Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Chapter 20 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 20, Sirius makes Harry an offer and a promise, Lupin makes a dangerous miscalculation, and everything sort of goes to hell. Let’s go!

They all head back through the tunnel: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Lupin, Sirius, Pettigrew and Snape. Snape is unconscious, Pettigrew is tied to both Lupin and Ron. It’s an odd sight. Sirius decides to take this moment to let Harry know that he is his godfather. Harry already knew that, and Sirius offers that, once his name has been cleared and he is free, Harry is welcome to come live with him instead of the Dursleys. But of course, would Harry even want that?

“Are you insane?” said Harry, his voice easily as croaky as Sirius’s. “Of course I want to leave the Dursleys! Have you got a house? When can I move in?”

Harry is all for it.

This happy feeling doesn’t last however. They get outside, into the moonlight, and they realize that they have a problem. It’s a full moon. Lupin didn’t have his potion tonight. He starts to transform. Sirius transforms into his dog form and charges the werewolf, allowing Pettigrew the chance throw a jinx at Ron and run away. Once the werewolf and dog run off, Harry and Hermione don’t know what to do, but Harry hears a dog whimpering in pain and he takes off after his godfather.

Another problem: the dementors. They have realized that something is going on. they have cornered Sirius, now changed back into a human, at the lake, hundreds of them. Harry tries to cast his Patronus to drive them off, using the happy thought of leaving the Dursleys forever, but it’s too much. There are too many of them. Once they realize that Harry is trying to fight them, the dementors decide to come after him instead of Black, and Harry gets his question back from Lupin’s Patronus lessons finally answered: what’s under a dementor’s hood.

Where there should have been eyes, there was only thin, gray scabbed skin, stretched blankly over empty sockets. But there was a mouth . . . a gaping, shapeless hole, sucking the air with the sound of a death rattle.

This was so terrifying! And one of the few things this movie did right. Man, those dementors are so scary!

Harry knows this is it. Hermione has already passed out on the ground, the dementor has him around the neck, and he can hear his mother’s voice screaming in his head. Suddenly, he sees a bright silver light, circling the dementors and driving them away. Harry falls to the ground and watches this bright creature, whatever it is, travel across the lake to someone else, standing on the opposite shore. Someone who maybe looks familiar? But that’s it. Harry is out like a light.

Another short chapter this time, but I’ll wrap up Prisoner of Azkaban tomorrow with the past two posts, then be ready to start Goblet of Fire on April 1st.

See you next time for Chapter 21!

nostalgic reads

Nostalgic Reads: Secrets

Nostalgic Reads

Welcome back to Nostalgic Reads! Today, we head back to Sweet Valley, California.

SecretsTitle: Secrets

Author: Francine Pascal/Kate William

Series: Sweet Valley High #2

Blurb: Beautiful and ruthless, Jessica Wakefield is determined to be chosen queen of the fall dance at Sweet Valley High. If she can win the contest, she’s sure to win Bruce Patman, the most sought after boy in school.

The only person standing in Jessica’s way is Enid Rollins. When Jessica discovers the truth about Enid’s past, she knows the crown is within her grasp. She doesn’t care that Enid is her twin sister Elizabeth’s best friend or that revealing the secret may cost Enid both her reputation and the boy she loves. Only Elizabeth can save Enid from Jessica’s vicious gossip but can she stop her scheming twin in time?

Review: Oh boy. Jessica is not endearing herself to me at ALL.

I don’t think I fully grasped this book when I was younger. I never really had a boyfriend to speak of when I was in high school, so the desperation to hang onto one was never really there for me. To be honest, I’ve only ever really dated two guys in my life – and I married both of them!

Anyway, the main crux of this book is that Enid Rollins, Elizabeth’s best friend, has a secret. She is pretty straight-laced now, but she used to drink and do drugs with her old boyfriend, George. They got sent to juvie after nearly killing a kid in a drunk driving accident and Enid came out sober. She changed her whole life. Which – good for her. George was sent away to finish school, but he and Enid have kept in touch through letters. In fact, Enid’s letters have helped him clean up his act as well, and since he is coming to town soon, he wants to see her. No big deal, right?

Wrong. Turns out Enid’s current boyfriend, Ronnie, is a jealous, controlling jerk who doesn’t like it if Enid even looks at another guy. Enid is absolutely terrified that he will find out about her horrible past and that she is still in contact with George. First of all, Enid, girl, you need to run. Ronnie is bad news. I don’t care how much you love him, he should not have this much control over your life. Elizabeth thinks that Ronnie should be happy that his girlfriend has worked so hard to improve herself and has been a good and loyal friend to someone who needed help. I agree. He should be. But he’s an ass.

