Sunday Post #30: Post-Potter

Sunday PostI finished my re-read of the Harry Potter series late last night. I spent pretty much all day yesterday reading, which is something I haven’t done in a long time, and it felt great. I was reading on my Kindle, and I think I was about a fifth (or close to a fourth) of the way into Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when I picked up the book yesterday, and I just read it until I finished it. Every time I finish re-reading the books, I go into a little bit of a post-Potter funk and don’t quite know what to do with myself, so I re-read The Tales of Beedle the Bard. I find so much in those books each time I read them. I can say with certainty that they are my desert-island books. With Pottermore making some changes, I will be interesting to see what they come up with. They have discovered that most of the site’s users are not children, as they anticipated, but adults visiting the site for the extra encyclopedic information and backstory. As a result, they’ve decided to remove the games and interactive parts of the site and focus on the information. From what I understand, not everyone is happy about this, but since I was more interested in the new writing than brewing potions, fighting duels, or playing games, I’m welcoming the changes. I am a little sad they are dispensing with the House system. Proud Ravenclaw, here. Oh, and with that, I think they will be eliminating shopping for your wand. The part of the site I return to most often are the articles about wandlore. My wand is sycamore, phoenix feather core, 10¾ inches, hard.

I did go ahead and pick up This House is Haunted by John Boyne for the R. I. P. Challenge. I’m still trying to decide which other books to read, but that one’s been on my Kindle for a long time now, so I decided I would start with that one. It might perhaps be a mark of how much I love this reading challenge that I’m prioritizing it over my book club and other books I want to read as well.

I didn’t add any books to my to-read pile this week, which was probably smart. It’s too big already. I have a lot of books I need to go ahead and just finish, most of them re-reads for school.

I’ve been lamenting the sad fact this week in particular that my children don’t enjoy reading as much as I do. I have been fairly successful in matching my own students with books, but as much as I try, it doesn’t seem to work as well with my own children. I am a firm believer that it’s not true that people don’t like to read. I think sometimes they haven’t found what they like to read yet, and schools do a great deal of damage in this regard by not allowing students to choose their books, especially in the crucial years of middle school and early high school. If you’re going to lose a reader, I’ve noticed, you generally lose them right about 7th grade. Especially boys. I’m working on it, but if you have tips, please share.

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things we have received. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books that Feature Travel

Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is top ten books that feature travel in some way. OK, wide open, so here is my list.

[amazon_image id=”0545139708″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”054792822X” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Hobbit; or, There and Back Again[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0544003411″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Lord of the Rings[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0143105957″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Moby-Dick: or, The Whale (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0440423201″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Outlander (20th Anniversary Edition): A Novel[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0385737645″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Revolution[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0143039954″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Odyssey (Penguin Classics)[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0451202503″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Songcatcher[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0486280616″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn][/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0393334155″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (A New Verse Translation)[/amazon_image]

So many great books feature quests or voyages. These are my favorites. You could argue that all the Harry Potter books feature travel, but the trio travels the most in [amazon_link id=”0545139708″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows[/amazon_link], which features not just the very long camping trip, but the end of Harry’s journey and even a trip to the other side of the veil.

[amazon_link id=”054792822X” target=”_blank” ]The Hobbit; or, There and Back Again[/amazon_link] features Bilbo’s famous quest to the Lonely Mountain with 13 dwarves and sometimes Gandalf. It’s a classic quest and an excellent hero’s journey. In some ways, it is more of a straight hero’s journey and a tighter, finer story than [amazon_link id=”0544003411″ target=”_blank” ]The Lord of the Rings[/amazon_link], which is also quite an amazing quest in which Middle Earth is saved, at least for the likes of men and possibly dwarves and hobbits, but not so much elves, especially not Galadriel and Elrond.

Ishmael says at the beginning of [amazon asin=0143105957&text=Moby Dick] that he decided to stop teaching school and sign on a whaling ship in order to “see the watery part of the world.” He saw a lot more than he bargained for, but you can’t deny it was a heck of a trip.

In Diana Gabaldon’s [amazon_link id=”0440423201″ target=”_blank” ]Outlander[/amazon_link] series, Claire Randall travels back in time when she walks through a stone circle at Beltaine, and she finds herself over 200 years in the past. Trips don’t get much farther than that.

Like Gabaldon’s Claire, Jennifer Donnelly’s Andi Alpers finds herself about 200 years in the past during the French Revolution, but she also figures out a way to move on from a terrible loss in her past in [amazon_link id=”0385737645″ target=”_blank” ]Revolution[/amazon_link].

