Tag Archives: Harry Potter Series

L: FEELINGS ABOUND: “HP & the Cursed Child”

Don’t worry, this is not a review. No chance of spoilers. I’m really just wanting to get some feelings out there, because HOT DANG, are there a lot of feelings coursing through my body right now. I don’t want to do a review, though, and I’ll tell you why. Before reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I knew very little about the subject, except that it takes place later and focuses on one of Harry’s kids. Truly, that was the extent of my knowledge. I could not be happier with that general lack of information, since every page contained surprises, mentions, cameos and more that gave me so much joy in each surprise.

 

I am a person who hates surprises, even good ones, for the most part. I want to be in the know, so much so that I made Hannah tell me who died in each HP book before I would read it. With each passing year, I think my brain ejects more and more of my memories in order make room for more emotions and feelings, much to my dismay. So, now, when confronted with a surprise, not only am I reminded of my lack of control of my life, but I also get really emotional about stupid things.

All this to say, I cried a great deal while reading this book. 90% of this is due to my obsession with the series and the unquantifiable amount of love that I feel for these characters, but also I think much of this can be attributed to my own memories of teen experiences and my worries for my future students. Life is hard for teens; relationships with parents can be… turbulent; now imagine being the son of The Boy Who Lived, and those difficulties understandably multiply. All in all, I’m so excited for me! I just read something I never thought would exist and it was every bit as powerful, progressive, mature, reminiscent, and individualized as I ever could have hoped it would be. But more than that, I truly cannot wait to put this into the hands of students. This book deals with some very relevant issues to which teens just seem to relate. Cursed Child does a great job of showing multiple perspectives, so maybe readers who relate to Albus Potter’s trials and tribs will gain perspective while reading Harry’s thoughts, and vice-versa.

Undoubtedly, this is a powerful read for adults and children, alike.

Now, let’s talk about the screenplay format. SO WHAT?! WHO CARES?! BE THANKFUL FOR WHAT YOU GET!! Okay, done talking about that.

IMG_20160731_240409297_HDRYes, miracle of miracles, I did stay awake long enough to relive my days of youth by going to the midnight release. I wasn’t going to originally. I pre-ordered the book so access to a copy was never an issue and Honey Girl is getting to the point where at 10:05… I’m OUT! However, when I thought about it, I realized that I never thought I’d would get to do a midnight release of HP ever again, so passing on it just because I’m emotionally elderly just seemed ill-conceived. If anything is worth a late night, it’s a Harry Potter release. So I went and there is photographic proof.

On a sidebar to that, I now need to give a quick shout out to my mother for being the best mom in the world. We lived over an hour away from the nearest release location back in the day, so not only would she let me stay up and attend a midnight release with the rabid masses, but she would drive for over an hour to get my butt there and then drive for an hour back home (in complete silence since I was reading and needed silence). I live like 8 miles from Avid Bookshop, so that distance and prolonged sleepiness wasn’t even a factor and, still, I was effectively zombified by 10:30. She is a true champ and book enabler and she deserves a cake and a lifetime of gratitude. She already has the gratitude, so now I need to make her a cake.

Anyway, appreciate your parents, read it, and PLEASE someone discuss with me!!!!

Advertisements

12 Comments

Filed under Book Review, Lindsay

Literary Ink – Part 2

Like Lindsay, I have joined the club of having literary ink. Now I am permanently branded as a Potterhead for the rest of my life. I’ve been traveling (as always) and the brand that lives on my arm is a silent speaker to all other like minded fans that we share a bond, secret to all non-readers. [Side note: In the image you see to the right, I am clearly 1 of 2 arms. My other BFF, not affiliated with this blog, but equally large Potterhead embarked on this journey with me.]IMG_0631

My job is a lonely one. I am by myself all the time, flying on airplanes with complete strangers, including the crew I work with. I rarely have met a coworker before we embark on a flight. I’m not here to complain, but instead share some joy that this ink has brought me. Having complete strangers compliment my Hallows and initiate conversation makes me feel not so lonely, that there is someone out there who gets me! In a world full of technology and decreasing human interaction, these total strangers take a moment from texting, emailing, Face-booking, to comment my mark.

It’s because readers share a bond unlike any other. A book is an instant connection with another person, even a total stranger. We, as readers, know that a book is a form of transportation, to Oz, to Middle Earth, to Hogwarts. We would rather visit the Lollipop Guild than play Candy Crush. Our kind delights in the real life and the fantastical; reading a character’s thoughts instead of hearing them in voiceover; traveling to Middle Earth with the flip of a page; seeing the steam rise from the pavement without peering out of a window; defeating the Dark Lord without ever lifting a wand. Readers unite! We are the ones who know “not all those who wander are lost”.

