Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Chapter 29

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In Chapter 29, Harry has to come to terms with what he saw in the Pensieve and Fred and George have an interesting development in their prankster careers. Let’s go!

This is such a sad situation. Harry has spent his entire childhood wondering about his father and, ever since entering the wizarding world, heard nothing but how wonderful his dad was. After seeing Snape’s memory, it’s really hard to say that Snape was in the wrong. James and Sirius look like arrogant bullies who ganged up on the unpopular kid. It sucks.

Hermione keeps asking why Harry doesn’t have Occlumency lessons anymore. Harry lies and says that he can do it by himself now and he’s stopped having dreams. Hermione is definitely not buying this story at all, but the last thing Harry wants to do is talk to Snape about anything. Snape was absolutely livid about Harry looking at his private memories, and really, who can blame him?

On top of EVERYTHING else, they have exams coming up in six weeks. Hermione works hard to try and make study schedules for the boys. I love how she is a fount of optimism for them, but let’s be honest — they are probably not going to keep to those schedules unless Hermione is cracking a whip. Hermione also mentions that she has seen Cho and Cho looks miserable. This launches Ron into a rant about Cho and Marietta, but Harry isn’t paying much attention. He can’t stop thinking about his father and Snape.

Harry tried to make a case for Snape having deserved what he had suffered at James’s hands — but hadn’t Lily asked, “What’s he done to you?” And hadn’t James replied, “It’s more the fact that he exists, if you know what I mean?” Hadn’t James started it all simply because Sirius said he was bored? Harry remembered Lupin saying back in Grimmauld Place that Dumbledore had made him prefect in the hope that he would be able to exercise some control over James and Sirius . . . But in the Pensieve, he had sat there and let it all happen . . .

He is slightly comforted by the fact that his mother had seemed nice, standing up to the bullies, but it also makes him wonder how the heck she ended up married to his dad when it looked like she despised him. Harry had always liked it when people said that he reminded them of James, but now? Not so much.

In the library, Harry runs into Ginny, who tells him that they had to cut Quidditch practice short because one of their new beaters accidentally knocked himself out — with his own bat. Sigh. This poor team. That’s not the main reason Ginny came over though. Harry got a package. It took a while to get through Umbridge’s screening process, but it’s a bunch of Easter eggs that Mrs. Weasley had sent.

The egg makes Harry feel strangely emotional, which Ginny can immediately see. She thinks it may have something to do with Cho and suggests that Harry talk to her, but it isn’t Cho Harry wants to talk to. It’s Sirius. Harry wants answers. He wants an explanation. Ginny understands and says that if that’s what he really wants, then they should figure out a way to do it. But how? Umbridge is reading all their mail and all the fires are being watched.

“The thing about growing up with Fred and George,” said Ginny thoughtfully, “is that you sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”

I love that this is what Ginny has learned from her brothers. I LOVE IT!

And then they get kicked out of the library for eating chocolate near Madam Pince’s precious books.

Before the end of holidays, there is a notice posted that all fifth year students will meet with their Head of House to discuss career opportunities. Which is odd, because these books don’t really discuss much about what these students are going to do after school. We’ve seen a few examples of wizarding jobs, mostly tied to the Ministry, but what else is out there? Harry gets to find out soon enough, as he’s scheduled to meet with McGonagall. There are a bunch of pamphlets passed out with information about various wizard careers: Healing, Muggle Relations, Wizard banking, training security trolls. You know. The usual thing.

Fred and George interrupt them to say that Ginny told them that Harry wants to talk to Sirius. Their plan? Cause a big enough distraction that Harry can use the Floo in Umbridge’s office. This is clearly a very risky plan, but Harry is desperate. He needs some information badly and is willing to take the risk. He also has a special knife from Sirius that will open any lock. The plan is a go. The twins will make some sort of mishap in the east wing and Harry will have free access to the fire.

Hermione spends the next day desperately trying to talk Harry out of this idea, which only makes Harry and Ron both stop speaking to her.

Before the big plan, Harry has his career meeting with McGonagall and is dismayed that Umbridge is sitting in. McGonagall asks what career Harry was thinking about. He wants to be an Auror. McGonagall starts talking about how difficult it is, that they need excellent grades as well as strict character and aptitude tests with the Auror office itself. It’s very difficult to become an Auror. She starts discussing the classes that Harry should take, but all the while Umbridge tries to interrupt with that simpering little cough of hers. McGonagall and Harry both ignore her, until McGonagall finally asks her if she needs a cough drop.

They go back and forth a bit, Umbridge suggesting that Harry might not have the temperament for an Auror and McGonagall ignoring everything Umbridge says. When McGonagall says that his D.A.D.A scores have always been very high, Umbridge asks if she has reviewed her notes on Harry’s classwork. Yes, McGonagall has read your pink parchment, Dolores, and yes, she understood what you said.

