Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Book Review: Harry Potter y el misterio del principe by J.K. Rowling (5/5)

6 Jun

It’s hard to write a book review for a re-read, especially a re-read of a Potter book. Oh well, I’ll try my best. I read this book over the past five months so my memories of it will be a little spotty and my comments will likely lean toward the later part of the book, which is freshest in my mind. And I want to talk here about reading in another language because, in the end, that was my purpose.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Harry Potter y el misterio del princie by J.K. Rowling, translated by Gemma Rovira Ortega

Other books by J.K. Rowling reviewed on my blog:

The Tales of Beedle the Bard
Harry Potter y la Orden del Fenix
Very Good Lives
The Cuckoo’s Calling (under pseudonym Robert Galbraith)
The Silkworm (under pseudonym Robert Galbraith)

English Summary from Goodreads:

It is the middle of the summer, but there is an unseasonal mist pressing against the windowpanes. Harry Potter is waiting nervously in his bedroom at the Dursleys’ house in Privet Drive for a visit from Professor Dumbledore himself. One of the last times he saw the Headmaster was in a fierce one-to-one duel with Lord Voldemort, and Harry can’t quite believe that Professor Dumbledore will actually appear at the Dursleys’ of all places. Why is the Professor coming to visit him now? What is it that cannot wait until Harry returns to Hogwarts in a few weeks’ time? Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts has already got off to an unusual start, as the worlds of Muggle and magic start to intertwine…

I’ve thought about it, and I’m not sure I’ve read this book a second time since devouring it the week after it was published. I know I’ve reread books 1-4, but I’m not sure about 5-7. That makes this Spanish reread of the series even more fun for me. HBP is my favorite of the movies so I’ve watched it dozens of times but knowing that aspect of the story made me forget the details in the book that made it even more incredible. I loved Crabbe and Goyle as first-year girls, the reason Snape called himself the Half-Blood Prince, the details of Ginny and Harry, Quidditch politics, and even more Slughorn.

After seeing Harry act like an emotional teenager in the fifth book where just reading the all-caps freak-outs he has will give you 70% of the plot, HBP is a nice break and a chance to see Harry mature. Hermione is her strong self as always and Ron’s growing and fading relationship with Lavender is always good for a laugh. Rowling’s characters are very believable teens and I remember reading this when it was published, the year I was 16, and thinking the same thing. It was so great to grow up with Harry.

For once, Harry was my favorite character. Though, when Malfoy is in the astronomy tower, he breaks my heart. That’s one of my single favorite character development scenes in all of literature. I’ve literally written a book about it. Harry was much more level-headed this time around. I also liked his drive and determination when it came to the Horocruxes. It was good to get some internal thoughts from him about Ginny and his friends. Much of Rowling’s writing is 3rd person narration but it’s a treat to get into Harry’s head.

Part of what makes this book one of my favorites is that Rowling makes Malfoy sympathetic, something we never expected in Sorcerer’s Stone. We’ve all struggled with something we didn’t want to do but were told to. It’s a terrible inner turmoil, trying to reconcile morality, duty, and compliance. I related to Malfoy and my mother would argue it was my fascination with everything she hated in my teen years, but I loved his character. What great writing.

J.K. Rowling Image via The Telegraph

J.K. Rowling
Image via The Telegraph

It should be easy to tell by now that the astronomy tower scene is my favorite (and least favorite) in the book. I think it’s something Potter fans can still discuss to this day. Was he really lowering his wand? In the movie, Malfoy shows a Dark Mark but not in the book. Did he have one? Was Snape reading Dumbledore’s thoughts? Did Dumbledore really want to die? Such a great scene!

It’s hard to find a part of this book I didn’t like. From the opening scene with the Muggle Prime Minister to the ominous tone at the end, I loved the whole thing. Maybe it’s how long it took me to read this, but I really enjoyed every word.

To me, the last two books deal with sacrifice and love. This book focused a lot on sacrifice, especially at the end. Harry is reeling from losing Sirius at the beginning but quickly has to focus on the real problem, Voldemort. He is willing to sacrifice his time and later his safety to stop the Dark Lord and at the end, sees the downfall of his mentor. However, he quickly realizes that this had to happen for him to find his own strength. Gah, I love it!

Writer’s Takeaway: It’s hard to say what it is about these books that I can’t get enough of. I’ll reread them time and again. This book showed a lot of character development and depth I’d been waiting a long time to see and it was refreshing. The series grew up with Harry and this book continued that trend and I really, really loved being a Harry Potter kid.

