Happy Belated Birthday, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!

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.

 

 

April 2017 Wrap-Up

Here are my stats for April:

Total books read: 10

Three Nights with a Scoundrel (Stud Club, # 3) Voyager (Outlander, #3) A Rake's Guide To Pleasure (Huntington, #2) In the Bed of a Duke (Cameron Sisters, #3) A Little Bit Wild (York Family, #1) Daisy's Back in Town Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (The Neapolitan Novels #3)Vampires in the Lemon Grove Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2)

Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place
courtesy of Goodreads

Number of pages: 3,139

Written by men: 0

Written by women:10

#DiverseAuthors: 0 (I’m really not doing well with this challenge.)

Nonfiction: 1

Fiction: 9

Library books:5

eBooks/Kindle: 5

Audio books: 0

Reread: 1

Did Not Finish (aka DNF):

A Murder in Time (Kendra Donovan, #1) The Tenant of Wildfell Hall The Witches: Salem, 1692

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Dewey’s Readathon)

The Witches by Stacy Schiff (I need to finish this one. It’s been on my DNF list since October.)

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

Favorite Book Of April:

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (The Neapolitan Novels #3) Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

I can’t decide which one I like better. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Challenges to Date:

Goodreads: 40/75 (changed the goal from 52 to 75 this month.)

Book Riot Read Harder: 5/24

#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks: 10

Purchased/Acquired in April:

Cowboys Are My Weakness by Pam Houston

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich (audio book)

Dewey’s 24 Readathon:

As is becoming a tradition, I participated in Dewey’s Readathon on Saturday. As always I had a wonderful time. I read 3 books and started 1. And I manged to meet my reading goal and go just a tiny bit over! 1,022 pages.

The most difficult hours of reading are the last three or four hours for me. It’s hard to keep focused on what I am reading during those hours and am easily distracted from it. So I officially gave up during hour 22. So my reading time is approximately 22 hours and 30 minutes. I’m quite pleased with myself.

As always with the readathons I use it as an opportunity to knock some books of my TBR pile and meet goals for the challenges I’m participating in. All the books I read qualified as #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks and two of them will count towards the Book Riot Read Harder 2017 challenge.  I had some yummy food to nosh while reading and my man brought a big flat white from Starbucks, and overall had a fun time. If you are looking for a readathon, I  heartily recommend this one. The next one is scheduled for October.

 Across the Web:

As you may know if you follow my blog April has been dedicated to the Brontë sisters. And I’ve noticed a lot of Brontë related things happening all across the web this past month. Here is a link to an article about the sisters.

I loved in the South for many years and came to love a hot Krispy Kreme doughnut. Here is a link to an interesting essay about it.

This has been one of strangest stories of the last 10 years. I hope that this article helps put to rest the story of Rachel Dolezal for good.

Blog Posts I Love:

I love posts form fellow bloggers that make me think about blogging in a new way. And also kick me in the butt and up my blogging game. Click on this link.  http://thebookishlibra.com/2017/04/21/discussion-post-why-im-so-slow-to-write-book-reviews

How was your reading and blogging life in April? Did you meet your goals for the month? Did you participate in Dewey’s 24 hour Readathon? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to leave a link to your April wrap-up. Happy reading in May.

Looking Back at 2016: My Top 10 Reads

I read so many good books this year. Here is my list of my favorite books this year.

The Tiger's Wife

It really surprised me. I loved this book.

 

 

 

 

Bird Box I wasn’t sure if I would like this book, but it was so scary and tension filled. Read it!

 

 

 

 

Station ElevenAnother really good apocalyptic story. Read it!

 

 

 

 

One Foot in Eden I read this for my book club. And it is so good. If you love Southern Lit, read it!

 

 

 

 

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie It’s more an essay than a book, but it’s a fabulous argument for why we all should be feminists.

 

 

 

You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott Really a fascinating read about how a talented child will take over a family.

 

 

 

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith I listened to this one. It’s the first audio book I’ve listened to in a while. And I really enjoyed it. The narrator did a great job, plus I learned how to pronounce so many Brit words and places.

 

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante This is one of my favorite books of this year. I’ve hopped on the Elena Ferrante bandwagon and am planning to read the second one soon.

 

 

 

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter This is another one that I wasn’t really sure what it was about when I picked it up to read. But it is really good.