“Well, then I am confused . . . I’m afraid I don’t quite understand how you can give Mr. Potter false hope that –”

“False hope?” repeated Professor McGonagall, still refusing to look round at Professor Umbridge. “He has achieved high marks in all his Defense Against the Dark Arts tests –”

“I’m terribly sorry to have to contradict you, Minerva, but as you will see from my note, Harry has been achieving very poor results in his classes with me –”

“I should have made my meaning plainer,” said Professor McGonagall, turning at last to look Umbridge directly in the eyes. “He has achieved high marks in all Defense Against the Dark Arts tests set by a competent teacher.”

Oh, she went there! Saucy McGonagall is my favorite! She is not here to put up with Umbridge’s crap!

As you can imagine, the conversation goes downhill from here. McGonagall tries to talk about the aptitude tests, but Umbridge says that they check criminal records, which Harry apparently has even though he was cleared. Umbridge says that Harry will never be an Auror. McGonagall says she will do everything in her power to make sure Harry achieves the test results needed. Umbridge fires back that the Minister would never hire Harry, but McGonagall says that maybe there will be a new Minister when the time comes. Umbridge explodes at that point, accusing McGonagall of wanting Dumbledore to wrest power from Fudge so that McGonagall can rise high in the Ministry herself and also become headmistress of Hogwarts.

All of that is plainly ridiculous. McGonagall dismisses Harry and he quickly leaves, hearing them continue their argument as he goes down the hall. Can I just say that I absolutely love McGonagall’s unwavering loyalty to Harry here? She has no interest in protecting her own skin where Umbridge is concerned, even though Umbridge is in a position to dismiss McGonagall, and there’s nothing she could do about it. But McGonagall doesn’t even blink. Harry is her student, who she has known for years, and that is who she needs to stand by. It’s beautiful.

They have Umbridge’s class next and Umbridge is already furious. Hermione keeps whispering to Harry to change his mind about breaking in to her office, and Harry does feel a bit guilty now, especially after McGonagall’s support. Hermione also brings up the fact that Dumbledore had sacrificed his own career and place at Hogwarts so that Harry could stay.

He could abandon the plan and simply learn to live with the memory of what his father had done on a summer’s day more than twenty years ago . . .

And then he remembered Sirius in the fire upstairs in the Gryffindor common room . . . “You’re less like your father than I thought . . . The risk would’ve been what made it fun for James . . .”

But did he want to be like his father anymore?

Ugh, it’s so sad! I wish Harry had just waited until term was over. He would have gone back to Sirius’s place eventually, and he could have gotten answers then. This is eating away at him though, so I guess I understand how he needs to know now.

After class, he loiters in the hallway until he hears screams and yells coming from the floor above. Umbridge comes out of her classroom and runs down the hall. It’s go time. Harry puts on the Invisibility Cloak, pulls out Sirius’s knife, and enters the office. He calls Grimmauld Place on the Floo and finds, not Sirius, but Lupin. Lupin is afraid that something is wrong, but Harry says he just needs to talk to his godfather.

Lupin gets Sirius, who is also worried that something is wrong. Harry tells them what he saw in the memory, and Lupin and Sirius both tell Harry not to judge James too harshly because he was only fifteen. Which Harry takes great offense to, since he is fifteen and would never do something like this.

“Look, Harry,” said Sirius placatingly, “James and Snape hated each other from the moment they set eyes on each other, it was just one of those things, you can understand that, can’t you? I think James was everything Snape wanted to be — he was popular, he was good at Quidditch, good at pretty much everything. And Snape was just this little oddball who was up to his eyes in the Dark Arts and James — whatever else he may have appeared to you, Harry — always hated the Dark Arts.”

Sirius also admits that he isn’t proud of his behavior — he knows he was wrong. They behaved like idiots because that’s exactly what they were. Lupin also feels bad for not doing something or saying something when the others went too far. Sirius also mentions that James always acted foolish when Lily was around, but that she didn’t really hate him. They started dating during their seventh year after James matured a bit.

Lupin then asks how Snape reacted when he found out what Harry had seen, which Harry explains that Snape threw him out and said he wouldn’t teach Harry Occlumency anymore. Sirius is pretty upset about this and is ready to storm up to Hogwarts to confront Snape about it. Lupin wants Harry to go back to Snape and demand Occlumency, but we all know Harry is not going to do that, even though Lupin says that learning Occlumency is the most important thing Harry can do right now.

They hear footsteps coming from Harry’s side of the fire and Harry quickly pulls himself out of the flames and gets under the Invisibility Cloak. Filch bursts into the office and starts going through papers on Umbridge’s desk, finally finding one that says “Approval for Whipping.” Nothing has ever made Filch happier, nothing at all.

Harry rushes after Filch and finds that, somehow, Fred and George have turned a school corridor into a swamp of Stinksap. They have been caught by the Inquisitorial Squad and Umbridge is ready to let Filch whip them, something Filch has wanted to do ever since they came to school. But here’s the thing. Fred and George are not about to get punished. In fact, they aren’t about to stay in school at all.

“George,” said Fred, “I think we’ve outgrown full-time education.”

“Yeah, I’ve been feeling that way myself,” said George lightly.

