Literary Musings · To Read or Not to Read?

30 Favorites: Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday. Today I turn *gasp* 30 years old. So I figured I’d make a list of my thirty favorite books, in no particular order.

1-7: The 7 books in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

8: Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley

9: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

10-12: The first 3 books in the His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers

13: Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

14: Between by Jessica Warman

15-16: Garden Spells and First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

17: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

18: The Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee

19: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

20: The Friday Society by Adreinne Kress

21: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman

22: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

23: Alienated by Melissa Landers

24: Ashfall by Mike Mullin

25: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

26: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

27: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

28: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

29: Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

30: Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley

 

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Literary Musings · To Read or Not to Read?

Harry Potter Book 6 Reread. Post 1.

Here are my thoughts on rereading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, pages 1-216.

  • I always take the dust jacket off to read a book if I can just because it makes it easier without the whole flapping of cover going on. (I kind of hate that about very large library books. I get that the cover needs to have glossy protection and not come off but sometimes that gaping flappy thing that goes on is so annoying.) Anyways…Half-Blood Prince has the best cover color combination under that dust jacket. Purple and black are so pretty together! And it’s definitely a witchy/Halloweeny color combination.
  •  I like how the last couple books start with scenes outside of Harry’s perspective. It gives us more of an idea of how the wizarding world works. In this case we get to see how the Ministry interacts with the Muggle world and then we get to see more of Snape outside of school. Very interesting.
  • Dumbledore making himself at home at the Dursleys house and trying to teach them manners is just delightful! And I’m glad Harry (and the reader) get right into the information what with the Slughorn visit which, for those of us who have read this before, ends up being particularly important.
  • This book just makes me love the Weasley twins more and the scene in their joke shop makes for some lightheartedness that the book definitely needs.
  • And Harry’s Draco Malfoy obsession continues. I mean, we end up finding out Harry’s suspicions were correct in the most part but still…stop stalking your classmates Potter. It’s weird.
  • Snape finally gets the Defense Against the Dark Arts position. I should have known something like this would happen the first time I read it since we had to make it so Harry could continue with Potions and become an Auror.
  • The Half-Blood Prince’s Potions book. Obviously a very important part of the plot line but still seems so odd that Harry just randomly does everything it says including reciting invented spells from it. And he also doesn’t recognize the handwriting (which I guess kind of make sense…I know my handwriting has changed a little over the years but he still might have made the connection) and he never thought “hey, I know someone who loves Potions and went to Hogwarts.” idiot.
  • All of the meetings with Dumbledore make this such a faster read than the last book because stuff is happening, important and interesting stuff. So good. Voldemort’s history is so fun to read about and actually makes him a more well-rounded villain.
Literary Musings

Sudden Inspiration

Inspiration can strike in the oddest of places.

Imagine you keep receiving these reminder emails that National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is just two months away. And now it’s just one month away. You know you want to try again this year even though you’ve missed the word count goals and “lost” more often than you’ve won. But there’s one problem and it’s a pretty big one.

So what’s this big problem that may ruin NaNoWriMo before it even starts?

Well that would be the fact that up until a couple of hours ago I had no ideas at all for a novel that I could write. Literally nothing. The well was dry. And when the goal is to write 50,000 words in a single month you kind of need to have some idea going into it. Thankfully I finally got one.

About two months ago I wasn’t inspired to write anything, fanfiction, blog posts, nada. And then slowly the fanfiction ideas started flowing and I went from no ideas to starting three new stories that I hope to start posting within the year. Yay! But that still wasn’t helping me with NaNo.

And then I started thinking about the sequel/remake of Hocus Pocus and how they should be doing it. Now I can’t actually turn that into a novel because of copyright and all that jazz but I had definitely decided I wanted to do a novel about witches. Then a random phrase floated through my mind. And with it, a whole novel idea.

So now onto some outlining!

Literary Musings · To Read or Not to Read?

Harry Potter Book 5 Reread. Post 1.

