Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book News: New Edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them!


This year has been chock-full of exciting announcements for Harry Potter fans and today, Bloomsbury just announced another one - a brand new edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The new edition will be released on March 14, 2017 and will contain a new forward by J.K. Rowling and new cover art by Jonny Duddle. No word yet on whether there will be new interior artwork. 

The book is already available for pre-order on Bloomsbury's website.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Harry Potter Reread: Goblet of Fire

 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)

Potter fever is ramping up this year thanks to two exciting new projects: the eighth story, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, will be debuting in London's West End on July 30 and the first in a new movie trilogy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will hit theaters in November. In preparation, I decided to revisit my most beloved series and blog about it. (Besides, I don't really need an excuse to reread Harry Potter.)

Origin Story

I remember my experience with Goblet of Fire really well because it is the only book in the series that I stood in line for. I think after the third book was released that the mania surrounding Harry Potter really started to take off. It was everywhere. 

I preordered the book at my local bookstore (back before the whole concept of preordering books was still foreign to me.) On the day of release, my mom and I got to the bookstore about five minutes before it opened. There was a small roped-off area in front of the store where there was a line starting to form already. I think we were the second or third ones in line. A couple of minutes before the store opened, one of the staff members came out and went down the line, asking for our names and making sure we were listed as having a copy reserved. I remember being nervous about my name somehow being omitted from the list and not getting my long-awaited copy. But of course, my name was on there, and when the store opened the friendly woman behind the counter handed me my very own copy of Goblet of Fire.

'God, it's huge!' That was my first reaction. I wasn't daunted though. When it comes to books, the bigger, the better in my opinion. And I absolutely loved the picture of the dragon on the cover.

I started reading it in the car on the way home. It didn't take me too long to finish it, a few days, maybe a week. And, of course, I loved it. 

Things I Noticed This Time Around

-At the beginning of the book, Wormtail seems reluctant to go after Harry and tries to persuade Voldemort to use another wizard. I believe this is because Harry spared Wormtail's life in PoA and so he feels he is in Harry's debt

-There are so many hints that Mad-Eye Moody is really Barty Crouch Jr. but J.K. Rowling is so clever at hiding it and planting so many other red herrings along the way that I don't think anyone could have guessed the ending when they first read it. However, if you reread it, you notice so many different clues. Here are a few:
  • p.182-when Moody says Snape is 'another old friend' when he is disciplining Malfoy, he's really speaking as a former Death Eater and not as an ex-Auror
  • p.228-Moody is looking at Karkaroff with 'intense dislike.' During the first read-through, we think it's because Moody is an ex-Auror and hates Dark wizards. But it's really Barty Crouch looking at him with dislike because Karkaroff turned against Voldemort and his fellow Death Eaters by naming names to try to get out of Azkaban. He sees Karkaroff as a traitor
  • p.414-Moody says 'If there's one thing I hate it's a Death Eater who walked free.' Again, we think it's due to Moody's hatred of Dark wizards, but it's really Barty Crouch Jr. speaking. He sees people like Karkaroff and Snape as traitors to Lord Voldemort

-It is revealed in GoF that Hagrid is half-giant. His father was a wizard and his mother is a giantess. Now, I'm being a little nit-picky here and Hagrid is one of my favorite characters but I just realized something while rereading it - how on earth does a regular size person have sex with a giantess? What exactly are the logistics of that? Obviously, as a novel targeted towards a younger audience, the mechanics are never explained and when I was younger it was something I never wondered about. All I can say is I'm wondering now....
-p.380 -During the Care of Magical Creatures class with Professor Grubbly-Plank she says 'They prefer the woman's touch, unicorns.' All I could think was 'I bet they do, the horny bastards.' HAHAHAHAHAHA (This section could also be titled 'Things You Only Notice About the Harry Potter Books as an Adult)
-p.511 -'You must understand,' said Karkaroff hurriedly, 'that He Who Must Not Be Named operated always in the greatest of secrecy...he preferred that we - I mean to say, his supporters - ...we never knew the names of every one of our fellows  - he alone knew exactly who we all were.' I count this as evidence that Snape did not know that Peter Pettigrew was the Potter's Secret Keeper
-p.565- The missing Death Eaters. 'And here we have six missing Death Eaters...three dead in my service. One, two cowardly to return ...he will pay. One, who I believe has left me for ever...he will be killed of course...and one, who remains my most faithful servant, and who has already re-entered my service.' I'm not sure who the dead Death Eaters are but I've figured out the other three. The coward is Karkaroff. The one who he thinks has left him for ever is Snape. And his most faithful servant is Barty Crouch Jr.