“Time to test our talents in the real world, d’you reckon?” asked Fred.

“Definitely,” said George.

They summon their brooms and fly off, announcing that their store, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, is now located at 93 Diagon Alley. Also, they are offering a special discount for any students wanting to use their products on Umbridge. Available in the store, a nice Portable Swamp, as demonstrated in the corridor. Their last words, as they fly away:

“Give her hell from us, Peeves.”

If ever Peeves had kindred spirits, it’s the Weasley twins. He salutes them as they fly off into the sunset, to the applause and cheers of the rest of the school.

See you next time for Chapter 30!

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday – 8/13/19

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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! 

This week’s teaser comes from Stain by A.G. Howard.

Neverdark — Nerezeth’s arboretum — had always been a beacon in their world of midnight. Other than the lead-glass window at the top that allowed a view of the outer night sky and the blink of dawn occurring once each day, the domed enclosure was forged of solid iron and filled with daylight. Or at least a reasonable facsimile. Thousands upon thousands of fireflies — fed with a special mix of pollen and liquid sunshine smuggled in from the day realm — drifted like infinitesimal stars along the shrine’s curved roof and everywhere the gardens and meadows flourished.

I am very much loving this story world that she’s created. A world of day and a world of night, constantly at war. I have loved A.G. Howard’s writing ever since reading her Splintered series, so I was excited to read this one for the Disney-A-Thon.

Please share your teasers in comments!

 

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Chapter 28

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In Chapter 28, the D.A. members face the consequences of creating their group and Harry learns some information about Snape. Let’s go!

The very first thing we learn: Umbridge has been named as Headmistress of Hogwarts. What has everyone else in the school learned? That Dumbledore was able to escape Hogwarts even with Umbridge, Fudge, Percy and two Aurors trying to stop him. The other interesting thing is that Hogwarts itself doesn’t seem to happy about the change in leadership. The Head office has sealed itself and won’t open to Umbridge.

One thing that Umbridge has done out of spite (because that’s all she is) is recruiting students to help her keep an eye on the student body, and don’t you know who was smarmy enough to join up. Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, and a bunch of other Slytherins. They are now part of the Inquisitorial Squad. This means that they have authority from Umbridge to enforce rules and actually dock points from the Houses. Ernie Macmillan is particularly upset by this, but Malfoy was not bluffing. They watch as the House hourglasses change, all except Slytherin, which seems the same. Fred and George also comment on this situation.

“Anyway . . . we’ve decided we don’t care about getting into trouble anymore.”

“Have you ever?” asked Hermione.

“‘Course we have,” said George. “Never been expelled, have we?”

“We’ve always known where to draw the line,” said Fred.

“We might have put a toe across it occasionally,” said George.

“But we’ve always stopped short of causing real mayhem,” said Fred.

“But now?” said Ron tentatively.

“Well, now –” said George.

“– what with Dumbledore gone –” said Fred.

“– we reckon a bit of mayhem –” said George.

“– is exactly what our dear new Head deserves,” said Fred.

Yes!! Fred and George unleashed!! No longer restrained by any sort of obligation to appear to care about rules. This is going to be great. Fred announces that “phase one” is about to begin and it is in their best interest to head to the Great Hall so that they will have a clear alibi for when things go down. It’s really not a bad idea, guys.

Before they enter the Great Hall, Filch appears to summon Harry to Umbridge’s office. Filch is thrilled that they have a new Head. Umbridge is just the type of person Filch has always wanted in charge. He wants to be able to whip the students or to hang them by the ankles in his office. Umbridge has also indicated that she will get rid of Peeves, something Filch has wanted for ages. Actually, that one I can understand.

Harry enters Umbridge’s office and sits down. Umbridge smiles at him in that creepy, creepy way and asks him what he would like to drink. She is very insistent, so Harry agrees to a cup of tea, which he doesn’t drink at first until she mentions that he should drink. Personally, I wouldn’t ever drink anything this woman offers me, and Harry has a thought about Mad-Eye, who would have never, ever accepted a drink from this woman. He pretends to drink, but keeps his mouth tightly shut.

As soon as he drinks, Umbridge starts with her questions. The main thing she wants to know is where Dumbledore is. Harry answers that he has no idea, which is indeed the truth. Then Umbridge asks where Sirius Black is. She knows that Sirius had talked to Harry in the fire up in the common room, but thanks to Harry not drinking the truth potion that is undoubtedly mixed into the tea, he is able to answer that he doesn’t know where Sirius is. Thankfully, Umbridge is so confident in her trickery that she doesn’t suspect that Harry caught on.

“Very well, Potter, I will take your word for it this time, but be warned: The might of the Ministry stands behind me. All channels of communication in and out of this school are being monitored. A Floo Network Regulator is keeping watch over every fire in Hogwarts — except my own, of course. My Inquisitorial Squad is opening and reading all owl post entering and leaving the castle. And Mr. Filch is observing all secret passages in and out of the castle. If I find one shred of evidence . . .”