HP quote

Photo from Pinterest.com

I’ve explained to many non-readers what my tattoo means. It is, perhaps, the most difficult question I have gotten. Do I explain the story of the Three Brothers? Or do I explain why? Why these shapes mean so much more to me than “just a book”? I grew up with Harry; we celebrated birthdays together, fretted finals together, and begged our friends for forgiveness together. Dumbledore taught me to be brave, to embrace the unknown, and to always be yourself, no matter how odd you believe yourself to be. Hermione showed me how being smart is not something to be ashamed of, but celebrated.

I leave you with a brilliant story. One that teaches young witches and wizards humility and to not taunt others with their magical ability.

“There were once three brothers who were traveling along a lonely, winding road at twilight. In time, the brothers reached a river too deep to wade through and too dangerous to swim across.. However, these brothers were learned in the magical arts, and so they simply waved their wands and made a bridge appear across the treacherous water. They were halfway across it when they found their path blocked by a hooded figure. 

And Death spoke to them. He was angry that he had been cheated out of three new victims, for travelers usually drowned in the river. But Death was cunning. He pretended to congratulate the three brothers upon their magic and said that each had earned a prize for having been clever enough to evade him.


So the oldest brother, who was a combative man, asked for a wand more powerful than any in existence: a wand that must always win duels for its owner, a wand worthy of a wizard who had conquered Death! So Death crossed to an elder tree on the banks of the river, fashioned a wand from a branch that hung there, and gave it to the oldest brother. 


Then the second brother, who was an arrogant man, decided that he wanted to humiliate Death still further, and asked for the power to recall others from Death. So Death picked up a stone from the riverbank and gave it to the second brother, and told him that the stone would have the power to bring back the dead.

And then Death asked the third and youngest brother what he would like. The youngest brother was the humblest and also the wisest of the brothers, and he did not trust Death. So he asked for something that would enable him to go forth from that place without being followed by Death. And death, most unwillingly, handed over his own Cloak of Invisibility.

Then Death stood aside and allowed the three brothers to continue on their way, and they did so, talking with wonder of the adventure they had had, and admiring Death’s gifts. In due course the brothers separated, each for his own destination. 

The first brother traveled on for a week or more, and reaching a distant village, sought out a fellow wizard with whom he had a quarrel. Naturally with the Elder Wand as his weapon, he could not fail to win the duel that followed. Leaving his enemy dead upon the floor, the oldest brother proceeded to an inn, where he boasted loudly of the powerful wand he had snatched from Death himself, and of how it made him invincible. 

That very night, another wizard crept upon the oldest brother as he lay, wine-sodden, upon his bed. The theif took the wand and, for good measure, slit the oldest brother’s throat. 

And so Death took the first brother for his own.

Meanwhile, the second brother journeyed to his own home, where he lived alone. Here he took out the stone that had the power to recall the dead, and turned it thrice in his hand. To his amazement and his delight, the figure of the girl he had once hoped to marry, before her untimely death, appeared at once before him. 

Yet she was sad and cold, separated from him as by a veil. Though she had returned to the mortal world, she did not truly belong there and suffered. Finally the second brother, driven mad with hopeless longing, killed himself so as truly to join her. 

And so Death took the second brother for his own. 

But though Death searched for the third brother for many years, he was never able to find him. It was only when he had attained a great age that the youngest brother finally took off the Cloak of Invisibility and gave it to his son. And then he greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, equals, they departed this life.”

2 Comments

Filed under Hannah, Literary Ink

L: Review of “The Mechanical” by Ian Tregillis

The Mechanical

Click here for Goodreads

I feel… unresolved, having just completed Ian Tregillis’s The Mechanical. I was promised a story about a race of servant robots, or “Mechanicals,” that cater to humans oblivious of their servants’ seemingly unobtainable but feverish desire for Free Will. A Dutch monarch has invaded France and exiled the French people and their King to what I assume is current day America. Mechanicals are treated by humans as merely helpful but unthinking possessions; however, they have minds and thoughts of rebellion. Any sympathizing or attempts to free Mechanicals from servitude is punishable by death, as freedom of their working class would remove all power from the Dutch empire. That is what I was promised and that is what I received. And yet, having completed the novel, I can’t help but feel so utterly… incomplete.

