Happy Birthday, Harry Potter

***I originally posted this a couple of years ago to celebrate the publication date of the first novel. I’m taking a bit of break from blogging to catch up on my reading and writing goals for this blog. I’ll be back in the Fall.

Twenty years ago on June 26, 1997 Harry Potter was first published in the UK. And the reading world has not been the same.

This series of books has launched movies, merchandise, and fan fiction. Publishers are on the prowl continually looking for the “new” Harry Potter. Children have grown up with Harry and are there are  now children being introduced for the first time to his wizarding world. But not all fans of J.K. Rowling’s series were children when the series first appeared 20 years ago.

I was in my early 30’s when I first read about Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone  in 1998. I was reading an essay about children’s books since I was always on the look out at the time for good books for my kids to read. At that time both kids were close in age to Harry in that first book. Both kids were readers and I thought they might enjoy this story that had taken the UK by storm. So, the next time I went to the store I bought it for the kids. And they both loved it. Loved it! The pestered me to read it too certain I would enjoy it as much as they did. But I put it off since that summer I was taking classes at the local community college and getting ready for a cross-country move. Harry would have to wait.

By the fall of 1999, we were settled in our new home, getting ready to go back to school, and waiting for the paperback version of the second Harry Potter book to come out. I knew my kids were very excited to read more about Harry’s adventures. They pestered me to read the book too, but I was enrolled in college busy reading the required texts and hadn’t time to read for pleasure at all. So again, Harry would have to wait.

It wasn’t until the third book in the series was published that I read the books. The film version was coming out and I try to read the books before I see the movie, if at all possible. So, finally, that summer of 2001, I belatedly sat down and read Harry’s story. And I loved it. I finished the first book in a day and moved on to the second, then the third. I was hooked. Later, when the fourth book came out, we all went to the Harry Potter book release party at the local B&N. (I miss those book release parties. They were such fun.) After we bought the book, like a good mom, I gave it to one of the kids to read. In the car. On the way home. In the dark.  And “encouraged” her to stay up all night and read it. Because her brother and I needed our turn! After she finished it, the boy took his turn. But he stopped at some point to play video games. So, while he played video games, I read. I suppose I could have bought two books or books for all of us, but money was tight in those days so all three of us shared the books.

At some point J.K. Rowling slowed down a bit and needed more time to write Harry’s story. But my kids didn’t slow down. They grew up and became older than Harry. By the time the final book was published both kids were grown and gone. And they bought their own copies of Harry Potter to read.

But we three can still argue about Harry Potter when they come home. Their dad, who has not read any of the books, has seen all of the movies and can follow our discussions. Harry was such a part of their young adulthood that realizing how many years ago it all started is shocking to me. It’s shocking because the kids who read Harry Potter are now adults. My kids are adults. Harry, Hermione, and Ron are adults, too. How can that be?

Have you fond memories of reading Harry Potter for the first time? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Happy Birthday to you, Jane Austen.

According to my big of list of author birthday and death days, today is Jane Austen’s birthday. And because I’m a fan of her writing, I didn’t want to let the day pass without marking the day.

Here’s a list of links to some fun Austen related posts I’ve read recently.

Click here to read an interesting post about how we read Jane Austen. 

Over on the blog Drunk Austen, she is doing a daily re-watch of Emma Thompson/Ang Lee adaptation of Sense & Sensibility. And everyday she writes a lovely post to report her response to that days viewing. Click here to read my favorite post (so far).

Lastly, here are some links to my own posts about Jane Austen and her novels. I’m really surprised by how few I’ve written. I’d best get to writing more in the new year.

My most recent Friday 56.

A Few of My Favorite Things. 

March 2017 TBR.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Let me know in the comments below any other posts and articles about Jane Austen or books that you think I should read.

Happy reading, y’all.

National Bookmobile Day

Image result for bookmobile bad girlIn honor of #BookmobileDay2018, I am re-posting the tribute I wrote last year.

As a part of National Library Week, today is National Bookmobile Day in The United States. And as a lifelong reader and supporter of public libraries, I just want to celebrate my  love of bookmobiles and the librarians who run the. For many in rural communities, bookmobiles are the only way to access library books. And I wanted to remember the  bookmobile librarian that helped me become the reader I am today.