They are interrupted by a loud BOOM! I’ll get to that in a minute, but I have to wonder really quickly why Umbridge refused to have her own fireplace watched by the Floo Network Regulators. Did she want to be able to secretly communicate with someone? Who would that be? Or did she want Harry to hear that so that she could set him up for later? Questions that we may never know the answer to.

So back to the boom. Someone (or probably two identical someones) had set off  a huge batch of magic fireworks. Not just normal fireworks. These are bouncing off walls, writing curse words in the air, and exploding all over the place. It’s absolutely brilliant. Umbridge tries to cast a Stupefy spell on one of them to try and take it out of commission, but instead, that makes it explode with even more force. Filch tries to bat at them with a broom, which only sets the broom on fire, while Harry takes off for a secret door he knows about behind a tapestry.

Which Fred and George are hiding behind. They are barely holding in their laughter. George says that if Umbridge tries to Vanish them, they will multiply tenfold. It’s sheer insanity all day long. The other teachers don’t seem to mind. Instead, they decide to lean into the craziness. Every time one of the fireworks ends up in their classroom, they summon Umbridge to deal with it.

The upshot of it all was that Professor Umbridge spent her first afternoon as headmistress running all over the school answering the summonses of the other teachers, none of whom seemed able to rid their rooms of the fireworks without her. When the final bell rang and the students were heading back to Gryffindor Tower with their bags, Harry saw, with immense satisfaction, a disheveled and soot-blackened Umbridge tottering, sweaty-faced from Professor Flitwick’s classroom.

“Thank you so much, Professor!” said Professor Flitwick in his squeaky little voice. “I could have got rid of the sparklers myself, of course, but I wasn’t sure whether I had the authority . . .

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Bless Professor Flitwick! Just bless him!

Gryffindor celebrates that night in the common room. Fred and George introduce the fireworks as “Weasleys’ Wildfire Whiz-Bangs,” a new item that will be in their shop. Eventually. They used up all their stock for this particular incident, but you can always preorder! I am quite impressed by the twins’ business model. They’re quite good at this! What’s more, the celebratory air even has Hermione feeling rebellious enough to, get this, not do homework that night. Shocker!

Harry dozes off in his chair and has another dream about the corridor and the doors. He makes it through the first door into a circular room with lots of doors, then through another door into a room of rows and rows of shelves with weird glass balls. Harry tries to move forward, but wakes up when another firework explodes near him. He’s particularly worried since he has Occlumency lessons the next day.

The problem also is that Harry hasn’t been practicing at all, and he knows that Snape will be able to tell. The next day, Cho comes up to him to try and sort of apologize for Marietta giving them all up.

“She’s a lovely person really,” said Cho. “She just made a mistake –”

Harry looked at her incredulously.

A lovely person who made a mistake? She sold us all out, including you!”

“Well . . . we all got away, didn’t we?” said Cho pleadingly. “You know, her mum works for the Ministry, it’s really difficult for her –”

“Ron’s dad works for the Ministry too!” Harry said furiously. “And in case you hadn’t noticed, he hasn’t got ‘sneak’ written across his face –“

That’s a fair point and it really makes me think less of Cho for trying to defend Marietta. Her friend almost got them all expelled. If Marietta had felt bad about the club, she could have just stopped coming and kept her mouth shut. The fact that they were able to get away, mostly, was pure luck. Cho makes a snide remark about Hermione’s trick with the jinxed parchment and the conversation pretty much falls apart there. I’m pretty sure Harry and Cho’s relationship, such as it was, is over now. And good riddance. He can do much better.

This means that Harry is already angry before he ever goes into Snape’s Occlumency lesson, which makes everything even worse. Right before they get started, Malfoy comes in. When he hears that Harry is in there for “Remedial Potions,” Malfoy is pretty darn happy about it. Malfoy is there to tell him that Montague, one of the Slytherin Inquisitorial Squad members that the twins had shoved into a vanishing cabinet, has reappeared inside a toilet and is very confused. Snape tells Harry that they will have his lesson the next night since Snape has to deal with this. Harry is quite pleased to hear this, obviously, and after Snape leaves with Malfoy, Harry really should have left too. But he didn’t.

Before each lesson, Snape has been removing memories from his head and storing them in Dumbledore’s Pensieve, which he is apparently borrowing. Obviously these are things that he doesn’t want Harry to accidentally see, so of course, Harry decides he wants to take a look. It would have been better for everyone if he hadn’t done this.

Snape’s memories. Harry sees Snape as a teenager sitting taking his O.W.L. tests, administered by Professor Flitwick. Wow, Flitwick has been there a while! Harry doesn’t pay much attention to Snape. He knows that if Snape is there, that means that his father, James Potter, is also there. He finds him instantly, since they do look so much alike. Harry also sees Sirius and Remus also sitting there, as well as Wormtail.

After the test is over, Harry follows them all out the doors. He sees Snape is walking away and worries that they will go in different directions, because since this is Snape’s memory, he won’t be able to follow the Marauders. They do seem to head in roughly the same direction, so Harry is able to listen into the Marauders’ conversation.

