Saturday, 31 July 2010

48 Hour Read-a-Thon

The 48-Hour Read-a-Thon is hosted by Wallace over at  Unputdownables. image 

So I’m a bit late starting this I know but I thought I’d join in since I had been thinking about it (then forgot about it) and then saw the twitter chatter on #bookblogchat and well, I was planning on reading all weekend anyway! I already feel like I have been on a massive read-a-thon already what with Harry Potter, so why stop now?

Technically it started yesterday so so I think I can count The Housekeeper and The Professor as part of this read-a-thon! And so today I intend to read Trespass by Rose Tremain and then after that… hmm decisions decisions. I guess it depends if I can finish this book by today, maybe tomorrow. I am not the fastest reader on this planet however! And if I don’t make myself some breakfast very soon I’m not going to be fit for reading anything.



Read: image  Reading: image To-Read: ?

Friday, 30 July 2010

The Literary Lollipop’s 55 Quirky Questions



Check out The Literary Lollipop whose posted these 55 fun, quirky questions. Just a little way to get to know each other.


1. Favourite childhood book: Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones, since I was 9 years old.

2. What are you reading right now? The Housekeeper and The Professor by Yoko Ogawa

3. What books do you have on request at the library? None at the moment as I have a big guilty stack of library books still waiting to be read that I ought to take back before I get more fines.

4. Bad book habit: Buying too many of the things.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library? Ugh loads… Arabel’s Raven by Joan Aiken, Captain Pamphile by Alexandre Dumas, Watchmen by Alan Moore which I feel guilty about. Uhm and a load more but can’t remember now.

6. Do you have an e-reader? No way. Not the way things are. We should stand up and support publishers and authors by NOT getting an E-Reader. I don’t want to give up print books.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once? One book at a time. I like to give each book my full attention.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog? Not really, but they’ve changed since joining sites like Goodreads. My reading’s become a lot more active.

9.Least favourite book you read this year: Hmm, possibly Stardust by Neil Gaiman, but i still enjoyed it somewhat. I haven’t read a stinker this year.

10. Favourite book I’ve read this year: Any Human Heart by William Boyd. Simply beautiful.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone? I hate myself for this, but I don’t think always very often. I’m not sure. Hmm. I wouldn’t say I stick to one or two safe genes but I tend to stick with what I think I’ll like rather then read something I think I won’t. I rarely read non-fiction sadly.

12. What is your reading comfort zone? Not sure. A well written book? I don’t like post-modern literature or books with peculiar styles.

13. Can you read on the bus? I love reading on public transport. I’m tempted to just get a day ticket for the county and just read on the bus going all over.

14. Favourite place to read: In a cafe drinking a cuppa coffee.

15. What’s your policy on book lending? I don’t lend a book, I’ll give it. Saves the bother. If they don’t want it anymore they can give it away.

16. Do you dogear your books? NO!

17. Do you write notes in the margins of your books? No, wouldn’t mind doing so actually but I feel silly because who, other then myself am I writing it too and my handwriting is illegible so I’d never be able to read it later anyway.

18. Do you break/crack the spine of your books? Well, not on purpose but it happens. I’m not just going to sit there trying to read through a crack just in case a crease appears on the spine. Sometimes it depends on the book. Books from the US, I have noticed – their spines do not crease easily. UK editions though just about fall apart the moment you open the first page.

19. What is your favourite language to read? English seeing as reading in any other language would be impossible.

20. What makes you love a book? The characters mainly, I’ve got to love the characters. Without the characters there is nothing.

21. What will inspire you to recommend a book? Depends on the book and the person I’m recommending it to. If I read a book and find it ‘just ok’ but think someone I know might like it I’d still recommend it. I try not to recommend certain books to people if I don’t think it’ll be there thing. I do recommend some indiscriminately (I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith and Shogun by James Clavell) because they carried me away into a different world.

22. Favourite genre: Lately I’ve been really enjoying the historical fiction genre.

23. Genre you rarely read (but wish you did): Non-fiction – on history, politics etc so I’m more worldly.

24. Favourite Biography: Samuel Pepys: An Unequal Self by Claire Tomalin. About the famoust 17th Century diarist who loved books, all sorts of culture, women, sex, politics…

25. Have you ever read a self-help book? (And, was it actually helpful?) No. I did try reading one once but it wasn’t very helpful.I’m afraid my brain just shuts off and thinks “you’re just a book filled with words" and I go read something else.

26. Favourite Cookbook: I don’t cook but I wish I did.

27. Most inspirational book you’ve read this year (fiction or non-fiction): Hard. Not sure… probably my Harry Potter re-reads actually. I find HP so inspirational.

28. Favourite reading snack: tea and biscuits.

29. Name a case in which hype ruined your reading experience: Uhm The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. I don’t think I was ever destined to like it, but I was expecting something amazing and got nothing.

30. How often do you agree with the critics about about a book? Depends on the critic.

31. How do you feel about giving bad/negative reviews? Positive and Negative. They’re both the same, just different. There has to be balance and I review every book I read so if I read a dud I will review it and try to be fair. There are very few books I absolutely hate but if I read one any time soon, I’m not afraid to rip it to shreds. They’re just opinions. My opinion if I hate a book is merely my own I am not God, what I say doesn’t go it’s just how I feel about a book.

32. If you could read in a foreign language, which language would you choose? French for Alexandre Dumas, Russian for Dostoyevsky and Japanese for Murakami. Hmm. But to just pick one – I suppose Japanese actually.

33. Most intimidating book I’ve read: Argh, not sure. I guess Bleak House, my first Charles Dickens and really the biggest classic book I ever read. Before reading that I hadn’t really read many classics.

34. Most intimidating book I’m too nervous to begin: War and Peace by Tolstoy is probably a rather generic answer and besides I don’t even own it. Hmm… I guess David Copperfield by Dickens. I had a bad experience reading The Tale of Two Cities which I couldn’t even finish I thought it was that bad – so been reticent to dive into another one of his again, despite loving the ones I read previously.

35. Favourite Poet: Uhm, not sure. I don’t like poets on a whole, but I do like their poetry. This one is a favourite of mine:

Revenge - Luis Enriqu Mejia Godoy

My personal revenge will be your children's
right to schooling and to flowers.
My personal revenge will be this song bursting for you with no more fears.
My personal revenge will be to make you see
the goodness in my people's eyes,
implacable in combat always
generous and firm in victory.

