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Book Review: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling

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Harry Potter has swept me away…

Finally…I’m a member of the Harry Potter Club!

Ok, fellow book lovers, please don’t faint from surprise with this next admission: I FINISHED THE FIRST HARRY POTTER BOOK TWO NIGHTS AGO.

I can’t believe it’s taken me almost 18 years to actually read this book. I’m 28 years old and finally understanding why everyone has been C-R-A-Z-Y over this Harry Potter phenomenon for years. I’ve heard so much hype over the years, and anyone who knows me understands that I don’t “do” hype. I rarely participate in the discussions surrounding bestsellers or new releases that seem to clog Twitter and Instagram feeds. I generally do my own thing, read what looks good and entertaining, and come to things at my own pace. I’m not even upset about taking so long to read this series, that’s how pleased I am with the first book! (Safe to say, I won’t be taking long to start the 2nd book!)large_uLGaJ9FgPWf7EUgwjp9RTmHemw8

I can’t add much to the Harry Potter discussion, that’s not what this post is about, for sure. It’s just a simple commentary on why this book has been so good for me, as a reader and as an adult. It won’t be long and drawn out, my schedule doesn’t allow for waxing poetic too long, but it will try to explain why it’s never too late for the right book!

I vaguely remember picking this first book up when Harry Potter mania was first starting, and probably thinking something along the lines of “This is not based in reality, it’s not something I’m going to like.” (Keep in mind, I was 10 in 1997 when HP made his first appearance in the world, so that’s further proof that I’m old beyond my years.) I think I borrowed the book from a neighbor and got a few chapters in, just to sucker out and move on. I’m not going to say that was a mistake, because I now feel as if “discovering” Harry Potter at an older age may actually be more rewarding in the long run. (There’s something to the millions of adults who sneak the books out of their childrens’ bedrooms, feigning a read or re-read, for sure.)

I’ve seen at least half the movies, and I’ve been watching those in one form or another for most of my late adolescence and into my early adult years. While I’ve mostly enjoyed them, I believe (like most bookworms) that it’s really the books that are the important contribution to society, and the films are a bonus with good acting and amazing special effects. I must say that I’m thankful that the films don’t stray from the text and that J.K. Rowling maintained control over the projects!

As for the book itself, I think J.K. Rowling is brilliant with easy-going character development. She has created such a diverse crew of characters in this first book that already I feel myself having a strong emotional pull toward them, especially Harry, Ron, and Hagrid. (I want Hermione to be a little less of a snit and I definitely want to see Malfoy get what he deserves, and I know from the movies that these things come with time.) Since I’ve seen a few of the movies, I can picture each scene vividly in my mind while reading, and Jim Dale’s audiobook narration lends so much to the experience. (His performance should be noted for his unique vocalizations and his ability to keep his character voices on such an individual level. He’s a magnificent reader, and I hope to continue with his narration. Plus, the British brogue is music to my ears!)

I love the quiet philosophy behind the action and adventure in the book, and I expect many more moral insights and battles between “good” and “evil” in the coming books. I believe it’s never too early to teach children how to think and behave when other people stand against them or try their patience and good character. Harry Potter and his small crew fight the good fight, and in my opinion, that’s one of the many reasons people young and old have been coming back to this series. It’s a simple-complicated story about a boy with burdensome origins, who has ample opportunity to let his standing sour him on the world. However, he chooses to stay true to his heart and work toward a future of good and strong moral fortitude. It’s the ultimate story of a young man who finds his people (rather, his wizards), and progresses into a better, although not easier, life. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it…

Alright, in the interest of not boring you to death with any more rambling, I’m going to sign off for now and get this posted. It’s already a day late, sorry! I look forward to hearing your feedback on this and any other content on the blog! (By the way, I’ve got my Mom reading the book with the same narration at night now, and she says she’s enjoying it.)

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Five stars! All the way!