[amazon asin=0143039954&text=The Odyssey] is the quintessential travel book. The whole book is about the worst trip home ever. On top of that, it’s a rollicking adventure that has stood the test of time. Few books can match it.

I absolutely love Sharyn McCrumb’s novel [amazon_link id=”0451202503″ target=”_blank” ]The Songcatcher[/amazon_link], and my favorite part concerned Malcolm McCourry, who was kidnapped and brought to America from Scotland, bringing a snatch of an old song along with him on the voyage, but the real voyage in this novel is the trip that the song takes through the generations, remembered by Malcolm’s descendants and passed down through time.

[amazon asin=0486280616&text=The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn] is yet another classic travel book, as the book follows Huck and Jim down the Mississippi. We can see how far Huck has come in his other voyage when he decides to tear up the letter revealing Jim’s location and says, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell.” Reading that line always gives me the shakes.

Sir Gawain promised he would seek out the Green Knight in the Green Chapel, and he is a knight of his word. If you are looking for reasons why Gawain is better than Lancelot, you can’t do better than the excellent [amazon_link id=”0393334155″ target=”_blank” ]Sir Gawain and the Green Knight[/amazon_link]. Plus, we have no idea who wrote it. It’s a complete mystery. He goes on a quest and finds himself in great peril, but he is true, and he returns home to Arthur’s court a wiser man.

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Top Ten Fictional Couples

Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a REWIND topic, so in order to get into the spirit of the season, I elected to write about the Top Ten Fictional Couples, which was a topic originally posted September 28, 2010.

1. Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Naturally. I love the fact that they don’t fall in love at first sight and have to grow to love one another. And their witty barbs! I just love them as a couple.

2. Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff. They are so horrible. They deserve each other, and their longing to be together (and Heathcliff’s overly developed sense of vengeance) threatens everyone they know.

3. Romeo and Juliet. OK, despite what I said about liking that Lizzie and Darcy grow to love each other, I admit I’m a sucker for this teenage infatuation. Of course, it’s great fun to teach, also.

4. Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester. I like how he has to become worthy of her and that she learns she doesn’t have to settle.

5. Lt. Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley. Ohmygosh I cried at the end of that book.

6. Tristan and Isolde. OK, it was a love potion, but man, that almost makes it worse. They didn’t have any choice but to be desperately in love!

7. Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar. What a sad love story. Talk about star-crossed lovers. Great short story, if you haven’t read it, but I think the movie is better because the characters are more fully developed.

8. Severus Snape and Lily Evans. OK, technically not a couple because it was one-sided, but man, what devotion. Always.

9. Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara. They kind of deserved each other. I think they eventually found their way back to each other, but perhaps not in the way Alexandra Ripley imagined.

10. Meggie Cleary and Father Ralph de Briccasart. Oh, in another world, they could have been together. Love them!

Who are your favorite literary couples?

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Favorite Quotes from Books

Top Ten TuesdayBusy week! I didn’t get to the Top Ten Tuesday on Tuesday at all. As soon as I finish this post, I’m off to pack up more books in preparation for next month’s move.

This week’s topic was irresistible, and I decided to participate even though I’d be late: Top Ten Favorite Book Quotes.

  1. And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night. Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…and one fine morning—

    So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.—[amazon asin=0743273567&text=The Great Gatsby], F. Scott Fitzgerald

  2. If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.—[amazon asin=0684801469&text=A Farewell to Arms], Ernest Hemingway

  3. “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”—[amazon asin=0545139708&text=Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows], J. K. Rowling

  4. “Always,” said Snape.—[amazon asin=0545139708&text=Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows], J. K. Rowling

  5. Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the same horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.—[amazon asin=0061120065&text=Their Eyes Were Watching God], Zora Neale Hurston

  6. “Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-brow’d night,/Give me my Romeo; and,/When he shall die,/Take him and cut him out in little stars,/And he will make the face of heaven so fine/That all the world will be in love with night/And pay no worship to the garish sun.”—[amazon asin=0743477111&text=Romeo and Juliet], William Shakespeare

  7. “I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.

