Chapter-A-Long · Uncategorized

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Chapter 13

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In Chapter 13, we find out just how sinister Dolores Umbridge really is, and it’s super creepy. Let’s go!

As if we couldn’t hate this character more. Ugh!

This chapter starts off in the Great Hall during dinner. The rumor mill of Hogwarts has kicked into overdrive as news spreads of the argument between Harry and Umbridge, and from the sound of things, no one is buying his story. Everyone seems content to think that Harry is an attention-seeking jerk who is making up stories about Voldemort. Harry doesn’t understand why they feel this way, when they all believed him at the end of the last school year. Hermione has her doubts about that.

“Look, you don’t understand what it was like after it happened,” said Hermione quietly. “You arrived back in the middle of the lawn clutching Cedric’s dead body . . . None of us saw what happened in the maze . . . We just had Dumbledore’s word for it that You-Know-Who had come back and killed Cedric and fought you.”

“Which is the truth!” said Harry loudly.

“I know it is, Harry, so will you please stop biting my head off?” said Hermione wearily. “It’s just that before the truth could sink in, everyone went home for the summer, where they spent two months reading about how you’re a nutcase and Dumbledore’s going senile!”

Okay, sure. They had two months of hearing that. But they’ve had four years of going to school with Harry and getting to know what kind of person he is. The one shouldn’t cancel out the other and all the other students are being jerks. Except the nice ones.

They head back to the common room, talking about how their D.A.D.A. teachers have always been a problem, and that it seems like the job is jinxed. Which it is, but that’s not the point. It is pretty bad that they have someone now who isn’t even letting them use spells, especially for their O.W.L. year, and someone who is trying to get the students to spy on Harry and anyone who supports him.

As they sit and work on their homework, Hermione notices Fred and George in the corner of the room with a bunch of first year students. She is none too happy about it, especially when all of the first years fall to the floor.

“That’s enough!” Hermione said forcefully to Fred and George, both of whom looked up in mild surprise.

“Yeah, you’re right,” said George, nodding, “this dosage looks strong enough, doesn’t it?”

The first years are fine. Lee Jordan, who’s also helping the twins, gives them all the other half of the candy and they all wake up. Hermione still gives them a lecture and, when Fred and George brush off any potential punishments she might dole out, she threatens to write to Mrs. Weasley. That sets them straight, or at least makes them stop doing it. Hermione isn’t particularly happy that Ron didn’t back her up, but I don’t think that Ron wants twin trouble in his life right now.

Then Hermione, before she heads up to bed, reveals another plan she has, this time to help house-elves. She learned to knit over the summer and made them some little hats, which she proceeds to hide among some garbage on the table. Her hope is that the house-elves will be freed when they pick up the “clothes.” Would that really work though? Does clothing being their bond of enslavement mean they can’t touch clothes at all? Do they not do laundry? If I ever had a house-elf, you better believe I would command it to do laundry. Laundry is the bane of my existence.

Ron doesn’t like the fact that she’s basically tricking them into freedom, but Hermione doesn’t listen, because why wouldn’t they want to be free? I’m actually with Ron on this one. After she leaves, Ron doesn’t move the hats, but moves all the stuff hiding them so that at least they could make the choice themselves instead of accidentally picking up an item that would lose them their jobs.

The next day, the hats are gone, so Hermione is happy. Maybe some of them wanted freedom after all!

It’s another busy day full of classes giving way too much homework and lecturing the students on how important the O.W.L. tests are, including their first class with Professor Grubbly-Plank. After class, Harry tries to ask her about Hagrid, but she brushes him off. Draco Malfoy, not one to miss an opportunity to be a jerk, decides to get involved.

“Maybe,” said Malfoy in an undertone, so that only Harry could hear him, “the stupid great oaf’s got himself badly injured.”

“Maybe you will if you don’t shut up,” said Harry out of the side of his mouth.

“Maybe he’s been messing with stuff that’s too big for him, if you get my drift.”

Now, this could just be Malfoy being Malfoy, but Harry knows that Malfoy Senior is a Death Eater and could very well have heard information regarding whatever Hagrid was trying to do for Dumbledore. So great. One more thing to worry about.

