Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 13 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 13, Moaning Myrtle has a temper tantrum, a mysterious diary is found, Hogwarts celebrates Valentine’s Day, and we learn about a former Hogwarts student: Tom Riddle. Let’s go!

Twists and turns and misdirection abound in this chapter! That’s what makes it so much fun!

Hermione spends a great deal of time in the hospital wing to recover from being half a cat which, with all the attacks happening, causes a bunch of rumors around the school. Luckily, Hermione hasn’t been attacked (yet), but doesn’t want everyone to stare at her furry face either.

The problem is, they don’t have any other leads in the mystery of the Chamber. They know it isn’t Malfoy, and know that Malfoy doesn’t even know who it is. Where do they go from here? To be honest, I probably would have given up at this point. I would have done what I could to avoid the monster and help my friends do the same, but really, where do you go from here?

You find another mystery to solve, of course! Harry and  Ron hear Filch going off about the cleaning he has to do and find that Moaning Myrtle has flooded her bathroom. Again. Water everywhere. They ask her what is wrong and she tells them that someone threw a book at her. Harry attempts to comfort her, I think, by saying that at least it couldn’t hurt her.

He had said the wrong thing. Myrtle puffed herself up and shrieked, “Let’s all throw books at Myrtle, because she can’t feel it! Ten points if you can get it through her stomach! Fifty points if it goes through her head! Well, ha, ha, ha! What a lovely game, I don’t think!”

Oh, Myrtle.

They find the book, which looks very unremarkable, but Ron cautions Harry anyway. Some magical books can be very dangerous. But this one doesn’t appear to be. It’s just a plain book, a diary, that had been bought at a Muggle bookshop. The only thing written in it is the name T. M. Riddle. Ron remembers that name because it was on a special services award down in the trophy room, where he had to help polish trophies for detention.

A quick warning for series spoilers (it’s been well over 10 years, but still).

THEY FOUND A FREAKING HORCRUX IN MOANING MYRTLE’S BATHROOM! A HORCRUX THAT GINNY HAD BEEN CARRYING AROUND THE ENTIRE YEAR! I’m sorry, this makes me feel less sympathetic to Ron walking out in Deathly Hallows because he couldn’t handle how the locket was making him feel. Ginny is only 11. She was able to fight off the effects and get rid of the horcrux. She’s a badass!

Ahem. Back to the story at hand.

Hermione, fresh out of the hospital wing, tries everything she knows of to see if there is a hidden message in the diary, but it just comes up blank. They know that T. M. Riddle was a student fifty years ago, which is around the same time the Chamber of Secrets had been opened before. T. M. Riddle probably knows something about it (and how!), but they can’t figure out what.

Let’s talk really quick about the funny part of this chapter: Lockhart’s plan to boost morale at Valentine’s Day. The Great Hall is covered in pink and confetti and Lockhart has arranged for dwarves dressed up as cupids to deliver singing valentines to students. Why wasn’t this included in the movies?? It would have been hilarious!!

Harry gets a valentine, although he tries to avoid it, but the dwarf tackles him and sings anyway.

His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad,

His hair is as dark as a blackboard.

I wish he was mine, he’s really divine,

The hero who conquered the Dark Lord.

Aw, and it was Ginny who sent it to him, we find out as Malfoy tries to steal the diary. Poor Ginny. She is so fascinated with Harry and doesn’t know what to do about it. I would never have had the courage to try and send a valentine to the guy I had a crush on when I was her age. It didn’t go well, but still, at least she tried.

Let’s talk about the most important part of this chapter, and the one that leads to one of the biggest twists in the book. Harry figures out the diary’s secret: he writes in it and the diary writes back. The diary shows him Tom Riddle during his fifth year at Hogwarts. Tom is an orphan who doesn’t want to go back to the orphanage for the summer holidays, but who will not be able to stay at Hogwarts because of the attacks going on. We get to see the headmaster before Dumbledore, Professor Dippet, who isn’t unsympathetic to Tom’s plight, but is also facing the potential shutdown of the school if the attacks don’t stop.

Tom’s version of events: he confronts a rather large student who has some sort of monstrous pet. The large student, Rubeus, protests, saying that his pet didn’t do anything and didn’t hurt anyone. They argue and fight, and the pet presumably gets away.

Harry sat up. He was sweating and shaking.

“What’s up?” said Ron, looking at him with concern.