Keep Turning Pages, and I’ll see you all next time,

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Update and Traffic Thursdays

*sigh* Almost the end of July ALREADY?!? What the hell!

last-days-of-summer-2000I have a love/hate relationship with summer in the South. While I’m looking forward to much cooler temperatures and the end of this godawful heat, I join the ranks of millions sad to see the long, hazy days of summer rush by so quickly. Although summer officially began about a month ago, it’s been summer here in Alabama for at least three months now! How’s everyone beating the heat so far? Just staying inside in front of the air conditioner? Taking thorough dips in a swimming pool every so often? Just sweating it out and enjoying it anyway, knowing that (like everything else in this life) it’s only temporary? Just curious. I’m here, sweating it out, looking forward to each passing day that brings me closer to August and the cooler (ok, not by much!) reality of Michigan! Trip planned, tickets bought, now I just need to figure out the accompanying readage! (Always the hardest part…)

I’ve been borderline neglectful of the blog lately and I am here to make small amends. Update’s in the bag, and here’s another Traffic Thursdays, to be followed almost immediately with a book review! (I know, it’s been soooo long!) Still basically up to my eyeballs in books, although I’ve made some small progress since last Traffic post. This is what I’m currently reading, what I’ve recently finished, and longing to read soon!

  • Confessions, Kanae Minato, 240 pages, Genre(s): mystery, suspense, drama, Interest Level: 9/10, as it’s been pretty amazing from the very first chapter and each chapter provides a very shocking plot twist! Each chapter contains a horrifying confession, it’s wonderful! You must read it and get thoroughly creeped out with me! Hope to Finish: this weekend, at the latest!
  • Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov, 317 pages, Genre(s): drama, romance, Interest Level: 7/10 at the moment, as it’s not my first time reading it. However, I haven’t read it since high school (10 years ago now) and since I’ve picked it up recently I’ve been newly amazed at the poetically beautiful writing. It’s not surprisingly that it feels like I’m experiencing it for the first time, as I was too young first time around to really appreciate it for the work of beauty it is. No matter your opinions and feelings on the subject matter itself, you have to admit the writing is sensually beautiful! Look forward to reading other fictiontitles by Nabokov, just haven’t made much progress in this direction yet. Hope to Finish: in the next month or so, not in a rush to gulp this one down, the writing is of such quality that I rather feel like slowly digesting in order to avoid book indigestion! (Plus, I’ve seen the 1997 movie so many times that I feel I’m going to tire out if I push to finish it too soon.)
  • Revival, Stephen King, 405 pages, Genre(s): mystery, suspense, thriller, Interest Level: dropped down to about 4/10 and I haven’t picked it up in several weeks. Still want to read it though, as I’ve determined to finish ANY and ALL Stephen King books. The book itself isn’t that astounding at this point (page 91), but that doesn’t mean it won’t get better. (The curse of wanting to finish books and being afraid of a DNF.) Mostly, I think I’ve just determined that his latest Finders Keepers (Bill Hodges Trilogy #2) is probably going to be more my style, as I really enjoyed Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy #1) so maybe I’ll get through Revival just to keep up the Stephen King momentum. Not sure, that’s the beauty and freedom of reading! Hope to Finish: no idea!
  • Woke Up Lonely, Fiona Maazel, 352 pages. Glad to be done with this one. Ok, technically, I didn’t finish it (I got all the way to page 210 before I decided I couldn’t take anymore). I thought it started out nicely, with a good premise, but it really fizzled out and became way too convoluted with details about the government officials and Helix complications. I didn’t like any of the characters, anyway, so I decided to DNF this one because life’s too short to be unhappy while reading. 2/5 stars and not worth the struggle of a book review. Here’s where my recent readage gets really good, are you ready for it?! And…recent readage
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1), J.K. Rowling, 310 pages (I read the Large Print version with 422 pages). Review to follow this post sometime today, as I’m still in shock that I finished a book so quickly, not to mention a book I’ve waited almost 18 years to REALLY read! I won’t spill too much here, look for book review on this one because it’s been a blast to read (on audiobook with Jim Dale’s narration, no less. What a treat!)