I grew up in a tiny community in the rural West. It was miles from everywhere. The nearest town with banks, grocery stores, and a library was a 30 minute drive—in good weather. So my first exposure to a library and library books was the bookmobile. The bookmobile came to our house twice a month, every other Wednesday. Mr. Riggs, the librarian, would park the large bus-sized vehicle near our house. In the spring, when our yard was muddy, he would park in the driest spot possible and help my mother lay wooden boards to the door of the bookmobile as a makeshift sidewalk. This kept the mud out of both our house and the bookmobile!

Mr. Riggs really seemed to appreciate my mother’s love of books. I don’t recall him limiting the number of books I checked out. He knew my mother had taught me to love reading and to respect the books. I remember having a stack of 15 or so storybooks at one time checked out from the bookmobile. And I can honestly say I never lost or ruined any of the books I checked out from the bookmobile. Mr. Riggs would also set aside books for Mom. He knew what she loved to read and would make sure to get the books for her. The bookmobile also visited our elementary school. And once as I checked out a book at school, he gave me a book he knew she would want to read. Mom had not been home that day when he visited our house. Now, did the other patrons of the bookmobile receive such consideration? That I don’t know. What I do know is he recognized in my mother a fellow lover of books.

I, of course, didn’t know what a special person he was until after he retired from running our bookmobile. The next fellow (whose name I don’t remember) wasn’t as friendly. He put limits on the number of books I could checkout and, when I was a teenager, tried to stop me from checking out “inappropriate” books that I wanted to read. I continued to visit the bookmobile and check out books, but it wasn’t the same. As I read back over what I’ve written I see that it’s hard for me to differentiate between the man who ran the bookmobile and the bookmobile as a service. And I think that’s okay. Because of his kindness and dedication as a librarian and bookmobile operator, I became a supporter of libraries and librarians. And I passed the love of libraries along to my children because of Mr. Riggs and his bookmobile.

Here is the link to the page where I found The Bookmobile Bad Girl Image.

Do you have a bookmobile or library story? Share it in the comments below. Happy #NationalBookMobileDay, y’all!

#ABOSinaction2018

International Women’s Day 2018

Yes, I am a feminist. I am proud to proclaim it. All my friends and many in my family know it. And the seeds of my  growth into a feminist were planted by my mother. Thanks Mom!

I did not know that I was a feminist when I was a teen, but those seeds were there. And later on as life happened to me, I became even more of a feminist. There are many things both personal and public that have helped on the road to embracing my feminism. And one of those things is that pop culture phenomenon Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Many people mistakenly believe that his was just a stupid little teen show. But it was not. It was a well written subversive look at the struggles of girls to become self-actualized women. Because as we all know, the teen years are hard for girls and young women. We struggle with the physical changes and emotional changes of those years. And many also must struggle with abuse and harassment. And Buffy did too. And she could help young women find the strength to deal with those issues. I was not even close to being a teen when this show originally aired, but it helped me to process and understand the abuse and harassment I suffered as a teenage girl.

So, on this #InternationalWomensDay I want to give Buffy her due. Thanks, Buffy for slaying your monsters and in turn helping me as an adult slay mine.

 

My Top 10 Historical Romances

In honor of Valentine’s Day I decided to create a list of my Top 10 Historical Romance Novels of the last year or so. If you are looking for a romance to read I highly recommend any of these novels. Warning: I don’t read chaste or sweet romances. I like ’em spicy, so keep that in mind. With no further ado here, in no particular order, is my list.

Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran. This is a sort of throwback sweeping saga sort of romance. It sweeps across Colonial India and Victorian England. I love it.

 

 

 

Not Quite A Husband by Sherry Thomas. Another sweeping historical with an independent heroine and gone rogue husband. It’s such a well written story, and as with all good romances, is emotionally satisfying.

 

 

 

 Like No Other Lover by Julie Anne Long. This author is really hit and miss for me. But this novel is one of my favorite tropes: Cynthia is hiding a scandal and needs to marry before it becomes common knowledge. The story hits all of the emotional points: forgiveness and acceptance. It’s a satisfying read.