As they leave class, they pass by Ginny’s fourth year class leaving the greenhouses, which also includes Luna Lovegood. She sees Harry and immediately comes up to him.

Luna took a great breath and then said, without so much as a preliminary hello: “I believe He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back, and I believe you fought him and escaped from him.”

“Er — right,” said Harry awkwardly. Luna was wearing what looked like a pair of orange radishes for earrings, a fact that Parvati and Lavender seemed to have noticed, as they were both giggling and pointing at her earlobes.

“You can laugh!” Luna said, her voice rising, apparently under the impression that Parvati and Lavender were laughing at what she had said rather than what she was wearing. “But people used to believe there were no such things as the Blibbering Humdinger or the Crumple-Horned Snorkack!”

Okay, so it’s nice that Harry has someone else who believes him, but he’s not sure if Luna is the best spokesperson. He is also interrupted by Ernie Macmillan, who loudly proclaims his support as well. This seems to carry a bit more weight, considering that Ernie is one of the prefects for Hufflepuff and is, well, not a weirdo (sorry Luna). It certainly gets a reaction from Lavender and from Seamus, two Gryffindors who have been skeptical towards Harry so far.

Harry can’t worry about that though. He has his detention with Umbridge to deal with. He arrives at her office, which he had seen before when Lockhart and when Lupin were there, but the place has been completely remade. Lots of lace doilies, lots of flowers, and lots of ornamental plates hanging on the walls with pictures of kittens on them. Basically, it looks like a demented grandma’s sitting room. Harry tries to be polite though, since he wants to ask if he can reschedule one of his detentions due to it conflicting with the new Gryffindor Quidditch tryouts, but Umbridge isn’t about to give him any leeway on, well, anything really.

It’s not even that she’s mean. It’s that she enjoys and thrives on having power over people. There’s part of this scene where Harry is fuming because of the tryouts and Umbridge just smiles at him, knowing that he is completely powerless in front of her and reveling in her amount of control. She’s such a sociopath, it’s sickening. At least the detention doesn’t seem to arduous. No tromping out to the Forbidden Forest or scrubbing out cauldrons. Just writing lines using a special quill. And by “special,” I mean sadistic and evil.

“You haven’t given me any ink,” he said.

“Oh, you won’t need ink,” said Professor Umbridge with the merest suggestion of a laugh in her voice.

Harry placed the point of the quill on the paper and wrote: I must not tell lies.

He let out a gasp of pain. The words had appeared on the parchment in what appeared to be shining red ink. At the same time, the words had appeared on the back of Harry’s right hand, cut into his skin as though traced there by a scalpel — yet even as he stared at the shining cut, the skin healed over again, leaving the place where it had been slightly redder than before but quite smooth.

So yeah. This “special” quill is cutting open Harry’s hand and basically making him write the lines in his own blood. That is dark, Rowling.

The next day, Harry feels so behind in homework, but is slightly comforted by the fact that Ron is also scrabbling to get it done. When asked why he didn’t do it the night before, Ron gives a dodgy answer. So now we have that to worry about. The day of classes does not go well at all, since he isn’t prepared, plus Angelina Johnson is super angry that he won’t be at tryouts to help pick the new Keeper. Ron and Hermione both try to placate Harry by telling him that at least the detention isn’t that bad, that at least it’s only lines. Little do they know.

The second detention hurts even worse, and by the third one, the words won’t disappear from the back of his hand. This crazy woman has permanently scarred the back of Harry’s hand to try and prove her misguided point. It’s sick.

On the way back, he runs into Ron, who is trying to hide is broom behind his back. Turns out the reason he hasn’t been doing homework is because he’s been going out flying to practice for the Quidditch tryouts. Aw Ron! He didn’t want to say anything because he thinks the twins will tease him about it. During their conversation though, Ron catches a glimpse of Harry’s hand and is absolutely horrified, and rightfully so. Harry reluctantly confesses what Umbridge’s detentions have really been like, and Ron wants Harry to go to McGonagall or Dumbledore. Harry doesn’t want to give Umbridge the satisfaction, which I understand, but still. This is abuse. It should be reported. Would anything be done about it? It would depend on how much control the Ministry is trying to exert over Hogwarts and Dumbledore, I guess.

