This is the third time I’ve read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I really enjoyed reading this along with Pottermore. Pottermore incorporates aThis is the third time I’ve read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I really enjoyed reading this along with Pottermore. Pottermore incorporates a lot of the details mentioned in the story. It was fun to pay attention to the little details this time since I know the story so well. I also liked reading the bonus material she wrote on Pottermore – it adds a lot to the story. I don’t know if I realized this before, but J.K. Rowling is excellent at showing and not telling. For example: “[Mr. Dursley] hummed “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” and as he worked, jumped at small noises.” She doesn’t have to say that he’s starting to lose it because I’ve decided that for myself. The books have so many fun characters that aren’t in the movies. I love how optimistic and humble Harry is. I also like how light-hearted and quirky the books are. The movies tend to focus on the darker aspects of the story. I never get tired of reading these books.
I love the way that J. K. Rowling twists traditional mythology and history. When at the beginThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
I love the way that J. K. Rowling twists traditional mythology and history. When at the beginning Harry is writing an essay about witch burning, it's just funny that the witches thought it tickled when they were burned. The title of the essay, "Witch Burning in the Fourteenth Century Was Completely Pointless - discuss", is just charming. There is so much great humor in the books that just didn't make it into the movie. Ron's phone call is my favorite. Even her book titles are funny. "Broken Balls: When Fortunes Turn Foul." I just get giddy, now matter how many times I read these books, at the creativity and humor for even the minor details.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was so fun to re-read because she does an excellent job of foreshadowing. It's so fun seeing something differently for the first time or knowing what she is talking about this time around instead of it being a mystery. I also noticed how good J.K. Rowling was at recapping the first two books very quickly and yet covered all the major things you needed to know. I don't think I've ever noticed this before but there are a lot of letters and news clippings throughout the book. I liked how much depth it added. Definitely more interesting than just being told there was something in the newspaper.
Let's gush a little more about J. K. Rowling's writing. She has the best blunt honesty that somehow comes off as hilarious. For example, her observation of Aunt Marge loving to criticize people so Harry looks untidy on purpose to please her. And Ms. Rowling can spin a web of mystery better than an evil spider from Mirkwood. She presents these extremely probable but completely wrong answers to keep you off the trail until she wants you to know the answer. The best example of this was her clever clues about Sirius Black.
Harry's bittersweet life and humble gratitude make him so likable and relatable. I say bittersweet because he is neglected by his family but his life at school is magical. Harry is very resilient and can joke about the bad things that people say about him. I thought it was an admirable quality. I also liked the life lessons that Harry learns at this point in the series. Sad things happen to Harry to give an opportunity for better things to happen - like when his broom got completely smashed.
Can I just say that I'm totally a Hermione and I would take 6 classes, including Muggle Studies, just to see how wizards viewed them.
Something I experienced for the first time was relating to the adults in the story. After having my son go to school the first time, I couldn't imagine how hard it would be to put your kids on a train for an entire semester.
On a side note - I'm still curious about how special cats are in Harry Potter's world since they are important in witch mythology. In the Harry Potter universe they seem to have more intelligence than an average cat, but I'm wondering if there is more to them than that.
I read this book along with Pottermore and I really enjoyed the rich backstories. Even though they never show up directly in the plots of her novels, it's amazing to me the amount of thought that went into even minor characters. Marge Dursley, the awful aunt, has an entire backstory that makes everything click about why she acts the way she does. A huge hallmark of Ms.Rowling's writing is that none of her characters do things without legitimate motivation even if we, the reader, don't know what it is.
As far as the Pottermore website's new look and navigation go, I hates them both. It's hard to tell where you are in the story with the new layout. I really, really miss the old layout. Pottermore now looks like a bad social networking site with way too many sidebars cluttering things up. It's just unattractive. I liked the ending quotes that used to be there so you knew where you were and now they are gone. It feels like you don't need to read the book as much with the new site, which is sad. The one nice thing I have to say about it is kudos to them for being extremely accurate with what happens in the book. That being said, you should definitely check out the site for the awesome backstories and bonus material. They are pure gold....more
My favorite thing about this book is how we get to see that wizards and Muggles are much the same. Mr. Weasley actually thinks that Muggles are fasinaMy favorite thing about this book is how we get to see that wizards and Muggles are much the same. Mr. Weasley actually thinks that Muggles are fasinating and even "magical" in their own way. It's a nice little theme that I only picked up since it was my third time reading it. It's a subtle contrast to the "Muggle-born" hate the goes along with the opening of the Chamber of Secrets.