“It was Hagrid, Ron. Hagrid opened the Chamber of Secrets fifty years ago.”

And just like that, the story takes another sharp turn. It’s so brilliant! We knew Hagrid had gotten expelled – he said so in the first book. I had thought at the time that he was just a really bad student and not good at magic, although there are other students who aren’t good in class (like Neville, or sometimes Ron) and they aren’t kicked out. It makes sense that Hagrid would have to have done something awful to be expelled, but who would ever think that this gentle giant would ever hurt anyone? He wouldn’t, of course, but he also has a soft spot for creatures that he feels are misunderstood (like dragons, for example). It is entirely plausible that Hagrid would have heard about the Chamber, tried to make friends with the creature inside, and lost control of it. Completely and entirely plausible. This is the story that Tom gave to the other teachers and they believed it.

Just wow. The first time I read it, I totally believed this too. Well done, J. K. Seriously.

See you next time for Chapter 14!

Books I've Read

Book Review: Crown of Midnight

Crown of MidnightTitleCrown of Midnight

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: YA Fantasy

SeriesThrone of Glass #2

Edition: Kindle e-book

Blurb: “A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

Review: Slight spoilers for book one, because it’s hard to avoid them at this point.

I love when reading the first book of the series and thinking that the story showed promise, and then reading the second book and being extremely satisfied. This was a great book two! It followed up on the events of book one (particularly the tournament in which Celaena becomes the King’s Champion) and added whole new levels of excitement and intrigue.

Celaena is such a great heroine. She is feisty, doesn’t take crap from anyone, but is still deeply, deeply flawed. And she knows it. The final reveal at the end of the book was not necessarily a surprise (I had my suspicions), but it was still so satisfying to see the evil powers confronted the way that they were. I won’t say more, or else I’ll really spoil things. It was a great finale for the second book, but things are definitely not tied up neatly. So much is happening, threatening Celaena’s relationships/friendships with both Dorian and Chaol, and testing Chaol’s loyalty and Dorian’s sanity.

And yes, there is a love triangle a bit, which can sometimes annoy me, but this one was done nicely. It didn’t bother me.

This book was hard to put down. I had to know the next steps. Has Celaena turned loyal to the king? Or is she playing her own game? What is going on with the magic in Adarlan? Who are these rebels? All things we need to know!

GoodReads rating: 4 stars

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 12 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 12, we see Dumbledore’s office for the first time and meet his very unusual pet, enjoy holidays at Hogwarts, and see the polyjuice potion in action. Let’s go!

First of all, I just want to say that this is my 600th post here on Life With No Plot! I’m so excited about that! You all don’t know how much I appreciate anyone who likes or comments, or even just takes the time to read my silly little drabbles here. So thank you!

On to the story now . . .

While I generally have issues with Dumbledore as a character over the entirety of the series, this chapter is one of the reasons why I like him. Let’s be honest – Harry’s case doesn’t look good here. He’s been caught twice now at the scene of the crime and is now known to be a Parselmouth – both things that could be damning circumstantial evidence of Harry being guilty. But Dumbledore believes Harry, knows that he wouldn’t do something like this, not only giving him the benefit of the doubt, but giving him the freedom to figure things out on his own.

I also really love that the first time Harry sees Fawkes the Phoenix, he thinks that somehow, he was responsible for the bird burning up.

“Professor,” Harry gasped. “Your bird – I couldn’t do anything – he just caught fire -“

Poor Harry. He’s just having a rough time.

We also get to learn important information about phoenixes, their strength and their healing tears. I’m sure that won’t come into play anywhere in the future, no not at all.

I also love Hagrid’s immediate and emphatic support of Harry. Hagrid is the absolute best.

It is my dream to be able to spend Christmas at Hogwarts. The castle all covered in snow and icicles. The Great Hall decorated with it’s enchanted Christmas trees and sparkling lights. It just sounds so beautiful. It is both lovely and sad that Harry looks forward to spending his holidays at school when everyone else looks forward to going home with their families. Also, what on earth is wrong with the Dursleys, that they send him a toothpick for a Christmas present? Why bother sending anything at all? Morons.

Moving on to the polyjuice portion of our show tonight. The potion is ready. They just need something from Crabbe and Goyle to complete it. Which they get easily, luring them with cake that has been laced with sleeping draught. Because they are dumb. Really dumb. I would question cake that was just sitting on the staircase. Not just eat it.

Oh wait. It was chocolate cake? All bets are off then.