For his final detention, it hurts. Really hurts.

I must not tell lies, Harry wrote. The cut in the back of his right hand opened and began to bleed afresh.

I must not tell lies. The cut dug deeper, stinging and smarting.

I must not tell lies. Blood trickled down his wrist.

Remember, she is enjoying this! Aaaaaaggggghhhhhh!

He tries to see the Quidditch pitch out the window, but even though he can sort of see, it’s hard to make out anything going on. Finally, as she dismisses him, something really weird happens.

“Let’s see if you’ve gotten the message yet, shall we?” said Umbridge’s soft voice half an hour later.

She moved toward him, stretching out her short be-ringed fingers for his arm. And then, as she took hold of him to examine the words now cut into his skin, pain seared, not across the back of his hand, but across the scar on his forehead. At the same time, he had a most peculiar sensation somewhere around his midriff.

Okay Potterphiles. Was this ever explained? What the heck just happened? I don’t remember if this came up again in later books, or if Jo ever said what this all meant. The pain in his scar was usually Voldy related, but Umbridge isn’t connected to Voldy right now, is she? And what’s with the “sensation” in his “midriff?” If anyone knows, please tell me in comments because I am stumped on this one.

After Harry returns to the common room, he finds out that Ron has been selected as the new Gryffindor Keeper! Yay! It’s about time Ron has something good happen for a change. Angelina tells Harry that she didn’t think Ron was the best at tryouts, but he seemed like he would bring less drama and would just fit in better. Hermione, who has dosed off at this point, wakes up and explains that she has been up late making more hats for house-elves, who have been apparently taking them since they keep disappearing. The hats, not the house-elves.

Harry tells Hermione about the scar hurting in Umbridge’s office and they try to figure out what could have happened. Is Umbridge being possessed by Voldemort, like Quirrell was? Is she under the Imperius Curse and that’s why she’s so evil? Hermione wants Harry to tell Dumbledore, but Harry doesn’t want to bother him about something like this, even though I agree with Hermione that Dumbledore would want to know. Harry also wants to write to Sirius, but this isn’t a good thing to put in a letter that could get intercepted. It just leaves Harry to stew about it and try to figure things out on his own.

See you next time for Chapter 14!

 

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday – 7/17/19

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Three questions, three answers. Let’s go!

What are you currently reading?

Still making good progress on Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas. Hoping to maybe finish it by next week, if I keep up the pace. I’m also reading Silken Scales by Alex Hayes for part of a blog tour next month. Also still plugging away at Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling for my Chapter-A-Long project.

What did you recently finish reading?

Just finished Stranger Rituals by Kali Rose Schmidt for a blog tour last week. You can read all about it here.

What do you think you’ll read next?

My plan is to read the sequel to Silken Scales, Perfect Pitch by Alex Hayes, which is also for the blog tour. I will also read Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas once I finish Tower of Dawn.

What are you guys reading right now? Please leave it in comments!

Also, don’t forget that I’m doing a giveaway to celebrate reaching 500 followers! Check out this post to enter to win a book of your choice!

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Chapter 12

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In Chapter 12, Harry and his friends attend their first day of classes and have their first encounter with Professor Umbridge. Let’s go!

Harry will have to figure out how to deal with the fact that even some of his friends don’t believe him. Seamus won’t even look at him right now. It’s got to be frustrating. Poor kid.

Guess who’s also frustrated: Hermione. The targets of her ire? Fred and George, who have taken to posting advertisements for people willing to test their latest inventions. She wants Ron to join her in talking to them about this, but Ron is understandably hesitant. Hermione also notices that Harry is not happy.

“Seamus reckons Harry’s lying about You-Know-Who,” said Ron succinctly, when Harry did not respond.

Hermione, whom Harry had expected to react angrily on his behalf, sighed.

“Yes, Lavender thinks so too,” she said gloomily.

“Been having a nice little chat with her about whether or not I’m a lying, attention-seeking prat, have you?” Harry said loudly.

“No,” said Hermione calmly, “I told her to keep her big fat mouth shut about you, actually. And it would be quite nice if you stopped jumping down Ron’s and my throats, Harry, because if you haven’t noticed, we’re on your side.”

