the perfect life. They’re (seemingly) happily married, but when Amy goes missing, their small town turns to Nick for answers, who seems to be in the same boat as everyone else. Lies and deceit make this harrowing story by Gillian Flynn hair-raising.

The story seemed to be typical at first; spouse goes missing, blame other spouse, turns out he/she killed the other spouse they’re arrested. But as the story progresses, the lies told by both Amy and Nick complicate the plot.

Image result for gone girl bookIt is written from the alternating perspectives of Amy and Nick. Amy’s perspective is shown through her personal diary, which later becomes a part of the plot. Through these first-person perspectives, you can see the similarities and differences in their thoughts. Since this story is about a relationship gone haywire, you can see through their thoughts why they thought they were good for each other at first but not later. It’s a very personal telling of their inner feelings. Especially for Amy, as she writes down everything she is feeling. Nick’s perspective is told on the present. He is in the time when Amy first goes missing and it carries from there. Sometimes the things Amy and Nick think are downright psycho. And that’s what makes this book so intriguing.

Amy and Nick’s characters are extremely well-developed, due to this first-person perspective. It is truly unbelievable how the thoughts of psychopaths can seem so real, almost relatable (not saying I’m a psycho, OK). Flynn creates characters that actually contribute to the story and plot in their own way. It’s remarkable how each and every character is so important to the story.

This book was just the right length. I wasn’t left missing information nor was the book stretched out. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it!

Week in Review (3)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer in which bloggers are able to share news and happenings in their lives from the past week on their blog. 

Well, what a week it has been! I’m currently sitting here studying for my midterms, but clearly I’m distracted. Blogging is so therapeutic and exactly what I need. The feeling of being burnt out from uni is subsiding, so that’s always a good thing.

I had a bunch of essays due this past week and a whole load of studying to get done. I think it’s been quite successful, but I cannot wait to get into holiday mode (only a little over a month to go)!

The gloomy weather quite accurately matched how I felt this week. I love thunderstorms so much! They have such a calming effect on me.

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For me, studying while it’s raining outside is the best. I’m so productive, and relaxed at the same time, which makes for a great study session. I’ve got to have some icy water to keep me hydrated and focused as well! What’s your go-to beverage while studying?

I went for a quick outing today to end off the week and I got some mango milk bubble tea! Super delicious and refreshing! It was the first time I got milk bubble tea, I usually just get it without milk, but this one was so much more yummy. How do you like your bubble tea?

Here’s to a new week and much success! How was your week? What are you looking forward to next week? Thanks for stopping by. 💕

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