Amazing, amazing book. A full 5 out of 5 Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Resena #9 { Harry Potter y el Misterio del Principe Mestizo } | Un Viaje por los Libros

That Day I Was Ready to Go To Hogwarts

19 Apr

Here’s a short but fun post for y’all. My birthday was at the end of March and my very thoughtful husband tried to get me something invaluable and it worked about 70%.

He wrote a letter to J.K. Rowling for me. He explained that she is one of my role models and how I want to enjoy even 1% of her success in my lifetime. He begged her to write me back, but, alas, Ms. Rowling receives too many letters to write back to everyone . I did, however, get this.

img_2944

I almost died. It’s a very nice form letter with a printed signature, but it’s still wonderful. Here’s the opening line:

I hear you are a great fan of “Harry’s!” [Husband’s name] has told me all about you and you sound like an amazing person. I’m sorry to say that I now receive so much mail that I cannot write to everyone individually, much as  would like to.

Yeah, it’s pretty rocking and very thoughtful of the hubbs to think of this for me.

Anyone else have a Rowling letter? Anyone lucky enough to get an individualized response? My jealousy will be astronomical.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Ally

29 Feb

Here’s part two of my vacation wrap-up/guide to visiting the Universal Orlando parks. I spent two days at Universal Studios two weeks ago and I want to share my experience as it pertains to Harry and give you all some advice about how to make the most of your experience.

2016-02-15 09.14.38We rushed back to Escape from Gringotts on our first day at Studios. As predicted, the line was better than later in the day, but many people had the same thought. I had to stop on the way to take a picture with 12 Grimmauld Place. There were people lining up to number 14 (come on, people!) so I jumped right up to 12. The ride line wove through a bunch of switchbacks and then into Gringotts, very similar to the set from Deathly Hallows Part II. The goblins even looked the same! We went through some vault rooms and into the offices. Again, we could have kept our phones with us but I didn’t know! A nice fellow Potterhead took my picture and emailed it to me so I’d have at least one memento. The ride itself was fun. It featured Bill Weasley rather prominently and I believe he had more lines in the ride than he did in all the movies combined. It was a 3D ride which isn’t my favorite because glasses don’t layer. Overall, I enjoyed it a lot.

2016-02-15 10.58.53We walked through a lot of the shops for a while. I fell in love with a pair of knee socks that said ‘Hogwarts’ on them that I ended up buying but I kept my spending to that. I did have fun walking through Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes and Borgin and Burkes. We stopped at the purple Night Bus parked outside the entry wall and I had a great conversation with Simon (not Stan) the conductor and his talking head. We had lunch at the Leaky Cauldron which was again delicious. I had the Toad in the Hole and really enjoyed it with some Pumpkin Juice. The rest of our day we spent seeing most of the rest of the park and indulging my husband’s big fandom, the Simpsons.

2016-02-16 11.42.09And then the second day. We went back to Escape from Gringotts in the afternoon and I brought my camera this time! It was great to snap some pictures and know what was coming up in the line as we went through. I had such a good time and I’m glad we went twice though of course the thrill was a bit reduced the second time through.

2016-02-16 12.35.29We walked through the stores again for a bit and explored Knockturn Ally. There was nothing like that at Islands and I liked getting to see the darker objects that were available. We were able to catch a puppet show of the Tale of the Three Brothers which I thought was wonderfully done. The puppets were gorgeous and the actors superb. I was pleasantly surprised because I didn’t think the Islands entertainment was of this caliber and I was really impressed. If you’re at Studios, I highly recommend stopping by this one. Another fun side note, the dragon on top of Gringotts breaths fire every ten minutes! Stick around and watch. You’ll know it’s coming because there’s a lot of rumbling and growling before hand.

2016-02-16 12.59.41We had lunch at the Leaky Cauldron again on the second day and, this time, I got the Banger Sandwich which was, again, really good. I can’t reiterate enough how impressed I was with the food and dining in WWHP. Even if you’re going as a non-Harry fan, it’s a great place to eat.

That about wraps it up! We had a great trip and the memories and pictures will last me for years to come. I do hope to make a pilgrimage to the forthcoming WWHP park near Los Angeles, CA at some point soon. My brother-in-law and his wife live close by and it’s always fun to make a Muggle pilgrimage.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade

25 Feb

As many of you know, I spent last week in Orlando, Florida going to the Universal and Disney parks. As much as I’d love to talk about my trips and show you pictures of me and Buzz Lightyear (see my Instagram), I wanted to talk about some things more relevant to books, specifically my experiences in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter sections of the park.