That’s my girl, Hermione! Harry has every right to be upset, but not to take it out on the people who are trying to help him. He really needs to remember who his true friends are. Hermione reminds him what Dumbledore had said at the end of last year, that Voldemort is good at making people suspicious and untrusting of each other, and that their best way of fighting him is through friendship and trust. Ron can’t believe how much Hermione remembers EVERYTHING. It’s a gift, Ron. Just be grateful you’ve got her around.

They briefly wonder about how long Professor Grubbly-Plank will be staying, but Hermione points out that maybe Dumbledore didn’t bring it up so that there wouldn’t be too much attention drawn to the fact that Hagrid was off doing something super secret. There is also a brief conversation with Angelina Johnson, who has been named Gryffindor Quidditch Captain now that Oliver Wood has graduated. They are having tryouts for a new Keeper for the team.

McGonagall passes out their new class schedules, which makes Ron lament that the twins haven’t started selling their Skiving Snackboxes yet.

“Do mine ears deceive me?” said Fred, arriving with George and squeezing onto the bench beside Harry. “Hogwarts prefects surely don’t wish to skive off lessons?”

“Look what we’ve got today,” said Ron grumpily, shoving his schedule under Fred’s nose. “That’s the worst Monday I’ve ever seen.”

“Fair point, little bro,” said Fred, scanning the column. “You can have a bit of Nosebleed Nougat cheap if you like.”

“Why’s it cheap?” said Ron suspiciously.

“Because you’ll keep bleeding till you shrivel up, we haven’t got an antidote yet,” said George, helping himself to a kipper.

Yeah, there’s a reason why students may not want to sign up to be testers. Hermione brings it up that they can’t advertise on the bulletin boards at school, which they don’t like at all. They tell Hermione that she will want a Snackbox soon, because fifth year means they have to take their O.W.L.s – big tests that could determine what they do next at school. It’s a very stressful time. Fred and George didn’t do terribly well on their exams, but they don’t think it’s important, considering their plans. They didn’t even want to come back to school, but thought their mom would be upset if they dropped out. And they are right. Mrs. Weasley would not be happy about that at all.

The twins leave after giving a rather cryptic answer as to where they are getting the money to start their joke shop. Remember, Harry had given them his Triwizard winnings at the end of last year, but hadn’t told anyone. He’s not ready for any of them to know yet, either. This brings up a discussion about what they want to do after they leave school, since the twins seem to have their future planned. Ron and Harry think they want to be Aurors, but Hermione isn’t sure. She would rather do something along the lines of S.P.E.W.

Their first day continues. A boring class in History of Magic, as usual. Harry gets a chance to talk to Cho, but is interrupted by Ron and Hermione bickering. Snape’s class is a joy as usual, and by “joy” I mean “torturous.” Harry gets his potion wrong and Snape brings it up in front of the whole class, because of course he does. Harry snaps at Ron and Hermione and, later, Ron confronts him about it.

“Hermione and me have stopped arguing,” he said, sitting down beside Harry.

“Good,” grunted Harry.

“But Hermione says she thinks it would be nice if you stopped taking out your temper on us,” said Ron.

“I’m not –”

“I’m just passing on the message,” said Ron, talking over him. “But I reckon she’s right. It’s not our fault how Seamus and Snape treat you.”

Many people don’t like this book because Harry is just angry all the time. They think it isn’t in character. To me, it makes Harry seem more real. Of course he’s angry! He’s been through a lot, and very few people are sticking up for him. It is nice that his friends are still being supportive, while still calling him on his bad behavior.

Divination is next, where they are going to be trying to interpret dreams. Ron and Harry don’t really know what to do, so they just start making stuff up, as per usual. After class, Ron laments about how much homework they already have on the first day. Fred and George were right about fifth year – it’s rough! And it’s about to get rougher.

Defense is next, with their new teacher, Professor Umbridge. She starts off the class basically treating them like little kids. In her opinion, their teaching has been a bit sporadic, and so her class will be a return to basics. Her course aims:

  1. Understanding the principles underlying defensive magic.
  2. Learning to recognize situations in which defensive magic can legally be used.
  3. Placing the use of defensive magic in a context for practical use.

