Tag Archives: J. K. Rowling

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!!!!

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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

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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

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L: Book Challenge, Day 4

Day 4’s question digs a little bit deeper into the last quesion regarding my favorite book series. Day 4 asks what is my “favorite book of your favorite series” and that question is just as much of a no-brainer as the last one. My favorite was always the fourth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In this book, Harry is a competitor in a wizarding competition called the Tri-wizard Tournament, and has to compete in three difficult tasks filled with magical creatures and impossible escapes. I think the reason that I like this one so much is that it is the most fantastical since it is filled with dragons, mermaids, and other creatures hidden deep within a massive enchanted maze. J.K. Rowling was really able to be creative with this volume and she came up with amazing challenges for my imagination.

The other reason I love this book the most is because, I think, it’s the last book in the series where they really get to be kids. Starting with the fifth book, the magical govenment gets more involved and we’re introduced to Dolores Umbridge, who is in my opinion one of the most hatable litereary characters ever imagined. After that, people start dying, friendships fizzle, and Harry himself starts to take on many of the negative personality characteristics of Voldemort, with whom he shares an unwilling bond. The Goblet is when we first see Voldemort evolve into a capable enemy, one whom Harry proves he’s equally capable of defeating. I love this book, and the movie version is quite wonderful, as well.

The Goblet of Fire

From here, the questions get more varied and I trying to avoid repeats, so you just might be all done hearing about my love for Harry Potter. We’ll see. We’re interested to hear your answers to the questions and stick with us because we have 26 more days of best and worse books!

Book Challenge

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L: Book Challenge, Day 3

I should probably just say “ditto” to Hannah’s day 3 choice. My favorite series is absolutely, without a doubt, the Harry Potter series. Like Hannah said, those books changed my life. I get that it might seem silly to the average person; a children’ book about magic still having such a strong impact on a 25 year old. Don’t hate, though. I grew up alongside Harry and the rest of Rowling’s magical gang. I got the first book when I was 11 or 12, so I had ZERO trouble relating to the youthful angst. The magic and the orphan thing were a little out of my realm of expertise, but what child of 11 doesn’t dream about waking up one day to realize that the differences they always felt in themselves were actually magical capabilities that set them apart from the haters. I know I did.

Like I said yesterday, just as a prolonged friendship allows more intimacy, more volumes of a series allows the same growth. I didn’t just relate to Harry for a book or two. We shared 7 happy years and weathered the ultimate storm of saving humanity. The connection I feel to these characters is incalculable and the impact they’ve had on my life is, too. Day 3’s question = a piece of cake. I adore Hannah’s idea of getting a tat to show her love, and I thought about getting tats for all of literature’s misunderstood villains: Smaug, Grendel, Frankenstein’s monster, etc. Maybe I’ll get Voldemort’s dark mark? Who knows. But a love this strong deserves more than getting “Voldy” tattooed on my butt.

As always, we want to know your answers and encourage you to stay tuned for Day 4!

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The Ultimate Face-Off: Classics vs. Contemps

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: classic literature is soooo much better than contemporary literature! I spent my college years absorbing as many classics as I possibly could, and avoiding contemporary works as much as possible. Hannah has made great strides towards bringing my reading into the 21st century, but we were talking last night about how most of these books we hoped would be so interesting keep falling short of our simple expectations of entertainment. It makes me wonder. I know Hannah likes classics but I don’t think she is as avidly partial as myself, so if even she is disappointed, are we picking the wrong books or is it something else?

My favorite college professor (thank God for Dr. Byron Brown) once taught me that every book in some way reverts back to one of three classics: The Bible, The Odyssey, and The Aeneid. Now, whether you buy into that or not, it makes sense. Those works contain characters, plot lines, dramatic arches, dialogues, symbolism, and intended moral lessons that have stood the test of time and carry through all other literary works written since. Because these works are so well-known throughout the world, I’ve always been under the impression that it is borderline impossible to write anything “original” anymore since it’s the 21st century and, in some way or other, everything has already been said. So is that the problem with 21st century literature? Nothing is good enough because all the best things have already been written? Or is it possibly more personal? I think most of it is crap because I place the classics on such a lofty pedestal?

I think, for me and my opinion of contemporary works, it may be a somewhat “perfect storm” type combo of both of these possibilities. I don’t like most contemporary works because they can’t hold a candle to most classics. I must give credit, though, to a few of the works and authors that have come along and rocked my world! My deep adoration of the Harry Potter series has been harped upon in past posts so I’ll spare you any reiteration. I feel that same level of excited obsession for George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, probably also surprising no one. And now and then, an author like Chuck Palahniuk or Jeff Lindsay comes along and proves that original and captivating works can still be written, and written exceptionally well.

So the moral of this particular story is that my opinion remains unchanged. Classics trump contemporaries, hands down. I doubt whether anything could change said opinion at this point, but I will press on, forge my way through a sea of mediocrity in order to find a few diamonds in the rough. And you can bet your bottom dollar that when I do find them, you’ll be the first to know!

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Belated Wednesday’s with Lind-say

Yes, yes, I know. I vowed to write something each Wednesday and thus far I have been a smidge of a slacker. Well, yesterday was move-in day so the blog just had to wait. My sincerest apologies to all.

In other news, those of us who grew up alongside the fantastic fictional characters in the Harry Potter series were lighting a celebratory candle for Harry and J. K. Rowling’s birthdays on Tuesday. This series stands out to me in my “Why it’s Lovely to be Literate” series because my love affair with books truly began with Harry Potter. My aunt Cyndie lent me Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and suggested that I give it a try and, from that first page, I was a goner.

Every once in a while, a book comes along that captivates readers in a way that is hard to describe. Even now, I am having a hard time truly expressing how formative this series was for me, as it undoubtedly must have been for many others. Up until that point, my reading was merely done for educational purposes and, like most pre-teens, recreational learning was not on my to-do list. Then this book came along and completely upturned my reality, showing me that reading was capable of being something I yearned to do instead of merely being something I tolerated. I get the impression that this shift in perception happened to readers across the globe. Rarely can a book bewitch (no pun intended, but still appreciated) readers of all ages, races, and backgrounds. Parents were equally enamored; perhaps because the books offered momentary solace and escape from everyday life and forced readers to picture a world beyond the average stretch of the imagination. Whatever the reason may have been, the entire world turned its gaze upon this series. Hannah and I were both intensely into them; I still remember the rush of excitement when I saw the Wal-Mart employees wheeling out crate after crate full of books ready to be handed out at midnight. I still remember Hannah telling me that she had stayed up all night and finished one of the books before the sunrise. I still remember thinking she was crazy but secretly being jealous that I hadn’t thought to do that as well. I am quite literally jealous of my younger self. I resent the fact that I can’t go back and read them again for the first time. Read and reread I will, until my dying day, but I will never again will it be like that very first time. I remember it being, for lack of a better word, magical.

So, we the literate, are able to fully understand the timeless value of those stories. Some people cheat and only watch the movies. Poo poo, I say to them. The movies were great but undeniably pale in comparison to the story when being told by your own imagination. Cheers to you, J. K. Thanks for writing the most influential series this generation will probably ever know. And Cheers to you, Harry. Happy Birthday to the boy who lived.

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