My personal revenge will be to greet you
'Good morning!' in streets with no beggars,
when instead of locking you inside
they say, 'Don't look so sad.'
When you, the torturer,
daren't lift your head,
My personal revenge will be to give you
these hands you once ill-treated
with all their tenderness intact.

36. How many books do you usually have checked out from the library at any given time? Hmm 5 sometimes.

37. How often do you return books to the library unread? Usually most of them. :(

38. Favourite fictional character: Cassandra Mortmain, I Capture the Castle.

39. Favourite fictional villain: Severus Snape, harry Potter.

40. Books I’m most likely to bring on vacation: Depends what I’m in the mood for at the time I guess. Probably nothing too hard to pack.

41. The longest I’ve gone without reading: Hmm, well I didn’t go entirely without reading at all but I only read about 30 books in 2 years once which is pitiful. I was at uni and just wasn’t reading reguarly. I kinda… I hate to say this – forgot I loved it so, filled my time up with something else.

42. Name a book you could/would not finish: The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I hate metaphors.

43. What distracts you easily when you’re reading? People who play their MP3 players SO EFFING LOUD I can hear them from the back of the bus when they’re sitting at the front. Every little noise. TURN IT THE EFF DOWN YOU SELFISH LITTLE ZOMBIE. *breathes deeply*

44. Favourite film adaptation of a novel: Oh, soo many. Uhm. I Capture the Castle made a really good film but I’m not sure if it is my favourite. It is one of the best I have seen though.Oh and Atonement.

45. Most disappointing film adaptation: Many of the Harry Potters. Some of the changes just didn’t make sense. I enjoyed the 6th movie but was pissed off by the fact they blew up The Burrow. What was the point in that? I understand cutting things out, but having to cut things out and then replacing them with something nonsensical like that, eh well! And there is so much they haven’t covered. Has Snape’s story ever been properly explained?

46. Most money I’ve ever spent in a bookstore at one time: coughcoughcoughcoughcoughcoughonecoughcoughcoughcoughcoughcoughhundredcoughcoughcoughcoughpoundcoughcoughcough

47. How often do you skim a book before reading it? I don’t skim the writing really, I do have a quick check through to see if I fancy reading that kinda book at the moment if that counts.

48. What would cause you to stop reading a book halfway through? When, for whatever reading I get bored and my brain stops reading the words on the page. If I have to read the same page more then three times and it isn’t going in then I stop. I don’t mean, if I can’t understand it, but that it’s just too boring or pointless. If I don’t see the point in torturing myself and I find myself losing all interest in plot or characters.

49. Do you like to keep your books organized? Mine are stuffed, wedged and hammered into a bookcase. I did sort it into genre categories so for a good part I can find classics in one corner, crime in another but as I’ve got them all out so I could get to something at the back (3 rows of books per shelf) then they’ve all got a bit higglety pigglty now.

50. Do you prefer to keep books or give them away once they’ve been read? Depends. I like giving books away because I like the idea of sharing a book. Nowadays I try to only keep the books I think I’ll read them again, or if they’re a particularly pretty copy. Most crimes I usually give away as they’re quick disposable reads. Most of them are also second hand ones, those that I own.

51. Are there any books that you’ve been avoiding? War and Peace. So long, so long…

52. Name a book that made you angry: The Lovely Bones. Crap.

53. A book I didn’t expect to like but did: Uhm. Shogun by James Clavell and I ended up adoring it.

54. A book I expected to like but didn’t: The Tale of Two Cities. I didn’t think Dickens would fail me.

55. Favourite guilt-free guilty pleasure reading: Uhm not sure. I always read guilt-free.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Character Connection: Four Men, Harry Potter Edition

character connection

Character Connection is hosted by Jen at The Introverted Reader every Thursday.

We all have characters we love. Let's spotlight these fantastic creations! Whether you want to be friends with them or you have a full-blown crush on them, you know you love them and want everyone else to love them too!


(Massive Series Spoilers Ahead!)

This character connection is going to be a bit different because it isn’t about one person. It is about four people from the books of Harry Potter. They are:










Albus Dumbledore, Lord Voldemort, otherwise known as Tom Riddle, Severus Snape and Harry Potter.  

Each one of these characters represents one of Rowling’s most prevalent themes: that of choice and the consequences and responsibilities that come with it. She does not condemn people for making the wrong choice, because that is part of life and no one person can be perfect. There are consequences, but just because you chose the wrong way does not mean that you cannot turn back and make the better choice later on. Each one of these characters conveys part of that message.

These four men all entered Hogwarts as outsiders, they shared similarities in personal experience and yet they all turned out completely different.

Albus Dumbledore

Dumbledore is first introduced as a wise, grandfatherly wizard. He is the greatest wizard alive and the only person that Voldemort fears. He is headmaster of Hogwarts and has always been relied upon to have the answer to everything. He is always so calm and so caring, so loving and compassionate. For six books he comes across as just that – a figurehead of wisdom and trust. No one bothered to question him, as Voldemort was evil, Dumbledore was good. This of course is never the case – in book seven the truth about Dumbedore’s past reveals him as someone not so perfect as everyone thought. What makes a person that they are today? What drives them to act as they do? No one is simply born good or bad, it is down to their upbringing and their choices.

In the seventh book we are shown a different side to Dumbledore, one we don’t want to know about and don’t want to accept. As a young man he was carried away with his own greatness, he was arrogant perhaps and seeking glory. Yet he had a troubled past. His sister Arianna had been abused by muggle children and her magical powers turned in against herself. His father was sent to Azkaban for killing muggles and his mother was left alone to care for his mentally damaged sister whilst he and his brother went to Hogwarts.

Dumbledore entertained ideas of wizard rule over muggles – his wild ideas were not so dissimilar from Voldemort’s only that they were born more from the idea of creating a great society where wizards didn’t have to be in hiding – rather then the wish to wipe muggles out completely and rule supreme. When his sister died in a tragic accident involving a fight between Dumbledore, his once old friend Grimdelwald and his younger brother – all his big dreams and wild ideas came to an end. He spent the rest of his life fighting against what he almost became and never recovering from the feelings of guilt and regret. He sort to redeem himself.

Dumbledore’s weakness was for power, not unlike Voldemort, but he recognised this weakness and chose not to take it when offered. He became a teacher and then Headmaster of Hogwarts.

Dumbledore, for all his greatness seemed to have no one close to him. His brother would not forgive him for what happened and though he had the respect of many, he never had anyone who was really close to him. Even Harry whom of them all he was possibly the closest to – but the reasons for that were not born out of paternal concern. Harry Potter was the key to defeating Voldemort and though Dumbledore came to love Harry as a person, he never forgot the greater purpose he needed him for. The only other person perhaps – was Severus Snape although again, out of necessity.