I also really love that all this rule breaking is basically Hermione’s plan. Perfect Hermione who never puts a toe out of line. She would make an excellent crime boss, I’m just saying.

They get their hairs from Crabbe and Goyle (Hermione got a hair from a Slytherin girl during Dueling Club) and drink the polyjuice potion. This is an experience that I am glad is fictional, because I don’t want to ever have to go through something like this. It sounds absolutely horrible. But it works! Let’s give a cheer to Hermione once again – brewing a highly advanced and difficult potion as a 2nd year Hogwarts student! She’s just amazing!

Hermione is my favorite character, in case you didn’t know or couldn’t tell.

They transform, although something has gone wrong with Hermione’s transformation and she can’t go, and learn a fair amount about Malfoy. One, he is not the heir of Slytherin. Two, he doesn’t know who is, but wishes he did so he could help them. And three, his family manor house has been raided by the Ministry for Dark Artifacts, but haven’t found anything because they are hidden in a secret compartment under the drawing room.

Also, Mr. Weasley got in trouble for owning a flying car. Malfoy really loved to joke about that. Stupid git.

After the polyjuice starts to wear off, the boys run back to Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom to tell Hermione what happened and find out that Hermione does sometimes make mistakes. She thought she got a human hair off of Millicent Bulstrode’s robe, but Millicent must have a cat because . . . well . . .

Her face was covered in black fur. Her eyes had turned yellow and there were long, pointed ears poking through her hair.

Polyjuice isn’t used or animal transformations. She may be stuck like this.

It took a long time to persuade Hermione to leave the bathroom. Moaning Myrtle sped them on their way with a hearty guffaw. “Wait till everyone finds out you’ve got a tail!”

Poor Hermione.

See you next time for Chapter 13!

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday – 2/20/19

WWW New

WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words. Three questions, three answers. Go!

What are you currently reading?

Currently still reading Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey and chapter-a-long-ing with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling. This is because . . .

What did you recently finish reading?

I finished Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas this morning! Huzzah! Which means . . .

What do you think you’ll read next?

I plan on starting Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas either this afternoon or tomorrow (probably tomorrow). I’ll also need to start reading Never-Contented Things by Sarah Porter in the next few weeks, as that is my next NetGalley ARC coming out in March.

What are you reading right now?

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 11 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 11, the brewing of the polyjuice potion has begun, the trio has to cause a distraction in Snape’s class, the Dueling Club has it’s first very eventful meeting, and the monster strikes again . Let’s go!

Now that Harry’s arm is all mended, it’s time to get back to business. Polyjuice time! Ron and Hermione have started the brewing process in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom (because let’s be honest, who’s gonna look for them there?) and have done everything they can without those last few ingredients. That they will have to steal. From Snape. No possible way for this to go wrong.

Hermione decides she should be the one to actually steal the stuff because she hasn’t gotten into any trouble before. And, let’s be honest, she knows what she’s looking for. I don’t know if I would trust Ron to find the proper things. Sorry Ron. The distraction actually works – Harry throws a firecracker into one of the cauldrons during class, and in the ensuing chaos, Hermione is able to slip into Snape’s office and get the ingredients they need. Harry can tell though, just by the way Snape is looking at him, that Snape knows Harry did it. He has no proof though, so Harry is safe for now.

We get lots of excellent Snape scenes in this chapter, the next one being the Dueling Club, which Harry is excited to join, until he sees that Lockhard is running it. Ugh. He has talked Snape into assisting him and it is rather funny seeing Snape throw Lockhart across the room. This scene is more than just fun and games though, and it leads to another revelation about Harry. When Malfoy uses a spell to attack Harry with a giant snake, Harry finds out that the snake listens to him. We’re reminded of how the snake at the zoo in the first book responded to Harry in much the same way. A neat little connection.

The other students are not cool with this. They are completely weirded out. Turns out that the ability to talk to snakes, called being a Parselmouth, was something that Salazar Slytherin was famous for. It’s just one more thing that connects Harry to these attacks and leads everyone to believe that Harry might be the Heir of Slytherin. Top that off with the fact that the Sorting Hat had wanted to put him in Slytherin originally, and Harry starts really wondering if he could be related to Slytherin somehow.