 My husband and I spent our first full day at the Islands of Adventure Park (to the left when you walk in). We did not do a park-hopper so I didn’t ride the Hogwarts Express so that will be out of this discussion. I wanted to talk about the rides and experiences and share my pictures. If you had a different experience, please share it in the comments.

We got to the park just after it opened and raced back to Hogsmeade. The line for Dragon Challenge was short so we jumped in… to be immediately kicked out and told to put our backpack and belongings in one of the free lockers. It’s worth noting that Dragon Challenge is one of two rides we encountered in the park (along with Rockit Rollercoaster) where you couldn’t have your backpack or anything in your pockets. That means no cell phone and no pictures! Once we got through the metal detector (yep, no joke), we zipped through the line. There were a lot of cool things to see in the line including the Goblet of Fire and the Triwizard Cup but again, no pictures of those. The ride itself was well designed and a good high-level thrill ride that I recommend.

Right after that, we jumped in the hour-long line for Flight of the Hippogriff. The line was really slow and we realized it was because there was only one car running and that was because the ride was so short they couldn’t put a second one on. I was a little disappointed by how short the ride was and that there wasn’t much to see while waiting in line. There was a replica of Hagrid’s hut, but that was it. You could see the Buckbeak animatronic a bit, but it was meant to be viewed from the ride. Overall, not my favorite.

 We took a break to have some Butterbeer and see the rest of the park. The line for the Butterbeer cart was long but it moved fast. It was $6 for a standard cup ($7 for frozen) and honestly, I didn’t like it very much. It tasted like cream soda with whipped cream on it. My lactose intolerance was instantly on high alert! It was good, but we didn’t purchase it again. It was nice to see the Wizard and Frog choir perform while we waited in line, though!

 

 

 

For lunch, we stopped in The Three Broomsticks. I had fun with the employee regulating the line. I told him I wasn’t a Muggle, I was a Half-Blood. He scoffed and said he wasn’t a Slytherin so he didn’t care about my blood status. It was great.

The food was well priced and pretty good. It was some standard pub fare and I enjoyed the Rotisserie Smoked Chicken platter. The most memorable for me was the Pumpkin Juice. It was really good and I recommend it over butterbeer. Imagine a pumpkin spice latte met with some apple juice. It was really good. We stopped in the Hogs Head and we had the Hogs Head Brew, which I really liked!

The rest of the day was spent in other parts of the park. One thing I noticed is that it was hard to walk through Hogsmeade when going to different ‘lands.’ It was really crowded all the time and the bridge to get around it wasn’t on the map (though we found it later). I read that it’s better to go in the morning and I believe it.

 Our last stop of the day was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey inside Hogwarts castle. It was AMAZING! This was everything I wanted from my WWHP experience. We had to lock our backpack up but we could have kept our phones! I didn’t know this so I don’t have any pictures of it and it’s the only thing I regret from the experience. You first wind through the greenhouses and see little mandrakes there. Then you go through Dumbledore’s office, DADA classroom, and corridors until you get into the car. The ride is great and I can’t recommend it enough. The best part is that I didn’t have to wear 3D glasses!

I ended up buying a Slytherin scarf in the gift shop. In Michigan, a scarf is a necessity in the winter and I’ll wear mine a lot. Plus, it’s the same colors as my husband’s alma mater so I’ll wear it when we go to tail gates and pretend it doesn’t have a snake on it.

I’ll be back next week with some tips about Diagon Ally at Universal Studios. Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Harry Potter Lessons: What I Think the Series Means

30 Mar

I’ve decided to do a series about Harry Potter. This is partially out of my obsession with the series and partially because I’m in between books with nothing to write. Either way, this is something that means a lot to me and I’ve been wanting to share for a long time. In this first post, I want to share my overall feelings about the series and in further posts, I’ll dive into individual lessons I learned. Look for those coming soon.

I understand that some people have not read or will not allow their children to read the series for various religious reasons that deal with witchcraft. When I hear of cases like this, I understand, but it makes me sad. There is so much in the series if you are able to look past the spells and magic. But that’s like saying you should buy a dress that fits you well if it’s a color you don’t like and doesn’t look good on you. If the premise doesn’t work, don’t force it.