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Good stuff, and I’ll see you soon with a book review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone!

Kisses and Pages,

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Traffic Thursdays

Hello bookish lovelies! Summer prelude..and go!

I love these super-lazy summer days of reading! I thought I’d share some summer-themed lyrics from Nat King Cole with you guys, since the summer bug has hit pretty hard in my body.

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
You'll wish that summer could always be here

summer_readingIn my opinion, the summer reading experience is fricking* awesome. Granted–(for me)–summer reading doesn’t surpass the breezy-cool, pumpkin-spiced, tattered-falling leaves of autumn experience; still, summer reading is a wonderful thing. These days, I do so much reading, relaxing, coffee-drinking, cat-petting…and who am I kidding, sleeping and light-snoozing…that Itraffic thursdays wish summer didn’t leave us all so soon! Days get longer but do they really? They seem to speed by so much faster than winter days. Perhaps that’s because, as a society, we save most of our pleasurable activities for the warmer, more enjoyable months, as opposed to the crazy-frigid months of winter (especially in snow-laden environs), when no one feels like doing anything but conserving heat and energy. Hmmm…I really don’t know where those thoughts came from… Back on point: Here’s another Traffic Thursday, where I pull out all the stops and briefly examine the complex inner workings of my reading life via INBOX/OUTBOX/IN PROGRESS themes and whatnot…you’ve most likely been here before, so you know what’s up.

I’m still feeling like a crazy person, up to my eyeballs in books, but that’s a fact of life I accepted long ago. Right now, I’m doing pretty well with my reading in general. I’m not ecstatic about the pace (having OCD is a bitch) but here’s where I find myself right now:

  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman, 181 pages, Genre(s): fantasy, science fiction, mystery, drama, Interest Level: 8/10, was hooked pretty much from the first or second chapter with this one. I will admit that the audiobook reading by Gaiman himself is keeping things very lively and interesting. I can detect fully-realized worlds and layers of emotion and mystery in his reading alone, it’s pretty amazing. Hope to Finish: tomorrow!fiction
  • Woke Up Lonely, Fiona Maazel, 352 pages, Genre(s): drama, mystery, science fiction, Interest Level: 7/10, coming along nicely even though I wasn’t sure in the beginning if I’m smart (or hip) enough to understand what’s going on but I think I’ve got it…maybe? I like it, it’s intense, beautiful writing and she really knows how to characterize people. Hope to Finish: in the next few days (chiefly because this one’s overdue…shhhh!), even though I’ve got so much more ground to cover.

Unfortunately (but not really unfortunately), those are the only two books I’ve been able to pay attention to over the past few days. I can’t move fast enough for this crazy TBR…

  • I’ve cracked the cover of my Good Reads giveaway copy of Einstein’s Beach House: Stories by Jacob Appel. I’ve read the introductory story “Hue and Cry” and I’m not sure exactly what I read but I do like the author’s writing style. I’ve yet to see if I enjoy the rest of the collection but I’ve got it laying around to fill in the empty space of a half hour or so, when I need a break from longer readage and just want smaller bites of something.recent readage
  • I really enjoy my Book Riot articles, like with a mad passion, and I read a good article this past weekend, so I’ve included the link if you’re so inclined to read about our culture’s supposed obsession with apocalypse fiction. It was interesting (zombie) food for thought, and it had me thinking. Does the appeal really just boil down to our blood-and-gore-loving society and general obsession with scary, what-if scenarios? Or does it actually go much deeper than that and help us explore more philosophical elements about ourselves, as the article posits? What do you think? Open discussion, always. Why Do We Love the Apocalypse?
  • I also recently read a great article titled “In Praise of the Book Tower” courtesy of a new favorite site called Literary Hub. Check it out and goo-goo-ga-ga over the author’s book-cluttered (or not?) home and vehemently sound off in the comments about the concept of “too many books” because we all know there’s no such thing.tbr

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So, that about wraps it up for this Thursday. Hope everyone is having a more-than-pleasant, productive summer of much happy reading!