And enter Lockhart - the fun, semi-villain. He's fun to make fun of and laugh at but I think he represents a villan that we are more likely to encounter in real life or even become ourselves if we're not careful. He's selfish, vain and will do anything to get ahead including hurting others.
Honestly, this book gave me chills when I first read it. I was not expecting what I considered to be a "kids" book to be scary. I had to finish it in one night so I could sleep. If I didn't find out how Harry got rid of the voices talking about blood and killing, my subconscious would have no way to fight back in my nightmares. I have nightmares about everything.
The magical world J.K. Rowling has built is so fantastic and unbelievably real that it makes me ask questions like, "Why is Peeves physical when ghosts are not and why is he afraid of the Bloody Baron?" And I seriously want an answer. There is no level of detail that is too much in my mind. I must know all the things about Hogwarts. And oh how I love Professor Binns. He's the ultimate old and boring teacher (another thing that Muggles sadly have, too).
I really can't get over how very relatable this book is to kids. It deals with the big and small struggles that kids go through every day. It shows how the characters deal with unfairness and how tedious and boring school can be. And Harry really acts like a kid - he doesn't tell Dumbledore important things in the fashion of any kid who is afraid. Who as a kid didn't tell their parents something even though they knew they should?
After reading it for the third time, it's fun to pick up on the foreshadowing that I missed. I'm noticing that Ms. Rowling often disguises important things as jokes or just another detail to make the world more interesting and colorful. Ooh I just get chills when they figure out who Moaning Myrtle is. See? She's important although at first she appeared to just be a colorful character to annoy them in the bathroom.
I can't end this review without the best quote of the book:
It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
- J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (p. 333)
The beginning is really boring to get through, but once you get into her adult life it was a great page turner and one of the best love stories I haveThe beginning is really boring to get through, but once you get into her adult life it was a great page turner and one of the best love stories I have ever read.
I haven't read Ender's Game since high school. On re-reading it as an adult, I found it justThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
I haven't read Ender's Game since high school. On re-reading it as an adult, I found it just as page-turning and thought provoking as I did the first time. The biggest thing that stood out to me were all the paradoxes.
Sometimes lies were more dependable than the truth.
- Orson Scott Card Ender's Game pg 2
The biggest paradox was the contrast between the brothers Ender and Peter. To completely defeat an enemy, do you need to understand and empathize with them so well that you know what will really hurt them? To bring complete peace, do you need to be the kind of person that would think of all the ways to destroy peace in the first place? I had never thought about the fact that even good characteristics can become evil simply based on how we use them. Empathy can be used just as effectively to hurt others as to help them.
In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them—”
“You beat them.” [...]
“No, you don’t understand. I destroy them.
-Orson Scott Card Ender's Game p. 238
Ender's Game also had me pondering why we even fight wars in the first place. On re-reading it, I empathized with the aliens that attack earth even more this time. Is a lack of communication and understanding the only real reason for war? Ender's simple, childlike way of viewing how pointless war is makes for a really good question because it's so simple. Why CAN'T we leave each other alone?
I’m doing it again, thought Ender. I’m hurting people again, just to save myself. Why don’t they leave me alone, so I don’t have to hurt them?
- Orson Scott Card Ender's Game pg 115
Ender is such a likable character. This story wouldn't have worked without telling it from his point of view. His actions paint him to be ruthless and uncaring. But seeing his thoughts and dreams made me realize that he is a very caring and smart person who's biggest goal in life is to really just be left in peace and have friends. And the fact that these dreams are so close but just out of reach kept me turning the page waiting waiting waiting for when (and really if) he would ever get them.
As driven and smart as Ender is, you can still see his innocence because the way he views the world is not the way that adults do. It was fascinating to read this first as a teen and now as an adult. I saw the ending from Ender's point of view the first time and I was confused along with Ender. This time I saw the ending from the perspective of the adults and was saddened that I could see what Ender couldn't.