    I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.”—[amazon asin=0486295559&text=Persuasion], Jane Austen

  8. “Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”—[amazon asin=0061743526&text=To Kill a Mockingbird], Harper Lee

  9. “It is only a novel… or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.”—[amazon asin=1612930840&text=Northanger Abbey], Jane Austen

  10. The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.—[amazon asin=1619493845&text=Walden], Henry David Thoreau

You know, I could really go on and on with this list. In fact, from my favorite book:

“My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff!”[amazon asin=0143105434&text=Wuthering Heights], Emily Brontë

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Booking Through Thursday: Anticipation

This week’s Booking Through Thursday prompt asks:

What’s the last book you were really EXCITED to read?

And, were you excited about it in advance? Or did the excitement bloom while you were reading it?

Are there any books you’re excited about right NOW?

I think the last book I was really excited to read was probably [amazon_link id=”0439023513″ target=”_blank” ]Mockingjay[/amazon_link] by Suzanne Collins (review), which I read last September (almost a year ago!). I had just finished the first two [amazon_link id=”0545265355″ target=”_blank” ]Hunger Games[/amazon_link] books, and I just couldn’t stop turning the pages. I suppose the last time I enjoyed a book so much might have been [amazon_link id=”0545139708″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows[/amazon_link]. I didn’t really have enough time to be excited about it in advance because by the time I became intrigued enough by Hunger Games to read it, the third novel had already been published. I bought it at the Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, and I remember carrying it around that day at the Decatur Book Festival, anticipating cracking it open when I went home later.

I am excited about some books coming out or in my to-read list. I really want to read [amazon_link id=”0312558171″ target=”_blank” ]The Ballad of Tom Dooley[/amazon_link] by Sharyn McCrumb. I’m also looking forward to the R.I.P. Challenge, when I plan to read Ransom Riggs’s [amazon_link id=”1594744769″ target=”_blank” ]Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children[/amazon_link]. I am excited for Katherine Howe’s next book (I read and reviewed [amazon_link id=”1401341330″ target=”_blank”]The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane[/amazon_link]). I follow her on Twitter, so I know she’s editing it right now. I’m also excited for the sequel to Deborah Harkness’s [amazon_link id=”0670022411″ target=”_blank” ]A Discovery of Witches[/amazon_link] (review). I’m also looking forward to [amazon_link id=”031262168X” target=”_blank” ]The Witch’s Daughter[/amazon_link] by Paula Brackston. It’s not a book, but I’m mad with anticipation over the unveiling of Pottermore. I managed to get a beta registration, and I’m waiting on tenterhooks for my welcome email saying I can officially get in the site.

photo credit: Lori Greig

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Always

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Depending on how long you’ve been reading this blog (or perhaps my other main blog, huffenglish.com), you may not be aware I am a serious Harry Potter geek. I mean really. For instance, I know I’d be in Ravenclaw, and I have it all worked out in my head. I even think Ancient Runes would be my favorite class. I have actually written seriously on the subject of Harry Potter a number of times, but not often here. I used to regularly update a Harry Potter blog. No lie! It lies dormant at the moment, and I can’t think what to do with it aside from perhaps post some of my favorite entries over here and then let it sit. I just don’t know. I can’t foresee updating it again, and it’s a bit of a hassle to keep up with the WordPress upgrades (if you don’t do that, hackers can more easily break in to your site, which is NOT something I’d like to happen). But I’m not sure if I can delete it. Honestly, it would be a good topic for a Tumblr, but I don’t need more stuff to keep up with in my life. I’ll think about it.

Anyway, what I really came here to do is squee about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, and the following squee has spoilers, but honestly, spoiler alerts should really be expired for [amazon_link id=”0545139708″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows[/amazon_link], and if you have been watching the movies instead of reading the books, what on earth are you doing on a book blog? Just wonderin’.

AlwaysImage source: I Go to Seek a Great Perhaps

So, my favorite character in the series is Snape, and you can imagine that after [amazon_link id=”0439785960″ target=”_blank” ]Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince[/amazon_link] came out, things looked very bad for Snape. He had killed Dumbledore, the man who had trusted him and protected him. I actually had a bit of an argument with someone about Snape because she said I was blind for believing Snape would come out all right in the end, and I was positive she just wasn’t reading closely enough. Look again at the language Rowling uses to describe what Harry feels as he is forcing Dumbledore to drink the potion in the cave (which he did on Dumbledore’s orders)—he is filled with loathing for what he is doing, but a casual observer might think the look on his face told another tale: that he felt contempt for Dumbledore. The same kind of language is used to describe the look on Snape’s face as he kills Dumbledore. It clicked. I knew somehow that they had done a deal. I had no idea Snape loved Lily. That surprised me because he had called her “mudblood” when she tried to defend him when James and Sirius were bullying him. I have to hand it to people who figured that one out. I did figure out that Snape had somehow known Petunia, but I couldn’t flesh out my hunch further than that.

