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.


The 5 Highest Rated Books on my TBR Stack

Since I’m reading and rating The 5 Lowest Rated Books on my TBR Stack according to GoodReads, it seems only logical to list the five highest rated books on my TBR. Like the five lowest rated books, I plan on reading them over the course of the year and will update my progress in the later in the year. And I’ll let you what I think about the books and whether or not I  agree with think the rating.

***I think I forgot to mention in my lowest rated post that the books on both lists are all books I own as of January 1, 2019. Anything I purchased after this date is not a part of the list and will not be added to it this year. This list (and the lowest rated list) was compiled by me on January 22, 2019.

Here’s the list:

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande  4.44 Stars

Why is it on my TBR: It came to me by book box a couple of years ago.

Why I think it has high ratings: Not sure.








An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon  4.44 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: I picked this up at a library book sale.

Why I think it has high ratings: This is a part of a beloved series that the fans love. And those fans are a wee bit fanatical.





Broken Angels by Gemma Liviero  4.43 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: I won this one in GoodReads Giveaway a couple of years ago.

Why I think it has high ratings: I’m guessing it’s the subject matter.






The Story of a Lost Child by Elena Ferrante 4.39 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: I bought all of the Neapolitan Quartet a year or two ago. And it’s on my TBR because I’m not quite ready to finish the series.

Why I think it has a high rating: Because the novels are so good.





The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak 4.37 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: I bought this years ago and have put off reading because I’m afraid it won’t live up to my expectations.

Why I think it has a high rating: It’s a beloved book.







Here is a link to Zuky the Bookbum’s Top 5 Highest Rated TBR books on GoodReads. 

And here is the link to my 5 Lowest Rated Books.

And here is a link to a  Misstery blog post about low rated books she liked.

Have you read any of the books and do you agree with GoodReads ratings? Let me know in the comments below. And if you’ve put together a top rated list, leave a link to it so I can compare our lists.

Happy Reading.

The 5 Lowest Rated Books on my TBR Stack

Back in the late summer and early fall, book blogs, Bookstagram, and Booktube was full of posts about the five lowest rated books on their respective TBRs. Some listed the books and others read the books and discussed why they agreed or disagreed with the low ratings on GoodReads.

So this new year as I look over my own teetering TBR I wondered what were the five lowest rated books of mine. And so I decided to list & then read my five lowest rated books on GoodReads. I will update and review the books and explain why I think the ratings are or are not justified.

***Edited to add: The books are the lowest rated as of  January 22, 2019.

The Handbag’s Tale by Louis Bertrand Shalako 2.13 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: This is on my TBR because it is free for Kindle books. And its one of many free books I downloaded to my Kindle right after I received the Kindle back in 2011.

Why I think it has a low rating: Well. It is a self-published book. I’m guessing there are a lot of reasons?

***edited to add: I read this one over the weekend. The review is on GoodReads if you are interested.


The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold 2.68 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: I bought this at Target soon after reading Lovely Bones. Itsa one of my favorite books so I thought to give this one a spin.

Why I think it has a low rating: I started it at one point and realized what this book is about and it’s controversial. And I wasn’t in the mood to read it, so I set it aside.





Spring and Fall by Nicholas Delblanco 2.71 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: I picked this up at a conference and it has languished on my TBR ever since.

Why I think it has a low rating: No clue.





Whiskey by Bruce Holbert

2.91 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: This came to me via a Book box.

Why I think it has a low rating: It is a fairly new book and has very few ratings. So.



That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam  3.08 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: Another book box book. This book seemed to be everywhere when it was first published.

Why I think it has a low rating: I’m guessing that like The Almost Moon it is a controversial story.


What are the five lowest rated GoodReads books on your TBR? Have you read any of the books on my list and do you agree with the ratings?  Let me know in the comments below.


Here are links to a couple of posts that inspired me and my ratings rubric:

Click here to see my star ratings rubric.

Click here to read here to read Book Bums lowest rated books post.

And here is a link to Books and Lala’s five lowest rated books:

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.

Quickie Book Review: Circe

Author: Madeline Miller

Published: April 2018, Hardback

Length: 394 pages

Genre: fiction, fantasy/mythology

Source: I bought it.

Stars: 4 1/2 Stars



In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child–not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power–the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians.

“Humbling women seems to me a chief pastime of poets. As if there can be no story unless we crawl and weep.” –Madeline Miller, Circe


I love mythology. And anytime I can read a story based in mythology, I will do it. So, you know this book was at the top of my TBR pile. And Amazon in the week or so before its official release put it on sale for less than $3, so of course I bought it. And I am glad I did.  This is a story which seems to focus on what happens when female rage and power is contained. Circe is a potentially powerful witch and is angry, and this must be contained. It’s this rage and power that fuels her story and interactions with various gods and goddesses and humans that visit her island. And this is what Odysseus finds when he happens upon her island’s shore.

Not so much:

I really can’t think of anything as I write this. It has been a while since I read this.

What I’ll remember:

The cathartic power of reading this story. And that it’s nice to find someone else who sees Odysseus as the jerk he is.

Do I recommend it?:

Solid yes. This would be such a great thing to read in conjunction with The Odyssey. I enjoyed it so much that I plan on going back and reading The Song of Achilles soon. And I hope that Madeline Miller focuses a novel on Medea soon. That one is rage and power all out of control! I would love to read her take on how Medea’s rage and anger and shocking revenge came to be.

Here is a link to my Friday 56 Meme featuring Circe.

Have you read Circe? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Reading, y’all!

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!