Magical Mondays: Books from Hogwarts

by JK Rowling, Kenniworthy Whisp, Newt Scamander
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Source: West Florida Public Library

I’m still coming down from my recent #Potterbinge. In the last few months of 2015, I listened to the entire Harry Potter series narrated by Stephen Fry. I know I’m repeating myself, but it was glorious, and everyone should listen to his version! Between falling down the Wizarding World rabbit hole whilst Potter-binging and the news surrounding the upcoming Fantastics Beast and Where to Find Them film, I decided it was finally time to delve into the three books published for Muggles after the the series concluded. These books were absolutely adorable and a lot of fun to read.

41899Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander

This is a reprint of the textbook used by Harry Potter for his Care of Magical Creatures class. Not only does it provide a A-Z overview of the various magical creatures, the introduction explains some of the history behind what constitutes a “beast,” and magizoology. Also, because this is Harry’s book, the Muggle reader sees his (and Ron’s) annotations as well.

I really liked the content of this book. I read this while listening to one of the Harry Potter books (can’t recall which), and I found I was already familiar with some of the creatures the students were studying, such as bowtruckles. Unfortunately, though, it left me wanting. For a children’s book, there’s too much text and not enough illustration. It reads like a list, and I can see how some kiddos might lose interest in a creature book without loads of creatures to look at. I have no idea whether a fully illustrated version exists (or will exist soon as the film release approaches), but that would be bloody brilliant.

111450Quidditch Through the Ages by Kenniworthy Whisp

Quidditch Through the Ages comes to us Muggles via the Hogwarts Library, and Prof. Dumbledore shares in the forward a quote from Madam Pince, the Hogwarts library, that this book is “pawed about, dribbled on, and generally maltreated” nearly every day. This book provides the developmental history of the game, the various teams around the world, and a little instruction on many in-flight manuevers.

I admit that I initially selected this book out of obligation. Hermione is my spirit witch, so it may not be surprising that I preferred reading about charms, potions, and transmutation over quidditch (don’t get me wrong – it’s still a rather nifty sport, and I would *love* to be able to play).

The only book in the Hogwarts Library that Hermione didn’t check out.

I was very pleased to find myself enjoying this book as much as I did Fantastic Beasts. I love the detail in which the history of the sport was crafted, and I enjoyed learning that there are other wizarding sports around the world. One of my favorite moments is the description of the Crudely Cannons, that their “glory day many be considered by many to be over, but their devoted fans live in hope of a renaissance” and that the league changed their motto from “We shall conquer” to “Let’s all keep our fingers crossed and hope for the best.” I immediately thought of the Chicago Cubs and their legion of devoted fans.

4020390The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling

This is a book of wizard children stories first introduced to Muggles when Prof. Dumbledore bequethed his copy to Hermione in his will. I suppose wizarding children have their own fairy tales just like Muggle children do. The Tales of Beedle the Bard includes a selection of these stories, including “The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,” “The Fountain of Fair Fortune,” “The Warlock’s Hairy Heart,” “Babbity Rabbitty and Her Crackling Stump,” and “The Tale of the Three Brothers.” Of these three books, this was definitely my favorite.

First, one of my favorite scenes from all of the movies is the animated telling of “The Tale of the Three Brothers.” I love that type of animation, and I feel like it’s beautifully done.

Because I am a lifelong reader, I loved (and still do love) many stories from my childhood. Being able to experience children’s stories from the Wizarding World made me a little nostalgic, yet I also got to feel the excitement of experiencing a new story. What’s more is there was commentary provided by Prof. Dumbledore, to explain the background and morals behind each story. If I ever have children, I will definitely add these stories to the myriad others of which I am so fond. (I intend to contribute to the next generation of Potterheads. 🙂 )
In short, these are three, fun, little books that any Muggle can easily enjoy! We may have never gotten our own Hogwarts letters, but at least get a little glimpse with these books.