So let’s talk about how awful Jessica is in this book, shall we? She . . .

  •  helps start a rumor about one of their teachers dating a student, which could get that teacher fired.
  • obsesses over wanting to date Bruce Patman just because he’s rich and drives a nice car (otherwise, he’s a jerk too).
  • finds one of George’s letters to Enid and GIVES A COPY TO RONNIE.
  • asks Ronnie out to the school dance after he breaks up with Enid (and only after she finds out that Bruce Patman is taking a college girl) in order to improve her chances of being named prom queen.

There is also a subplot about their French teacher, Ms. Dalton, who is actually dating Lila Fowler’s father, but who the entire school thinks is dating Ken Matthews, the captain of the football team. Sure, Ken clearly has a crush on the teacher, but Ms. Dalton is really nice and would never jeopardize her career that way! And besides, there is always nice Mr. Collins (who looks like a young Robert Redford) who has an interest in her too.

So yeah, Ronnie finds out and is horrible about it. Enid, of course, thinks that Elizabeth is the one who told him because she was the only one who knew (except for Jessica, who found one of the letters that got dropped in Elizabeth’s bedroom). Jessica claims that she is trying to help the situation by going with Ronnie to the dance, but her real motivation is to try and get enough votes to be the prom queen and kick Enid out of the running. Ronnie is on the dance committee, so she thinks this will help.

Elizabeth finds the missing letter on her bedroom floor and immediately figures out what must have happened. Enid gets some advice from Ms. Dalton (who is her favorite teacher) and decides to go the dance alone, but is surprised by George, who shows up to take her. He has cleaned up his act and is now absolutely gorgeous. Of course. They are old friends who have known each other a very long time though, so they immediately fall back into that comfortable relationship. George tells her that her letters were what inspired him to make all the changes in his life and were what helped him keep going. Aw! How sweet! He also asks to take her to the dance, which she immediately agrees.

Jessica gets her comeuppance by the end, of course. Elizabeth always seems to be able to do that, once she finally realizes what her twin is up to. Honestly, she should always just assume that Jess is up to no good. It’s almost always true. Jessica wins the prom queen title, but instead of Bruce winning king (which Jessica assumed, since he is so amazing whatever), she gets . . . Winston Egbert, the school nerd! And as such, she is stuck paired with him for the rest of the semester’s events! Hahahahahaha! All thanks to Liz, who started the rumor that Jessica had a thing for Winston once she found out Jessica was the one who shared Enid’s letters.

Does Jessica learn her lesson? Of course not. She never does. She just comes up with another scheme to catch Bruce, especially after the look they share at the dance.

So to sum up the rest: Enid apologizes to Liz and they are friends again. Ms. Dalton arrives at the dance and shares a dance with Mr. Collins. Ken Matthews, who was supposed to take Lila Fowler to the dance, dumps her when he finds out that she was the one who started the rumor about Ms. Dalton in the first place.

Definitely more cohesive as a whole than the first book (since there aren’t a million plot points). Still don’t like Jessica. Still think Elizabeth is a bit of a naive doormat. How were these two such role models for preteen girls back in the day? But still, an entertaining read after all these years.

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – Chapter 19 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 19, we learn the true story about Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew. Let’s go!

So many things are happening in this chapter, but let’s start with the first one: the confrontation between Sirius Black and Severus Snape. Oh man, they really hate each other, and have from the time the were kids at Hogwarts. Snape went in to deliver Lupin’s potion and saw the Marauder’s Map open, showing everyone heading down the Whomping Willow passage to the Shrieking Shack. And Snape is not in the mood to listen to any explanations. He hates Lupin, he hates Black, and he’s ready to see both delivered to the dementors. Hermione even tries to get him to hear them out, to listen to what they have to say.

“KEEP QUIET, YOU STUPID GIRL!” Snape shouted, looking suddenly quite deranged. “DON’T TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!”

Yeah, that’s not going well.

Black agrees to come quietly as long as they bring Scabbers back to the castle with them, but Snape says they can just call the dementors now. Harry decides to intervene, stepping in front of the door. He knows that Lupin couldn’t possibly be there to hurt him – he’s been alone with Lupin several times throughout the year and nothing has happened. He yells at Snape that he is only holding a schoolboy grudge. Snape doesn’t take that well at all.

