The Hogwarts Library

I touched a bit on my excitement for expanded series when I reviewed Four recently. JK Rowling is the master of pleasing her fandom with Pottermore. She also put out The Hogwarts Library, as a nod to Hermoine. These three short books raise proceeds for Comic Relief and Lumos. None of the books take long to read, but are a marvelous edition to the original series. For us die hard fans–they definitely tickle our need for everything magical.

Quidditch Through the Ages

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To be honest…Quidditch was my least favorite part of Harry Potter. I think it is mostly because no matter what happened Griffindor ALWAYS won (or almost always). Kind of takes the fun out of the sport, doesn’t it? I mean, high school sports are always full of drama, but there was always so much nastiness in it.

Still, reading about the history of Quidditch was pretty interesting. I have a better grasp on the teams now, when they go to the big cup game, and I am firmly against baskets! My favorite part was reading about the cranky old witch who wrote the first game down in her diary. Damn idiot boys throwing leather balls into her garden!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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The middle book in the set is pretty much just an encyclopedia of the different creatures in the wizarding world. While the descriptions of some of the beasts are interesting, there’s really not much to it. (Although someone’s been up to some mischief with a quill…) I am curious to see how they will turn this A-Z reference guide into a movie, and how many of the critters will make it!

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

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Being the great lover of fairy tales that I am, this book was my favorite of the three. How amusing to read stories where the witches are the protagonist, instead of the evil ones like in the fable we grew up with! Of course, The Tale of the Three Brothers was familiar, but The Fountain of Fair Fortune was the one I loved the most. It was such an uplifting story.

The commentary by Dumbledore added so much more to the book too. Like all the others in The Hogwarts Library–it’s sometimes easy to forget that these aren’t genuine nonfiction. More than once, out of habit, I started to add one of the notated books to my Goodreads, only to blink into reality and facepalm myself. Those aren’t real reference books! For hardcore Harry Potter fans like myself, the Library only extends our world just a bit further…and our madness too. It just can’t be helped.

I would encourage any fan of the original series to pick these up. They are cute, look great on a shelf, and support great charities for kids in need. And that’s something Dumbledore would have been pretty proud of.

 

Mansfield Park

When I added Mansfield Park to my TBR list, I was excited because I was finally going to get to read a third Jane Austen novel. I’ve read Pride & Prejudice a million times, and Emma twice now, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten so far.

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Or so I thought.

Apparently, I’ve picked this book up before, and read at least the first half. I had major book dejavou. I remembered Fanny and William and Edward. I remember the play being practiced. That was about as far as I got though, everything after that was unfamiliar.

I was expecting another romance from Austen, similar to the above two books. So when Mr. Crawford started playing for Fanny’s attention in the second half…I figured he’d win in the end. After all, Darcy and Mr. Knightley were both pretty patient, right?

But Mansfield Park is really a completely different book, really more relatable to something you’d see in a 90s teen movie than in an 1800 romance. You have a young woman with social anxiety who just wants to be helpful and loving to everyone she meets. Her best friend of course is in love with the popular girl. PG’s brother is a flirty stud (see:  fuckboy) who all the ladies want, but when Fanny gets a new dress she suddenly becomes beautiful in his eyes and he “must make her fall in love with him” before he leaves in two weeks. Fanny doesn’t trust him, doesn’t want his attention, and when he screws up, some how that’s her fault. (See again:  fuck.boy.)

Ah well, it all turns out ok in the end, as Jane Austen novels always do. I liked this one, though. Definitely not what I expected at all, and it makes me even more excited to read the rest of her books, if they are all going to be so different.

 

Fulfill’s Boxall #82

Jane Eyre

I keep seeing this post floating around on Tumblr about how Charlotte Bronte fell in love with Jane Fairfax from Emma, and so she wrote a fanfiction about her as a governess. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but that post was enough to get me to read both Emma and Jane Eyre somewhat back to back!

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This is my second read-through (I listened to the audiobook when I was in college), and I love Jane Eyre even more now than I did the first time. Of course I always get more from a book by actually reading than listening.

Jane is such a prim, proper, plain-looking character. If you look up an images search of the way she’s been portrayed over the years, she always looks so delicate. But Jane Eyre is anything but soft. She maybe a woman with very strict ideals–but she fights for those ideals with conviction and a steady conscience. Not much can sway her.

This book is so much more than a love story. Of course, the romance is there, but that really isn’t the important part of the narrative. What else do we have?

  1. Child abuse
  2. Poverty
  3. Epidemic
  4. Feminism
  5. Mental Illness
  6. Importance of family ties and friendship
  7. Hypocrisy
  8. Disability

And the list could go on and on, but this is the major stuff that I noticed. All this from a Victorian/Gothic novel. You don’t see that happen to often.

I did have one question to pose, maybe someone out there can answer it for me.

One thing I am always curious about with 1800s women’s literature is why they never give the names of places (and sometimes dates). It’s always –shire or S(…setting). Is it a lack of creativity regarding places, or was there some unspoken rule about listing where the setting was? London is always mentioned, and Bath, but anywhere else is left to mystery. It’s always so frustrating to me, and I can not help but wonder why this is!