Though Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a massive installment in the series I’ve decided I’m just going to do a single post on the book. Mostly because it annoys me to no end. Now this doesn’t mean I hate it, it’s definitely a worthy installment in the series and gives us a fair bit of background we end up needing to know but it’s not my favorite.

So buckle up, this might be a long one. And it’s going to be all wonky and out of order. Like a stream of consciousness review.

  • I really, really hate Harry during Order of the Phoenix. Yes, he’s a teenage boy and he’s kind of channeling Voldy but it’s really annoying to read a book centering around Harry when all Harry is doing is getting angst everywhere. Aww, poor baby, everyone wants to keep you alive. But nope, you’re mad that people can’t send you important information in the mail and that you weren’t made a Prefect and blah blah blah.
  • Hermione’s not my favorite in this one either. She’s usually a strong female character but in this one all she’s doing is nagging about everyone about studying and she’s judging/making fun of Luna. Yes, you and Luna are complete opposites but how about you stop throwing shade when she’s risking her life to help you all. Also, you can be snarky to Luna but you can’t just straight up tell Harry he’s being an asshat? Honestly, she should have slapped him like she did Malfoy and maybe this would have ended better.
  • I liked that we got to see inside of a dark wizard home. I certainly wouldn’t want to stay at Grimmuald Place but I think it helps to pinpoint how strong one must be to grow up in an environment like that and not just accept the family’s darkness.
  • I approve of the addition of Tonks and Luna. We needed the levity of the two of them. Fred and George were also a joy to read.
  • Umbridge is the worst. And the fact that she tries to hide her disgusting nature behind frills and kittens just makes my skin crawl.
  • Dumbledore’s Army is the best. Honestly, Harry probably saved a lot of his classmates’ lives by teaching them so much.
  • Honestly I think Order of the Phoenix would have been better if the first third was shorter and the last third was longer. The first bit had a decent amount of information but kind of dragged in places but the last had so much information and we barely had time to process any of it.
  • I will say that even after reading this a few times my heart still pounded during the fights in the Department of Mysteries.
  • The first of many heartbreaking death scenes. Damn you JK Rowling.
Literary Musings

Surprise!!

Writing a novel or a fanfiction for a blog post isn’t always easy because, if you’re not careful, the writing can take on a mind of its own. Case in point, the most recent fanfiction I started writing.

I think I’ve written about this before. That I have two different fanfiction accounts, one for my “regular” stories and one for my less tame ones. Not that I’m ashamed to have people know I write dirty things sometimes, I just feel as though it would be awkward if my family and coworker read them. (Honestly, I can’t imagine how weird it would be to be one of the well-known authors of the super smutty stuff. Imagine what a family holiday would be like if you’re mom/aunt/grandma had read the dirty, dirty things you’d written! So uncomfortable.)

Well, the most recent fanfiction I started writing was supposed to be one of those things that would fall under my pen name that isn’t linked to any of my other social media. It was supposed to be a one shot, smutty Hermione/Draco fic. And now, now it’s taken on a life of it’s own. It has a plot and it has heart and emotion and it’s not what I was planning on at all. It’s taken on a surprise life of it’s own. This would be why I’d feel the need to write an entire series before I started publishing them if I wanted to do a series…I’d be afraid the characters would take my novel and change the series in an entirely different direction than what my writing contract expected.

Literary Musings

Twelve

Twelve. It’s a number we deal with every day in regards to time and the date. And, after an evaluation of my writing, it’s also the number of novels that I’m apparently in the middle of writing. Maybe that’s why, when I started pondering what I’ll be working on in November for National Novel Writing Month, I drew a blank. So let’s see what I have going on, in no particular order.