I’d imagine this is what it’s like to get dumped after what you thought was a perfect date; I do not understand what has just transpired and I’m gonna need some closure, here! I just listened to Tregillis prattle on for over 400 pages only to be left with zero resolution and all of my characters in a state of perilous limbo. And maybe that’s my problem: in terms of a compelling and complete stand-alone novel, The Mechanical is utterly insufficient. I understand that this book was written with the intent of being the first in a series, and more power to Tregillis. I do love a series. But I’m of a mind that any individual work should be able to be separated from the group and still offer the full development, climax, resolution that readers seek. By all means, leave a few plot lines dangling on the brink of mayhem; keep those readers coming back for more. But not every single one! Don’t toss every single main character into seemingly unavoidable peril in the last chapter and then hit me with the acknowledgements.

Honestly, I’m just surprised by the abrupt ending of this novel. I hate to continually compare a series to Harry Potter, LOTR, or SoIaF, but at least each of those volumes were left with an element of closure; Harry lives to see another year at Hogwarts, but Voldy is still alive; Frodo and Sam are plugging along towards Mordor, but that will be dangerous without the rest of the company; Little Finger just went nuts on Lysa Arryn, but that probably bodes well for Sansa. A good mid-series volume ties up a few ends but holds a string of potential trouble and a few dangling story lines which ensure you’ll be back. The Mechanical offered a hailstorm of misery, then “The End.” I’m not sure whether I’ll continue the series in the future; I guess I’ll let myself decide when the time comes.

What does everyone else think? Should a volume in a series be able to stand alone or should they be so heavily connected that one is incomplete without the others? I’d love to know what everyone thinks. I’m not giving up on Tregillis; although the story itself was frustrating, the writing and story-telling was wonderful, and I’ve heard good things about his other novel, Bitter Seeds, so that is my next endeavor. Stay tuned!

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Lindsay, Wednesdays with Lind-say!

Sorry, I’m not sorry!

You may have noticed that Hannah and I took another unplanned and unexplained hiatus from blogging; you also may not have noticed, as Hannah and I weren’t exactly racking up the readers. I blame global warming.

I guess it is time that we at least do you all the courtesy of explaining ourselves (please be forewarned: do not expect anything exciting). Hannah spilled beer on her laptop and thus could not blog until the cruel gods and IT guys fixed it; my internet restrictions changed at work and my lunchtime blogging was brought to an abrupt end. There you have it. We bare our souls to you in the hopes that the few readers we do have will take pity on our laziness as we try to come back with a vengeance.

Unfortunately, we may bore you to tears with our re-awakenings, since we’ve both spent the past few weeks re-reading the Harry Potter series. I know we’ve both made our feelings about Harry Potter quite clear, since we yap yap about him somewhat constantly. The thing is that it wasn’t just a fantastic series when it came out and we were but wee little children; it is still a freaking fantastic series all these years later and I don’t apologize for harping on their majesty.

I refuse to apologize for my never ending love of all things HP because, just like he helped me weather the turbulent seas of adolescence ten to fifteen years ago, he’s now helping me spice up an otherwise mundane day-to-day life. I get up at 6:30, go to work, go to the gym, make dinner, watch Frasier, and go to bed each weekday with startling consistency. On the weekends I vary a bit (double date with my sister & soon-to-be brother in-law; stay up past 10 p.m. with Savannah and Will; wake up around 8) but I’m still the same vanilla Lindsay. I choose this lifestyle for myself, so I can honestly say I wouldn’t want it any other way. But I can say that, without an element of progress and excitement, the same ‘ol-same ‘ol can get rather stale and I’ve been operating under a state of unrest lately. That’s where Harry Potter comes into play. My job pays the bills and makes “the future” less intimidating; I have a cute apartment to call my own (and no loud, druggy neighbors); I have a wonderful, loving boyfriend; things for me are quite good enough that I don’t want to change them, but I need a good book with an entirely different location/character/conflict/villain/resolution so I can live a different life, only when I choose to do so, and always come back home to my own, far preferable life (except for the magic thing; I’d LOVE it if magic was a part of my daily grind).

The amazing thing about any good book, not just the Harry Potter series, is that it can transport the reader to a different world full of different situations and different people. Anyone can be 100% content with their own life while still wanting to experience a momentary change of pace. Books are ready and willing to do that.
Anyway, I’m finishing Harry Potter soon so I’ll need to move on to the next conquest. If anyone has suggestions, I’d love to hear them and I guess in the meantime I’ll check out the library.