 

 

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean. I hate the trend in romance novels to have cutesy titles that are plays on common sayings that have nothing to do with the story at all. It’s annoying. And this book isn’t really historical. It’s more like a “AustenLand” type of book. In spite of all of this, it’s one of my favorite romances of all time. It’s so emotionally satisfying. And I love a heroine that wears glosses. I can’t help it.

 

Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt. Ignore this cheesy cover. This book. It’s a love letter to all those Gothic romances of the ’70’s and ’80’s with a dash of Wuthering Heights thrown in for fun. Secret societies, illegitimate children, and abbey ruins all make an appearance. I love this book and the anti-hero love interest so damn much. Read it! Read it now!

 

By Love Undone by Suzanne Enoch. I love this title. I read this because, again, a scandal plagued heroine hiding from life until he sees her. And he helps her gain redemption and loves her in spite of secrets. So it’s emotionally satisfying for me.

 

 

 

Lord Langley is Back in Town by Elizabeth Boyle. This another author that is hit and miss for me. This is a part of a longer series, but you don’t have to read the other books to enjoy this one. This book features older hero and heroine. and that’s always a treat in romance novels.

 

 

Wilde in Love by Eloisa James. This is a fun book. It deals with celebrity, but takes place in Georgian England, so, yes. It’s a bit like AustenLand. But it is a fun read. And Eloisa James is a fun romance writer.  There is only one of her novels that I really didn’t like.

 

 

 

The Conquest of Lady Cassandra by Madeline Hunter. This book. Just emotionally devastating in all the best ways. I love it so much. Again, a heroine with a scandal and a hero who helps her redeem herself. It’s a theme that I love. Also, the hero and heroine have been crushing on each other for years. So when the ending is emotionally satisfying. It is a part of a series that I’m mostly uninterested in, but to get resolution of the overarching story, then you should read all the books in the series. But, I think it stands on it’s own too. Read it now!

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan. I really shouldn’t like this novel. It’s only a historical romance due to the setting. The characters don’t really behave as Victorians should? I guess? It’s very AustenLand. But. It’s such a well written story. And I’ve read a number of her other novels and she is just so good. If you are looking for a good romance novelist, read Courtney Milan.

 

So, what do you think? Have you read any of these novels? Do you agree with my list? What are your favorite romance novels? Do you have any romances you would recommend to me? Let me know in the comments below. Happy Reading!

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon October 2017

april2017It’s that time of year again. It’s Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon time! A full 24 hour period to devote to just reading! The readathon is this weekend, October21st and 22nd. Most exciting is that it’s the 10th anniversary of this readathon. Click here to read more about the story of this readathon. This is my fourth readathon.You can read about previous readathons here, here, and here.

As I write this I’m busy collecting the books I want to read during the event. I’m not focusing on a theme, although I’m am planning on reading some Ray Bradbury books that are October and Halloween related. Click here if you would like to see my Dewey’s Readathon bookshelf on Goodreads. Another thing I’m focusing on is reading shorter in length books because one thing I have learned is not to read “doorstoppers” during a readathon. I read a 500+ page book during my first readathon which made me feel as if I made no progress at all. While I know that its not a competition, I did get discouraged since I didn’t quite finish two books for that first readathon. So for the next one I read more 200 pages and under books which made me feel like I accomplished my goals as I finished each book. Now I focus more on page count and not worry about the number of books I read. I’m setting the goal of reading 1,500 pages.  And since I get a little stir crazy sitting in the same spot for hours on end, I will also have some audio books ready to go so I can get out and enjoy the lovely fall weather this weekend.

A new treat I have also planned for the readathon: spa day! I’m gonna spend some time with stuff slathered on my feet, hands, and face. This is a perfect time to use a deep moisturizer on my poor, dry, feet and heels. And fuzzy socks to keep my feet warm while I have them propped on a stool. On my hands more balms and lotions with my hands in cotton gloves to keep the book pages clean. And on my face some eye masks and face masks to treat my skin. And I’ll put a pitcher of water with cucumbers or oranges floating nearby. It will be lovely.