Tom Riddle, otherwise known as, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, You-know-who, the Dark Lord or Lord Voldemort

Tom Riddle’s existence is a sad story. His mother was the poor, abused daughter of Marvolo Gaunt who ran away with a muggle she entranced with a love potion who would never love her. She gave birth to Tom Riddle in a muggle orphanage and died, leaving him unhappy and alone.

Personally, I think Voldemort’s story is much more simple and not so much about choice. He was a psychopath and his choices were as much genetic as they were personal. Maybe he’d have been different if he had grown up in a loving family, or at least a proper home. Harry Potter grew up under not so different circumstances – and though he hated the Dursley’s, the hate never became malignant.

Voldemort, like Dumbledore was a magical genius and also like Dumbledore, he entertained ideas of a wizard rule, but he took his ideas much further then beyond paper – he started putting them into action when he was a teenager – developing a following and murdering his remaining family. Voldemort always saw himself as different, special and above everyone. The thing he feared most was death and so he went to extreme lengths to prevent it, by creating Horcruxes.

Voldemort had no friends, he did not want any friends – he wanted only to be at the centre of greatness. He made many terrible choices and he never learnt remorse and never wanted to know love. Dumbledore never trusted him, but he gave him the opportunity to turn back and choose a different path.

The only time he seemed to express regret, quite ironically, was when he killed Snape. It wasn’t remorse, nor really regret I suspect – more of an inconvenience of losing a good soldier.

Severus Snape

Perhaps the most complex and fascinating character I have ever read. From the moment he entered the page, Snape became a character you were not likely to forget. He is a nasty, miserable, small-minded man who allowed past prejudices and grudges to turn him into a bitter man full of anger and hate. There is no real justification for his behaviour throughout the books, although it might have been harder to do his job had he acted in a friendly manner towards Harry Potter.

Snape is, despite all this, my favourite character in the series. I cannot help but like him, despite his many faults. I do not think I would like him were I to actually meet him or a person like him in person – but as a character I do like him. He is ambiguous from the very beginning – one moment trying to get Harry expelled and the next trying to save his life.

He is a rather tragic character and I can’t help but feel for him. He obviously had a rather difficult upbringing with a violent muggle father, growing up in poverty in a poor, deprived neighbourhood. It is perhaps understandable that as a child, he grew up hating his father the muggle, and dreaming of a time when he could escape to Hogwarts. His mother was from Slytherin and so that is where he was probably conditioned to to think he should go.

He was socially awkward, skinny, poor and weird. He first met Lily as a child, before Hogwarts although his first encounter went wrong and he was left feeling bitterly disappointed. I think this was a common trait in Snape’s life. He was a lonely child and Lily was his first friend and of her he was possessive, hating anyone who came between them. Lily became his only true friend.

Snape was not a confident person, he had many insecurities and lacked self esteem. He bottled up grudges and stored them close to his heart, never relinquishing them throughout his life. Snape lacked confidence and self esteem – he probably felt worthless and unable to see himself as just himself. He had to find a bigger stronger power – he aspired to become a death eater. He never admitted to Lily that he loved her – he could not see that he, himself on his own could be attractive. He was too afraid of failure and of rejection and grew infuriatingly jealous of the more popular, attractive people, especially that of James Potter and Sirius Black. He knew James fancied Lily and he wrongly perceived him as a threat. He was never able to rise above his bullies and could never stand up for himself properly. When angry he loses control and become incoherent, in the end his lack of confidence in himself causes him to sink to low standards – cursing and hexing rather then being able to come back with a smart remark.

Had he chosen to listen to Lily and hear what she wanted – he might have chosen to give up his fascination with the dark arts, stand up to his bullies and have become a better person. Rowling said in an interview, post-Deathly Hallows that Lily loved Severus as a friend and might have come to love him romantically. But she didn’t – because Snape could not separate himself from his fears and he broke her last straw by calling her a Mudblood because his pride had been too broken.

I’m not sure what Snape would be to love – he would have been possessive and selfish. Even when he turned against Voldemort and told Dumbledore what he had done, he did not think that James or Harry’s lives were worth saving if only Lily could survive. After what must have been about four years as a Death Eater he probably did some quite unforgiveable things. I doubt he was ever happy – his loss of Lily, the only tie he had to becoming a decent person cast him off into that dark world. I think there must have been something good in him though for Lily to have been friends with him for so long. She must have seen that light in him.

He was the victim of bullying as a child and yet he ended up becoming the bully. If he had been born with confidence perhaps he would have been the bully to begin with – who knows, some people are like that – they learn to behave from the examples they have been given. It is unfair to lumber the child with all the responsibility of becoming a good person. Changing the way you think and feel isn’t easily done. However, Snape had the chance – Lily gave it to him, but he turned her away.

I suppose though, that acting as a double-agent and having to lie to Voldemort – he could not have changed too much. He would need to maintain close contacts with the Malfoy’s and treating Harry Potter with any kind of kindness probably wouldn’t go down well with Voldemort. Maybe the trick to becoming good at occulemency is to be as miserable as possible. The only time Harry managed it was when he was feeling the loss of Dobby.

Dumbledore forgave Snape because he had chosen the wrong path too – perhaps had his sister not been killed he would have gone down a different past. He blamed himself for providing Grindelwald with ideas that he put into motion. Dumbledore knew the influence of guilt and regret. There is no one that hates Snape more then himself.

Afterwards, when he changed sides, I think he came to redeem himself. In the chapter ‘The Prince’s Tale’ when Harry visits Snape’s memories – Snape said that lately the only people who died were the ones he could not save. Snape would never become a nice person, he would forever be a miserable git. Some things after so long I guess, you just cannot change. He bottles all his feelings up like a potion, and stores them alone near his heart, never letting them out unless it is in a fit of rage or jealously. Yet, from the moment he realised his gravest of mistakes – he worked closely with Dumbledore to protect Harry Potter and defeat Voldemort. He was indeed a very brave man and also, incredibly loyal.

Harry Potter

And finally, the forth generation. An orphan after his parents were killed by Voldemort and brought up by his Aunt and Uncle who treat him so badly I wonder why he never phoned Child Line. Harry is very much like Snape in that he was brought up in an unloving family and suffered many the same kind of humiliations and feelings of loneliness. Unlike Snape however, he didn’t lack confidence or self esteem and he could stand up for himself without losing control.