Atonement

Ever read a book and have serious dejavu? That happened to me with Atonement. I didn’t know it, but I have apparently watched at least part of the movie. When I got to the library scene, all of my senses started going off like “That’s Kiera Knightley and (SPOILER ALERT) the little girl is going to walk in on them…now!”

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I am not sure I’ve watched much more than that scene though, and without looking it up, I couldn’t tell you who any of the other actors are. So, apparently I need to rewatch!

This is maybe not the most exciting book in the world, but it has that quality literature factor. That “whatever it is” that makes teachers put it on lists for future progeny to read for generations. The writing was smooth and the characters were strong. I liked that we got multiple viewpoints since there was so much conflict going on. We saw the war from not only multiple perspectives, but also multiple timeframes–preparation, during the battles, and towards the end.

Atonement is one of those books that will live on for a long time. Love it or hate it, it is our generation’s literature.

 

Fulfill’s Boxall #81

Emma

It is no secret that Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books. However, I am sadly lacking in most of Austen’s other books. Some I’ve started and haven’t finished, and some I just haven’t got to yet.

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I have a matched pair of P&P and Emma, but this is only my second read through of the latter. It just does not measure up to my beloved OTP. I feel like Jane Austen made a list of every single thing she found ridiculous in her gender, and said “OK, that’s my main character.” Emma is vain, selfish, spoiled, and dense.

I was having a really hard time getting through it and then I realized…Holy Crap this book is Clueless.

 

Mind blown. From then on, I just started comparing all the characters and it made it so much easier to read. Who knew that silly 90s movie would make literature fun? As if!

 

WWW Wednesday 3/18/2015

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What are you currently reading?

The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers and Two Stories by Henry James

Dear Millie by Marco Previero

 

What did you just finish reading?

The Horse Healer by Gonzalo Giner

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Selected Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Lying by Lauren Slater

Critical Incident by Troy Blackford

Four by Veronica Roth

WWW Wednesday 3/4/2015

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What are you currently reading?

Selected Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Divergent by Veronica Roth

 

 

What did you just finish reading?

The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Dubliners & A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

 

 

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Cecilia by Fanny Burney

Cress by Marissa Meyer

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

Frankenstein

In November, Fathom Events had a showing at AMC Theaters of the Benedict Cumberbatch/Jonny Lee Miller rendition of Frankenstein. Being a huge fan of both actors in Sherlock and Elementary, OF COURSE I had to go–even though it was not only the first “movie” I’d see by myself, but we hadn’t been in Dallas very long and it was farthest I’d been from home at that point.

That night, they played Jonny Lee Miller as The Monster (the actors played both lead roles, so there are two versions, and you don’t know until the start which you will see). It was nothing short of brilliant, as I expected. If you’ve seen JLM as Sherlock, you can understand the kind of fast, choppy movements he can make, and as The Monster, it was 100x more exaggerated. *sob* I want to watch it over and over and over.

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Anyway, I had not read the book, so I knew I’d have to read it soon. I’m really surprised it has taken this long. The book was just as gorgeous as the play, and I’m so glad I have a point of reference for The Monster that isn’t that horrific green thing from the Halloween stores.

Mary Shelley succeeded in writing the first science fiction novel, it’s true, but we have a ton of poorly written scifi books–and maybe that’s why I never read this one until this point. That boxy green thing really didn’t leave me with high expectations. But, her book has stayed with us because it is just so perfectly done, and it is extremely complex. This is The Monster’s narrative, within Frankenstein’s tale, within Walton’s letters. And though we never really think of Walton’s sister Margaret as a true narrator, it is her collection of his letters by which we get our final story.

It is no wonder, after four voices in one fiction alone, that so many people couldn’t help but retell Shelley’s story. There is science, love, horror, death, and the unknown. Man can’t help but want to be God, and Mary Shelley somehow managed to illustrate this drive perfectly.

 

This fulfills Boxall’s #74.

WWW Wednesday 1/28/2015

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My friend Sam has taken over WWW Wednesdays, hence the new image! Be sure to click the button above and go give her some love!

 

What are you currently reading?

Dubliners & A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

 

What did you just finish reading?

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Wonders by Paddy O’Reilly

Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

 

Rosemary’s Baby

It has been a little while since I’ve read a book that really gives me the heebeejeebees, but Ira Levin sure sent shivers down my spine with Rosemary’s Baby.

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I knew this was going to be a creepy one, just based on the movie clips I’ve seen, but holy damn the suspense in this book is so well written. I was a little skeptical about it at first, just because I don’t generally like books written in this time period, but I think that added to the uneasiness I felt while reading.

From the very beginning of the story, you know that something is very very wrong. Even though the couple is moving to what should be a much nicer apartment, you can’t help but screaming noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

I think we read too many books, guys. What do you think?

NAH!

Rosemary’s Baby is a classic horror story that is often referenced in pop culture, so I’m glad I’ll finally understand the references. I can see where a lot of modern thriller writers have pulled inspiration from. I probably won’t read the second book, though. I think it needs to end here.

 

Fulfills PopSugar #10:  A mystery or thriller