“Did you like question ten, Moony?” asked Sirius as they emerged into the entrance hall.

“Loved it,” said Lupin briskly. “‘Give five signs that identify the werewolf.’ Excellent question.”

“D’you think you managed to get all the signs?” said James in tones of mock concern.

“Think I did,” said Lupin seriously, as they joined the crowd thronging around the front doors eager to get out into the sunlit grounds. “One: He’s sitting in my chair. Two: He’s wearing my clothes. Three: His name’s Remus Lupin . . .”

James is acting goofy, playing with a Snitch that he had stolen. Sirius mentions that he is bored, and they soon see Snape not too far away. They immediately jump him, disarming him and then tormenting him. They are interrupted by a girl, Harry’s mother Lily Evans. She tells them off for attacking Snape after James flips Snape upside down in the air so that his robes fall down and show his underwear. They cast a few more jinxes before stopping. Snape, clearly embarrassed that he needed her help, calls her a Mudblood. That’s enough for Lilly to give up on him and leave, but not before James tries to ask her out on a date. Lilly clearly thinks he’s an arrogant jerk, which he is.

Before Harry can see too much more, the real adult Snape appears and pulls him out of the memory. To say that he’s angry is the biggest understatement in the history of understatements. He throws Harry across the floor and forbids him to tell anyone what he saw, and then tells him to get out and never come back. To be fair, I don’t see Harry ever telling anyone about this, even if Snape hadn’t known what Harry found. This memory is horrible and doesn’t exactly paint his father in a good light. Even to try and get revenge on Snape, I don’t think Harry would use this. He knows what it’s like to be bullied.

It also really hurts because this whole time, Snape has been saying that Harry’s father was a bad person, a supremely entitled brat, a rude and arrogant prick. Harry always denied this, assuming that Snape was just saying these things to hurt Harry, but now it looks like Snape was right all along.

See you next time for Chapter 29.

Added to GoodReads · Uncategorized

Added to GoodReads – 8/12/19

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Added to GoodReads is a weekly feature where I share the books that I have discovered and the book bloggers who are spreading the word. Here are this week’s discoveries:

  • Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim – To be honest, I have seen this book in lots of places around the book blogosphere, but never looked it up on GoodReads to see what the hype was about. After reading this review at Lori’s Bookshelf Reads, I am really excited to track this one down!
  • The Wild Book by Juan Villoro – This book is on a blog tour right now, so be sure to check that out! This is a middle grade book from Mexico and, according to this review by The Caffeinated Reader, it was really something special. Who wouldn’t want to spend time with a quirky uncle who lives in a library?
  • The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett – This is a historical fiction novel with a touch of magical realism, mostly centered around Vlad the Impaler, who may or may not be Dracula. Check out this review by Leelynn at Sometimes Leelynn Reads – she was lucky enough to get an ARC and really enjoyed it!

That’s it for this week! Have you found any new books or read some awesome reviews? Be sure to leave them in comments!

Uncategorized

Nostalgic Reads: Mary Anne Saves the Day

Nostalgic Reads

Mary Anne Saves the DayTitle: Mary Anne Saves the Day

Author: Ann M. Martin

Series: The Baby-Sitters Club #4

Blurb: Mary Anne has never been a leader of the Baby-sitters Club. She’s left that up to Kristy… or Claudia… or Stacey. But now there’s a big fight among the four friends, and Mary Anne doesn’t have them to depend on anymore.

It’s bad enough when she’s left alone at the lunch table at school. But when she has to baby-sit a sick child without any help from the club members, Mary Anne knows it’s time to take charge.

The Baby-sitters Club is going to fall apart unless somebody does something – fast. Maybe it’s time for Mary Anne to step in and save the day!

Review: Of all the members of the Baby-Sitters Club, the one I identified most with was Mary Anne. Like her, I always felt shy and my parents were very protective of me. There were quite a few rules in my house growing up, although not quite as restrictive as Mary Anne’s dad. I didn’t have to keep my hair in braids or only wear skirts and penny loafers.

I also was never, ever interested in baby-sitting. Except vicariously through books, of course.

This book shows that the BSC is definitely not perfect. They spend most of this book barely speaking to each other due to a misunderstanding that blows up into a pretty big fight. The “sick child” in the blurb actually had a really high fever – 104 degrees. I have to admit, I would be really scared if a kid in my care was that sick and I couldn’t reach anyone. Mary Anne keeps pretty calm and is able to take care of the situation, calling 911 and getting Jenny some help.

Also, this is the book where we meet Dawn! Dawn has just moved from California due to her parents’ divorce and becomes Mary Anne’s friend while she is not speaking to the other BSC members. We also find out that Dawn’s mom and Mary Anne’s dad knew each other when they were in high school – and even dated! How cool is that!

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Chapter 27

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In Chapter 27, they get to know their new Divination teacher and see the end of their D.A. meetings. Let’s go!