Overall, this was an unforgettable novel that every fan of science fiction should read. Content warning: violence, some language including one use of strong language (the n word.)...more
Frances Hodgson Burnett'sway of writing, even in the author's note, has a whimsical, magicalThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Frances Hodgson Burnett's way of writing, even in the author's note, has a whimsical, magical child-like tone to it that is very endearing. And like a child, the author can also be bluntly honest which made me laugh.
I loved reading about Sarah and the teacher that is jealous of her. In all honesty, the imaginative and optimistic Sarah was a much better teacher to the girls at the school. The teacher and other adults in the story seemed to delight in other's misfortunes while Sarah felt deep empathy towards them and tried her best to help them. I loved Sarah's imagination and her ability to use it to bring happiness to her and others around her no matter how bad things in their life were. Sarah had a beautiful ability to see things from someone else's view. She even befriends a rat. I couldn't help thinking that even though Sarah is just a child, I would like to be as kind, loving, and happy and she is.
When you will not fly into a passion people know you are stronger than they are, because you are strong enough to hold in your rage, and they are not, and they say stupid things they wish they hadn’t said afterward. There’s nothing so strong as rage, except what makes you hold it in— that’s stronger.
- Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess (p. 94).
A Little Princess was one of my favorite movies as a kid and although the movie was different than the book it was based on, it still had the great characters and imagination that I loved in the movie. The movie amped up the conflict and made it a little more sad than the book, but if you liked the movie you will definitely like the book.
Overall, it's a beautifully written classic about the power of imagination. ...more
My first impression of Persuasion was that Jane Austen writes some interesting and detailed characters. Right from page one, Sir Walter was my favoritMy first impression of Persuasion was that Jane Austen writes some interesting and detailed characters. Right from page one, Sir Walter was my favorite character. He’s a jerk, yeah, but he’s hilarious. I don’t know that the characters in this book are as modern as they are in say Pride and Prejudice, but the author’s brutal honesty, especially about the less appealing characters, is always entertaining. The whole story made me really think about how much other people influence our lives and whether or not that is always a good thing.
And can Jane Austen write a romance. The flirting, the dashing hero that you want but can’t have, and that beautiful love letter! I do have to say that there was one major climactic scene that just felt cheesy to me. Oh the horror! Other than that, it was refreshing and fun to read a Jane Austen novel that I didn’t even know existed until a few years ago.
Northerner Abbey might be my favorite Jane Austen novel. One of the main reasons is because CThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Northerner Abbey might be my favorite Jane Austen novel. One of the main reasons is because Catherine is my new favorite heroine. She's a tom boy and she treats her life like it's a fictional novel. Catherine is the kind of person that would yell "plot twist!" at an unfortunate event in her life. I aspire to be this way. It's the kind of attitude I try to have when, say, I go to the ER because I've been awake and in pain and on Google and have convinced myself that I have appendicitis when all I really have is severe constipation and get sent home from the ER with a laxative. Again. See, in a novel that's freakin' hilarious. In real life it sucks paying $200 for a laxative. Catherine has quite the imagination and I want to be her in every way.
Also, could someone explain to me how Jane Austen can just tell her stories and backgrounds in an info-dumping way but keep my attention completely because she makes it fun and visual and easy to imagine? Jane Austen has this biting honesty that is delightful to read even though her books are old. Don't dismiss Jane Austen. She writes the truth. Don't tell me you've never met a person like this:
Mrs. Allen was one of that numerous class of females, whose society can raise no other emotion than surprise at there being any men in the world who could like them well enough to marry them.
- Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (p. 7)
And I love, love, love the two ladies who are constantly talking at each other but never have an actual conversation because one talks about her kids and one talks about clothes. Jane Austen doesn't really show many of these conversations but I can totally imagine them. As much as Catherine is living in a fictional novel, her friend Isabella is overdramatic because she's got the lead role in this play called life. Isabella is clingy and scheming. I think Jane Austen didn't mind scheming but I think she hated it when it was obvious. Jane Austen is the queen of sarcasm, irony and relatable characters.
Book shaming has been around since the 1800s and Jane Austen is having none of it. Catherine loves reading novels but is also ashamed that she reads "only novels." Jane Austen has this to say about mere novels:
... in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed ...
-Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (p. 23).