*”fricking” is what you say/write when you are so excited/content that you want to cuss but you decide not to at the last minute, I think…

Forever Between Pages, while fanning myself to stay cool,

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Good Evening, Ladies & Gents

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This enjoyment courtesy of Overdrive Media Console

Aaaahhhh, the smooth and calming effects Mr. Neil Gaiman’s voice is having on me right now, like RIGHT THIS SECOND. I am enjoying a re-reading of chapters 1-3 of “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” (I started the book last night). I think I’m pretty much hooked on this audiobook thing, and I openly welcome this new method of readage! *deep sigh of contentment* Have I finally found my snuggly reading blanket?

I was thinking this afternoon that I’m learning how to literally SAVOR a book, bit by bit, piece by piece, and it’s a nice feeling to calmly traverse the waters of a novel. This book has me on a great start in the audiobook world, and tonight I’m going coffee-free, so I think it’s pretty amazing that I’m motivated enough to post and talk about this. I should be clear and say that although I am excited about reading this one, I’m also making sure not to rush the reading. I’m tired of trying to beat the band in getting through books; I’m just not a fast reader and I’ve had to accept it.

I know that a lot of the appeal for me is that Mr. Gaiman himself is reading the audiobook, and he has a lovely British accent that just pulls me into the reading like a lullaby. Whoever had the idea to have him read his book is a genius…how can anyone not enjoy the quality of this reading? (A side-note: I adore British accents!!!)

In other bookish news in my little life, I had a good sweep through my APL today and didn’t leave with any less than six books and an audiobook: John Irving’s “Last Night in Twisted River.” (By the way, John Irving has another book coming out in November! I think that’s when it’s due. Although that’s an awfully long wait for Irving fans, such as myself, at least it won’t be 10 years before we have another book of his to read!) I love my public library, and I’d love to talk about it for just a minute. Although I have moved farther out from town and am not as close to my beloved second home, I still take every opportunity to stop by the wonderful place and touch the books. I’m not even going to lie, should I ever get accidentally locked in any building other than my home, that library is it! It’s the best one I’ve ever had the privilege to access, and it’s always right on it with the new releases…like day of publication…there it is on the shelf! I couldn’t ask for a more rewarding library experience, and I honestly hope to raise a child who loves libraries the obsessive way that I do. Wouldn’t that be a dream come true for me!

Ok, so moving on…I’m mid-way through the summer here and I’m missing blogging way too much to keep on the sidelines for much longer. I’m hoping to come up with some fresh ideas that I can incorporate into Twitter and Instagram and do something different, shake things up a little because I’m bored with the stagnant ways of my current blogging. Obviously, I need to do more reading in order to have anything of interest to write about here, so that’s priority number one. The next thing is to find something I can enthusiastically keep my blogging head on about, and that’s harder than I once thought.

I have to sign off for now, as I promised myself I would be more responsible and get into bed before 3 in the morning! I would love to hear from you people and get more involved in your reading lives! Please send me a note or comment or anything really, I’d really appreciate hearing what you’re reading and enjoying this first week of July. Please keep in touch.

Forever Between Pages, and yawn…

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Update: 2015 Reading Challenge

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Hello!

I had a few minutes early this morning to write a quick update to my 2015 Reading Challenge. Not many new additions since the last update, and I’ve since downsized my 2015 Reading Challenge anyway…but I’m getting there.

4) a book published this year: “The Girl on the Train,” Paula Hawkins (library copy)

27) a book you can finish in a day: “Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong,” Jen Yates (read this while browsing in Hastings in March; store copy)

41) a book by an author you’ve never read before: “Yes Please,” Amy Poehler (library copy)

I’m working on several books right now. Tonight I started Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” on audio and I hope to sweep through it quickly, as it’s rather short and already very intriguing.