Oh, the girls are so happy that Firenze is the new Divination teacher, particularly Parvati and Lavender. They think he is oh so handsome! They are still very sad for Professor Trelawney though, and brought her some flowers, which was very nice of them. Trelawney is very angry about how Umbridge treated her, and really, who can blame her. Hermione knows that this just the beginning.

“I’ve got a feeling Umbridge has only just started being horrible,” said Hermione darkly.

“Impossible,” said Ron, who was tucking into a large plate of eggs and bacon. “She can’t get any worse than she’s been already.”

“You mark my words, she’s going to want revenge on Dumbledore for appointing a new teacher without consulting her,” said Hermione, closing the newspaper. “Especially another part-human. You saw the look on her face when she saw Firenze . . .”

First things first: Ron, you should NEVER say things can’t get worse. That is just asking for trouble. Secondly, Hermione is absolutely right. Umbridge will want to get back at Dumbledore for defying her and making a fool of her in front of the school.

Harry, Ron, Parvati and Lavender head for their first Divination class with their new teacher. It’s in a new classroom (since Firenze wouldn’t be able to climb the ladder to Trelawney’s tower room). A classroom on the ground floor has been fixed up for him to resemble the forest. Firenze remembers meeting Harry back in Harry’s first year at Hogwarts, but the first thing Harry notices is a hoof-shaped bruise on Firenze’s chest.

Firenze welcomes the class to his classroom, set up to look like his natural habitat. He had originally wanted to hold class in the Forbidden Forest itself, but that is not an option since the herd of centaurs has banished him. They did not like the fact that he had agreed to work for Dumbledore. Seems that centaurs don’t think too highly of humans.

The lessons sound so beautiful and relaxing. Firenze makes it look like they are laying on the grass under the stars. As they watch the twinkling lights, Parvati starts telling Firenze what Trelawney had taught them about Astrology. Firenze has a different perspective.

“That,” said Firenze calmly, “is human nonsense.”

Parvati’s hand fell limply to her side.

“Trivial hurts, tiny human accidents,” said Firenze, as his hooves thudded over the mossy floor. “These are of no more significance than the scurryings of ants to the wide universe, and are unaffected by planetary movements.”

“Professor Trelawney –” began Parvati, in a hurt and indignant voice.

“– is a human,” said Firenze simply. “And is therefore blinkered and fettered by the limitations of your kind.”

Ouch. He’s blunt, that’s for sure. Parvati takes offense to this, as do several other students, but Firenze and the centaurs look at things in the long term. He tells them that sometimes it takes ten years to understand what the stars are telling them. He also tells them that humans are rarely good at this sort of thing, but even what the centaurs can learn is not a certainty. None of it is, and that’s kind of the point.

When the bell rings and the students get ready to leave, Firenze asks Harry to stay behind, and says that Ron can stay too. Firenze has a warning for Hagrid and wants Harry to give him the message. Whatever Hagrid is attempting, it isn’t working and he should abandon it. Otherwise, it could stir up a centaur battle, and no one wants that. He doesn’t give any hint as to exactly what Hagrid is attempting, but whatever it is, Hagrid should stop.

The problem is that now Umbridge is watching all of Hagrid’s lessons, and most likely Harry in particular, so Harry doesn’t have much of a chance to talk to Hagrid at all. He finally manages it, but Hagrid brushes off the warning. Harry is worried that now that Umbridge has sacked Trelawney, Hagrid is sure to be next, but Hagrid brushes that off as well and says that some things are more important than a job. He still won’t say what he is up to and he still looks pretty beat up, sporting two black eyes at the moment.

School in general is still stressful, leading up to their O.W.L. tests. Harry is living for their D.A. lessons, where they are finally working on Patronuses. A good idea, since Harry himself had been attacked by dementors. Cho’s Patronus is a swan, Hermione’s is an otter. Lavender, Neville and Seamus (at his first D.A. meeting) can still only produce silver vapor, but at least it’s a start.

They all stop when they see the door open and close by itself. It’s Dobby. He’s come to warn them that somehow, someway, Umbridge has found out where they are and is on her way. They all break out in a run for the door, Harry hoping that they will get away quickly. He is caught by a trip jinx, fired by Malfoy, and picked up by Umbridge, who leads him to Dumbledore’s office.

The office was full of people. Dumbledore was sitting behind his desk, his expression serene, the tips of his long fingers together. Professor McGonagall stood rigidly beside him, her face extremely tense. Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic, was rocking backward and forward on his toes beside the fire, apparently immensely pleased with the situation. Kingsley Shacklebolt and a tough-looking wizard Harry did not recognize with very short, wiry hair were positioned on either side of the door like guards, and the freckled, bespectacled form of Percy Weasley hovered excitedly beside the wall, a quill and a heavy scroll of parchment in his hands, apparently poised to take notes.

The gang’s all here. This cannot be good. I really don’t know how Dumbledore can sit there so calmly. Fudge starts questioning Harry, asking him if he knows why he’s there. Harry starts to say yes, but then sees Dumbledore shake his head ever so slightly, and changes his answer to no. He doesn’t know why he’s there or what rules he supposedly broke. Umbridge says she will bring their “informant.” It’s Marietta, Cho’s friend from the D.A. meetings. Marietta is very distraught, not because she’s being questioned, but because her face has broken out with purple pustules spelling the word “sneak.” She had gone to Umbridge and ratted out the D.A., but once she started talking, her face broke out and she became to upset.