Overall, I loved this novel and if you haven't read it, fix that immediately....more
I read this book mainly because it was talked about a lot in Eclipse. I was shocked by how dark and Gothic it was. I can’t imagine what people must haI read this book mainly because it was talked about a lot in Eclipse. I was shocked by how dark and Gothic it was. I can’t imagine what people must have thought when it was published. If I could pick two words to describe Wuthering Heights it would be “passionate” and “bizarre.” I’ve never read anything like it. I knew as I was reading it that I wasn’t supposed to like Cathy. She has a passionate temper that was very unlikeable and yet I couldn’t hate her. In fact, I related to her in a lot of strange ways. I kind of agree with Edward Cullen’s assessment of the book that it’s not a love story but a hate story. The ending was what made me like this book. A lot of the characters are run madly by their passions and I thought for sure the ending would be nothing but a disaster. I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong. If Eclipse has made you curious as to what happens in this book, give it a try. You might actually like it.
The first Cathy is hard for me to dislike. The bad things about her are hard for me to denounce without feeling like a hypocrite. I thought it was a discussion about all the bad reasons that people get married. Bad reasons the characters get married
Edgar - wants to change her bad temper, she's pretty, he feels sorry for her (?) Catherine Earnshaw - social standing, wealth and comfort Heathcliff-revenge Isabella - infatuation Linton-threats Catherine Linton- coersion
The one good marriage is Hearton and Catherine - forgiveness
Still, it was endearing that Cathy (the first) didn't even think that her love for Heathcliff would be threatened by marriage to someone else. It showed that people get married for lots of reasons besides love....more
It was more graphic and violent than I thought it would be. Dickens writes the best characters I've ever read. Even the minor characters have personalIt was more graphic and violent than I thought it would be. Dickens writes the best characters I've ever read. Even the minor characters have personalities and flaws. Oliver Twist was a social satire criticizes Victorian England. Some of his criticisms of society could still apply today. August Rush, the movie, was a great retelling of Oliver Twist and now that I've read it, I can see even more similarities. Oliver Twist was not really a page turner, but it was the easiest novel of his that I've read yet. The ending felt a little contrived to me. I can see why this novel was shocking at the time it was published. Dickens sheds light on things that people just didn't like talking about back then. Dickens has this way or narrating that makes you feel so connected to the characters and makes you care about them a lot.
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller is a beautiful memoir about the power of love, language,This book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller is a beautiful memoir about the power of love, language, and learning. It was sad and humbling to hear Helen describe how desperate she was to communicate with people. Since Helen was deaf and blind, she would go into a rage after being so frustrated that no one could understand her. That really struck home with me. In college, I babysat a 5 year old boy who couldn’t talk because he had cerebral palsy. He could answer yes or no to my questions by shaking or nodding his head. There were times when I asked every question I could think of and he would break down in tears of frustration - just like Helen Keller described. It was heartbreaking to see. When the boy I babysat went to school and learned more complex sign language, he lit up. I still remember the first time he was able to tell me a story. He was absolutely glowing with joy. Helen Keller’s story of learning was very touching to me since it similar to the experience that the boy I knew had.
How she was able to learn language was very interesting to read about since she was old to enough to remember the experience of understanding words for the first time. Her teacher, Annie Sullivan, used a method of teaching with Helen that had never been done before. The pedagogy behind how Annie taught language to someone who couldn't hear or see was fascinating. She had to break down and really think about how kids normally learn language and translate it into the senses that Helen had access to. She realized that kids acquire language through imitation and through hearing it all day long every day. So Annie would spell words into Helen's hand all day long about everything they were doing even though Helen didn't know what the words meant yet. Helen learned that words represented the things that she could touch. It was a bittersweet moment when Annie tries to teach Helen what love is and Helen can't understand why her teacher won't show it to her.
...how happy your little Helen was when her teacher explained to her that the best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the heart.
-Helen Keller, in a letter written to Rev. Phillips Brooks, June 8, 1891.
Before reading this, I had never realized how important books would be to Helen Keller. They were a huge part of how she experienced a world that she couldn't see or hear. She talked about books as if they were her friends.
I have not shown how much I have depended on books not only for pleasure and for the wisdom they bring to all who read, but also for that knowledge which comes to others through their eyes and their ears. Indeed, books have meant so much more in my education than in that of others ...
- Helen Keller, The Story of My Life, Chapter 21
There was a huge list of books that she read. You know me. Of course I wrote them all down.