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret AtwoodThe Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on September 29th 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Dystopian, Fiction, Humorous, Science Fiction
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Margaret Atwood puts the human heart to the ultimate test in an utterly brilliant new novel that is as visionary as The Handmaid's Tale and as richly imagined as The Blind Assassin.     Stan and Charmaine are a married couple trying to stay afloat in the midst of an economic and social collapse. Job loss has forced them to live in their car, leaving them vulnerable to roving gangs. They desperately need to turn their situation around—and fast. The Positron Project in the town of Consilience seems to be the answer to their prayers. No one is unemployed and everyone gets a comfortable, clean house to live in . . . for six months out of the year. On alternating months, residents of Consilience must leave their homes and function as inmates in the Positron prison system. Once their month of service in the prison is completed, they can return to their "civilian" homes.     At first, this doesn't seem like too much of a sacrifice to make in order to have a roof over one's head and food to eat. But when Charmaine becomes romantically involved with the man who lives in their house during the months when she and Stan are in the prison, a series of troubling events unfolds, putting Stan's life in danger. With each passing day, Positron looks less like a prayer answered and more like a chilling prophecy fulfilled.From the Hardcover edition.

I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that, althoughThe Handmaid’s Tale has been on my bookshelf for over ten years, it wasn’t until 2015 that I finally read my first Atwood book. Upon closing that book, I became an instant fan, and was super stoked to check out her latest novel, The Heart Goes Last. (I’m also quite embarrassed that I read this book months ago and am just now getting around to writing my review).

One of the things that enthralled me about The Handmaid’s Tale was the terrifying yet realistic landscape in which the story takes place. Nearly 30 years after its publication, I found myself thinking about how easily the world today could become Offred’s Republic of Gilead. In The Heart Goes Last, Atwood was able to recreate that sense of foreboding. I think about the world today and the issue of income inequality, and I can see the distinct possibility of one day living in the same world as Stan and Charmaine.

Something else I like about Atwood’s style is that she doesn’t fill in all the details. Atwood alludes to Char’s troubled past and Stan’s tumultuous relation with his brother, but she doesn’t spell it out for the reader. I really like that. I think this adds to the realism of such a story. In real life, we are rarely privy to all the gory details about a person. This way it feels like the reader is part of the story, existing as a member of this dystopian society, and not merely viewing it as an outsider.

While I basked in the realness of the world and its characters, the plot was a less realistic to me. I felt like Stan and Char bought into this Consilience scheme a little bit too easily. And from that point the story, the events that unfolded seemed increasingly unbelievable. Entertaining, yes, but utterly unbelievable.

There’s more I could say about this book, but I will refrain in order to avoid spoilers. I will say that after finishing the book, I found myself arguing internally about some of the goings-on in the story. Whenever this happens, I feel it is a testament to the book if it can stay in your head well after you’ve returned it to the shelf. This book definitely did that.

I definitely recommend this book, especially if you’re a Margaret Atwood fan, but also if you like stories set in in well build worlds (even if they can be a bit scary).

Also, I have definitely been added to the ranks of Atwood admirers.


Sunday Salon: Birthday Edition

Currently// coming down from finishing The Library at Mount Char and waiting for my next Uber rider.

Zroom zroom…

Celebrating// my birthday!


I turned 34 29 on Tuesday of this week. I was fortunate enough to spend time with my spirit nerd, Allysia, and she was so kind to give me a copy of Isabel Allende’s Daughter of Fortune, one of her favorite books. I also got to spend time with my family, as my sister and her clan were visiting. It was a lovely day full of fresh seafood and laughs.

Watching// Star Wars: The Force Awakens… finally! I have a tradition of seeing all the Star Wars movies with my mom, going back to the re-release of the original trilogy in the 90s. With the holidays and her work schedule, it took a couple of weeks to get to the cinema. We loved it! Well done, JJ!!! This week also blessed us with new episodes of Sherlock and Downton Abbey. These are two of my favorite shows, and I’m so glad to have new episodes!