Their only assignment for the day is to read the first chapter, but Hermione quickly raises her hand and points out that Umbridge’s course aims don’t say anything about actually using magic. Which they don’t. Umbridge point blank ignores several of the students’ questions or comments, basically telling them that there is no need to worry about being attacked in her classroom, so there is no reason to actually practice defensive spells. In her opinion, this class has been taught by a myriad of teachers who have led the students to believe they will be attacked at any moment. As long as they learn the theory of the spells, they will have learned enough. Parvati is incredulous that the first time they actually cast their defensive spells will be during their O.W.L.s. Harry is about to lose it.

“And what good’s theory going to be in the real world?” said Harry loudly, his fist in the air again.

Professor Umbridge looked up.

“This is school, Mr. Potter, not the real world,” she said softly.

“So we’re not supposed to be prepared for what’s waiting out there?”

“There is nothing waiting out there, Mr. Potter.”

“Oh yeah?” said Harry. His temper, which seemed to have been bubbling just beneath the surface all day, was reaching boiling point.

“Who do you imagine wants to attack children like yourselves?” inquired Professor Umbridge in a horribly honeyed voice.

“Hmm, let’s think . . .” said Harry in a mock thoughtful voice, “maybe Lord Voldemort?”

Yep. That’s it. Harry has had enough. That’s for sure. And having this teacher being willfully ignorant of the dangers of the outside world is more than he can take. And I will say, although as I said before, she was too pretty for the part, Imelda Staunton plays the role of Umbridge perfectly in the films. Wasn’t quite toad-like enough, but still. Her simpering little voice and self-righteous attitude was just perfect.

Umbridge takes ten points away from Gryffindor for Harry’s outburst, but Harry is not letting this go. He continues to push, to stand up for what he saw and what he did. Umbridge gives him detention and proceeds to address the class to say that the rumors that “a certain Dark wizard” has returned is a flat out lie. She also tells the students that if anyone talks to them about Dark wizards returning, they should come to her straightaway. Harry pulls out the big guns.

“So according to you, Cedric Diggory dropped dead of his own accord, did he?” Harry asked, his voice shaking . . .

“Cedric Diggory’s death was a tragic accident,” she said coldly.

“It was murder,” said Harry. He could feel himself shaking. He had hardly talked to anyone about this, least of all thirty eagerly listening classmates. “Voldemort killed him, and you know it.”

This is so ballsy! And terrifying! I also think it’s sad that Harry hasn’t talked to anyone about this. Do they have therapists in the wizarding world? I’ve been saying it all along, but this boy sure does need one, with everything he’s been through.

Umbridge gives Harry a piece of parchment and sends him to McGonagall. The note basically explains what Harry did in class and says that he has been assigned detention every evening this week.

“Is it true that you shouted at Professor Umbridge?”

“Yes,” said Harry.

“You called her a liar?”

“Yes.”

“You told her He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back?”

“Yes.”

Professor McGonagall sat down behind her desk, frowning at Harry. Then she said, “Have a biscuit, Potter.”

I love her so much! She can’t interfere with another teacher’s punishment, but she has her own ways of making sure that Harry knows that she’s on his side. By giving him cookies. She also helps Harry realize that this is more than just about whether or not he or Umbridge are telling the truth or telling lies. More than ever, Harry needs to control himself. She asks if he remembers what Umbridge said at the feast, and when Harry sort of answers, McGonagall is grateful that at least Harry listens to Hermione.

We all are, Minerva. We all are.

See you next time for Chapter 13!

Teaser Tuesday · Top Ten Tuesdays

Teasers & Top Tens – 7/16/19

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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Ambrosia at 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 Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas.

Nesryn knew.

She knew it hadn’t been mere interest that had prompted Chaol to ask her to talk to him last night, but guilt.

Hmmmm . . . wonder why someone might be feeling guilty? You’ll have to read to find out!

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

TTT-NEW

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

Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors

This one was actually a bit difficult for me, because I don’t buy as many books as I used to. I am very lucky that my local library has a really big ebook selection, which between that and all the review copies I’ve been getting, has kept me pretty busy. Here are a bunch of authors that I enjoy and would typically try to buy as soon as I could.