5 Comments

Filed under Lindsay, Not A Book Review

Top Ten Tuesday

I frequently scour the interwebs for book-related news or factoids or anything remotely interesting to discuss on this blog right here. Today, I happened across a “Top Ten Tuesday” segment that obviously made me stop and think of what I would say if asked to list my ‘Top Ten “Gateway” Books/Authors.’ I could pretend to be modest and assume that no one is genuinely all that interested in what books I would pick (or that you’ve all hopefully followed Untamed Shrews long enough that you can already predict my picks), but I’d rather pretend someone has a (fake! Duh!) gun to my head and will NOT rest until they know my “Gateway Books.” “Okay, endearingly obsessed maniac, I will tell you my picks.”

200px-TheHobbit_FirstEdition

1. OBVS!! The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien – I suppose expounding upon the huge impact this book has had on me is ultimately unnecessary. I’ve written many a blog post about the book, my tattoo of dedication, and how it feels to me like literary sunshine; thus, I will consider it sufficient for me to say that it is my favorite thing ever and the rest of this list is practically irrelevant in Bilbo Baggins’s shadow. (So, “irrelevant” is a little strong, and I take it back.) If you want to really know how I feel, I’m including some links at the bottom of the page so check those out.

2. The Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling – This is one of those instances where the book means so much to me that I can’t truly, adequately describe how much it means to me. The series affected me as a reader partly because I was the same age as Harry when the books came out, so I could relate to the awkward youthful angst and desire to be something “special.” However, it had a seriously life-changing effect on me, in that I saw books as a treat instead of a chore, I for once sought out more books with similar levels of entertainment, and literally abandoned the t.v.-watching lifestyle that had previously nicknamed me “couch-potato Lou.”

3. Beowulf – I tackled this for the first time in my high school Medieval Literature class and loved it from the very beginning. I loved how old and mysterious it was, I loved the language and monster-filled subject matter, and I loved the almost “bad boy” image it had among young readers (since the mass hatred and aversion everyone else my age felt towards it made it that much more appealing to me). It helped me choose English as my major in college with an emphasis in Early World Literature.

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – I have to say this one was a big deal because it surprised me so much! My bread and butter, in terms of literature, is Early World Lit or Classical Gothic Lit (contrary to the fact that my “Top 2” are generally for kids), and I typically hate “soft” literature about bland romances and boring, Victorian-style plot twists. I wrongly considered Austen to be within this category of “boringness” and avoided her up until just a couple of years ago. I was so surprised by how witty and forward Austen was with her language, characters, and plot subjects. My eyes have been opened to a writer all but new to me and hopefully to a whole genre of bold, witty female authors.

Dr_-Seuss-Collage

5. Dr. Seuss – Yep. I freaking love Dr. Seuss. Loved him as a child and still love him to this day. Dr. Seuss was (and still is) such an important influence in children’s literature, because he wrote about adult subjects (racism, bullying, preserving our planet) in a way that children willingly received and really loved. What child doesn’t love a good rhyme?! The good thing about this is that, no, the child may not initially understand the message behind the Dr.’s silly words, but they just eat that “one fish, two fish” stuff right up, so that the message has plenty of time to set in and be contemplated during the one million times the child requests that you, the parent, read it to them. I think Dr. Seuss was a genius and I fully intend to buy/read every one of his books when I reproduce.

As you can see, I did not list ten picks. If the aforementioned polite gunman expects complete honesty, there are way fewer than ten books (I count a series as one influential unit) or authors worthy of such a profound impact on my life. Just like with all “favorites,” I have a few here and a few there. To have too many devalues the few. If asked to list my top five instead of ten, it credits much more power of influence to those five, than if they were listed among five other, lesser-amazing picks. I could probably come up with five other works or authors that I think are just grand, but what would be the point? The five listed above have made me the person that I am today; any other works were simply adding “fluff” to the person that Rowling and Tolkien already made. Sorry, everybody else; you snooze, you lose.

Anyway, check out the links below for a little more detail on my favorites. I’m still reading Persuasion and I have no idea what Hannah is doing these days, so we’ll be in touch. Let us know what you think!

Smaug Tattoo, The Hobbit is my fav, Ode to Harry Potter, Pride & Prejudice

6 Comments

Filed under Lindsay, Not A Book Review

L: Book Challenge Days 14-16 and The Pros/Cons of Book Films

Days 14-16 of the book challenge remind me of an ongoing battle I have regarding books being turned into films or tv shows. I’ve harped on it before, yes, but I think this time it’s different. I’m not making a case for reading a book instead of seeing the film. Go ahead, do both. See if I care. And for that matter, you should do both. It makes you more “universal” and shows you discrepancies that allow you to pick a favorite. Let me use the book challenge to show you what I mean.

