Harry Potter Reread. Book 1, Post 1.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone I’ve decided to do a reread of the entire series. I also figured this was a good time to write down some of my thoughts as I go along. So here goes.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone pages 1-65.

  • “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” “There will be books written about Harry. Every child in the world will know his name.”
    • Eek! When I first read these lines nearly two decades ago I had no idea that they would become so important to me. The first line gives me chills and makes me smile because I know I’ve just begun this epic journey. I also can’t believe how true the other line has become throughout the years.
  • With some of these lines and quotes I can’t help but picture the movie and the actors/actresses speaking them. In some cases this might be annoying but when it comes to picturing Dame Maggie Smith as Professor McGonnagall it’s no problem at all.
  • The first appearance of Hagrid! And he mentions Sirius Black! If we’d only known then what we know now. (Also, I’m not crying. You’re crying. Shut up. Leave me alone.)
  • Wait a minute! That’s not the quote that ended up in the movie! They literally changed one word. Why?
  • Once Harry ends up at the Dursley home the plot moves fast which is probably a good thing. Also, I understand that Harry is at the Dursleys for protection and the Squib Arabella Figg is nearby but couldn’t Dumbledore have done more to make sure Harry wasn’t mistreated? Like with magic or something? Instead Harry grows up with no friends and is mistreated. You know, kind of like a certain Tom Riddle was. And we all know how well that turned out.
  • Whoa information drop, Hagrid. I get it, he’s right that Harry should know his own background before he meets other witches and wizards but he’s told about magic and Voldemort over the course of what feels like a ten minute conversation. I feel as though my mind would have just shut down if I’d been faced with so many earth shattering revelations in such a short time.

That’s it for the reread so far! I’ll be back in a day or two with more thoughts on my rereading of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

20 Years of Harry Potter

Twenty years ago today a massive fandom was born. A fandom that I would later become obsessed with to the point where I can’t even remember how much money I’ve put into it. Let’s see. I have:

  • Three copies of the first novel. (One I had to replace due to wear and tear, the other is a special Ravenclaw edition for the 20th anniversary.)
  • Two copies of the second novel due to wear and tear.
  • VHS or DVD copies of all associated movies.
  • Homemade wands and purchased ones.
  • Pins and jewelry of all kinds.
  • Shirts. Tshirts, tank tops, sweaters.
  • Pop Funkos.
  • Tattoos.

The funny thing though? Back when the the first book was published I didn’t even care that much. I saw it in my school library in fifth grade and was somewhat interested and then someone checked it out. And every time I looked for it the book was still checked out. So, in sixth grade, I finally decided I had to do something about it. I waited and waited. I could not get my hands on Sorcerer’s Stone. This led me to doing something I had never done before and have hardly done since.

I picked up the second book in the series and I read it first.

You’d think reading book two first would have maybe put me off the series as a whole but nope. I devoured Chamber of Secrets, finally bought Sorcerer’s Stone at a school book fair a few months later, read that and then reread Chamber of Secrets. So began my life as a Harry Potter fan.

After that I started reading Harry Potter fanfiction. I started pre-ordering the books from Amazon and anxiously awaiting release days. I re-read the series each time a new book came out, timing it so precisely that I was usually finishing up the last book I already owned the day before or the day of the newest book release. I had a system.

I grew up with Harry Potter. He aged more or less as I did. He felt out of place and had a friend, Hermione Granger, who loved books and had big brown hair like I did and I felt like these characters, this author, got me like no one had before. It was amazing.

And then 2007 came and with it the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the last book in the series. I had literally just finished my re-read of book six less than an hour before the doorbell rang and even though, at that point, I’d been up for nearly fifteen hours straight already I dove right in.

And then I kept putting it back down. Partially because characters kept dying and I couldn’t see straight. But mostly because I didn’t want it to end. I knew I could always re-read and yet there was always only going to be one first read and that was emotional. But finally, I did it. And though I’ve since written fanfiction that changed the plot around a bit I was satisfied.

And even though I’m nearly thirty I don’t regret the time and money and energy I’ve put into the fandom. Hell, I’m probably buying more HP merchandise now than every before. It’s just such a big part of my life and I’m not ashamed. And social media shows me everyday, but especially on HP related fandoms, that I’m not alone and that is awesome.

Just as JK Rowling once said, “Whether you come back by page or by the big screen,¬†Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

 

 

Camp NaNoWriMo: July 2017

I have officially signed up for yet another session of Camp NaNoWriMo and though I started my word count goal out rather low I’m already not so sure that I’m going to make it. Mostly because it seems that every writing goal I’ve set for myself this year has not been met.

Now I do have legitimate excuses which I believe I’ve waxed on no less than a half a dozen times already on this blog. Addition of a puppy to the household, Summer Reading Program at the library, multiple sicknesses (honestly, the flu in March and a sinus infection in June? Who gets sinus infections in June?!) but I really don’t want to spend another post talking about that since I’m not even sure anyone is even reading this blog anymore other than for the book reviews. Which have also been few and far between lately…

So. July Camp NaNoWriMo. Since it’s more free form I’m hoping to take advantage of that and include blog posts, work write ups, and fanfiction in my word count just to try to get myself back on track. The puppers has finally started to settle down in the evenings so I should be able to start reading and writing before bed like I used to. I’ve finally started the reading but not necessarily the writing. (If Mycroft starts acting up it’s a lot easier to get a hardcover book/Kindle out of his way than it is a laptop or a notebook with loose pages and a pen. Pages and pens which he likes to chew on. Remind me why I wanted a puppy again please?)

This all means that, hopefully, you will be seeing a lot more from me here shortly.

Hopefully.