  1. A.G. Howard – Author of the Splintered series, RoseBlood, and Stain
  2. John Green – Author of Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, The Fault in Our Stars, and several others
  3. Hank Green – Author of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
  4. Mark Oshiro – Author of Anger is a Gift
  5. Chuck Wendig – Author of the Miriam Black series, the Heartland series, Wanderers, and several others
  6. Neil Gaiman – Co-Author of Good Omens. Author of American Gods, The Graveyard Book, the Sandman series, and many others.
  7. Cassandra Clare – Author of the Shadowhunters series (multiple series)
  8. Dianne Sylvan – Author of the Shadow World series, as well as several neo-pagan non-fiction books
  9. Maureen Johnson – Author of 13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlet, the Shades of London series, and many others
  10. Erin Morgenstern – Author of The Night Circus and the upcoming The Starless Sea

Those are my teasers and top tens for this week. Please leave yours in comments!

Also, as a reminder, I am doing a giveaway to celebrate hitting 500 followers on this blog. If you want to sign up, please check out this post to do so. 🙂

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Chapter 11

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In Chapter 11, we meet the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Let’s go!

Yeah, when the school weirdo claims that she can also see the scary skeleton horses, it’s not encouraging. And when I say school weirdo, that’s not a slight. I was my school’s weirdo, so I have they hold a special place in my heart.

On the carriage ride, they all discuss where Hagrid might be, since he wasn’t there to greet the first-years. Luna mentions that all of Ravenclaw thinks that Hagrid is not a good teacher and kind of a joke, which Ron takes great offense to. Don’t get me wrong, I love Hagrid – but he’s not a great teacher. He’s doing his best, though. I’m sure of that. Harry even tries to see if there are any lights or anything at Hagrid’s hut as they go by, but can’t see anything.

They arrive at the Great Hall, where Luna leaves to sit with the Ravenclaws and Ginny leaves to sit with some of her fourth year friends. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Neville sit down near Nearly-Headless Nick, Parvati and Lavender. Harry scans the teachers’ table looking for Hagrid again, but he’s not there either. They speculate that maybe he hasn’t come back from that mysterious mission that Dumbledore had sent him on. They also notice a new professor.

“It’s that Umbridge woman!”

“Who?” said Hermione.

“She was at my hearing, she works for Fudge!”

“Nice cardigan,” said Ron, smirking.

“She works for Fudge?” Hermione repeated, frowning. “What on earth’s she doing here, then?”

No time to speculate, as the first years have arrived. The Sorting Hat is on its stool and begins its yearly song, but with a decidedly more somber theme than in previous years. Where it usually just talks about the four Houses and the qualities they honor, now it mentions Hogwarts being in trouble and the urgent need to be united. According to Nearly-Headless Nick, this isn’t the first time the hat has done this, however he doesn’t have a chance to elaborate before the sorting begins. After the last first-year has been sorted, Dumbledore gives a brief welcome and tells them to begin.

Nick continues his explanation. The Sorting Hat always gives warnings at times when it feels the school is threatened, and those warnings are always the same: “Stand together, be strong from within.” Ron wonders how it knows if the school is in danger, considering the fact that it is a hat, although as Nick points out, it does live in Dumbledore’s office. I’m sure it hears lots of information from there. Harry can’t imagine getting buddy-buddy with the Slytherins, and I agree that it would be a stretch. I can’t imagine the Slytherins, any of the ones that we know anyway, offering a hand of friendship.

After they finish eating, Dumbledore stands again for a few announcements, mostly about the Forbidden Forest and the list of items Filch has that are not allowed on school property. He also announces that Professor Grubbly-Plank will be teaching Care of Magical Creatures, and Professor Umbridge, who will be teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts. Before he can go on, Umbridge clears her throat and stands up, intending to speak. Dumbledore immediately sits down and gives her a moment to do so, although the other teachers are not very happy about it. Umbridge addresses the students as though they are little kids, which makes Harry’s attention wane, but she also says some pretty interesting things.

“There again, progress for progress’s sake must be discouraged, for our tried and tested traditions often require no tinkering. A balance, then, between old and new, between permanence and change, between tradition and innovation . . . because some changes will be for the better, while others will come, in the fullness of time, to be recognized as errors of judgment. Meanwhile, some old habits will be retained, and rightly so, whearas others, outmoded and outworn, must be abandoned. Let us move forward, then, into a new era of openness, effectiveness, and accountability, intent on preserving what ought to be preserved, perfecting what needs to be perfected, and pruning wherever we find practices that ought to be prohibited.”

