Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (HP #6, re-read)

***I do not regret including spoilers; if you haven't read it yet--WHY NOT?

"I enjoyed the meetings, too," said Luna serenly. "It was like having friends."

I, too, wish they'd continued the DA. It was just so much fun, and I would've felt more confident when they're battling Death Eaters at the end if they'd continued on with the DA.

So, Slughorn creeps me out, but I love how Harry uses Aragog to get the memory out of him. (I also forgot that he continues to teach at Hogwarts in book #7, which I'm currently almost through.)

I totally forgot where the "Prince" of the Half-Blood Prince came from, so that was a small surprise all over again. I wish we'd learned more about Dumbledore in this one, even though I know we learn a ton in the final book, it still doesn't seem like enough.

I love how Snape prevents Harry's performing the Unforgiveable Curses in the end; that was when I suspected that he hadn't really gone back to the Death Eaters in the first reading. And I love that Draco can't do the task he's been assigned. He's a complete git, but at least he couldn't kill Dumbledore.

And I cried harder, I think, this time than either of the previous two readings. Seriously, through about 30 pages, I had to keep tissues on hand to keep from getting pages wet.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (HP#5, re-read)

Do I need to mention that this contains spoilers? (Haven't you read Harry Potter yet?)

I like The Order of the Phoenix a lot more now than I did the first time I read it; it definitely lacks the levity of the preceding books, but even knowing that going in didn't prepare me for how serious this book is. Now, a few reads later, I appreciate the plot development, the preparation of the readers for the sixth and seventh books.

Delores Umbridge has always been hard for me to read; she's a wretched character and though she gets what's coming to her, knowing that in advance doesn't make it much easier to read everything she does during Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts. (And she reminds me of a character or two from my own teaching days.)

But I love the D.A. It's my favorite part of the book, the scenes in which Harry's teaching his schoolmates makes me so happy, and I wish there had been more D.A. scenes.

And somehow, I can never quite picture all the weird things in the Department of Mysteries in the battle scene at the end. It's a huge, monumental scene and I always feel that I'm not quite picturing it as huge as it needs to be. But I'm getting there. Maybe a couple more reads will let me feel that I've paid the scene its due diligence. Am I the only one who feels that way?

I don't cry when Sirius dies, but I do when Harry finds that two-way mirror in his trunk afterward. I forgot about that mirror, and boy, I lost it. And I lost it again when Dumbledore, after explaining a million other things, says to Harry, "'You may, perhaps, wonder why I never chose you as a prefect? I must confess . . . that I rather thought . . . you had enough responsibility to be going on with.'" (And Dumbledore's crying.)

All right--what parts made you cry?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (HP#4, re-read)

I must confess: I've already read #4, #5 & #6 without blogging about any of them, which makes writing about them as though I've just read them rather difficult. (Well, I just finished #6, so that one should be pretty easy.)

However, The Goblet of Fire was pretty familiar to me; I've probably read it half a dozen times before, so not a lot jumped out at me or surprised me, except the mention of a few names that would become important in future books--like The Lovegoods. (When the Weasleys & company show up for the Quidditch World Cup, Mr. Weasley is told that the Lovegoods had arrived a week in advance.)

Every time I read this book, when I get the part where Harry's name comes out of the Goblet, I remember my first reaction--I was so excited (and, somehow, surprised), that I slammed the book shut and yipped. That's right--I yipped.

And can I just say that I really expected that, after my first reading(s) of The Goblet of Fire, Krum would be a more important character in the rest of the series than he turned out to be? (I really expected to see a lot more of Krum than Fleur.) I'm still rather disappointed that he didn't.

What about you--were there characters you expected to have a bigger role in the series than they turned out to have?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Essay Contest--for kids!

Anyone familiar with The Magic Tree House? If you know or have kids in the ages 7-12 bracket, you might want to look into this essay contest. Open to US & Canada residents. Winner receives a $5000 tree house from Kids Crooked House (and must have a place to put it). Deadline: October 31, 2010.

The essay question: Jack and Annie travel through space and time in the Magic Tree House to complete the missions for Merlin or Morgan. Write about an adventure you would like to have in the Magic Tree House. Where would you go and what would you do?

Rules and Forms can be downloaded at the Magic Tree House Passport to Adventure page (PDF reader required).

I found out about this contest from The Well-Read Child, which posted the full press release from Random House.

Unforgettable: Into the Dream by William Sleator

I read Into the Dream three or four times when I was in 5th-7th grade. Loved it. But for the life of me, I could never remember the title, even then. The cover I remember was different, too--it had a Ferris wheel in the background, and there's a picture of it on GoodReads, but it's tiny. Anyway, maybe now that I've learned the title (again) and posted it here, I'll be able to remember it.

Premise of the story: Two friends discover they're having the same dream about a little boy in danger and, on the understanding that it's not just a dream, feel compelled to help him. And somehow, there's a psychic dog involved. I only remember bits and pieces, but I don't think I'd want to reread it as an adult because I'm pretty sure that as an adult reader, I'd be a little disappointed.

Nonetheless, I'm excited to have re-discovered the title and would recommend this book heartily to kids in grades 4-6. (I think I read it for reading class in 7th grade, but it was way below reading level then.)

Monday, May 03, 2010

I'd give up Ben & Jerry's in favor of this

I have a few distinct categories in my Google Reader--book blogs, foodie sites, design sites. I know my blog's very basic and not at all pretty, but I have dreams of making a fantastic one sometime soon. (But then, I read most blogs through the reader and seldom visit the sites, so I don't see their designs, and it becomes less important. Still, I'd like to design my own. Soon.)

But my design folder also includes interior decorating ideas, DIY projects, and packaging designs ('cause I love product packaging).

One of the packaging blogs I follow is The Dieline, which recently featured this student project:

There's a whole line of literary ice cream packaging. And if it were a real brand, I imagine it'd be the only ice cream in my freezer.