 

 

 

The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad, #6) I love this series of books by Tana French so much. The latest in the series is so good, and it slyly comments on the genre of books with “Girl” in the title who are a bit angry. Read it!

 

 

So what do you think of my list? Have you read any of the books? What were your favorite books of 2016? Don’t forget to leave your link below so I can visit your blog. Happy Reading!

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon Wrap-Up

So another readathon has ended. It was a wonderful day; I read a lot of books and cheered on my fellow readers. I met my goal of 1000 pages, but did not make until the end. Here are my stats for the day:

  • I read five books and 82% of a sixth for a grand total of 1,017 pages.
  • I read for 19 hours (took an hour off to eat dinner and shower!)
  • I completed two reading sprints on Goodreads reading 90 pages and 70 pages.
  • And I participated in two challenges.
  • Favorite book: Bird Box by Josh Malerman. (So, so good!)
  • Not my favorite book: Yellowstone Ghost Stories by Shellie Larios. (So many editing issues to distract me.)

I had a fantastic reading day. And I’m looking forward to the next Dewey’s Readathon on  April 29, 2017. Make plans to join me in April, my friends. You won’t regret it.

How did you do during the readathon? Are there other readathons you can suggest for me to try? Let me know in the comments below!

Top Ten Tuesday #3

It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday. It’s hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Do visit this fun blog and read all the other lists compiled. it’s a lot of fun and you’ll be sure to add books to your TBR pile. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is: Back To School Freebie — anything “back to school” related. I’ve decided to go with novels with academic or school settings and themes.

Harry Potter and the Chambe...

As always, Harry Potter series. Need I say more?

 

 

 

The Secret History

The Secret History by Donna Tartt. This one is set at an elite college in New England. It’s a creepy story about obsession, corruption, and evil. It’s been a while since I read it, so I may need to do so in the near future.

 

 

The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad, #2)

The Likeness by Tana French.  I read this and The Secret History very close together, and I think both books are very similar. This is the second book of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series and the latest is coming out later this fall. I may need to do a re-read since it’s my favorite of the series so far.

 

PrPrepep by Curtis Sittenfeld. This is set at an elite boarding school in New England. It’s more a coming of age story of a “poor” girl thrown in with the rich kids at an elite school.

 

 

 

Possession

Possession by  A.S. Byatt. This is the story of two Academics searching for the mysterious muse of a famous Victorian poet. Literary mystery! The life and death struggle to publish or perish!  Forbidden love! The struggles of being in the literature department and finding something to write a thesis framed in a mystery. I’ve read and enjoyed it even though A.S. Byatt is a terrible literary snob.

 

Doomsday Book (Oxford Time Travel #1)

 

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. This is one of my favorite time travel novels. It’s the story of a historian at Oxford University who travels back in time to do research first hand.

 

 

The Historian

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. A historian researching the origins of her family in Romania and of Vlad the Impaler. The story travels around Europe to help the young female historian discover the answers to her questions. It’s a genuinely creepy read. I like to read it in October to help enhance the experience.

 

Tolstoy Lied: A Love Story

 

Tolstoy Lied: A Love Story by Rachel Kadish. Another academic trying to find answers in her research. But unlike the young female academic in The Historian, this one stays on campus.

 

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)

 

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. An American professor at Oxford finds a magical book while doing research in the Bodleian library.

 

 

On Beauty

 

On Beauty by Zadie Smith. The only book on this list I haven’t read this yet. It’s currently floating near the top of my TBR pile, so I hope to get to it this fall. According to Goodreads this the story of an English academic teaching at a college in New England.

 

So what do you think of my list? Are there any books you would add to it? What would your own list contain? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Thumbnails of the covers are courtesy of Goodreads.

 

 

 

 

Review of The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (AKA J.K. Rowling)

  • Author: Robert Galbraith (Pseudonym), J.K. Rowling, Robert Glenister (Narrator)
  • Genre: Mystery/Crime
  • Version: Audiobook (17 hours, 17 minutes)
  • Publisher: June 19th 2014 by Hatchette Audio
  • Source: Library
  • Read: July 18-27th.
  • 4 stars

From Goodreads:

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike, #2)Private investigator Cormoran Strike returns in a new mystery from Robert Galbraith, author of the #1 international bestseller The Cuckoo’s Calling.