Rumors spread all over school, especially in Hufflepuff. At the Dueling Club, Harry’s attempts to call off the snake looked like he was driving the snake towards a Hufflepuff Muggleborn named Justin. Which he wasn’t, of course. Harry was trying to make the snake go away. But if someone was rushing at me and a large snake, speaking a weird hissing language, I’d be weirded out too. The Hufflepuffs, and most of the rest of the school, don’t trust Harry at all anymore. It’s really sad. Harry had found a home at Hogwarts and is back to being treated like a pariah. I feel so bad for him!

The next attack, of course, happens soon after Harry confronts a group of these Hufflepuffs, and of course, Justin is one of the people who was attacked. This time it’s different, though. There is another victim.

Nearly-Headless Nick

How does something attack a ghost? How do you hurt someone that’s already dead? This is the creepiest part of the story yet!

Harry is caught at the scene of the crime, yet again. Wrong place, wrong time. We know he’s innocent, but it also looks really, really bad. Professor McGonagall tells Harry that there is nothing else she can do.

They marched in silence around a corner and she stopped before a large and extremely ugly stone gargoyle.

“Lemon drop!” she said. This was evidently a password, because the gargoyle sprang suddenly to life and hopped aside as the wall behind him split in two. Even full of dread for what was coming, Harry couldn’t fail to be amazed. Behind the wall was a spiral staircase that was moving smoothly upward, like an escalator. As he and Professor McGonagall stepped onto it, Harry heard the wall thud closed behind them. They rose upward in circles, higher and higher, until at last, slightly dizzy, Harry saw a gleaming oak door ahead, with a brass knocker in the shape of a griffin.

He knew now where he was being taken. This must be where Dumbledore lived.

Oh boy, here we go!

Tune in next time for Chapter 12!

Teaser Tuesday · Top Ten Tuesdays

Teasers & Top Tens – 2/19/19

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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Here are the rules if you want to play along:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“I heard tell of a rich merchant,” one of the sailors offered, “who laughed at the ship’s crew for whistling, and no sooner had he done, than a great wind came up and the ship heeled hard about, and he was thrown over the side and dashed on the rocks of La Dolorosa.”

Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey

Currently sailing the high seas in this book, and with that comes the superstitions of sailors. I do love her writing, but these books are very much a slow burn.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

TTT-NEW

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic:

Top Ten Books That I Loved

With Fewer Than 2000 Ratings on GoodReads

I really like this topic, as there are so many wonderful books out there that just don’t get the exposure. I also absolutely love how easy GoodReads makes it to find these books.

  1. The Lost Brigade by Paul Kelly – Full disclosure, this book was written by a friend of mine, but it’s really good! And it only has 6 ratings on GoodReads! He self-published this, and I just don’t think it got a wide range of viewers. Wide scope epic fantasy with a new twist that I quite enjoyed.
  2. The Magician of Wall Street by Minta Hall – Full disclosure, this is also written by a friend of mine and former critique partner back when I was writing. This is a cute, sexy read and a lot of fun, but only has 18 ratings.
  3. The Casters series by Norah Wilson and Heather Doherty – There are four books in this series, and the most GoodReads ratings one of them has is 220. I still need to read the last book (it wasn’t out when I read the series originally, but it’s out now!) I did write reviews for the first three (Comes the Night, Enter the Nightand Embrace the Night).
  4. Terrestrial Magic by Marina Ermakova – I recently reviewed this one for NetGalley (check out my review here), and it only just came out in January, so maybe that’s why it only has 12 ratings so far. It was really good, so here’s another shout out!
  5. The Heartland Trilogy by Chuck Wendig – These books got a bit more exposure, since Chuck has more of a following, but the first book is the only one to even come close to 2000 ratings (it only had 1828). The others are much lower. This is a fun sci-fi adventure and just a good time all around. Reviews here.
  6. A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz – This may have been my first ever NetGally ARC, a long time ago. I remember we reviewed this back when we had our podcast, but I also posted a review here. Fun steampunk journey, but only 1797 ratings so far on GoodReads.
  7. Division of the Marked by March McCarron – I got this one from BookBub a while ago and really enjoyed it. New fantasy with excellent characters, only 938 ratings. I read this back when I wasn’t blogging much, so sadly, no review to link to, but believe me, it’s really good.
  8. Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro – Another fairly new book, but with only 1652 ratings so far. As you can read in my review here, I was already a fan of Mark’s websites, but this book blew me away.
  9. My So-Called Afterlife series by Jamie Ayers – Another BookBub find, this one went from being a sweet, coming-of-age tale of a girl dealing with depression and loss to being a battle between angels and devils and everything else. Such a surprise and very well written, but only 979 ratings on GoodReads. See my review here.
  10. Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon A. Thompson – This was a fun read, plus it was the first time I got to take part in a book tour, which was great. This only has 588 ratings, but it’s a fun, urban fantasy, with elements of paranormal romance. You can see my review here. The sequel is really good too.

