Book Review · Books

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2) by J.K. Rowling [BOOK REVIEW]

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling book review books goodreads blog blogging blogger diary of difference diaryofdifference

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is probably my favorite book in the Harry Potter series. Read my review of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone here. It’s the second year in Hogwarts for Harry Potter and his friends Ron and Hermione. The year we discover many new things in the Harry Potter world.

This is the book where we meet Dobby. Also the book where we find out about Voldemort’s true identity. The book in which we find out what really happened to Moaning Myrtle.

I have truly forgotten how good the beginning of the book is. Firstly, I cannot understand why Harry has to go back and stay with that awful family during the summer. I know they are his legal guardians, but they don’t want him staying with them either! Then, there is Dobby, who wants Harry to not go back to Hogwarts and creates a huge mess. The best moment though, is when Ron comes to the rescue with the flying car! Because Ron knows Harry might be in trouble. And Harry’s owl secret endeavours are revealed too. And I cannot help but share this moment of Hermione worrying about Harry, as well as Ron’s family owl. 

“I’ve been really worried and if Harry is all right, will you please let me know at once, but perhaps it would be better if you used a different owl, because I think another delivery might finish your one off.”

There is something about the Harry Potter books that I have always loved. The feeling of acceptance they give you. The inclusivity. The ability to be part of the magical world too!

“You will find that I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me. You will also find that help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.”

Harry’s curiosity is something I loved since day one.

I love the powerful friendship he has with Hermione & Ron. His bravery and his eagerness to always make things right. I love that danger doesn’t scare him. And I have to admit – I also love Harry’s rivalry with Malfoy! Their encounters are always a treat!

“Honestly, if you were any slower, you’d be going backwards.”

What I loved the most about this book were the conversations between Harry and You Know Who. The moment Harry acknowledged why he is alive and why he is better.

“How is it that a baby with no extraordinary magical talent managed to defeat the greatest wizard of all time?”

“No one knows why you lost your powers when you attacked me. I don’t know myself. But I know why you couldn’t kill me. Because my mother died to save me.”

And on top o all this – the moment Harry finds out why he truly belongs to Gryffindor!

“It is out choices, Harry, that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

Truly a favorite of mine and a series I will be forever recommending. Always!

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Book Review · Books

Alienated: Grounded at Groom Lake by Jeff Norton [BOOK REVIEW]

Alienated: Grounded at Groom Lake by Jeff Norton book review books blog blogger blogging diary of difference diaryofdifference

Alienated: Grounded at Groom Lake by Jeff Norton was the perfect middle grade quarantine book I was waiting for! Also – during the quarantine, Jeff is reading a chapter a day on his YouTube Channel, so please do check it out. His reading is wonderful!

From the first moment I read the synopsis, I knew I was going to like this book. 

Fourteen-year-old Sherman is used to moving schools. But he’s never been to a school like Groom Lake High, the high school for aliens. 

It’s a very alien environment for him, and he has to fit in. He quickly makes friends with a gang of galactic misfits. When the school bully NED endangers planet Earth, Sherman and his friends have to do anything they can to stop him!

My Thoughts: 

The thing I loved most about Alienated: Grounded at Groom Lake was the amazing word play and inside jokes. It is very well thought and written and I really enjoyed it! There were so many puns and witty jokes that a children might initially miss, but will definitely make an adult chuckle. 

“It suddenly struck me that Facebook might be one of the alien inventions we were all using. I had seen its inventor on TV once and he definitely looked more alien than human.”

We read the book from Sherman’s point of view.

And through him, we find out everything. His thoughts, his choices, his fears and his dreams. Not only do we get to know him, but we also get to watch his character grow as we move throughout the book. 

“Sherman, when you get older, you’ll come to appreciate that life is basically a series of disappointments.”

Even though alien, this high school puts Sherman through all the troubles a normal school does: making friends, being bullied and having a crush. But Sherman also gets to fly rockets and has a chance to save the world!

Sherman’s sister and his group of friends are awesome! They are funny and smart. I loved Octo, especially for his bravery and selflessness. I also loved the fact that the female characters were presented as strong and powerful individuals. It was a tiny touch, but quite meaningful, and it shouldn’t go unnoticed. 

“Now don’t be fooled. Jess might look like a malnourished goth queen, but she punches like a heavyweight.”

I also liked NED as a character. 

“I’d call him a bully, but that’s giving bullies a bad name.”

He was quite a big bully – that is true. However, being evil is the only think he learned from his parents while growing up. The lesson we can learn is that sometimes we do bad things because we don’t know any different. But what we do once we are given a second chance is what really matters! 

I absolutely loved this book and I recommend it not only to middle-graders, but to people of all ages. It’s a gem and it deserves to be n every child’s library. 