At a very young age, Harry Potter made an important choice. He chose to enter Gryffindor rather than Slytherin. However, had he not met Ron Weasly at the King’s Cross maybe his life would have gone in a slightly different direction, who knows.

Also, unlike Dumbledore, Voldemort and Snape Harry developed some very close friendships, especially with Ron and Hermoine and these are what kept him strong – and probably the reason why he’s alive. He never became over enamoured with his fame or powers, as Dumbledore and Voldemort did and he chose a different path then Snape, not allowing his past to effect his future.

Harry Potter was surrounded by love. Love from his parents who died for him, love from his friends who would fight beside him and would have died for him. Love from Dumbledore. Even in a way – Snape’s love also influencing his life. It all sound rather sappy, but Rowling's message strongly promotes the idea of love and friendship being the strongest qualities that a person can hold. Her message is etched into each of these four characters, but the message is subtle and doesn’t patronise or preach.

These four men are all linked with each other and together – Dumbledore and Voldemort, Snape and Harry. They are the polar opposites of each other and yet they are all the same. Harry Potter is the youngest – and the product of the other’s life’s learnings, successes and failures. He is I think what they could have all become had they had the right friends and made the right choices.

Dumbledore and Snape both made grave mistakes in their earlier lives which resulted in a death or deaths of people they loved and many others. Both of them redeemed themselves. Voldemort never felt remorse despite being given the opportunity. Harry Potter felt guilty for everyone who died for him and felt remorse for every single one – well apart from the Death Eaters perhaps.

Each of these four men represent an important journey in the Harry Potter series and an important moral story that carries through each book until the very end.



Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Series spoilers)



"We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are." – Sirius Black



This has always been one of my favourites of the Harry Potter series, along with the Prisoner of Azkaban – one introducing Sirius and the other killing him.

This time around though I found it a more difficult read. Harry spends much of his time stressed out, like all pubescent teenagers in their growing years. It’s been a while since I’ve felt that stressy and this book is jam packed with action and the raging hormones of boys. I never remembered the stress effecting me so much in previous years – maybe it is because I am becoming calmer, the further away I travel from my own teenage, angsty self.

Order of the Phoenix is simply an amazing book though – it is fraught with danger, tension and impending doom. For the whole 700 odd pages it keeps you on your toes throughout and then rips your heart out in several places.

My favourite part of this book is the bits about Snape. His character is further unravelled and I love seeing what made Snape the man who he is. More on that later. I like the fact that we are, along with Harry, forced to empathise with him and that Harry is made to realise that his father isn’t the knight in shining armour he imagined him to be. Snape is a rather sad character in that he feels like he’s been bottled and never grown up.

On my first few reads – Sirius’ death made me cry the most – but now it is not so much his death, but the lives of Neville’s parents that wrenches my hear. That kind of a life is by far, worse then death. Sirius at least went in a blaze of glory. Neville’s parents who sacrificed their sanity perhaps – remain living, their lives never resolved, never given that chance of happiness or peace that Sirius will have.

Harry’s grief at losing Sirius felt so real – the way Rowling describes it and how real she describes it makes me empathise so deeply with Harry – especially his terrible guilt at the end knowing that he could have prevented Sirius’ death just by speaking into the mirror, or listening to Hermoine. Without his panic though no one would have believed that Voldemort had returned, however I doubt that really makes it up for Harry.

When I first read the book I remember chucking the book on the floor in a fit of disbelief and rage. I guess it had to be expected and I had been expecting it – but still you hope in vain, don’t you? Even reading it through again, I hoped against hope (that somehow the text in my books had magically changed) that Sirius would be alive by the end of it.

I don’t think there are many books like Harry Potter that leave me feeling quite so emotionally drained. I’ve finished the series now, as I catch up on my reviews – and I have been so immersed in Harry Potter that just about every night I have dreamed about it. My waking moments have been ruled by when I can next open my Harry Potter book or thinking about something that has happened or I know to come.

Order of the Phoenix is one of the most exhausting books I have ever read. I love how it mingles with my thoughts and emotions, but it’s very tiring. I was quite glad to move onto the calmer, relatively peaceful Half Blood Prince.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The Big Fail

You know that uhm… book ban I was telling you all about and how I’d lasted five weeks and all that rubbish? I was probably in my seventh or so week which for me is actually not that bad. Admittedly I was getting a bit big for my boots, boasting I could go into a bookshop unscathed and that I wasn’t even really feeling the pangs.

I failed. I joined the book ban over at 25 Hour Books which meant I was supposed to give up books for the month of June and well… here I am. I fell off the wagon. I purchased books from Waterstones.


I shouldn’t have gone in, I know, I know. I am weak. I am stupid. I kidded myself that I could be strong, that I could cope being in a bookshop without buying. I’d done it before so why not now? I have no excuses really. Apart from the fact they were playing some truly atrocious music that made it hard to really look at a book. So I just bought them so I could look at them later. Had they not been playing that awful music, I would probably have spent a few minutes looking through the books and been satisfied with that. As I couldn’t concentrate for more then five seconds though and I couldn’t be satisfied by a brief perusal, I had to leave with four tucked under my arm.

The products of my failure:




Twenty Years After

The Vicomte De Bragelonne

Louise De La Valliere

by Alexandre Dumas


This completes my Three Musketeer collection – I already own The Three Musketeers and The Man in the Iron Mask. I have been desiring these three for a long time and thought that once I get around to re-reading the Three Musketeers I would get these from the library… well when I saw them in the shop, in one of my favourite editions (Oxford World Classics) and all together… I couldn’t resist myself.


  The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

This one realy isn’t my fault… it’s the Japanese Reading Challenge's fault for making me want to read more Japanese literature. Anyway, isn’t it just the most beautiful cover? It looks really good as well, I almost fell into reading it yesterday, but of course I have to finish reading Harry Potter first. It might be my next one… maybe.



I also received a book from Liz, over from Consumed by Books because she had heard of my recent obsession with anything Japanese.



 The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley

You can read Liz’s review here. I’m looking forward to reading this hopefully soon…

I’m becoming very excited about my TBR (which is now towering at 419, oops) seeing as I have been on a long break from it and I have been thinking hard about what I want to read next.


After Harry Potter I want to read a Diana Wynne Jones because Jenny’s Books is holding a Diana Wynne Jones week at the beginning of August, which I hope to be part of because I absolutely love this author, as you may already know going by the amount of times I’ve mentioned her in this blog.


imageI’m not entirely sure what I’ll be reading – I hope I’ll have finished Harry Potter by then but I really would like to read another Diana Wynne Jones book. Maybe I will read The Dark Lord of Derkholm or Archer’s Goon or whatever takes my fancy. I have so many yet to read – I can’t bare to be finished with them all. 