That’s it for my teasers and top ten list this week! Share yours in comments!

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 10 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 10, Harry & Co. find a way into the Restricted Section, a Quidditch match takes a dangerous turn, we get another visit from a certain house elf, and a student is attacked by the monster, proving that the Chamber of Secrets is in fact real. Let’s go!

Harry has a really rough time in this chapter, folks. Starting off with Lockhart’s class, where he has become the teacher’s pet. Lockhart uses Harry to re-enact scenes from his books and, I have to admit, it sounds hilarious. I would have absolutely howled in the back of that class.

Luckily, Lockhart is clueless enough to sign a paper for them that will allow them into the Restricted Section of the library to find the book with the recipe for polyjuice potion. One of the things I do love about this book is how taken Hermione is with Lockhart. Sure, she is the smartest student in her year and keeps her nose in a book at all times, but she’s also just a girl with a crush on a teacher. I’ve had crushes on teachers before and it’s always hard, always awkward. Poor Hermione. She really is my spirit sister.

The polyjuice potion is very complicated, partially because they need to find some of the rare ingredients. Including bits of whoever they are going to change into. I agree, Ron. I would not want to drink anything with toenails in it either. Ugh. It doesn’t help that the illustrations in the book make the transformation look very painful. At this point, I would be backing out of this plan, especially once they decide that they have to break into Snape’s private supplies in order to get what they need. He already hates Gryffindors and Harry specifically, but sure, let’s antagonize Snape even more, shall we? The potion takes a month to brew, but this is the only plan they have, so they go with it.

Quidditch! I love Quidditch so much, and really appreciate how they designed it for the films. It’s just so exciting! Another thing I love about it is how this is something that makes Harry just another kid. He’s had so much to deal with, but during Quidditch, he’s just another kid on his school sports team. They are playing Slytherin, their archnemesis, and things aren’t quite what they seem. For starters, one of the Bludgers seems to have been compromised. Instead of flying around trying to hit as many people as possible, it is targeted only on Harry. Eventually, it hits him hard and breaks his arm. Ouch!

This is such a funny scene, both in the book and the movie, and another instance of how clueless Lockhart actually is. He tries to heal Harry, but instead of fixing his broken bones, he removes the bone entirely! Whoops! Madame Pomfrey to the rescue! I have to say, Madame Pomfrey doesn’t get enough love in the fandom community. She is one of my favorite minor characters in the series, always there to patch them up after one of their escapades, without asking too many questions. She is able to fix Harry’s arm using a potion called Skele-Gro, but it takes a full night to regrow.

And that night, who should appear in the hospital wing? Dobby!!

Turns out Dobby was behind the barrier at Platform 9 3/4 not letting them through, as well as the Bludger going haywire, in an attempt to either keep Harry away from Hogwarts or to send him home. Even though Dobby has been behind all this unpleasantness, it’s hard to not feel sorry for him. He’s just so pathetic.

“Ah, if Harry Potter only knew!” Dobby groaned, more tears dripping onto his ragged pillowcase. “If he knew what he means to us, to the lowly, the enslaved, we dregs of the magical world! Dobby remembers how it was when He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was at the height of his powers, sir! We house-elves were treated like vermin, sir! Of course, Dobby is still treated like that, sire,” he admitted, drying his face on the pillowcase. “But mostly, sir, life has improved for my kind since you triumphed over He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Harry Potter survived, and the Dark Lord’s power was broken, and it was a new dawn, sir, and Harry Potter shone like a beacon of hope for those of us who thought the dark days would never end, sir . . . And now, at Hogwarts, terrible things are to happen, are perhaps happening already, and Dobby cannot let Harry Potter stay here now that history is to repeat itself, now that the Chamber of Secrets is open once more -“

And just like that, the story intensifies again. When we first met Dobby, Harry wondered if someone had sent him as a joke. Now we know that no only is Dobby no joke, but Dobby is in the thick of everything that is going on right now, or at least knows about it. We also learn that the Chamber of Secrets, which Professor Binns had written off as a myth, has been opened before. Dobby isn’t capable of spilling the beans, and Harry isn’t about to just leave, not when one of his best friends is a Muggleborn and as such, could be a potential target.