Favorite Parts/Lines

-p.77-the part at the Quidditch World Cup when Harry, Ron, and Hermione encounter Archie, a wizard wearing a long, flowery nightdress. Another wizard is trying to make him wear trousers instead. 'I'm not putting them on,' said old Archie in indignation. 'I like a healthy breeze round my privates, thanks.' Classic Archie. 
-p.178-'''Can I have a look at Uranus too, Lavender?' said Ron.'' There are so many dirty jokes in this book!
-Of course I love the part with the dragons. I kind of feel sorry for them though, being used for sport like that. It's kind of cruel. 
-p.628-'Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right, and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.' Makes me cry every time.

Concluding Thoughts

Goblet of Fire definitely has a darker feel to it than the previous books in the series. The part where Voldemort rises from the cauldron is definitely nightmare-inducing stuff. I know that there are parents who won't let their children read the Harry Potter books because the books feature things like death and torture and violence - but the books never glamorize these things. If Harry Potter taught me anything, it was how to be a good and kind person in a world that can be cruel and cold. When I reread the Harry Potter books, I am reminded of the kind of person I want to be.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

TTT: Top 10 Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2016


I can't believe that we are already halfway through 2016! The year is just flying by. There are so many great books coming out in the next six months that it's hard to narrow it down to ten...Hello new books, goodbye paycheck!

By order of release date:

1)The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone
The Hatching

Release Date: July 5
An apocalyptic horror novel that features a mutant race of spiders. This book sounds like it is right up my alley and early reviews have been glowing. Can't wait to devour this one!

2) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Release Date: July 31
I am of two minds with this one: yes, I am eagerly anticipating a new Harry Potter story but I am also somewhat disappointed that Rowling decided to write it as a play instead of a novel. Reading the script won't give readers the full impact of the story because it is meant to be seen on stage. Rowling has stated that Cursed Child will go on tour...eventually. Until then, I'll have to settle for reading the script.

3) Spiderlight by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Release Date: August 2
Spiders seem to be having a moment in speculative fiction. This fantasy novel features giant spiders as...heroes? Anti-heroes? I can't really remember but I know that they have starring roles. 

4) Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff
Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1)

Release Date: August 9
I'm anticipating this book for the cover alone. The only book I've ever read by Jay Kristoff was Illuminae which he co-authored with Amie Kaufman. It was one of my favorite books of 2015 and his other fantasy novels always intrigued me. He's definitely an author I'd like to get to know better.

5) The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo

Release Date: August 16
Amy Schumer is one of my favorite comedians and I have been wanting to see a book from her for years. Looks like my dream will finally come true in a couple of months!

6) Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas
Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass, #5)

Release Date: September 16
I still haven't started on the Throne of Glass series yet but Maas' other series, A Court of Thorns and Roses is one of my all-time favorites so I've been collecting the ToG books as they come out. Hopefully I'll get around to reading them soon...

7) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, # 2)

Release Date: October 4
The illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is beautiful so I'm excited to see Jim Kay work his magic on Chamber of Secrets. 

8) Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)

Release Date: October 18
Illuminae blew me away last year with its unique format and compelling plot so of course I'm eagerly anticipating the sequel.

9) The Making of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by J.W. Rinzler, Mark Cotta Vaz, J.J. Abrams, and Kathleen Kennedy
Image result for star wars the force awakens

(Cover not final)

Release Date: October 25
Considering The Force Awakens took me from a casual Star Wars viewer to a dedicated Star Wars nerd, I could not be more excited for this behind-the-scenes book.

10) Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Release Date: November 8
I am a huge Lunar Chronicles fan so Marissa Meyer has become one of my auto-buy authors. This is a standalone retelling starring the Queen of Hearts, the infamous villain from Alice in Wonderland. 

Top Ten Tuesday is an original bookish meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Harry Potter Reread: Prisoner of Azkaban

 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3) 

Potter fever is ramping up this year thanks to two exciting new projects: the eighth story, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, will be debuting in London's West End on July 30 and the first in a new movie trilogy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will hit theaters in November. In preparation, I decided to revisit my most beloved series and blog about it. (Besides, I don't really need an excuse to reread Harry Potter.)

Origin Story

I received Prisoner of Azkaban as a Christmas gift probably in the year of 1999. I know for sure I had it before the fourth book came out. I had seen the third book in a department store, displayed along with Chamber of Secrets and I begged my mom to buy them for me. She refused, eventually telling me that she had already bought the books for me for Christmas. She gave me the second book early so I would stop pestering her for them but I had to wait until Christmas to finally read Prisoner of Azkaban. (It never once occurred to me to take the books out of the library. But it was definitely worth the wait.) Finally, Christmas morning came and I got to unwrap Prisoner of Azkaban. I had told my mother I would act super-surprised and being a kid, I went a bit over the top. I jumped around, squealing like a pig on ecstasy and hugged my mom while whispering in her ear, 'See? I told you I would act surprised.' I thought I was so smooth. And thinking back on it now, why did I think it was necessary to act surprised? I'm sure none of my other family members cared whether I knew about the book ahead of time. Man, I was a dumb kid. But I loved the book when I read it for the first time. 


Things I Noticed This Time Around

-This is more of an observation, but I wholeheartedly believe that the Dursleys would support Donald Trump

-In one of the newspaper articles about the hunt for Sirius Black, the International Federation of Warlocks is mentioned, hinting at a global wizarding world. Is this a sort of wizard United Nations?

-One of the more stark contrasts between Harry and the Dursleys is how they relate to material things. The Dursleys are obsessed with material things and status symbols and always want to have the newest and the best. Harry, while sometimes tempted by material things, like the Firebolt, is rational about his purchases and spends his money wisely. He decides not to buy the Firebolt because he has a perfectly good broom already. It reminds me how most people are obsessed with having the newest and best technology, like the latest smartphone or a big television. Personally, I think Harry's approach is the best one. 

-I've never appreciated Ron's character as much before this read through. I think Ron gets a lot of flak but I think it's because people think of movie-Ron and not book-Ron. In the books, Ron is supportive of his friends, has moments of incredible insight, and is hilarious. In the movies, he mostly serves as the comic relief as some sort of clueless fall guy and all of the great ideas he has in the books get transferred to Hermione in the films. This makes me sort of angry because Ron is actually an amazing character who experiences his own character arc and isn't just there to be Harry Potter's best friend. 

-Okay, Snape is a real dick in the third book. I've never been quite sure if he knew that it was Peter Pettigrew and not Sirius Black who was the Potters' Secret Keeper. I don't think he did because even Dumbledore didn't know until Harry, Ron, and Hermione revealed the truth to him. And if Snape did know that Pettigrew was the Secret Keeper, wouldn't he have told Dumbledore? So my conclusion is that Snape only knew that the Potters were in danger but he didn't know who the spy was. It would be a good strategy for Voldemort to not have his spies know about each other. So when it was revealed that Sirius 'betrayed' the Potters, Snape believed that Sirius was partly responsible for Lily's death and that's why he has this incredible hostility to both Black and Lupin, because he believes Lupin is in league with Black and has been helping him into the castle. 

Favorite Parts/Lines

-When Ron attempts to use the 'fellytone' at the beginning of the book and he and Uncle Vernon end up screaming at each other over the phone

-the scene in Flourish and Blotts with the cage full of The Monster Book of Monsters. So creative and really funny

-Sir Cadogan leading Harry, Ron, and Hermione to the Divination classroom

-the description of Honeydukes (pg. 147) is to die for. My mouth starts watering every time I read it!