So, Snape. Alan Rickman was wonderful in this film. The death scene and Pensieve scene were my favorite part of this film, probably because Snape is my favorite character. Oh, I boo-hooed through that part.

Trust SnapeImage credit: You the doormat, then?

I had, of course, read that Alan Rickman was brilliant in this film (really, isn’t he always? I mean, he almost made [amazon_link id=”B002VWNID6″ target=”_blank” ]Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves[/amazon_link] watchable, and who could forget “Give me an occupation, Miss Dashwood, or I shall run mad” from [amazon_link id=”0800141660″ target=”_blank” ]Sense & Sensibility[/amazon_link]?):

Colonel Brandon rescues MarianneImage credit: Fanpop

So, yes, I have probably been a fan of Snape’s because of Alan Rickman’s portrayal. Sue me. Anyway, it was perfect and fairly faithful to the book.

Other favorite moments in no particular order:

  • Neville in practically every scene. He is amazing during the battle, particularly when he kills Nagini, but my favorite quote might be when he says he has to find Luna to tell her he’s “hot for her” since they’re going to die by the morning. That was awesome, and frankly, I always thought they belonged together (but he winds up marrying Hannah Abbott, and she marries Rolf Scamander, Newt Scamander’s grandson—ah, well).
  • “NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!” Yeah, that was awesome, and I’m so glad they didn’t try to duck around the word. Bellatrix Lestrange is a bitch. Even if I did name my cat after her. My Bella is much nicer: Bella Huff
  • The way they magnified Voldemort’s voice during the Battle of Hogwarts. It was freaking scary—much scarier than I imagined.
  • The dragon-back escape from Gringotts was pretty epic, and actually seeing the carnage—well, let’s say they improved on my imagination, there. Ditto with the scene in Bellatrix’s vault.
  • Helen Bonham-Carter pretending to be Hermione pretending to be Bellatrix. That was awesome and quite well done.
  • Hermione destroying the horcrux made from Hufflepuff’s cup and Ron and Hermione’s kiss. I cheered a little.
  • The whole scene at King’s Cross was just awesome, and just as I imagined it. Plus, it contains one of my favorite lines from the series: “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” I actually have had that quote on my classroom wall at school. Guess it will go in my office now.
  • Dan, Emma, Rupert, and Tom Felton’s acting in this one is just brilliant. Really. They have come a long way, particularly Daniel Radcliffe. He can just sit back and enjoy his money if he wants to, but I think he has a fine future ahead of him. And they all seem so nice and even-keeled in interviews.
  • Albus Severus Potter. So cute! So was Hugo Weasley (little Ron clone). By the way, did you know Tom Felton’s girlfriend plays his wife, Astoria Greengrass, in the film? I think that’s cool. Although I wanted a better look at Scorpius’s face. Also, I wanted Harry to say the words “It did for me,” which he came close to saying, but did not actually say.
  • The scene when Harry bravely marches into the woods to let Voldemort kill him.
  • Voldemort pushing Bellatrix over when she tries to help him up after he AK’s Harry in the woods.
  • Ralph Fiennes. He’s absolutely terrifying and brilliant in this. Really. And his death, while not quite as it was described in the book, was awesome and terrible to witness.
  • Goyle (it was Crabbe in the book, but the actor who plays him was busted for marijuana, and I assume that’s why his part was cut) setting the Room of Requirement on fire with fiendfyre and Ron and Harry rescuing Draco and Blaise Zabini. Oh, Goyle. You shouldn’t play with fire.
  • Draco’s hesitation to go over to the Death Eaters, and Voldemort pulling Draco into that gross, awkward hug. Ew.
  • McGonagall dueling Snape. That was awesome.
  • McGonagall saying, “I always wanted to try that spell.” Maggie Smith delivers a punchline, let me tell you.

Some criticisms:

  • Fred’s death was sadder in the books. I felt the movie gave it a bit of a short shrift.
  • Harry not repairing his wand before breaking the Elder Wand and chucking the pieces. In the book, he repairs it and doesn’t destroy the Elder Wand, but keeps it safe (presumably until he dies so that no one can win it from him).
  • Teddy Tonks is mentioned only once. Ooops.

So, my overall verdict is that I LOVED IT!

Mischief managed.

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