The boys don’t get a lot out of that, but Hermione does. As Dumbledore applauds politely and then continues his announcements, Hermione tells them what all that “waffle” means: the Ministry wants to interfere with how Hogwarts is run. Remember, Fudge was not happy when Dumbledore overruled him on Harry’s expulsion. Now he has someone who is perfectly positioned to be a Ministry mole, and we already know Umbridge is close to Fudge.

Hermione also reminds Ron that they are required to show the new Gryffindor first-years to their dorms. Harry immediately notices that some of the students are staring, pointing, and whispering about him. He realizes that, after the events of the Triwizard Tournament, he should have expected this. He did reappear with Cedric’s dead body right in front of the whole school. When he gets to his dorm with Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan, he learns that Seamus’s mom didn’t want him to come back. Turns out a lot of people are turning against not just Harry, but Dumbledore too, due to the stories being published in the paper.

Harry loses his temper, as does Seamus, but Ron breaks up their fight. Neville pipes up and says that he and his grandmother think the Daily Prophet is rubbish. They believe Harry and Dumbledore. As they all get ready for bed, Harry worries that maybe Dumbledore is angry at him for all the trouble that he’s caused, especially if Dumbledore has had people lashing out at him the whole summer for it. He also wonders how many other students are going to come at him the way Seamus did.

See you next time for Chapter 12!

Blog Tours · Books I've Read

BLOG TOUR: Stranger Rituals

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Hello everyone! Welcome to this stop on the blog tour for Stranger Rituals by Kali Rose Schmidt, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours. This book was a dark whirlwind of a fantasy – let’s check it out!

About the Book

Stranger Rituals - eBook smallTitle: Stranger Rituals

Author: Kali Rose Schmidt

Publication Date: July 9, 2019

Genres: Fantasy/New Adult

Find It: GoodReads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks

Blurb: A fighter with a venomous grudge.

A monster with an immortal curse.

A girl with a terrible gift.

All three out for blood in a land torn apart by harsh gods and holy wars. Each entwined with the other, on their own quests for vengeance, and yet held together by strange links to sinister pasts. As their fates unravel, a dangerous romance blooms, and violent darkness beckons.

At turns both darkly humorous and utterly morbid, STRANGER RITUALS is the startling first novel in Kali Rose Schmidt’s dark new series.

Review: This is one of the more interesting blog tours I’ve been on!

I really enjoy fantasy and this book did not disappoint. A rich story world, complex characters, mystery, magic, twists and turns – this book had all of that and more.

Let’s start with our main character, Scarko. She has a rare form of magic, different from the others in the Order she belongs to. She also has to drink blood, which first made me think she was a vampire, but the story never refers to her as such other than the blood. Her magic is also made from blood, so there are some bits of the story that are a little gory. Much of the story revolves around Vojtech, who is the leader of their people, and also a large being with horns on his head. Scarko is very loyal to him, and doesn’t question when he asks her to go on a quest to kill a street fighter deep within enemy territory.

That fighter is a young man named Zephir, who is very complicated and tricky. He was a mystery the entire time and it was so fun to try and figure out where his loyalties lie (and I’m still not sure). There is also Rhodri, who was my favorite character, another being with horns on his head like Vojtech. The next book in this series will hopefully address more of his story, because I want to know more!

There’s a holy war brewing and Scarko needs to figure out where she fits into everything that is about to happen. No one is who they seem to be, and that’s what makes it so much fun.

GoodReads rating: 4 stars

About the Author

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Kali Rose Schmidt is an author, mother, and villain lover. She likes bloody tales of monsters, yoga with the lights off, and anything that goes bump in the night.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Pinterest | GoodReads

Giveaway Time!

This tour offers a giveaway – one signed copy of Stranger Rituals, plus a $10 Amazon giftcard! You can enter via this Rafflecopter Giveaway link. Good luck!

Follow the Tour!