And then I will probably read The Housekeeper and the Professor, as I mentioned earlier. I’m also in the mood for a bit of historical crime so I’m thinking of He Kills Coppers by Jake Arnott.

After that I don’t know what I’ll be reading… I don’t really like planning too far ahead, even though I find myself doing that lately. I am a mood reader – I say I’m going to read one thing and it takes me until the year after to actually pick it up. So don’t be too surprised if you don’t see a review for any of these books for a long while yet.

As for my ban – well I’m back on it I guess… hopefully I can whittle the TBR down a bit before I have another moment’s weakness.


Sunday, 18 July 2010

Music, Alan Rickman and Reading

I’ve been listening to the truly fantastic soundtrack to the Order of the Phoenix by Nicholas Hooper. This is Umbridge’s theme and it is absolutely perfect! It really captures all her fake, pink evil in that mockingly cheerful tune. Ugh! I hate her more then ever before, if that is even possible. I just want to rip up the pages she’s on with my own teeth!

I’ve also been in a very Alan Rickmanish mood (yes, I am a Snape-fan) and one of my favourite ever movies is Truly, Madly, Deeply staring Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson. I truly recommend it. It’s about a woman who has lost her husband… and then he comes back to her as a ghost. Mainly though it is about grief.

So I’ve been listening to The Sun Ain’t Going to Shine Anymore a lot recently too – including the original by the Walker Brothers and the cover by Keane. I really love these scene in the movie though.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Series Spoilers, Beware)




"We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided." – Albus Dumbledore



The Goblet of Fire has never been my favourite out of the Harry Potter series – in fact it probably comes at the bottom. This book took her one year to write and it resulted on her rebelling against her publishers and took one year to recover and two years to write The Order of the Phoenix. That was a painful three years and when you’re a young teenager as I was, quite a lot can happen in that time, making it feel like even longer.

However, reading it again this time has given me an extra appreciation of it. The beginning I always thought a bit tiresome but I actually really enjoyed it a lot more this time around. In fact – as I am reading the Order of the Phoenix at the moment,I am actually starting to appreciate the Goblet of Fire a lot more. Order of the Phoenix has always been my second favourite, but it’s making me feel as stressed as Harry is. That never used to bother me before now so I did not notice it, but I’m noticing it now.

I must also admit, that despite loving my Harry Potter re-read I’m suffering from TBR guilt. I’m looking at my 414 books and I’m not seeing it going anywhere. I’ve paid off my £5 library fine and realising I need to tackle that pile before I do anything with my own TBR including finishing my Russian non-fiction I haven’t touched since starting Harry Potter. I’m starting to feel a little claustrophobic at the moment and I’m a little annoyed. I wish I could enjoy the book I am reading NOW and stop thinking about those books I haven’t read, or haven’t got even. I am constantly thinking about the books I want to read and haven’t got and worrying about how I’m gonna get them and this that and the other.

I’m sure I never used to have these worries before I found out about social book networks. I just used to read and not worry about the pile – but then again back then it wasn’t in such a desperate state and I didn’t have a very accurate inventory for them.

That’s off topic though, I was talking about Goblet of Fire, not my runaway TBR.

As I was saying, I enjoyed Goblet of Fire a lot more this time around and I am noticing that I am enjoying other things more then I used to as well. Such as, how much I really do love Hagrid. Once,I’d have exchanged him for Hedwig but I am really starting to love his warmth and friendship with Harry and gang and wouldn’t swap him for the world.

I’m also experiencing a rush of sentimentality for just about everything during this re-read. I’d forgotten how lovely Hermoine is, having the movie version more in my mind nowadays then the book. Emma Watson plays her very well but she only shows the bossy know-it-all side and not the compassionate caring side of Hermoine – or the deep inner strength that both Harry and Ron need. Hedwig has never been more adorable, I always took her for granted when I should have admired her more. She was so full of courage and personality.

It feels like I’m meeting friends I haven’t seen in a very long time and we’re catching up on old times, wondering why we left it so long and that we must do this again some time. I wish I didn’t know the ending, because at the same time I feel a leaden sense of sadness, knowing the ending and that they’ll only be there in my imagination or if I start the series all over again. I miss them already.

I still think the whole Triwizard thing is a bit of a bore and a distraction. There seemed to be a lot of nothing much happening between the pages, but what you do see I guess, is them growing up into young adults and all those growing hormones. There’s also the impending darkness that hasn’t quite happened, that you expect right from the beginning that accumulates in Voldemort’s rebirth which I always found a little weird and uneventful.

Cedric’s death was shocking more than upsetting. She left the upsetting death to have full impact in the Order of the Phoenix. Cedric was a student and it happened whilst they were in school. I’m starting to wonder why Dumbledore allowed the Triwizard tournament to happen in Hogwarts, understanding what was brewing outside.  Maybe it was Dumbledore’s way to bring all the others together as one.

Harry could easily have been killed but escaped quite luckily thanks to a wand malfunction that occurs when two wands meet that share the same core. It seemed just a little convenient. Expelliarmus is Harry’s favourite spell and he uses it a little too often. I felt that Rowling got to that end scene, wondered how the heck she was going to get Harry out of this mess. Harry’s strongest spells seem to be defensive rather then offensive – this can be frustrating at times as he only seems to get out of straights through luck or with the help of others. It’s just a little hard to believe he managed to survive through seven books.

I can’t remember my initial reaction to Goblet of Fire, it feels like I read it a lot longer ago then the first three. I think I remember feeling a little bit dissatisfied by it. After the third book I was expecting something a little more, but in fact it acted more as a buffer between the third and fifth book. As I said earlier I did enjoy it more this time around – more for the growing characters then the actual storyline. Hormones started to spurt – the characters are growing upwards as well as outwards as they’re going through puberty. Harry notices Cho for the first time and the friction between Hermoine and Ron starts to grow and become more noticeable.

They also start to think about careers after Hogwarts – another part of growing up. Harry first realises his desire to become an Auror, Hermoine starts SPEW the beginning of her life long campaign against inequality. Fred and George are already realising their dream to start a joke shop. One of the major themes in Goblet of Fire seems to be growing up and looking beyond Hogwarts into their adult lives – realising that there is a bigger, wider world out there.

The death of Cedric and the rebirth of Voldemort will put Harry’s previous adventures and his future in perspective. By the end of the Goblet of Fire Harry Potter has some growing up to do.