I just signed up for my first 24in48 Readathon for this upcoming weekend. I hope I have the energy to participate! I’ve been staying up way too late these past few days, to the detriment of my schedule the next day…I’m such a pain in my own ass about this…

So…anyway, that’s about it for now. Hope to see you all much more regularly for the next few weeks at least. I miss the activity of Word Press so much when I am away for long stretches of time…

Forever Between Pages,

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Update and Super-Mini Book Reviews: “The Girl on the Train” and “Yes Please”

Hey guys and gals!

How has everyone been? Hopefully, everyone is surviving summer and staying out of the heat with some shade and good books.

I know, it seems for a while there I had fallen off the face of the blogging Earth. I guess in some ways I kinda did, but it was to be expected, as my schedule was just too heavy for about 5 weeks with school. Without wasting too much time apologizing for my absence thus far in June, I’m just going to proceed with today’s post and pretend I’ve been a good blogger. (hehe)

Unfortunately, I’m still quite stalled in my reading. I haven’t finished a book that really impressed me in a long time. In fact, the last one I can think of is probably “Mother, Mother” by Koren Zailckas, and I read that in February! I gave that book 4/5 stars and I whipped through it pretty quickly. I’ve started several books since then and I’ve finished a few but haven’t put one down and thought “My god, that was a great book.”

Not taken with this one...and I tried really hard

Not taken with this one…and I tried really hard

I slugged through Paula Hawkins’s “The Girl on the Train” and really disliked most of it. I was planning on writing a quick review of the book but found that I couldn’t summon enough energy or interest to do so, not even a negative review. I don’t understand why so many people have fallen for this book; it was full of tiresome pacing and detestable characters. I didn’t care if anyone (I mean ANYONE) got hurt or done wrong in the book, it was all the same to me. Rachel was terrible, as was Anna, Megan, all the horrible men, etc. Here’s what I would have written had I proceeded with the book review:

“It was terrible. Glad it was just a library loan.”

However, I picked up Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please” last fall when it first came out and I

Much better luck with humor

Much better luck with humor

finally finished it! It was a generally good experience, and I laughed a lot. I took my time with it, and really savored her comedic voice and personality. Safe to say, I am now very interested in starting “Parks and Recreation” on Netflix and

watching her SNL skits. I realize that so many people enjoyed this book on audio, and I really wish I had had that option. I would have flown through it quicker and I feel that my enjoyment would have only increased tenfold. It’s a good read, people, just know that.

Side note: one of the great things about having an iPhone is the variety of podcasts available, and I’ve become hooked on some awesome ones lately. My podcast situation has become a wonderful nightly ritual for me: I brush my teeth, put on my Lavender essential oil (to induce sleep), and proceed to listen to any of these wonderful shows: BOOK RIOT, ALL THE BOOKS! (Book Riot), READING LIVES (Book Riot), FRESH AIR WITH TERRY GROSS, WTF WITH MARC MARON, TED RADIO HOUR, OVERDUE, MORTIFIED PODCAST, and my absolute favorite of the moment SERIAL. Just catching up with some of these podcast backlist episodes is keeping me very busy and entertained! Last night, I discovered that I had enough storage on my phone to download OverDrive Media Console and a new (to me) app called Wattpad. I’m exploring Wattpad, still LOVING Pocket (to save articles/features of interest), and it’s nice to have OverDrive on a device again.

So, I’m still reading in some form or another, just not always in the traditional sense. I’ve had to downsize my reading goals for this year, but that’s ok. I hope to post my 2015 Reading Challenge soon with the updated checklist of books that “check off” each book category, because I think it’s still an awesome idea!

Please, please, PRETTY PLEASE tell me what’s going on in your reading life, lovely bookish people! I wanna know what you’re reading, avoiding, or anticipating! So many books always coming out and it’s just unbearably hard to keep up with all the new releases. But I’m still gonna try…

Until Next Time (whenever that is, honestly),

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