Fudge asks if there’s a counterjinx or something to fix it, so Marietta can calm down, but Umbridge grudgingly admits that they haven’t been able to fix it. Of course they haven’t! Hermione designed this! You think you can just undo something Hermione did? SHE’S SMARTER THAN YOU, DOLORES! This doesn’t completely deter Umbridge and she picks up the story.

She knows about the first meeting of the D.A. back in the Hog’s Head because someone else in the bar told her about it. She says that Harry’s purpose was to try and organize an illegal society, but Dumbledore stops her right there. At that time, Harry’s group, a simple Defense Against the Dark Arts study group, would not have been considered illegal because it was before the Ministry decree declaring groups as such. Any subsequent meetings would have been illegal, but they would need proof of other meetings occurring.

Umbridge claims that Marietta was there to confirm that, but Marietta is not talking. She seems terrified that anything she says will make her face look worse. Then, to Harry’s surprise, he feels something brush along side him, like a gust of air, and he sees Marietta shake her head no. Umbridge is taken aback.

“But there was a meeting tonight!” said Umbridge furiously. “There was a meeting, Miss Edgecombe, you told me about it, in the Room of Requirement! And Potter was the leader, was he not, Potter organized it, Potter — why are you shaking your head, girl?”

Well, usually when a person shakes their head,” said McGonagall coldly, “they mean ‘no.’ So unless Miss Edgecombe is using a form of sign language as yet unknown to humans –“

MINERVA MCGONAGALL GIVES ME LIFE!!!! I LOVE HER!!!!

Umbridge can’t stand being in this position of being ridiculed and starts shaking Marietta, but Kingsley stops her. Fudge continues the interrogation, talking about the meeting that night, the one they have definite proof of. Sadly, one of the Slytherins helping Umbridge found the list of names that they had all signed, implicating all the students involved. Fudge is immediately aghast that the name of the group is “Dumbledore’s Army.” Dumbledore immediately picks it up and says that yes, the group is his. He organized it, not Harry. He has been plotting against Fudge and Umbridge all along.

Harry tries to get him to stop, but Dumbledore has no interest in letting Harry take the blame. He also has no interest in getting arrested. He lets loose a silver streak of light, followed by another. Harry is pulled to the ground by McGonagall, who also protected Marietta. Whatever this spell was, it knocked out Fudge, Umbridge, Kingsley, the other Auror Dawlish, and Percy. Dumbledore says that he wished he hadn’t had to knock Kingsley out, but it would have looked suspicious if he hadn’t, and they need Kingsley to be able to stay at his post in the Ministry, for the Order’s sake.

Oh, and it was also Kingsley who quickly and quietly modified Marietta’s memory so that she couldn’t give them away. Before he leaves, Dumbledore tells Harry that he must learn Occlumency. It’s the most important thing. Before the others can wake up, Dumbledore grabs Fawkes’s tail and disappears. Fudge and Umbridge are both furious that he got away, but also baffled by how he did it. Fudge tells McGonagall that she had better watch herself and that she should send both students to bed immediately.

See you next time for Chapter 28!

Blog Tours · Books I've Read

BLOG TOUR: Perfect Pitch

PerfectPitchTourBanner

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Perfect Pitch by Alex Hayes, the second book in the Chameleon Effect series. Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for the opportunity to read this new exciting book!

First, let’s take a look at book #1 of this new series: Silken Scales

Book #1

Silken ScalesTitle: Silken Scales

Author: Alex Hayes

Series: Chameleon Effect #1

Publication Date: March 4, 2019

Genre: Young Adult, New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Find It: GoodReads, Amazon

Blurb: Idris Williams’ life may seem perfect…

Sure, Idris has confidence and great looks, a famous father and a beautiful girlfriend. Life would be perfect if he could dodge the bullet his father has aimed at his head — following dear old Dad into motivational-speaking stardom. But there doesn’t seem to be a way out…

— Until Idris morphs into something green and scaly.

Cadi has finally found a safe and loving home. Then a malicious boy turns her whole world upside down. The next thing she knows, she’s wandering the streets on New Year’s Eve, alone.

— Until a crystal leads her to this lizard boy with a smart mouth and massive ego.

To change Idris back into his sexy human self, Cadi must reveal a secret she’s been holding close to her heart for as long as she can remember. A secret that will send them racing to close a wormhole ahead of a deadly army.

A secret that could change their worlds forever…

Review: I really enjoyed this book. It was fun, fast paced, and had characters that you could really relate to . . . even if they are secretly aliens from another planet.

Idris is a young man who is being pushed by his highly successful father into a future career that he doesn’t want (despite being really good at it). His father wants perfection, which is not a good thing once your skin starts turning into green scales.