Reading// I just finished The Library of Mount Char just before sitting down to write this. That book was so Heather. It had fantastic beasts, revenge, interesting characters, and a library. What’s not to like?! Up next is The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, which is an e-book re-release coming out in a couple of weeks.

Listening// to Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Yes Please by Amy Poehler. Both are great fun in their own ways. I love the Outlander narrator, Davina Porter, and I’m glad I chose audio over print because I don’t have to stumble over the Gaelic. And, well, Amy is just awesome. I definitely recommend her book in audio format, but I also think I may need to own a print copy one day as well.

Well, that’s about it for this week, readers? How was your week? 

Books That Made Me Buzz in 2015: A Year End Review

I can’t say I’m disappointed to be viewing 2015 in the rearview (SN: this post is late because our washing machine flooded the garage on NYE – one last “screw you” from the year….), but I will say that I had the best reading year I’ve had in a long time. I managed to read/listen to 41 books this year, which isn’t too bad considering I didn’t really start reading until May.

This year I was introduced to NetGalley and Edelweiss, and numerous book bloggers who have made me fall in love with my Twitter feed all over again and who inspire me to read books that I would once have thought were too long to try or that I wasn’t smart enough to understand. My fellow bloggers also led me back to my local library, and I’ve been darkening the local branch’s door on a weekly basis for the last few months. I’ve marked some books off my TBR, and added many more, and I am excited to be in the thick of things during Tournament of Books, embark on reading challenges, and make time everyday to read in 2016.

I’d also like to give shout-outs to my dear friends, April (The Steadfast Reader) and Monika (Lovely Bookshelf). They were the force behind starting this blog, and have been my fairy blog-mothers behind the scenes when I had issues with Blue Host or plugin difficulties. These are two fantastic women who impress be both with their copious reading as well as their remarkable daily lives. Thanks again, y’all, for tag teaming me that night in June. Much love to you both! <3

In celebration of a good year in books, I’d like to share some of my favorite reads from 2015.

Dietland – Sarai Walker

I just read this book a few weeks ago, and I’ve thought about it just about every day since I finished it. I found Plum’s journey to self love and empowerment intoxicating, and, as someone who shares her lifelong struggle with weight, I found a lot of myself in those pages.

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

This book has been on my bookshelf for years. Like since I was a blushing bachlorette. Shameful. The Handmaid’s Tale is another book that has really stuck with me. I found it was terrifying, and so close to reality that it made me nervous. It’s amazing how this book is 30 years old yet extremely relevant, having heard words uttered in debates that would be better suited for the Republic of Gilead than America in 2015. That’s some scary shit, bro… Nevertheless, if you haven’t read it yet, do it. Now.

The Martian – Andy Weir (my thoughts here)

I knew I’d love this book from the first sentence: “I’m pretty much fucked.” Mark Whatney was witty and brilliant, the story was incredibly entertaining, and never failed to capture my attention.

Of Things Gone Stray – Janina Matthewson (my review)

I got this book from a book swap (thanks Monika). The characters were interestingly interwoven into a strange and fascinating story about losing things, but what I loved about this book was the writing. It was beautiful and delicious and drank in the words like honey.

Harry Potter series (audio) – JK Rowling (author); Stephen Frey (narrator)

I was first introduced to Harry Potter in 2001. At the time, the first four books were already published. I ate them like food and was an instant fan. I even got to cosplay for the Order of the Phoenix release in 2003.

Me as Molly Weasley (left) with Moaning Myrtle.

The rest of the series I read when it first came out, but never managed to reread (despite it being a favorite). I started the audiobooks in September. It was intended to be exlusively driving entertainment, but then I started listening at the gym, during chores, and eventually each night as a fell asleep. Stephen Frey narrated these books with perfection. Not only did his glorious accent add an extra-special layer of Britishness to the story, his vocal characterizations were spot on.

So there it is. Bring it one, 2016! And Happy New Years, readers!!!