“SILENCE! I WILL NOT BE SPOKEN TO LIKE THAT!” Snape shrieked, looking madder than ever. “Like father, like son, Potter! I have just saved your neck; you should be thanking me on bended knee! You would have been well served if he’d killed you! You’d have died like your father, too arrogant to believe you might be mistaken in Black – now get out of the way, or I will make you. GET OUT OF THE WAY, POTTER!”

Yeah, Snape completely losing it is pretty terrifying. Harry doesn’t hesitate though. He casts a spell that not only disarms Snape, but throws him across the room, knocking him out. Hermione freaks out, saying that they will be in so much trouble now that they’ve attacked a teacher. Really, Hermione?! That’s what you’re worried about here! You’re in so much trouble right now anyway, sweetheart.

But now that they won’t be interrupted again, it’s time for some proof. How did Black know about Scabbers in the first place? He saw the photo in the paper about the Weaselys winning the money to go on their trip to Egypt. Scabbers had been sitting on Ron’s shoulder in the photo and Black recognized him. He also saw that the rat was missing its toe – remember, the only thing they found of Pettigrew was his finger. Black’s story is that when he cornered Pettigrew, it was Pettigrew who caused the explosion, yelling as loud as he could that Black had betrayed the Potters, before transforming and disappearing into the sewer with the other rats.

It makes sense, in a way. Scabbers has lived for a very long time for a rat. And he’s been ill, not since Crookshanks came along (like Ron thinks), but even before that – around the time that Black escaped. Crookshanks, who could tell immediately that something was wrong with Scabbers, also knew that the big black dog wasn’t a real dog. It was Crookshanks who kept trying to bring him Scabbers, who stole the list of passwords, and who helped Black get into Hogwarts.

The whole story about Black being the secret-keeper for the Potters’ hiding place? He decided to change it at the last minute to Pettigrew because he didn’t think anyone would suspect it. Black and Lupin never told each other because they both thought the other one was the spy. Black feels guilty for the Potters’ deaths because he should have been the one protecting them, not because he betrayed their hide out. Enough of that, though. It’s time to prove that, once and for all, Scabbers is actually Peter Pettigrew. Luckily, there is a spell for that, which Lupin and Black cast together.

It was like watching a speeded-up film of a growing tree. A head was shooting upward from the ground; limbs were sprouting; a moment later, a man was standing where Scabbers had been, cringing and wringing his hands. Crookshanks was spitting and snarling on the bed; the hair on his back was standing up.

Peter Pettigrew, I presume?

Yep. Pettigrew maintains his innocence, claiming to be terrified of the repercussions of Black hunting him down. Terrified of Voldemort’s followers finding him. That was why he hid all those years as a rat. Except, no. He hid because he had sold out the Potters and wanted everyone to think he was dead so he would be safe. He was happy for Black to take the fall for it.

Black also explains how he was able to survive and escape from Azkaban. It had to do with knowing his innocence, which wasn’t a happy thought so the dementors couldn’t steal it, and being able to transform into a dog. Apparently, dementors can’t actually see, so they didn’t see that there was a dog instead of a person. They could just feel the thoughts and emotions of the creature in the cell. Black was able to slip out of his cell and swim to the mainland in his dog form. It was also how he managed to hide in the Forbidden Forest as just another creature.

Finally, after all the words back and forth, Harry realizes that Black is telling the truth. Pettigrew, realizing that his old friends are now going to kill him, appeals to everyone in the room to save him.

“Ron . . . haven’t I been a good friend . . . a good pet? You won’t let them kill me, Ron, will you . . . you’re on my side, aren’t you?”

But Ron was staring at Pettigrew with the utmost revulsion.

“I let you sleep in my bed!” he said.

“Kind boy . . . kind master . . .”Pettigrew crawled toward Ron, “you won’t let them do it . . . I was your rat . . . I was a good pet . . .”

Oh, that’s really creepy, when you think about it. This grown man, disguised as a pet rat, has been living in Ron’s bedroom, sleeping in his bed, for most of Ron’s childhood. Ew ew ewwwww!

Pettigrew maintains that he couldn’t have done anything else. Voldemort was gaining in power and there had been no point in trying to fight him. That’s why he switched sides. He was afraid to be killed. But now, Black and Lupin are going to kill him for what he did. Harry, once again, intervenes, saying that they can’t kill him. He doesn’t think his dad would want his best friends to be murderers. Instead, Pettigrew will go to the dementors, to Azkaban. They tie him up, bandage up Ron’s leg enough for him to walk, float Snape into the air, and head back up through the tunnel, ready to tell the world the true story.

See you next time for Chapter 20!