Cadi is a foster kid who finally hit the jackpot with some wonderful foster parents. Too bad she feels like she has to hide the fact that she’s telekinetic.

This story is told from both of these characters in first person perspectives, alternating chapters. You know at some point they will have to come together and that somehow Idris’s green scales and Cadi’s crystal necklace that sank into her chest are connected, but it was done in a way that didn’t feel to predictable. It was a fun journey, putting the puzzle pieces together, and learning the bigger picture. And that bigger picture? Pretty darn epic. It was exciting from start to finish.

Book #2

Perfect PitchTitle: Perfect Pitch

Author: Alex Hayes

Series: Chameleon Effect #2

Publication Date: August 6, 2019

Genre: Young Adult, New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Find It: GoodReads, Amazon

Blurb: All Dean wants is to escape…

But he can’t leave his younger brother, Ty, in the care of their alcoholic mother. And when their abusive father shows up, Dean has to get Ty out. Which means joining Shri — his best and only friend — in taking a job out of state and breaking the law by stealing his brother away.

Cadi’s life is almost back together after Dean blew it into a million pieces. She’s come to terms with her life as a shape-shifter — well, almost. She’s still trying to wrap her head around the fact that a vicious enemy is out to destroy the remnants of her people.

As if Cadi doesn’t have enough to deal with, Dean’s about to land on her front doorstep, forcing her to decide whether to let him into her secret world or  slam the door in his face.

The Chameleon Effect series, starring shape-shifter teens with extraordinary superpowers, is sure to appeal to Young Adult and New Adult readers who enjoy romance with a paranormal twist.

Review: I think what I liked best about this is that it really teaches you not to make assumptions about people. In the first book, Dean accidentally reveals Cadi’s secret about being telekinetic and it’s easy to think that he’s a jerk for doing so, especially when it brings complete upheaval to her life. But in this book, we see what Dean is really going through. The chapters alternate between his story and Cadi’s (although Idris isn’t too far behind), and it is a nice blend of the extraordinary (the battle between the Livrans and the Everetons) and the mundane (Dean’s fight to protect his little brother from their neglectful/abusive parents).

We also get to know Cadi’s friend Shri a lot more in this book. Shri is awesome. Full stop.

Cadi and Idris are taking their relationship and bond to the next level and it is beautiful to see. They have a mission now, and Cadi’s foster parents are helping them. Idris does have some issues with Dean, now that he is back in Cadi’s life, but they are understandable given Cadi’s mixed feelings towards him, especially with how they ended things.

I really liked this continuation of the story. This is probably a middle book of a trilogy (or at least I think it is), and sometimes middle books can get bogged down. This one didn’t. It continued to be fast paced and interesting throughout, bringing in enough new characters to keep things exciting, while still focusing on the original characters we’ve grown to love.

GoodReads rating: I gave both books 5 stars. They were both highly enjoyable.

Meet the Author

AlexAlex Hayes wrote her first fiction story when she was twelve. Inspired by her mother’s storytelling, she began work on her first novel, Ice Cracks, at eighteen.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. In her twenties, she moved from Marin County, California to Boston, Massachusetts, where she built a career as an IT professional in database engineering. In 2004, she self-published Ice Cracks, which became a semi-finalist in the 2005 IPPY Awards.

Alex splits her time between Grand Junction, Colorado and Guanajuato, Mexico. When she isn’t writing, she’s helping her partner, Lee, renovate a 450 year old hacienda. She is mother to one beautiful daughter and many wonderful cats.

Giveaway Time!

This tour features a giveaway. You can enter to win Ebook copies of both Silken Scales and Perfect Pitch, plus a $25 Amazon gift card. You can enter via this Rafflecopter giveaway.

Follow the Tour!

This is the last day of the tour, but do check out the other hosts to learn more about these wonderful books!

August 5th
The Avid Reader >> Interview
BookishRealmReviews >> Review
tfaulcbookreviews >>  Excerpt
Character Madness and Musings >> Interview
Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author >> Excerpt
Treestand Book Reviews >> Review

August 6th
Lisa Loves Literature >> Excerpt
The Eclectic Review >> Review
Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books! >> Review
Jazzy Book Reviews >> Excerpt
Viviana MacKade >> Guest post
diary of a wannabe writer >> Review
Books 4 Book Nerds >> Excerpt

August 7th
Brooke Blogs >> Excerpt
Reviews By Jaye >> Guest post
Bookworm for Kids >> Interview
cupcakesandbookshelves >> Excerpt
Urban Fantasy Investigations >> Guest post
Jessica Belmont >> Review
Ilovebooksandstuffblog >> Excerpt

August 8th
Living in a Bookworld >> Excerpt
So Few Books  >> Interview
Adventures in Writing >> Excerpt
Sarah Says >> Review
A Dream Within A Dream >> Excerpt
Kelsey Covers Book >> Review

August 9th
The Genre Minx Book Reviews >> Excerpt
Sincerely Karen Jo >> Review
Two Ends of the Pen >> Interview
Literary Flits >> Excerpt
Life With No Plot >> Review