It’s taken me a long time to cobble my thoughts about Goblet of Fire together. I’m already some way through Order of the Phoenix and I’m really looking forward to reading Deathly Hallows for only the second time. At the same time I’m finding it difficult reading a series from beginning to end without feeling a bit distracted. My reading habits have changed a lot since I read these last – when I was a much more relaxed reader. However, I don’t think I could ever read this series without reading it as a whole – rather then between other books. It’s just never been done.

Re-reading it has got me thinking that I must do this more often – once every year for the rest of my life sounds reasonable enough to me. Don’t you think?

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Character Connection – Dolores Umbridge

character connection

Character connection is hosted by The Introverted Reader every Thursday. Check it out and join in with your favourite characters!

We all have characters we love. Let's spotlight these fantastic creations! Whether you want to be friends with them or you have a full-blown crush on them, you know you love them and want everyone else to love them too! 

I’m not going with a character I love, I’m going with a character that I love to hate. Actually no, I think I just plain old hate Dolores Umbridge, the ghastly creation of J.K Rowling, first introduced in The Order of the Phoenix.


She encompasses all the kind of traits that I loathe – the passive aggressive, simpering evil – but ever so nice. Can’t fault her behaviour as she hides behind a polite little mask and blends in with the rest of society – only showing her ugly side while everyone else’s backs are turned. Unfortunately such nasty people exist in this world – but hopefully they are few and far between.

Umbridge, unlike Imelda Staunton (who is a brilliant actress, played her to a tea but doesn’t look anything like her) resembles a stout, flabby toad, wearing a criminal amount of pink and likes all things cutesy and adorable. Sickening.

Umbridge works for good old Fudge in the Ministry – showing yet again how remarkably corrupt the MoM has become. It’s a rather cynical and exaggerated view of government, although when looking back over the donations and expenses scandal in the British government, perhaps not so cynical after all. Umbridge is the personification of hypocrisy, corruption and red tape. Fudge – although not a supporter of Voldemort as Umbridge, is happy to overlook certain things – like laws – and close his eyes to what’s going on around him.

On one side, she is a one sided villain, easy to hate – in fact loathe – more then anyone else in the whole Harry Potter series – even more then Voldemort. He is after all a complete and utter nutter. Lucius Malfoy’s position is more clear and he is a Death Eater, he is attracted more to the power. Umbridge though, she is not a visible supporter – she is the kind of person you could live next door to and consider a good neighbour. She would not become a Death Eater – she is just happy to reap the benefits of such a regime.

She represents all those kinds of people – the ones that come out of the cupboard, the ones you thought you knew until they shrug their respectable shells off to reveal their truer selves beneath. So Umbridge is not quite the caricature of evil that she might be mistaken for in the Order of the Phoenix.

Yet, she isn’t taken laying down by the Hogwarts students. Harry forms Dumbledore’s Army, paralleling the Order of the Phoenix by gathering Hogwarts students together in union, which later becomes important in book seven at the battle of Hogwarts. Umbridge isn’t abided by, or put up with – she is fought against and it is immensely satisfactory.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Weekly Geeks 2010-23: Do Book Trailers Do It For You?








In the last year or two a new entity has arisen in the publishing world: the book trailer. Apparently every self-respecting book has to have one these days so it seemed a good time to have a chat about them. Feel free to answer as many (or as few) of these questions as you like.

    • Do you watch book trailers?
    • If yes, do you actively seek them out or just watch the ones that get pushed to you in some way?
    • If you don't watch them, why not?
    • Have you ever read a book based solely on seeing the trailer? What book was it and what did you like about the trailer?
    • Where do book trailers come on your list of things that influence you with regards to what books to read (friends' recommendations, mainstream reviews, bloggers, bookstore promotions, the blurb....)?
    • Do you have a favourite book trailer that you'd like to share? What do you like about it?

I personally do not like book trailers, in my mind books exist in my head to be imagined so it should not exist in any other form. So I think that answers the next few questions – I don’t actively seek them out because they do nothing for me. In fact, they are more likely to have the opposite of the desired effect which is to sell a book to you. I personally don’t see why we need some flashy visual to read a book, can’t people concentrate long enough on maybe reading a description or a review?

The ones I have come across in the past I have never liked – even for books I have enjoyed. Here is one for Bleeding Heart Square, by Andrew Taylor – my favourite author.

The information put across is nothing that I hadn’t already read in the description, so it does absolutely nothing for me. At least it isn’t imposing too much on me though. This is how they started out I think – as a series of images and sounds. Since then they’ve somewhat advanced…

This one for Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles is quite well made, well thought out and imaginative. It isn’t my kind of book though, but I happened to see this trailer and it is quite good. It still didn’t manage to sell the book to me though. I’m turned off by the fact I’ve been given images of the characters that might not be my own.

Looking up more book trailers I see they have gone a little bit more up market then when I last saw one! They seem more professional and less like something made in a garage. Still – I admit I am a bit of an old stick in the mud. I don’t like book trailers simply because books are not visual things, they require imagination and this just takes that imagination away.

This one is almost like a movie itself, although still a bit cheesy.

I still don’t really know what it’s about though. I haven’t heard of the book and I’m not inspired by this to look it up. Maybe that’s just my own aversion to book trailers.. They annoy me – you might say that I should maybe just ‘get with the times’ etc and stop being so old fashioned. But a book is a book, why does it have to be made into a mini-film? When I read a book I want to see my own world, my own characters – I don’t want to be influenced by something like a book trailer where the music, the tone, the atmosphere is set by whoever made it. I want to see it for myself.

I wouldn’t mind if it was the author or someone talking about the book itself rather then a little mini-movie type thing with occasional dodgy acting.

Although, not all of them are like that. This one for Ishiguro’s book Nocturnes is actually really good.


And this one for Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver is also really well made and interesting.

What I do like about these is that they are really well thought out, different and imaginative. They don’t impose actors or characters on you – they are quite nice to watch in their own right. I wouldn’t say they made me think “ooh that book sounds good” but they’d probably make me want to look the book up and read the description – find out what it’s about. I guess these two feel like extended book covers – because book covers influence me less online then they do in a shop. They are aesthetically interesting but I still need to turn to the back to find out about it.

Book trailers still come at the very bottom of things that influence me to buy books – in fact they don’t even come at the bottom – they don’t even exist as things that influence me because I’d never go looking for them and I’ve only ever come across a few – perhaps a dozen – that I’ve stumbled across and none of them really stick in my mind. None of them made me think ‘oh I want to read that’. What influences me are reviews I read on Goodreads or on blogs – friend recommendations and random whims.