Voldemort

Image via HarryMedia.com

For those who are able to get through the series, there are a lot of interpretations and key messages but for me, the theme has always been clear. Harry Potter is about the dangers of racism and prejudice. We’re introduced to a character with mixed blood purity who has to defeat a villain who, while also having mixed blood, believes in a purification of the population. Does this remind anyone else of this guy? He’s gathering an army around him to pick off those who the leader considers inferior and ruining the pure race through influence and inbreeding. I’m not even sure if I’m talking about Hitler or Voldemort anymore. Both were willing to kill to reach their goal and relied on devoted followers to carry out their bidding. There was a group seen as inferior (Muggles or Jews) that needed to be eliminated or controlled. Using fear mongering and displays of power, both were able to control their followers and carry out their agendas. That is, until the ‘light,’ the ‘good guys,’ the Allied Forces, and the Order of the Phoenix overcame that power in a series of battles that defeated the leader. Harry Potter is a warning that the evils of Hitler are can take shape in many forms and that we have to be strong like Dumbledor and Harry to keep that evil, that single-minded drive for power and control, at bay. It does matter if it’s the Aryan race (which Hitler was not part of) or purebloods (which Voldemort was not), there are groups that some find inferior and will work to defeat.

Image via the Sun

Image via the Sun

But Harry Potter overcame this evil. He saw that Hermione was as worthy of being a witch as Ginny and that Draco was as flawed as Hagrid. He saw a value in all humans, no matter what their blood status. The books taught me about tolerance and acceptance of those who are different and the dangers that come when we segregate people for the way they were born.

Some elements of the story can be applied to the Civil Rights movement in the US but because Rowling is a British citizen, I think this is more accidental than on purpose. But this helps drive home the message that prejudices are all around us and we can’t escape from them unless we fight against them. If we don’t speak out (like Aberforth) we can’t make a change and have to live with the consequences.

 

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Changing Your Own Ending

6 Feb

If any of you reading this are huge Rowling fans like myself, there’s no doubt you saw an article yesterday about an interview she did. Emma Watson, who stars as Hermione in the Harry Potter movies, was interviewing JK Rowling when she said that she should have had Hermione and Harry end up together instead of Hermione and Ron.

WHAT?!?!?!

My mind was sufficiently blown. I told my husband and he seemed non pulsed. This only ebbed my anger. I said that it almost seemed like Rowling was writing her own fanfiction to which he responded, “It’s not fanfiction, she wrote the books.” True, but that’s not what she wrote into the books. She’s proposing a change. To me, it borders on fanfiction. It’s not cannon, it’s fic.

My argument is that while it seems plausible, it changes too much of the story. Hermione and Ron have a flirtation early in the books and it’s very subtlety written. I’m reading the fifth book now and it seems obvious to me. Also, the Harry/Ginny plotline appears as early as Book 2. To put Harry and Hermione together would involve taking away the entire Harry/Ginny back story. This is no small change she’s proposing!

This got me thinking about writing in general. Have you ever written something and then realized that you wanted to change the ending? Was it too late? What did you do? If we realize this early on, before something goes to a publisher or editor, we still have a chance to fix it. Once something is our of our hands, is it too late?

Rowling says that she was clinging to the plot she originally imagined and that’s why she had Ron and Hermione end up together. She wasn’t letting her characters develop naturally as she went, adjusting their outcome to the personalities she was writing. I know that this is a hole I could easily fall into because I’m such a planner. When following an outline, how often do you readjust the ending to reflect what’s already written?

As a fan, I’m disappointed in this announcement. As a writer, it intrigues me. Whether a fan or not, how do you feel about Rowling’s announcement?

Until next time, write on.

Novel Girls Holiday Party, NaNoel

24 Dec

Last Thursday my Novel Girls had our first annual Holiday party which KK accurately dubbed NaNoel (in the spirit of NaNovelGirls during NaNo). I really hope we can do this each year because this was hands down my favorite holiday party yet this year. That’s the best out of five so far, in case anyone wants to run an algorithm for this.

What made it so great? A large part was the people. My work Christmas lunch was great and my husbands Christmas dinner were nice, dont’ get me wrong, but the company is less intimate. Our white elephant with some college and work friends our age was an improvement for sure. SG’s Holiday wine and cheese party was great, too, though I didn’t know half the people there until two glasses in. But this party was reminiscent of when my girlfriends in high school would get together around the holidays and get each other gifts; the presents were so tailored to each of us that it was scary. Each one is my favorite Christmas gift so far.