Final Thoughts

Prisoner of Azkaban marks a turning point in the Harry Potter series. It's darker, more mature and really sets the tone for the rest of the series. Some of my favorite characters are introduced in this book, including Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. (And Crookshanks, of course.) I appreciate that J.K. Rowling took some risks with this book like working time travel into the plot. Prisoner of Azkaban feels really unique in the series and I always enjoy revisiting it. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

TTT: Top 10 Reasons I Love Harry Potter

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie where we get to blog about something near and dear to our hearts. Seeing as I have currently immersed myself in the Wizarding World once again, I thought I'd write down the Top Ten Reasons I Love Harry Potter. 

1) The Story Itself
Image result for harry potter series

An epic tale that takes place over seven books, Harry Potter is one of the most complex, creative, and ambitious stories about the triumph of good over evil in all of literature. Harry Potter is popular for a reason - it's an absolute masterpiece of storytelling. 

2) Every time I reread it, I discover something new
Image result for harry potter illustrated

Anyone who dismisses the Harry Potter series as 'children's books' has probably never read the series - or at least never revisited it. There are so many layers to each one of the books and each one is connected to another in some way. Every time I reread Harry Potter, I stumble across something new - and it almost feels like reading it for the very first time.

3) It takes me back to my childhood
Image result for reading harry potter

I discovered Harry Potter when I was about 8 years old and the books became a huge part of my childhood. I read and reread them ferociously - and I'm still rereading them into my adulthood. I still get that special sense of wonder and enchantment whenever I read a Harry Potter book and I credit the series for preventing me from turning into a cynical and jaded adult.

4) The HP fandom is incredible
Image result for harry potter fan art

I've met some wonderful people, both online and in real life, who share my love for Harry Potter. I'm just so amazed that the fandom has continued to grow and is always producing new artwork, fanfiction, theories, and discoveries. Is the fandom perfect? No, of course not. There are some toxic elements to it that are unfortunately found in most fandoms. (The recent furor over the casting of a black Hermione I find particularly troublesome.) But for the most part, people in the fandom are warm, accepting people and I am proud to belong to it.

5) Harry Potter inspired me to be a writer

Image result for writing
When I wasn't reading Harry Potter, I was imagining myself living in the world of it, creating stories in my mind that took place at Hogwarts. Basically, I was writing fanfiction in my head. Doing this inspired me to imagine my own fictional world, with my own characters and storylines. J.K. Rowling has been such an inspiration to me over the years, and it's thanks to her that I continue to pursue my dream of one day becoming a published author. 

6) Harry Potter lets me escape from reality
Image result for escape from reality books

This I could say about reading in general, but whenever I read Harry Potter, I actually feel like I'm inhabiting a parallel universe. If there was a way I could climb inside the pages and live at Hogwarts, I would.

7) The various creatures are...fantastic
Image result for harry potter thestrals

I've always loved books that feature mythical creatures and Harry Potter is chock-full of some of my favorites. I love how Rowling put her own spin on existing mythical beasts as well as creating her own. Dragons, phoenixes, thestrals, hippogriffs...I love them all and could not be more excited for the Fantastic Beasts film!

8) The humor in the books
Image result for harry potter funny quotes fred and george

Each and every book has some fantastic jokes that still make me laugh to this day. I've found, strangely enough, that as the books get darker, they also get funnier. 

9) Severus Snape
Image result for severus snape fan art

My favorite character in the Harry Potter series is, and will always be, Severus Snape. There is something about him that I really empathize with and connect to. I know there's the whole controversy about Harry naming his kid after him, and OMG he was such a bully and blah, blah, blah...But no. In my opinion, he is an absolute gift of a character, and I would love to see the Harry Potter series from Snape's POV. (Hint, hint, J.K. Rowling!)

10) Harry Potter taught me what it means to be a good person

Image result for harry ron and hermione

Reading Harry Potter taught me to not judge people based on appearance and to accept people for who they are. It taught me the meaning of true friendship and empathy. It taught me what unconditional love is. Most importantly, Harry Potter taught me that those who fear death are also afraid of life. I learned what really matters in life, thanks to Harry Potter.

Top Ten Tuesday is an original bookish meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.