I received a copy of this book through a giveaway on Toppsta. All opinions are my own and completely unbiased. 

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Book Review · Books

The Iron Man by Ted Hughes [BOOK REVIEW]

The Iron Man by Ted Hughes book review books blog blogging diary of difference diaryofdifference

I chose to read The Iron Man by Ted Hughes as part of my Potions prompt for my OWLs Readathon in April. I am very glad I picked it up, because it was such a pleasant short read. 

This is a Children’s book about a little boy an an iron man. The Iron Man starts eating all the metal in the town, and the concerned town members capture him. But when a bigger danger comes around, the might need the help of the Iron Man after all. 

The book was beautifully written and it had many illustrations that supported the story. Illustrations are always something I truly admire. These may have been a bit too grim for me though. 

The writing is very smooth and easy to digest. I believe that it is able to spark a child’s imagination and curiosity. The book is entangled in bravery, friendships and adventure, and I am certain that it will be a child’s dear friend forever, should they read it once. 

I recommend watching the 1999 animated movie The Iron Giant after reading the book, for better enjoyment. 

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Book Review · Books

Daisy’s Vintage Cornish Camper Van by Ali McNamara [BOOK REVIEW]

Daisy's Vintage Cornish Camper van by Ali McNamara

Daisy’s Vintage Cornish Camper Van by Ali McNamara is exactly the book I thought I needed to put me in a better mood!

When Ana inherits a camper van from her best friend, she needs to go to Cornwall to get it. A nice sea air and fish and chips are enver a bad choice. 

But when she arrives, she realises that the camper van is in a much worse state than she imagined.

The fixing will take longer than she anticipated. 

On top of this, Ana finds a series of unsent postcards dating back to the 1940s, hidden in the van. This is a sign and Ana wants to make sure the postcards are delivered. 

And while the camper van is restored and Ana is helping other people be happy, she may eventually notice she is finding her way back to happiness again. 

My Thoughts: 

Daisy’s Vintage Cornish Camper Van got my attention from the moment I saw that beautiful cover. Then, I read the synopsis and I was sold. 

For me, both camper vans and postcards have a big importance in my life. I have always wanted to have a camper van and be able to go on a road trips and experience that freedom. Even though I was lucky to be able to travel the world, it is never enough. 

“Yes, there’s definitely something about a camper van that makes people smile. They’re a happy vehicle, so people enjoy seeing them as much as their owners enjoy driving them.”

And postcards were always a way to travel without living my home. Get to meet other places and cultures, meet other people. It is extraordinary how many things I have learned about the world and the people from other countries just by reading their postcards.

“Deltiology – it’s the name for the study and collection of postcards. It comes from the Greek word deltios, which means “writing tablet” or “letter”.”

Ana is working in London, busy in her day-to-day job. When her best friend Daisy dies, she is completely lost. Daisy was everything she had, and now she is gone. When she inherits this van, Ana is eager to pick the van up and return to her normal London routine. She is not really a fan of travel, camper vans or camping. But Daisy was, and if she wanted for Ana to have this van and that was her last wish, this is the least Ana can do for her. 

“These old vehicles are very sensitive – especially camper vans. They’re the worst, very temperamental they can be.”

Throughout her stay, Ana meets Malachi, the mechanic, who sold the van to Daisy and who will help Ana restore it. He is a very interesting character with an interesting point of view on life.

He was my favourite character in the book. 

“People pay a lot of money these days to find themselves. They’re not really finding themselves, they’re finding a version of themselves they feel happy to be for a while.”

“We all change through our lives, and what you’re happy to be when you’re twenty is unlikely to be what you’re happy being when you’re older.”

Malachi also has a camper van himself. He always tells Ana why camper vans are amazing. If you are a fan of camper van, this book will be a favourite by default. 

“But… you’d be mad not to at least try camping in her. It’s a wonderful experience. You can drive where you like, set up camp and cook your dinner in the open air, even bed down under the stars if you’re lucky. The freedom is amazing.”

I loved everything about this book. The story was beautiful. All the characters were likeable and real. They all had their stories and points of development. It was nice to see Ana finally healing and learning to be happy again. Malachi’s story was beautiful and it was the perfect closure to his mission. Noah’s personal story was also heartwarming, as he learns to accept what happened in the past and be able to move on. I also really want to talk about the mystery couple from the postcards, but I won’t, in fear that I will spoil anything. But the development on that story was amazing and it helped Ana in many ways to heal herself, which was magical!

“If something is worth doing, Ana – I hear one of her favourite sayings echo in my ears – it’s worth doing well.”

To summarize – Daisy’s Vintage Cornish Camper Van is my new favorite!