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives—meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before…

What a fun read! I think after reading this second book of J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith’s detective series that I really just like the way this women tells a story. Wizards or detectives, I’m all in.  All of the characters, both major and minor, are well fleshed out and interesting, the plot moves and doesn’t dawdle, and I was completely surprised to find out who the killer is at the end. The subplot that focuses on Corm and Robin’s relationship is well done, too. And I really think that this second book in her Cormoran Strike series would have given her cover away if her pen name hadn’t been leaked earlier. This novel focuses on a world J.K. Rowling knows well: publishing. The references to so many stories about literary figures, stereotypes of writers, and even famous feuds make this a fun, and for me, a delicious read. And it’s sort of hilarious the way Rowling paints male literary writers, too.

I also love the growing friendship between Cormoran and his assistant Robin. The reliance they have on each other is sweet. And his respect for her is also refreshing. It’s not surprising that J.K. Rowling writes such lovely relationships (see all the Harry Potter books), but in the more hard boiled mystery novel it’s certainly refreshing to have that kind of relationship between a man and a woman.

I listened to this book as a part of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, Task 9. Listen to an audiobook that was won an Audie Award. This won the Audie Award for Mystery 2015 and I can understand why. Robert Glenister is the narrator and he does a wonderful job. And, as an American, I loved hearing all of the different English accents. As the week I listened went on, I found myself using some of my favorite British expressions and pronunciations (well, as close as I could get) around the house. And, yes, most of it was swearing.

Overall, I enjoyed the bloody hell out of this book (see what I did there?), and I will encourage you to read this book and the entire series as well. Don’t be afraid to read it because it isn’t Harry Potter, and think you can only read J.K. Rowling if she is writing HP novels. J.K. Rowling writes a damn good mystery novel and, if you love mysteries, you will enjoy the Cormoran Strike stories too.

 

 

 

July 2016 Wrap Up

July was not a good reading or writing month for me. I read only two books in the entire month. Two! And this month I fell off the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks wagon and I “acquired”a number of of books. Book boxes arrived on my doorstep along with settlements from Amazon and book sales at small town libraries. The universe wanted me to get books, so it’s totally not my fault. Plus I did not post to my blog  as much as I had planned in June. Tomorrow I will list my writing and reading plans for August. In the mean time,  here is a wrap up of July!

What I read:

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware (paperback)

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (audio book)

Total Pages read: A whopping 807.

New Arrivals in July: 

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard (eBook)

Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (The Taliban Shuffle MTI): Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Kim Barker

Herland (The Herland Trilogy #2) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay

I Am America (And So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert

Persuasion by Jane Austen

One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne

Quarterly Lit Box:

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Eight Hundred Grapes: A Novel by Laura Dave

The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger

Library Books:

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (audio book)

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (audio book/eBook)

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab (EBook)

July on my Blog:

June 2016 Wrap Up

Top Ten Tuesday, #1

Time Travel Novels: My Top Ten

Review of In a Dark, Dark Wood

The Friday 56,#6

The Friday 56, #7

Around the Blogsphere:

Just a few links to posts of bloggers I follow that I particularly liked in the past weeks.

Sally Allen wrote a lovely piece about her struggle reading in unsettled times. Click Here.

And here’s a link to a post at Taking on a World of Words discussing her book clubs reaction to The Invention of Wings. Click here.

This one is from Read Diverse Books and discusses lessons learned in the first few months book blogging. As a newbie to this world I appreciate any help I can get. click here.

Across the internet

These are links to articles I’ve read online and want to share.

Here is a link to a list of 10 Habits of Book Lovers that Non-Readers Don’t Understand. I’m not sure this is true, but it’s always nice to see that I’m not alone in my “odd” behaviors. Click here.

I don’t often think of MTV as a platform for articles, but I ran across this one by Brian Phillips earlier this month and fell in love with it. It’s titled Lost Highway: Aliens, Archeology, and the Atomic Bomb-A Road Trip through the Ruins of the American West.  It’s beautifully written and intersects with some of my favorite urban legends and modern mythologies. One day I’ll write about my own visit to Area 51! Warning, it’s a long article, but well worth the read.   Click here.

Have you fallen off the wagon? Have you read any of the books, blog posts, and articles that I’ve listed? If so, what do you think of them? Make sure to let me know in the links below. Cheers, and happy reading in August.