July 15th
I Smell Sheep >> Guest post
Life With No Plot >> Review
Urban Fantasy Investigations >> Interview

July 16th
A Dream Within A Dream >> Excerpt
Jessica Belmont >> Review
Finding Magic In Books >> Review

July 17th
Adventures in Writing >> Guest post
Abooktropolis >> Review
Jazzy Book Reviews >> Excerpt
So Many Books, So Little Time >> Review

July 18th
The Avid Reader  >> Interview
Smada’s Book Smack >> Guest post
Inspired Chaos >> Review
The Laughing Listener >> Review

July 19th
Discover Elysian >> Review
The Magic Of Wor(l)ds >> Interview
Treestand Book Reviews >> Review

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nostalgic reads · Uncategorized

Nostalgic Reads – Wrong Kind of Girl

Nostalgic Reads

Wrong Kind of GirlTitle: Wrong Kind of Girl

Author: Francine Pascal, Kate William

Series: Sweet Valley High #10

Blurb: Jessica’s at it again!

Jessica Wakefield has sworn never to allow Annie Whitman onto the Sweet Valley High cheering squad. Annie may have the beauty, talent, and spirit to be a cheerleader, but she also has the worst reputation in school. She goes out with a different boy every night, and all the kids call her “Easy Annie” behind her back. Jessica’s pulling every devilish trick to keep Annie from ruining the cheerleaders’ image.

Only Elizabeth, Jessica’s twin, knows what Annie’s really like. But can she change her sister’s mind before Jessica shatters Annie’s dreams?

Review: On a very special episode of Sweet Valley High . . .

Yeah, this is one of the ones that tried to take on some very serious subjects. Did they succeed? I would say that they mostly did. This book dealt with the dangers of gossip and bullying, and has a suicide attempt as a result of said bullying. As such, this is probably one of the more darker story lines in the series.

It’s also a case of Jessica being the world’s worst person, this time focusing her horribleness on Annie Whitman, a sophomore who is desperately trying to change her life. One of the ways she is doing this is trying out for the cheerleading squad. She is desperate. It is the key to everything. But Jessica, being Jessica, doesn’t think Annie is “good enough” for them. Annie has a bit of a reputation around school as being “easy.” She likes the boys. A lot. Often bad boys, including Rick Andover, the drunk who had nearly sexually assaulted Jessica in the first book.

Part of Annie’s backstory is that her mother was a teen mom and raised Annie by herself. Her mom is absent most of the time and often drinks heavily. She also has a live-in boyfriend who gives Elizabeth the creeps.

Let’s be honest. Jessica is no position to call any girl “easy” with the number of guys she’s pursued. In fact, one of the  guys that Annie nabs in this book was one that Jessica had her eye on for a while, which didn’t help the situation at all. Jessica is afraid that the whole cheerleading squad will be tainted by Annie’s reputation and proceeds to slut-shame Annie to the other cheerleaders so that they won’t allow her to join. Which is a completely hypocritical, because Annie is an amazing cheerleader! She’s also been trying to get better grades, after being tutored by Elizabeth, who also tries to convince Jessica to change her mind. Which doesn’t work.

When Annie doesn’t get on the cheerleading squad, she swallows a bunch of pills in an attempt to kill herself. The cheerleader’s manager, Ricky Capaldo, a somewhat geeky guy with a heart of gold, has taken a liking to Annie and, knowing how devastated she was, goes to her apartment to check on her. He finds her unconscious and calls the ambulance. He also calls the Wakefields. Jessica realizes how awful she is, for at least a split second, and spends several nights at the hospital, along with Elizabeth and Ricky, trying to talk to Annie and get her to wake up. Which she finally does. Jessica lets her on the cheerleading squad and everyone is happy again.

So does this book adequately tackle these issues? I think it does, in an 80’s/early 90s sitcom way. Because of the format, it does have to wrap up things pretty quickly, but it does impart the seriousness of the situations at hand, which I think is a good thing. This was one of the story lines I actually remembered from reading it back when I was a teenager. So I guess it was good enough to have stuck with me.

Set up for the next book includes the mysterious Suzanne Devlin coming to stay with the Wakefields. The daughter of an American diplomat, Suzanne has lived all over the world. In addition to that, one of the twins will get to stay in New York while Suzanne stays with their family. Which one will they choose?