We get even more confirmation that the Chamber is indeed real and dangerous when Colin Creevy is brought to the hospital wing, petrified just as Mrs. Norris was. He is brought there by Dumbledore and McGonagall, his camera still clutched in his hand. No pictures of the attacker – whatever was powerful enough to petrify Colin also fried his camera – but Dumbledore already knows what has happened. Whatever monster lives in the Chamber of Secrets, it’s out and it’s hunting.

Tune in next time for Chapter 11!

Added to GoodReads

Added to GoodReads – 2/18/19

goodreads

Ugh. Last week was just a crazy week, y’all. First, my daughter was having some issues at school that I needed to take care of. Then, she caught the flu, followed by my husband catching it as well. Keeping my fingers crossed that I don’t get it, but it may be a lost cause at this point. I guess we’ll see. Pile all of that on top of the anniversary of losing my dad and a holiday that I really don’t like, and you can imagine – I’m a bit of a mess right now!

Because of this, I have not been keeping up with what other people are reading (and I’m barely reading myself, ggrrrrrr!), but I did want to share at least a few books that I found. Let me know if you’ve checked them out.

  • A Danger to Herself and Others by Alyssa Sheinmel – This book was glowingly recommended by Jenaca at JenacideByBibliophile. You can read her review here.
  • The Wicked King by Holly Black – Honestly, this one would be on my radar anyway because I love Holly Black, but you should also read this really great review over at Silver Button Books.
  • Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh – I was hesitant to share this one, as it is the 11th book in a series, but after looking up this series, I am so surprised I hadn’t heard of it before! You can check out this review of the 11th book, brought to you by Beckireads at The Flutterby Room, as it appears to be spoiler free if you haven’t read the rest of the books. I am actually adding book #1, Angel’s Blood, to my list right now!

I’m sure there are other fabulous reviews out there, so please let me know if you saw one that you would like to share in comments below.  I will hopefully be able to keep up with everyone better this week.

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 9 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

HPCS BannerIn Chapter 9, we find out Mrs. Norris’s fate, see rumors starting to spread about Harry, and find out exactly what this Chamber of Secrets business is. Let’s go!

Filch is such a horrible, miserable person, but you have to feel sorry for him in this chapter. He is absolutely devastated by what has happened to Mrs. Norris. It’s hard not to be. I love cats. My goal in life is to become a crazy cat lady. I have two cats so far and would have more if my husband didn’t object so strongly (he loves our two cats, or at least one of them, but has put his foot down to having more). Mrs. Norris is a mean cat, no question, but she didn’t deserve this. I would be crying my eyes out too, Filch.

But Mrs. Norris is not dead! She’s only been petrified, and the mandrakes we saw a few chapters back can help create a potion to cure her. Yay! Can we talk for a second here how obnoxious Lockhart is here as well. His excessive, know-it-all, seen-it-all attitude is in such poor taste. Just stop talking, Lockhart! Nobody cares!

Filch thinks that Harry was behind the attack because Harry had seen his Kwikspell course and knows that Filch is a squib. I like learning these layers of how the Wizarding World works, even if they are unpleasant. It gives the world depth. Not everything is a bed of roses. In this case, squibs are the opposite of Muggleborn wizards – they are from magical families, but have no magic of their own. Because of this, they are looked down upon the same way Muggleborns are, in many ways.

This incident also builds up more suspicion about Snape, which is always fun. Snape has a strange reaction to finding Mrs. Norris, looking “as though he was trying hard not to smile.” After they are (for now) exonerated, Harry wants to get to bed “before Snape comes along and tries to frame us for something else.” Harry is almost always suspicious of Snape, the same way Snape is always suspicious of Harry.

Later in the chapter, we finally find out what the Chamber of Secrets is during their History of Magic class. Professor Binns is their only teacher who is a ghost, who also has the distinction of being the most boring teacher at Hogwarts. I know purists complained, but I’m glad they cut him from the movies and gave this scene to McGonagall, mostly because more Maggie Smith is always a good thing. Binns tells them of a secret chamber created by Salazar Slytherin, one of the Hogwarts founders, that contained a creature that only Slytherin could control. Only Slytherin’s true heir would be able to find the chamber and take control of the monster. The school has been searched, many times, and no chamber has been found, which has led Binns (at least) to believe that it is just a myth.