Beautiful and heartwarming. It will make you want to go on a road trip. I definitely recommend Daisy’s Vintage Cornish Camper Van. And as with every book, I love learning random things, and here are some things I learned: 

“Did you know the phrase “dilly-dally” is commonly attributed to the English music hall singer Marie Lloyd, but was actually in use much earlier than her 1918 song, as far back as the seventeenth century?”

“A Splitty. It’s what we call a split screen camper van. All pre-1967 camper vans have a windscreen split in two. After that the new models all had the solid bay windows.”

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Blog Tour · Book Review · Books

Q by Christina Dalcher [BLOGGER TAKEOVER]

Q by Christina Dalcher book review blogger takeover HQ HarperCollins Harper Collins dystopia dystopian mystery adventure diary of difference diaryofdifference

I am quite happy to announce I am part of the Blogger Takeover for Q by Christina Dalcher. Many thanks to Izzy and the HQ Team, for sending me an ARC copy of this book!

Elena is a teacher at one of the most prestigious schools in America. Her daughters are just like her: ambitious, smart, beautiful and perfect. 

Elena is happily married to Malcolm, who is the man that is in charge in the new tier system in the country. Every month, everyone has to undergo a number of tests to determine their Q. The “Q” is a quotient that is based on every metric: genetics, IQ, social status, past history, etc. Depending on the Q number, people are split into three different tiers: 

SILVER

The top tier, prestigious schools, money and social status. Always first in line for everything. Privileged. The best. Perfect. The (only) humans that America wants. 

GREEN

The middle tier. Not the best, could be better. If they improve their scores, they could upgrade to silver again, but most statistics show that you can only go down from here. 

YELLOW

The bottom tier. People that hop on the yellow bus are taken to the state schools, and there are rumours about the kind of places they are taken to. These people are last in line for everything. 

As usual, justice boils down to how high you can keep your Q rating.

When one of Elena’s daughters fails the tests and is sent with the yellow bus, Elena makes the choice of failing the test herself on purpose, only to join her daughter. The things she is about to see and experience are worse than you could ever imagine!

My Thoughts: 

Q is one of those books that is based in a fictional world, but it certainly makes you see the similarities with today’s society. It dives into a dystopian world that might as well be a future one for us, if we don’t acknowledge the fact how our society works today. 

The story is told from Elena’s point of view, both in the present time and the past. As we move through the book we get to know Elena better as a mother, as a wife and as a person. I loved the fact that we were slowly finding out facts about her, sometimes as she did as well. Along that, we also get to see how her choices in the past played a huge impact into her present. 

Choices don’t matter when they’ve already been made.

But I think what matters in this book is the consequences of all these people making choices, especially Elena. And sometimes, it may be too late to fix something that has gone out of control.

Elena’s perspective as a mother was very emotional in every single way. Even though I wasn’t a mother, I could still feel what Elena was feeling. I loved the fact she cared so much about Freddie, that she chose to fail her tests and get moved to the state school too. However, I also feel that she somehow left Anne out of the picture. It was as if Elena and Freddie were one team, while Anna and Malcolm were another, even before Freddie failed her test.

On the other side, we had Malcolm.

The husband, the father and also the man in charge of the tier system. A very cold human, with no remorse, no empathy, very arrogant and extremely manipulative. Watching Elena’s relationship with him reveal and uncover scenes from the past was an interesting concept I enjoyed about this book. We also had a small opportunity to find about how the two daughters felt as well. Children are able to feel something is wrong with their parents or their lives. They have their own opinions as well, that define the actions they might made. This was beautifully shown in a few scenes in the book. 

It is definitely important to mention Elena’s parents and grandmother. Oma is a queen and I loved her! She made me crack up and made me cry. She made me miss my grandma a lot! Here’s to all Omas!

Christina’s writing is really admirable. She managed to tell us all the facts about life that we already know in another light. This Is something I really admired throughout the book, and here is a paragraph I really enjoyed: 

Any child knows time slows down in the days before Christmas; any bride knows time speeds up during a wedding reception. And any mother knows time flies in the years after she gives birth.

It was very interesting to read a book that takes on society tiers in such an extreme way. We may not be aware, but this is happening to us on daily basis. Not to the degree as described in the book, but it is definitely going in that direction. 

We get separated into groups since we are little kids in school. Someone is always picked first, and someone is always last. Then we grow up, and we think we’re past it. But before we know it, some of our friends have other friends and we get separated again, based on our work, neighbourhood, background, physical appearance, nowadays even social media status. 

Even though fiction, Q still touches home, and that it why I love this book. Because it’s as real as it is fictional.

And it will hurt you to the core.

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