In a world of avid Harry Potter fanatics, I, Season Giles (with a handful of other nomads), remained alone and indifferent. After nearly two decades (two decades!) of people disowning me for my casual apathy towards this series, I finally decided to give it a whirl. I mean, if anything, it seemed like it was time to learn the name of He Who Must Not Be Named. Kidding! I'm kidding guys! I knew it was Voldemort. Ol' Voldie for short.
I've never had anything against HP. I'd even seen some of the movies with friends in years past and they'd somewhat mildly amused me. It's just that fantasy hasn't ever been my genre—I'm a historical fiction kind of girl, thank you very much. But in my aging years I've learned to accept foreign genres—like science fiction (you should hear me rave about the Lunar Chronicles!)—and it seemed only appropriate to give fantasy an overdue, albeit arms-length hug.
And THEN one night I had a conversation with my mother-in-law and it went something along these lines:
Me: I've never read the Harry Potter books.
Her: ME EITHER!!!
Me: Really? I thought you had.
Her: Only the first two. SHOULD WE READ THEM????!!!!
Me: SHOULD WE?!
Her: This could be OUR year!!!
Me: Let's do it!!
And then there was excited whoops, and tap dancing to beat the band.
Or something along those lines. And what with book challenge categories that fit so nicely with ALL of the Harry Potter books, it felt like a ray of heaven's light was shining down on those books like we were meant to be. I have goosebumps just thinking about it. However, unless I'm mistaken, I don't think Marilyn has tackled them yet. So hop to it, Marilyn. It's already September 19.
On that note, I'll begin my reviews of my February books. I realize there is nothing that could be said about the HP series that hasn't already been said. But I'm forging onward anyway. For the kids.
Category: A book with a one-word title
Well shucks, nothing really stands out too much about this book. I didn't love it, nor did I hate it. Thus the 3 stars. It's a Newbery honor book and it's historical fiction, so it gets two gold stars for that. I believe I read somewhere that the main character was inspired by the author's own childhood? Don't quote me on that. Set in the 1960s, it's about a boy with a terrible stuttering problem who covers his best friend's paper route while he's on vacation. He's downright terrified to have to talk to people because of his speech. One of his customers has lots of wisdom to offer him and another customer, an attractive housewife, drinks to much because her marriage is bad news. And gosh, I guess that's all I've really got. It's a quick read and I'd recommend it, but wouldn't promise that it's life changing.
Paperboy, Vince Vawter
Goodreads review: 3 stars
Category: A popular author's first book
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K. Rowling (duh)
Goodreads review: 4 stars
Let's see, this is the one with that one owl, and that one dude, and then there's a few broomsticks and wizard hats and jelly beans—I think? Or maybe that's the second one. And then there's that monster named Grendel? No no no, I'm getting confused. Gosh, these books just all get swished around in my head and start to run together. I'm kidding again! That was just me trying to be funny. Harry Potter fans can be so sensitive sometimes! (But please note: these books DO all run together for me. I wasn't joking about that.) So the Sorcerer's Stone—I thought it was cute! Am I allowed to call it that? I will admit that a creepy guy's face on the back of somebody's head covered up by a turban is a liiiiiiitle weird. But don't mind me, that's just my aversion to fantasy showing. I thought the writing was clever and enjoyable and the quirky characters are superb. I'll read it to my girls someday, once they stop being afraid of everything. I mean—Clara works up a nervous sweat just from watching Sofia the First, so. Anyway. Go Harry Potter!!! Wooooooo!!!
Category: A book with magic
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling
Goodreads review: 4 stars
I think we can all agree, these books are way better than the movies. Don't get me wrong, some of the movies were pretty great, but the books! There is so much more going on. Plus, Dobby bugged me in the movie but he doesn't anymore! And the twin Weasleys in the movie annoyed me as well, but they're enjoyable in the books. I get it now. I get it. Professor Lockhart is just a jolly ol' fellow, isn't he? I'd like to be his friend. It humored me that he didn't know how to do anything but kept on smiling. I can relate to that in so many ways. And then in the end Harry saves Ginny—thus the start of a blossoming relationship that we all saw coming. Or did we? I didn't. But I'm sure somebody did. I am getting carried away.
Category: A book at the bottom of your to-read list
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling
Goodreads review: 5 stars
I'm not singling this one out or anything, I just needed to put it in a category. Really it was the whole series, if we're getting technical. But this book was a good one. How awkward that Ron was carrying around a human disguised as a rat for so many years. The time-hop trickery at the end was clever. And they were able to heroically rescue that...griffohip?? What was his name? Beakbuck? Kidding! Kidding again! I can sense the HP fans pulling out their hair and shaking their fist to the heavens right now. Anyway, I was glad that Harry managed to have an ally in Sirius. His death in a later book was a disappointment. So that's all. Oh, and my patronus would be a sloth. Or maybe a gerbil. Penguin? No, elephant. Final answer. And by the way—SPOILER ALERT.
Category: A Pulitzer Prize-winning book
The only other Pulitzer I've ever read was All The Light We Cannot See. Considering how ah-mazing that book is, I thought all Pulitzers would be as such. I thought I was in for a potentially long-winded, possibly cry-your-eyes-out treat. This book was the worst. It got so much acclaim because of its writing and because it's just so gosh-darn honest. It features a cranky lady named Olive Kitteridge, living in a coastal Maine town, and a handful of other weirdos. It's told through a series of short stories. I should mention that I really don't care for short stories. Especially short stories that have nothing to do with each other except for one or two characters popping up here and there throughout each. Just pick one story and develop it, for Pete's sake. As far as I can tell, this book is about a whole bunch of old, miserable, messed up people—many who try to gratify their own desires by being unfaithful to their spouses—and who eat too many doughnuts. The book contains: infidelity, thinking about infidelity, suicide, thinking about suicide, loneliness, crime, sickness, and so on and so forth. I kept reading! Thinking that it might offer some sort of inspiration at the end, I plodded right on through. But nope. It's just a full-on downer. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the depressing characteristics listed above, or who has a loyal love of doughnuts.
Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout
Goodreads review: 1 star
Category: A book by an author you've never read before
This book took the 2015 Newbery Medal, and since I'm in the habit of reading Newbery winners, I picked it up. Upon reading a short summary and excerpt from the book, I was certain that I wouldn't like it. First, it concerns basketball. Second, it's written in verse. Poetry is not my thing, and I don't care how unsophisticated that makes me sound. And third, well, just read this and you'll know what I mean: "With a bolt of lightning on my kicks....The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I'm delivering." ...Seriously. That's the line from the book that they use to advertise it to the world. If there was ever a book that did NOT have my name written all over it, it would be this. However! I was surprised to find that the book was a lot better than it's summary led me to believe. Once you get past the initial cheesiness of it, it's actually pretty witty and tackles tough issues. It's also a quick read because some of the pages only have a total of 10 words! That's the beauty of poetry, right there. And you'll find some fancy font-work throughout the pages too, which adds pep. And zip. And fun. Also? Sadness. Bet you didn't see that coming. The book has sadness too. The ending seemed abrupt. I would have kept reading for sure. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a Newbery aficionado like myself, and to 13-year-old boys, and to anyone who is dying to know what "fancy font-work" is.
The Crossover, Kwame Alexander
Goodreads review: 3 stars
In March I tackled 7 books. One of which I'd been reading since like, 2012. Or something.