More misdirection, which is so much fun! Students are acting strangely around Harry, avoiding him like the plague, and Harry remembers that the Sorting Hat had wanted originally to put him in Slytherin. This makes Harry start to wonder the same thing everyone else is: could Harry be the Heir of Slytherin? Of course, he isn’t, but the first time I read the book, I have to admit, I wondered if it might be true. He was having all these weird experiences and couldn’t figure out what was going on. He also knew nothing about his dad’s side of the family. So it was, in theory, possible.

The three kiddos decided to poke around for clues, which quite frankly is such a dumb idea. You were already suspects, and now you are hanging around the scene of the crime. Why? It does lead to us learning about Ron’s biggest fear: spiders.

“It’s not funny,” said Ron, fiercely. “If you must know, when I was three, Fred turned my – my teddy bear into a great big filthy spider because I broke his toy broomstick . . . You wouldn’t like them either if you’d been holding your bear and suddenly it had too many legs and . . .”

Oh, Ron.

The spiders are behaving weird, marching in a line out the window. There is also water all over the floor, coming from Myrtle’s bathroom. Clues that don’t really lead to anything right now, but that become important later.

In the Common Room that night, they discuss who might be behind it. Of course, their suspect is Malfoy. And, let’s be honest, Malfoy seems like the type. He seemed really excited when Mrs. Norris was attacked. He hates Muggleborns, just like Slytherin was rumored to. His father seems evil enough to be involved. The first time through, I was ready to believe it was Malfoy, even if that did seem a bit obvious. He certainly had the motive.

So how do they go about finding out more information? With polyjuice potion, of course! Hermione has read about this potion, but knows the recipe would be in a book in the Restricted Section of the library. They would need to find a teacher, who wasn’t particularly bright, to sign off on a permission slip to let them get the book. Hmm. Wonder who they could ask?

Tune in next time for Chapter 10!

Books I've Read

Revisiting Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I didn’t post a WWW yesterday because I have A). been stressed, B). been going through some personal issues, which has led to, C). the beginnings of a reading slump, which means that, D). there are no changes to what I am reading at the moment. Working through it though, as much as I can.

Sorcerer's StoneThis is not a review in the traditional sense. Most of my reviews rely heavily on what my first impressions are. With a book series like Harry Potter, which has been in my life for a long time and has impacted my life in many significant ways, there is no way that I can be impartial about reviewing them. I logically know that they are not perfect works, that there are plenty of flaws that people love to pick apart, but I will always revere these books and what they did, not just for me, but for their impact culturally towards the way we see fandom and how they invigorated the book world as a whole.

I was one of those readers who saw the movie first. I had seen all kinds of advertisements and interviews and hype for the film, but I didn’t really know much about it. I had heard the name, but wrote it off as just some kids book – probably good, if it was getting this much attention, but nothing I would probably pick up and read. My then-husband and I went to the theater to see another movie (I don’t even remember what it was now), but it was sold out. A showing of Sorcerer’s Stone was getting ready to start and still had seats, so we went ahead and purchased tickets, figuring that it was probably just a silly kiddie flick, but at least it would be fun.

Afterwards, we immediately left for the Barnes & Noble down the street and bought a copy of the book. We agreed that I would read it first, because I am a much faster reader than he is. It took me less than a day. I almost read it in one sitting. I was completely transported into the story and the world. I loved the characters, even more than I did in the movie. It was, in many ways, a truly magical experience (pun intended).

Discovering Harry Potter also happened during a time in my life when I desperately needed something to make me happy. The movie came out in November 2001. 2001 was a shitty year. We were all still coping with the after effects of 9/11, but for me, hating 2001 is personal. I had lost my father in February 2001 (hence some of the personal issues I mentioned – this is a rough time of year). Still reeling from that, I allowed myself to get completely lost in the Wizarding world. It was my escape from dealing with the emotions I couldn’t handle (The Lord of the Rings films also helped in a similar fashion, as Fellowship came out that December). Part of me connects both of these franchises to my dad, both because of the time they first came out, and also because I think he would have absolutely LOVED them.

Hence why it is hard for me to be impartial to Harry Potter.

So is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone a silly kids’ book? In some ways, yes.

Is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone way more than just a silly kids’ book? Also yes. It’s so much more than that, to me, and always will be. It helped me find joy at a time where joy was hard to come by and kick-started my reading again, which had gone stagnant. For both of those things, I will always be grateful.