To Re-read or Not to Re-Read

My current Goodreads list of books I want to read contains over two hundred titles. And yet I still sometimes find myself re-reading books I’ve already read. This may seem like a silly idea. Why read something old if I can read something new? But sometimes I just feel the need to read something familiar. Other times, I have other reasons for my madness.

So let us get into more specifics about why I re-read.

  1. Nostalgia. Some books just have certain memories attached to them. Case in point: Harry Potter. I grew up with those characters and they shaped a large part of my bookish life as a teenager and as an adult. And reading those books is like going to a school reunion and only seeing the people I want to see/or at least knowing that those I don’t want to see won’t be there for long. It’s like returning to my childhood.
  2. Comfort. When I’m not feeling well I usually still like to read but I’m not always in a condition to really absorb new information. But when I’ve read something a few times I don’t need to create the whole world in my head because it’s already there.
  3. When life gets in the way. I feel better when I get a chance to read but when life gets busy (around the holidays or during a trip) I don’t want to/have the time to escape into a fictional world as much as I would like. So a reread it is. That way I can get my reading fix but I don’t have to say “hey, I don’t want to go to the beach because I have to know what happens next in my book” because I already know what happens next.
  4. Series. I have this bad habit of reading books that are in series that haven’t been completed. And sometimes I don’t feel the need to reread before the next one comes out. But other times, when I really really loved the first book or two, I decide I need to read them again before I can keep going. With trilogies this isn’t too big of a deal but sometimes that can be a massive undertaking.

The above are just a few reasons why I am an advocate for rereading books. What about you? Do you reread or is life too short for that?

Star Wars

In honor of the Star Wars themed baseball game I’ll be going to later this evening, I decided it was a good time for some Star Wars related thoughts.

Sometime back in high school I got sucked into the Star Wars phenomenon. And yes, I hate to admit it, but it was because of the newer episodes. I liked Natalie Portman as an actress and thought Ewan McGregor was cute and finally watched an entire Star Wars movie when I found The Phantom Menace playing on TV. After that it was over. Now I own most of the movies, have BB-8 magnets and Pop Funkos, and t-shirts and jewelry to let everyone know of my geekery.

This May the 4th the library I work at had a large Star Wars book display up which led me to ordering quite a few of the ones that looked interesting and it got me thinking. How amazing is it that we have fandoms where you can latch onto a movie series you like and then proceed to find comic books/graphic novels, actual full length novels, and merchandise all to immerse yourself even further into the thing you’re interested in? I think it’s really neat that I could watch a Star Wars movie or find a book adaptation of said movie or new books (canon and non-canonical) or fanfiction just because so many people are interested in the same thing. It makes one feel that they definitely are not alone in the world and that’s kind of awesome.

 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8

Back in my middle school years I was playing with the antennae on my grandparent’s TV (yep, even though all my friends had cable by that point we still had a TV with less than two dozen channels many of which would go out if it was windy/rainy/just for the hell of it) when I stumbled upon something glorious. It was the WB with such teen friendly shows as Dawson’s Creek, Charmed, and what would become my favorite, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I picked it up somewhere around season three and was supremely bummed out when it was cancelled just two seasons later. And then it came back on a different station which I eventually also found even though big chunks would cut out at the worst times. (Thanks for messing up the musical episode and Buffy and Spike’s first hookup you stupid antennae!)

And then Buffy ended again and I was uncertain how to feel. After the first cancellation the show had lost some of it’s luster but I still missed it.

I’m not sure how many years later I found out the show had been continued in graphic novel form but I know it took me even more years, and a reading challenge, later to actually pick it up and attempt to read it. But read it I did. And I had some mixed feelings.

Some of the volumes were actually really good. I liked seeing the little nests of newbie slayers all learning how to navigate the world. I liked seeing how our favorite characters were getting along in the changed world and without certain other characters being around.

But then the plot line got so ridiculous with the main Big Bad (named Twilight…and yes, there were jokes made about a vampire calling himself Twilight) and the discovery of who Twilight really was. And there was so much sex, not that I’m against sex. But this ended up being such good sex that the participants ended up floating in space? Just pages and pages of two people having sex as they ascended into the heavens? And that’s just a part of the nonsense.

So am I glad I picked up all the volumes of season eight? Technically yes since I picked them up from the library and didn’t have to pay for them. If I’d had to pay there may have been another answer to that question. But I will try season nine and hope for the best.

Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

Fantasy standalones don’t happen very often so when I saw that Long May She Reign was a fantasy standalone with a mystery and a female character with unusual likes for her time period I was sold. But what I got was sadly disappointing.

Long May She Reign is set in an unspecified but clearly pre-electricity era. Our main character, Freya, is more likely to be found performing experiments in her lab instead of attending the court functions that she is supposed to as twenty-third in line to the throne. This preoccupation with science is what saves her life when a mass poisoning kills off a large majority of the court while she’s safely out of the palace conducting her research. This means that, just a chapter or so into the book, Freya discovers that she has now become queen.

But Freya is no one’s idea of a queen. She is a bit socially inept and has anxiety issues, clumsy, and she doesn’t think like the royals the kingdom and its councilors are used to. And some of the people now closest to her wonder if she had a hand in the death of the king and his court, especially given that she’s experimenting with poisons (though she’s only doing so in order to find the murderer herself.) So Freya has to grow into her own skin and into the throne.

Interesting enough, right? Well kind of. The characters weren’t all that fleshed out. Freya gets over her anxiety fairly easily. Some of the writing was stilted and didn’t flow well. Huge passages of the story were boring beyond belief. And the conclusion to who murdered the court was rather unsatisfactory.

So in short the book was not as fleshed out as I feel it should have been. And maybe that’s why most fantasy novels aren’t standalone. There’s not enough space to build a world and it’s people in just one novel.