I actually don’t want to say that I don’t like book trailers – whatever gets someone to read a book I guess is a good thing. I do wonder that they trivialise reading – a book is about inner imagination. The trailers for Perfect Chemistry and Pastworld I really don’t like because they just don’t translate to me. I see them and I don’t think “oh I want to read that” because it doesn’t invoke reading to me, as a book review or whatever might. I don’t find them inspiring – just slightly irritating and boring.

That’s just me though. I prefer more traditional approaches then these newfandangled things. I did start this blog post of by saying that I couldn’t see why we need flashy visuals but I did end up finding a couple that I do think have their merits and in the end, that is all down to personal taste.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Music, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Reading



"You look in excellent health to me, Potter, so you will excuse me if I don’t let you off homework today. I assure you that if you die, you need not hand it in." - Minerva McGonagall

  If you haven’t read the whole series (or this book) I would highly recommend you DON’T read this review beyond this full stop.


I’ve been having a lot of trouble writing about the Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s my favourite one of the whole series and I find it very emotional – especially knowing the whole ending. It’s a very subtle book that still keeps me on tenterhooks right up to the very end even now. I remember being 14 when I read this the first time and my heart straining in my chest. The dementors were terrifying – probably the scariest things I’ve ever read about. They seem such a simple concept – dark creatures that sap all the happiness from you and can suck out your soul. The fear of never feeling happy again is terrifying – and having to relive all your horrors and fears for ever more. It makes me shiver now just thinking about it.

The dementors are controlled by the ministry and they guard the prisoners in the Azkaban prison. It really makes you wonder, how the government could use such evil creatures and keep them on their side. It feels very hypocritical and against just about every human right imaginable.

One of the main themes of Harry Potter is life and death – Rowling represents death as something which isn’t actually bad, or scary. Dementors thus do not kill – they merely suck out your soul and leave you a remnant of yourself. The belief, or message put across in Harry Potter is that – life – at whatever it takes – is not worth it, and to be alive without actually living is actually much worse.

Sirius Black has been incarcerated in Azkaban for thirteen years for a crime he did not do. Once, he was an intelligent, happy and good looking young man with so much future ahead of him. Prisoner of Azkaban is for me, a very vivid and emotional book because of the tragic injustice that happened not just to Sirius Black but to Lupin, James and Lily Potter, and Harry too.

Had Sirius not changed his mind and made Pettigrew the secret keepers for the Potters… they would still be alive and Harry would never have been the boy who lived. Sirius lost his freedom, his life and his sanity all in one swoop – everyone, even his best friend thought he was guilty and for thirteen years would have lived with that. So many lives had been lost as well as the Potters just because of one weak individual – Peter Pettigrew who made the choice between being loyal to the friends who had looked out for him all those years, and choosing to follow Voldemort because he had been too scared to refuse.

Another of Rowling’s themes is that of choice. It is the choices we make, that make us who we are. Sirius chose to be loyal to his friends and would have stuck by them to the end. Pettigrew was a coward, but in the end it was his choice to follow Voldemort – he was not forced to be a spy. Can you really blame someone for being scared though, can you expect everyone to be brave in the face of death? Perhaps not, but I think most of us hope that if we had to make a choice between betraying our friends who would die for us, that we’d make the right choice.

Lupin’s tragedy was that he lost all of his friends at the same time, but because he is a werewolf he became an outcast. The people who used to accept him for what he was were either dead or incarcerated – poor Lupin would have been all alone with nothing. What a heavy weight he must have been burdened with for all those years.

And finally – Harry’s own tragedy, something which he’s only recently been allowed to come to terms with. He only knows about his father through what other people tell him – which hasn’t been much. The book starts out with him defending his father and losing his temper. The rest of the book he is finding out more about the circumstances of his parents’ death and trying to piece things together. It’s a fairly emotional journey for Harry – and an important one too because by the end he also find that he does have a link to his parents – in the forms of his father’s true loyal friends. It also gives him a more personal reason to fight Voldemort.

Previously, Voldemort the reason his parents died, but he hadn’t known the whole story. Voldemort was more of a big evil bogeyman. After Azkaban Harry learnt exactly how it his his parents came to be murdered – and it was more then just Voldemort who was behind their death – it was someone who Harry had seen, touched, in part known – and been betrayed by personally. To me, this is different then hearing that your parents were killed by some big bad someone that no one believes exists any more. This time it makes it much more real to him. Lupin and Sirius can provide physical link to his parents and a sense of his own history and belonging.

Azkaban brings a certain darkness to the series that never leaves. Harry Potter is growing up into a teenager, accompanied by all the problems of teenagerhood and so the books also grow up with him. The first two or three books could pass as children’s books – but from book four – from the size and onwards – it moves towards a more mature readership. I grew up with Harry Potter – I wonder what it would have been like though for younger children just starting the series? You cannot judge it merely from the first book.

I’ve since started Goblet of Fire, which is not my favourite book – it just seems to bumble along and takes forever to get anywhere. However – I’ve been listening to the album by Patrick Doyle for the first time and starting to like it a bit more each time. So here is the tracks I’ve been listening to mostly recently:

I absolutely love The Weird Sisters. I love how they recreated the band for the film complete with a song about a Hippogriff. I’ve been boogieing around listening to this on my MP3 player.


I think this is my favourite. I admit to being a bit of a sap – when I listen to this one I can’t help thinking about everything that happens throughout the rest of the series – all the loves and losses that are to come. *sigh*

And well… this one just makes me smile and feel very triumphant and happy.

I’m looking forward to getting past Goblet of Fire and moving on to my second favourite in the series – Order of the Phoenix.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

That Old TBR


Well, as you know I do go on about my TBR pile. I have however updated my page bar and if you go here you will see a big list of books. Those are all the books I own to read – apart from the ones I have hiding under my bed that keep turning up in the strangest of places.

Anyway – it seems that I’m not the only one banning myself from books. It seems to be some sort of a contagious disease amongst bloggers because over at 25 Hour Books, Tara is hosting the Book Ban. Well, I’ve already been on one for the past 5 weeks so I’m an old hand at this not-buying-books thing. If you haven’t read my previous post on this subject then you can do so here. I also talked about some of the oldest books in my TBR here.

image   So I’m going to be officially joining Book Buyer’s Anonymous (click the picture) to help me through June because I’m sure I’ll be needing it to survive another month.