KK was kind enough to host us so I made the trek out to her house after work and like the over-eager beaver I am, got there an hour before Nicole and SG. Once we all arrived there was pizza and laughing and a lot of amusing tweets (if you have the time, check out my Twitter feed, available on my right sidebar). I was just bursting and insisted that they open my present.

I’d gone back through our tweets since August and compiled. I used a picture from SG’s party of the four of us and made the image visible through the letters of the tweets. Make sense? SG posted a picture of it on Twitter so maybe that will help. It seemed so appropriate that our picture would be in words. Jay did the whole thing in Photoshop and I’m eternally grateful to him.

We opened KKs gift next. She’d ordered us each cuff bracelets with quotes from something we love on them. Mine says “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” Could this be more perfect?!?! I’m completely in love with it. SGs said “The world was hers for the reading” from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Nicole’s said “I’ll be the prince and you be the princess” from Taylor Swift’s Love Story. They’re so appropriate that I’m almost sickened.

SG gave us what every book nerd needs more of; books! I collect postcards and SG got me Everything is Connected– a collection of postcards with various instructions on them that the reader is supposed to leave around for others to find. It sounds super fun. KK got Alice in Tumblrland, re-told fairy-tales with a modern twist. This is so perfect for KK that I was surprised SG didn’t write it herself. Nicole, the lone poet among us, got a wonderful book of poetry by SG’s favorite poet. I love when books seem to choose the reader.

Continuing with the literary gifts, Nicole went for books and notebooks. I got a book about doing writers workshops, lotion, and a mug that says “Do not disturb, internal dialogue in progress.” I almost died laughing. We all got lotion that matched the colors in the rest of the gifts (because Nicole is coordinated like that). SG and KK got really nice notebooks, which was especially perfect because KK finished her old notebook in October, squeezing her NaNo outline onto the last page. How symbolic.

I’m still floating from such a great night with my friends. What was your favorite gift this year? Have you given a perfect literary gift? What was it? What’s the best one you received? I’m celebrating Christmas early with my family this year so I’ll (hopefully) be opening more books soon! I’ll keep you all posted.

Have a safe and happy holiday! Enjoy the time with friends and family.

Until next time, Reader, write on.

Eliminating Storytelling Cliches

1 Nov

Welcome to November! The ‘real’ posts you’ll be reading for the next few days were written pre-NaNoWriMo. Once November begins, my daily posts will be much shorter and will serve to update you, Reader, on my NaNo-ing progress toward 50,000 words. I’ll be back come December with more of what you’ve clicked the ‘Like’ button for.

This article is one my husband found and thought would make a good post. I’m inclined to agree. It goes over the author-identified 10 storytelling cliches that he has challenged writers to eliminate from writing. They’re not the ones I was expecting. I encourage you to read the article and I’ll go over a few of them here.

2. Broadcasting an upcoming plot twist. I think this is the cheap way out of good foreshadowing. If you’ve well foreshadowed a plot twist (one that you want to foreshadow), then the line “Little did (s)he know…” is completely unnecessary. I definitely agree here.

3. Blaming bad behavior on bad parenting. In complete agreement! I think a character is scarier or more dangerous if they come from a ‘normal’ background. A few true crime stories will emphasize that the person had a relatively normal upbringing and had an external traumatic event happen to him/her that made him/her the monster (s)he is. That’s real life, it might as well start showing up in fiction.

7. Veiling your message in a dream. I can’t recall a time this has shown up in literature I’ve read, but my husband could. He recently devoured James Dashner’s The Maze Runner series (soon to be a major motion picture) and said that starting in the second book, Dashner started to use this technique. My husband was not a fan.

9. Magical Negros and Noble Savages. In a desperate attempt to not appear racist, we can easily end up looking racist. Throwing in a ‘token black character,’ can be more harmful than positive. It may sound stupid, but my way of adding diversity into stories is to look at demographic data from the time period/era I’m writing in. If 10% of people are Native American, 10% of my characters will be Native Americans. 30% Asian? You’ve guessed it!

10. Knocking characters unconscious for plot convenience. I agree with the writer, this is a serious medical condition that can’t be played off like it’s nothing. However, being the nerd I am, I was glad to see a commenter who pointed out Harry Potter is knocked unconscious in almost every book but wakes up in the hospital wing. I’ll add that it’s normally not from head trauma that he’s unconscious.

 

Readers, let me know what you think of this list. Are there any more cliches you’d like to see disappear? Do you disagree with any of the cliches on this list? Leave a comment and let me know.

Until next time, write on.