Day 14: Book turned movie and completely desecrated – Easy peasy lemon squeasy. “Troy” was the movie based on Homer’s The Iliad. Boy howdy did they butcher that epic! I get that a lot of the main elements of the book would be hard to translate to film, such as the intervention of the gods. The storyline would be moving right along in a certain direction that seemed to leave the characters with no escape plan, then BOOM, deus ex machina shows Athena or whomever literally reaching down and moving her favorite mortals into more strategic places. Each time this left the story sort of like a TomTom; it spent time “recalculating” these changes into a revised course of events. Film can’t show Aphrodite reaching down to pluck Paris out of a battle he would’ve lost, so the film has to change the story a bit in order to redesign Paris’s escape. “Troy” takes too many liberties, though. About halfway through, they killed a main character who lives long after that point in the epic, and I could not even believe what had just happened! Plus, they make Menelaus and Agamemnon super ugly and brutish and dumb so that they seem like the bad guys, when that clearly isn’t the way of things. I’m obviously partial to the original epic, so I’m not surprised that it let me down, but I didn’t expect it to be SO bad.

Hector is no hero, abduction is not love, Agamemnon need not be so ugly.

Hector is no hero, abduction is not love, Agamemnon need not be so ugly.

Day 15: Favorite male character – Also easy; Frankenstein’s monster from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Frankenstein’s monster is the star of the show. Everyone else is irritating and needy and proud, but surprisingly the monster is the one with the most mild and relatable demeanor. Shelley uses her book as an example of the strife of the solitary creation, being very little understood, painfully lonely, and uncertain as to the purpose of its existence. A lot of her novel can be compared to the story of God creating mankind, but in Shelley’s interpretation, the monster is able to confront his creator, question his motives, and demand the only element of human equality he can possibly get, a partner. The monster has a monologue at one point that is so eloquent and meaningful, including thoughts way more introspective than any of the human characters ever have. I love this character. This clearly is not reflected in most films or anything Frankenstein-related even. He is always depicted as a mumbling, stumbling, jumbo-sized mental patient. Few features even bother showing the enlightened version of the monster, but prefer to show the zipper-necked dummy society has come to expect. Whatever.

Day 16: Favorite female character – This one is less easy; I love Hermione from the Harry Potter series, as well as Arya from the Song of Ice and Fire series. They are both strong-minded, capable and intelligent. It’s too common for women to be shown as dependant on some male character for one reason or another. To create an independently acting and thinking woman who needs no man’s help to get what she wants is refreshing and very welcome in the midst of all the Twilight-like books. Young, impressionable female readers need a couple of good female role models, and Hermione & Arya are perfect candidates for that job, not just in the books but also in the movies/tv show. Harry Potter has made eight movies following Hermione’s growth in maturity, strength, and intelligence. I admire her character as much in the movies as in the books and Emma Watson is perfect in the role; both beautiful and strong. Arya is the only narrating character in every one of Martin’s books (so far) and she’s in nearly every episode of HBO’s “A Game of Thrones” series. She’s best described as fierce and her tv character, played by Maisie Williams, is a perfect portrayal of her book self. She goes through so many of the most intense experiences, and repeatedly comes out stronger than before. I love seeing these characters translated into film/tv, and think that this time, they hit the nail right on the head with these roles.

I am Woman, hear me speak when I'm talking to you.

I am Woman, hear me speak when I’m talking to you.

Hannah’s turn, once she finds time! We’re busy bees. Let us know what you think and stay tuned for a Silmarillion review.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Challenge, Lindsay

H: Book Challenge – Day 11-13

So, back to the Book Challenge.

Day 11 – I can confidently say I hated The Devil in the White City, which I reviewed here. Just as a reminder, there is a lot about the White City and barely anything about our serial killer friend, HH Holmes. Here at Shrews, we have a demand for serial killer books to be bloody, in case you haven’t noticed.

Day 12 – I have been pondering this, book I have a love/hate relationship with and can not come up with anything. I don’t halfway love any novel, it’s all or nothing with me. However, in defense of Lindsay’s hatred for A Feast for Crows, I will say the book vastly improved upon my second reading. Instead of waiting for plot twists, I knew what was coming and could instead focus on the slow demise of my least favorite character.

Day 13 – As for my favorite writer, I am inclined to pick JK Rowling, of course; however, I am simply terrified to read any of her non-HP novels. What if they aren’t as good?! What if they tarnish my opinion of her?! One day I will get over this fear, until then, I will keep her as the ever creative master, JK.

This blog post was not very interesting or thought provoking, but I felt as though I needed to catch up with Lindsay. So be it.
Happy Reading!
-H

1 Comment

Filed under Lindsay