I must now confess to you – I am actually receiving a book soon. Liz over at  Consumed by Books offered me a book she thought I’d be interested in and the book ban went out of my head and I said yes. Well, it’s a free book kinda, so it doesn’t really count… So now that THAT is out of the way let us move on.

My issue is space and money – I could do with the extra pennies and I have no more space. I don’t really want my books living in boxes if I can help it.

Anyway so please look through my TBR up there and let me know if there’s anything spectacular on there that you think I ought to know about. If you think you’ve got too many books join the ban and good luck!

Character Connection – Ron Weasley

character connection Character Connection is hosted by IntrovertedJen over at The Introverted Reader every Thursday.

We all have characters we love. Let's spotlight these fantastic creations! Whether you want to be friends with them or you have a full-blown crush on them, you know you love them and want everyone else to love them too!

As I am re-reading the Harry Potter series, I thought I should feature one of my favourite Harry Potter characters. If you haven’t read the series and want to, there is a slight spoiler at the end.

Ron Weasley


How can you fail to love Ron Weasley? He is funny, handsome, loyal and one of the most humanly fallible characters in Harry Potter. He suffers from the side-kick complex where he thinks he is not good enough and only second best to the famous Harry Potter who defeats evil.

But Ron, you silly fool – you’re the person Harry will turn to in hours of need – you’re the one he would trust with his life, the one he respects the most out of all his friends because you have been there for him through thick and thin. Most people would have said that enough is enough – they wouldn’t risk their lives if they could help it. And yet you would sacrifice yourself for Harry Potter and you always stand up for what is right even if it doesn’t always work out for you.

It is harder to be the side kick – the one that is never noticed, never respected or appreciated enough. You have to stand in the sidelines watching others take most of the glory. But Harry wouldn’t be where he is today without you, you might not know it but to me, you’ll always be the real hero because you chose this path. Yes, Harry is brave because he stepped up to it and never ran away but it wasn’t his choice. Without you Ron, he would probably have never got past book one. Who knows what would have happened.

You suffered from doubt, from jealousy and from anger and sometimes you let these feelings get the better of you but you were strengthened by them and you always came back twice as strong. You don’t always keep calm under pressure and this is what I like about you. Your feeling – your heart, your honesty. You are a true friend who fights his fears and sticks by those he loves the most.

Just so you know Ron, you are my book-hero, the one I admire the most. I have since the first book and my biggest fear at the end was that you would be killed, or severely maimed. Since this wonderful series has come to the end, I have missed you the most.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter Readathon)



I am re-reading the Harry Potter books. I might mention spoilers not just about this book but for the whole series as well. If not in the body of this blog post but in any following comments later.



"It is our choices, Harry, that show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities." – Professor Dumbledore

I’ve finished the second book in the Harry Potter series and I can’t believe how easy it has been to just slip back into this world, as if I have never left.

The Chamber of Secrets has always been a funny book for me – it is more fast paced then Philosopher’s Stone but at the same time it seems to lack something. Maybe it is because I am always too eager to read The Prisoner of Azkaban that comes after, so I cannot enjoy this as much as I should. It suffers from being the in between book – the one that sets the tone for the later books and puts the future storylines into motion.

It is also the last book that could pass as a light, children’s fantasy because in the next book, the Prisoner of Azkaban it takes a darker, more mature tone. Chamber of Secrets is a notch scarier then Philosopher’s Stone – with Aragog the massive spider and the Basilisk scenes at the end but they both felt younger, lighter and easier. Yet it forewarned of a darker story to come. The third book followed bringing mystery and suspense – and was also the last ‘short’ book before the series developed into nicely sized tomes. From then on the books were no longer quite so light hearted and cheerful. Deeper, more emotional storylines that would test the characters would be involved rather then death defying adventures of a boy wizard.

In Chamber of Secrets you get to meet Mr and Mrs Weasly, you come to know Dumbledore a bit more, the ghosts who live at Hogwarts and learn a bit of wizarding history. Lord Voldemort’s character is fleshed out from, introducing you to him when he was known simply as Tom Riddle, schoolboy. Looking back at it, it is actually a very subtle book. It introduces you to lots of different things that become important as the storyline progresses, such as the vanishing cabinet (mentioned twice) the cursed necklace, and Mr Borgin at Borgin and Burkes. When I first read the book it didn’t occur to me that I would come across them again.

The magical world, the history of Hogwarts and the friendships and rivalries were also built on. Things that would be more important later – the heir of Slytherin, the sword of Gryffindor, all important parts of the larger storyline were all introduced in this book. Draco Malfoy’s father is introduced, an important character in later books and also along with Mr and Mrs Weasley part of the adult cast of characters.

Chamber of Secrets becomes the jumping board that propels readers head first into this wonderfully imagined world. One of the many strengths of Rowling I think is her pacing throughout – slowly uncoils the characters and the beginnings of the larger plot and rations out information and new details as well as building upon previous parts of the storyline. 

The more times I have re-read the Harry Potter series the more confused I come as to how much I like Chamber of Secrets. I will always have a special place in my heart. I remember how it felt reading it for the first time – finding out about Hogwarts, all the letters from the owl post and Diagon Alley and Hagrid and Platform 3 and 3/4. Chamber of Secrets is packed with lots of things going on but I just want to move onto the meat and into the centre of the storyline that begins to unravel slightly in the Prisoner of Azkaban. So Chamber of Secrets suffers slightly as a re-read – being neither here nor there but still being a very enjoyable book.


I have been listening to the associated movie soundtracks as I read the books. I will always love Hedwig’s Theme from the first movie. John Williams really manages to encompass the feeling of Harry Potter with this music – it feels like Harry Potter to me – all that magic and mystery.


From the Chamber of Secret soundtrack Fawkes the Phoenix is my favourite. It’s a softer version of Hedwig’s theme and has the same soaring, uplifting sound that just makes me feel so happy to be in this world again.

I haven’t re-watched the films yet – I think I will do so after reading the whole series. Firstly I don’t want the movies to start influencing my reading too much. I think that the actors (especially Rupert Grint and Maggie Smith) are all pretty much spot on and I can even accept the change in storyline (for the most part) by the movie makers – but for now I want the books to be pure. As it is sometimes I remember the film parts a bit more. The chase with the Basilisk went on for much longer in the film then in the book.

Now that I have started book three though – I find myself distracted by not getting any sleep and so have barely got anything read over the past couple of days. I’m so excited to be reading one of my favourite Harry Potter books though. I’m feeling so at home, I can’t believe I ever left.


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