Books Helen Keller Read
As You Like It By William Shakespeare
Speech on Conciliation with America by Edmund Burke
Life of Samuel Johnson by Thomas Macaulay
Child's History of England by Charles Dickens
The Arabian Nights
The Swiss Family Robinson
The Pilgrim's Progress
Because reading had such an influence on her, she often described things the way that someone could see would. She would describe trees as green even though she had never seen the color green because that's what books described them as. That being said, I noticed that a lot of her descriptions - especially of nature - centered on their scent and feel. Also, I want to write book reviews the way that Helen Keller does.
The "Iliad" is beautiful with all the truth, and grace and simplicity of a wonderfully childlike people while the "Aeneid" is more stately and reserved. It is like a beautiful maiden, who always lived in a palace, surrounded by a magnificent court; while the "Iliad" is like a splendid youth, who has had the earth for his playground.
- Helen Keller, in a letter to Mrs. Laurence Hutton, October 23, 1898
Helen desperately wanted to go to college but practical things made it extremely difficult. She struggled with being able to even take tests since they had to be dictated to her. Books weren't available in braille quickly enough and she would fall behind in classes. Lectures had to be written down in advance for her to follow along. It makes me appreciate not only my education but the technology today that allows equal access to books for people with disabilities. I just wanted to travel back in time and make her books because they were so hard to get in braille! As much as Helen loved books, she hated tests. Like really, really hated them. She describes the feeling of forgetting an answer on a test perfectly.
You are sure it is somewhere in your mind near the top—you saw it there the other day when you were looking up the beginnings of the Reformation. But where is it now? You fish out all manner of odds and ends of knowledge—revolutions, schisms, massacres, systems of government; but Huss—where is he? You are amazed at all the things you know which are not on the examination paper.
- Helen Keller, The Story of My Life, Chapter 20
She talks about the administration of the school and how they sometimes unintentionally made things even more difficult for her. But instead of letting it frustrate her, she felt accomplished that not only had she gotten an education but she had overcome the challenges in getting one as well.
Overall, it's an amazing story of overcoming difficult trials and making the best of what is given to us....more
It was a little philosophical in places but not so much that it bogged down the story. The characters were amazing and the "point" he was trying to maIt was a little philosophical in places but not so much that it bogged down the story. The characters were amazing and the "point" he was trying to make was not at all what I was expecting.
I don't know how I made it through high school without reading this classic, but I'm so glad I get to come back to books like this and read them as anI don't know how I made it through high school without reading this classic, but I'm so glad I get to come back to books like this and read them as an adult. I'm sure I would have learned stuff in high school, but I feel like I'm getting more appreciation out of books like this as I get older.
The only thing I knew about this book before I started reading was that it was a shallow love story that ends with the girl dumping the poor, innocent guy....or something. And yes that is the plot, but I think the story can also be about the American dream and who it's really available to. What is the American dream? Is it just getting money and it doesn't matter how? Did we really get away from social inequality? I hadn't really thought about any of that before reading this book. It made me wonder what my American dream is. Do I just want to get lots of money, a big house, and tons of stuff? Or is there more to it than that? Without spoiling the end, I feel like Mr. Fitzgerald's opinion on the matter is that some people are born to live the American dream and some aren't - and there isn't much you can do to change it. The fate of Daisy and Gatsby really brings that tragic idea home.
The parties were unreal. I was drooling over the mention of all the food. I couldn't help but imagine the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey coming to Gatsby's house and being appalled at what Americans called "a dinner party." My mind was buzzing with all the practical details and sheer amount of money that it would take to feed two dinners and tons of alcohol to that many people... But the parties and glamour are just covering up the fact that most of these people are shady, immoral, hypocritical and just plain unhappy. Especially Tom and his wife Daisy.
I loved the writing. It was simple, charming, and witty - an interesting contrast to the much deeper story going on. The last line about how we can't escape from the past points out that even though as Americans we say that anyone can achieve wealth, happiness and equality, the truth is we keep getting sucked into the rules of the past.
The only thing I thought was overdone was the symbolic Eye Doctor bilboard in the ash valley. Don't let the symbolic Eye Doctor Ad/God's Judgement fall on you on the way out.
Overall, a novel that got me really thinking about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the context of a beautiful, tragic, and romantic story.