Another important part of this readathon is social media.  I plan on sticking to Twitter for most of my updates with three or four more detailed updates on my blog. You can find me here on Twitter. I am also planning on visiting Goodreads Dewey’s Readathon group and participation in the reading sprints which are held there. I will participate in as many mini-challenges as I can and cheer all my fellow readathoners on as possible. It’s such fun to know that so many other people all around the world are participating and cheering each other on. It’s one of the many really cool things about this readathon; we do it together.

Finally, food and drink is also much discussed and planned for the readathon. Since I’m going with a spa day theme, I”ll have pitchers of water to keep hydrated. Later on I’ll drink hot tea and cider and treat myself to some pumpkin cookies to keep my energy up. And perhaps the treat that I’m most looking forward to is the late afternoon/early evening large latte or flat white Himself will go and get for me. I don’t drink coffee after 4 pm because the caffeine keeps me awake all night. So this late in the day coffee is a special treat.

Of course, all of my plans for the readathon may change the day of. But one thing is for certain and it’s that I will be readathoning on Saturday. Will you? Let me know in the comments below if you are participating in this readathon. And leave the links to your social media or blog so we can cheer each other on. Happy readathon weekend, y’all!

Morning Pages

My first morning pages notebook.

Today I did the same thing I do almost every morning. I got up, poured myself a cup of coffee, and wrote in my morning pages notebook. As of today, I’ve been following this routine for a year. And it’s probably one of the best things I’ve done for myself in years.

I’m not imparting profound thoughts or truths in these notebooks, but instead I’m just taking what’s up here (pointing at my head) and putting it down here (pointing at my notebook.) And moving all that detritus from my busy brain leaves room for more creative ideas to percolate. I’m not putting down on paper deep truths or profound thoughts. I’m just following the advice of Julia Cameron and writing down whatever is floating around in my head.

Seriously, most mornings my notebook is filled with my whining about being “awake”, not enough coffee in my cup, and how crapppy Bic pens really are to write with. Occasionally I’ll write down my remembered dreams or whatever issue I’m obsessing about at that moment. I’ve long known about free writing as a tool to help with my academic writing, but I just hadn’t bothered to use it for more personal exercise. Julia Cameron seems to be the originator of the version of the practice that I’m using. It’s a grand way to clear my mind for the day ahead.

My current morning pages notebook

I think that this practice has improved my writing for this blog. It helps me with my everyday life, too. Stuff that I previously worried or obsessed about ended up in my morning pages and not in my head. And if you, like me, obsess over silly things, then this exercise may help you to keep it from churning around all day and night. Additionally, my morning pages are also a place I often “pre-write” a lot of my bookish blog posts and book reviews. I can get all my thoughts down while still being half conscious and so don’t lose all my brilliant thoughts and ideas (or not so brilliant, depending.)

My pretty leather covered journal

And it also has helped me with another problem I have: my collection of notebooks. I love notebooks and have so many. And I didn’t use them. I was always planning to use them for my JOURNALING (it’s in all caps because journaling is important writing and profound.) And such profound journaling deserves a lovely notebook. And that is true, I guess. But that fear of perfection kept me from doing any writing in any notebook. I came to realize that if I didn’t use the notebooks now that the notebooks would never be used. And after I die my children will just toss them in the trash. It’s true. So I started using them. And using such pretty notebooks made me happy. And so all of my notebooks will eventually be used. And the kids can toss ’em after I’m dead or I can toss ’em myself.

 

If someone were to ask me if I thought morning pages is worth their time and energy I would tell them yes. It has made a huge difference in my writing and life over the past year. And I would tell them that they should start doing it as soon as possible. Immediately, if not sooner!

Have I convinced you, dear reader, to explore the practice of morning pages? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Helpful Links

Here are some links to some blog posts and essays about writing (not just morning pages):

From Lithub is This is from a recent essay that encourages writers to take notes by hand. Writing the morning pages by hand is an important part of the process.

The Artisit’s Way by Julia Cameron contains information about how she defines the morning pages practice. I’ve not read the entire book, just the sections related to morning pages. I have read The Right to Write.

And another short essay about how the hows and whys of morning pages by Belle Beth Cooper.

And finally this is a link to my October 2016 Wrap-Up where I first mention morning pages. Scroll down to find the link to the blog post that inspires me. Thanks Little Coffee Fox!