  1. The fantasy novel that I started working on way back in middle school, nearly half my life ago. It’s the novel that I call “Lord of the Rings-like but with an all female cast.” It’s mostly done other than the fact that every time I pull it out to edit it I end up changing entire passages and giving up because there’s just so much to do.
  2. A novel about mermaids and high school. If I’m remembering correctly this one may technically be “finished” as well?
  3. A novel about werewolves because of course there are werewolves. I think this one is also finished.
  4. There’s also a novel about fairy godmothers that I think is mostly complete but, like entries 2 and 3 I’ve never actually went through to edit.
  5. The one with Greek statues and gods and goddesses and flashbacks to ancient Greece. Mostly finished, it not complete?
  6. The vampire one. Only there’s cruise ships and various time periods and I’m pretty sure I wrote the first third and the last third but never the middle section.
  7. The fairy tale retelling that I just started last year and made major headway but then ran out of steam after National Novel Writing Month.
  8. My first contemporary novel which was set in the Greek system at a university. Only “Greek” meant way more than just sororities and fraternities. I think I only got about 1/6 of the way done with this one.
  9. The first of what I was thinking would be a librarian themed cozy mystery series because I started working in libraries and was using the whole “write what you know” theory. Only got about five pages in but somehow also managed to outline a sequel?
  10. The murder mystery novel that was born because I read a similar novel and didn’t like how it rolled out/ended. This one has a four page outline but I’ve only written about five pages of it.
  11. And yet another fantasy, this one born out of reading a series and not liking how it ended so I just randomly invented my own world and a whole outline for all three novels. I know I have pages and pages of characters and plotlines but I don’t remember if I actually started writing it.
  12. Another start to a cozy mystery series, this one with murder and magic. There’s an outline floating around and the first page but nothing more.

I’m guessing that I should probably cheat a little on NaNo and work on one of these barely started novels, especially since I have no ideas for anything new but my trouble is…which one?!

Literary Musings · To Read or Not to Read?

Harry Potter Reread. Book 4, Post 4.

My thoughts on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire pages 509-734.

  • Sirius shows up in Hogsmeade in dog form and meets up with Harry and company. This is kind of awesome because I love Sirius but then he adds that if they’re talking about him they should call him Snuffles. Um, shouldn’t they have also been using a code name for him when sending mail back and forth?
  • Nifflers during a Care of Magical Creatures class! Why couldn’t this scene have been in the movies?!
  • I really like how Hagrid and Hermione bond together again during this book which they also did back in Prisoner of Azkaban when Ron was upset about his rat. I think it’s just cute that Hagrid mainly took Harry under his wing but also ends up talking to all the misfits.
  • Oh Mrs. Weasley. At the beginning of the book the Weasleys are talking about how awful Rita Skeeter is, and Molly points it out again later, but when it comes to the rumors of Harry and Hermione she actually listens. Overprotective mother syndrome I’m guessing?
  • The whole scene with the insane Mr. Crouch is where everything really starts to go haywire. I can’t remember if I even had an inkling of what might be going on back the first time I read it?
  • The Pensieve scenes are super interesting and always have been but they are just uncomfortably invasive. I can’t imagine I’d be as calm as Dumbledore if I found someone walking around my memories. Also, this is when I really wanted to start seeing more of Neville Longbottom, after we learn what happened to his parents.
  • The Third Task. Like Harry you wonder if it’s so “easy” because they’re luring the champions into a false sense of security which actually probably would have been a good way to go. But then it goes unimaginably wrong.
  • Poor Cedric. Like I mentioned earlier we should have known something bad was going to happen to him since he became such a big part of the book so suddenly. And it was one of those cases where it all happened so fast and so much happened afterwards that it was hard to process. Just like if something like that were to happen in real life. (I just don’t like it when readers comment that characters didn’t take time to grieve or process a death. I mean, come on, they are worried about fighting for their lives. We’ll process later!)
  • All the Death Eaters and the Reverse Spell Effect. So emotional! And I love the big reveal of everything with Crouch/Moody. So creepy.
  • I like how quickly Dumbledore calls everyone together and we get to see the scope of the war effort.
  • Book four was when everything really started to get dark in this series which makes for some interesting, heart pounding reading.