Monday, July 31, 2017

Hogwarts Houses and Their Literary Movements

Harry Potter Month is hosted by Faith at Geeky Zoo Girl and Micheline at Lunar Rainbows Reviews. This fun event runs throughout the month of July. Find out more about it here.
Last year I had a discussion with a fellow English major about the Literary movements that embodied the values of Hogwarts Houses. Literary movements are (mostly) defined by a time period rather than ideas or style, but they nonetheless show the themes and values that were at the heart of an era. I try to give a few examples for each literary movement, but I can only truthfully say that I am well-versed in Victorian Literature--although I have been reading some modernist books lately which has given me a better understanding of that era--as such my examples may be strangely varied.

Gryffindor - Medieval Literature

I don't know anything that embodies Gryffindor more than the Medieval era of Literature. Knights! Quests! Dragons! Courtly love! The values of courage, bravery, and honor are shown in Medieval literature such as Beowulf, the tales of King Arthur and his Knights, and the poetry of Marie de France (just to name the few I've actually read). This was an era that valued the traits of Gryffindor more than any other time.

Ravenclaw - 18th Century Literature

The 18th Century was the Age of Reason and the Age of Satire. Authors such as Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin were writing ideas which shook the world. Because of the power of ideas wars were fought and countries were formed. In contrast to this, the creative side of Ravenclaw was shown through works in this era such as the outrageous fantasy/travel narrative Gulliver's Travels and in the way poets would wittily exchange insults through their verses.

Hufflepuff - Victorian Literature

Authors such as Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Wilkie Collins often used their literature to shed light on problems they saw in their society: this includes the living and working conditions of the poor as well as unjust laws and views regarding woman and many other social justice issues. Many authors of this era shed light on things their middle-class and upper-class readership would never see and used their pen to enlighten the public which would hopefully create a better society. I think Helga Hufflepuff would have been obsessed with this era of literature.

Slytherin - Modernist Literature

I think it's fair to say that Modernism is about humans and their ambitions. Novels like The Grapes of Wrath not only show the horrible conditions people were forced into, it shows their ambition to change their situation. In contrast, it also explores how ambition on a large scale can ruin a country. Another example of Modernism is The Song of the Lark which focuses on an girl's journey to become an opera singer. Instead of monetary ambition or survival, it focuses on the ambition of an artist. Modernism seems to focus on individuals who are trying to find their place and looking for meaning in their lives (although they rarely find it).

Sorting the literary movements into Hogwarts houses actually helps me to better understand these eras and their literature as a whole. I guess, this means that Harry Potter helps to make everything in life magically better. Oddly enough, I prefer reading Hufflepuff literature despite my status as a Slytherin. Modernist literature is not enjoyable for me, yet I think there are certainly several books in that era worth reading.

Does your preference in classic literature match your Hogwarts house? Are there any examples of books or authors in these eras which you think also fit?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Meeting the Background Slytherin

Harry Potter Month is hosted by Faith at Geeky Zoo Girl and Micheline at Lunar Rainbows Reviews. This fun event runs throughout the month of July. Find out more about it here.

I've been a little slow getting into HP Month this year, in part because this is the first time that I'm working during the Summer. Nevertheless, I'm not planning on letting the Harry Potter spirit pass me by! It's July and I'm going to celebrate! 

Have you ever heard of My Life as a Background Slytherin? If not, I am going to introduce you to it. It is a fanmade comic strip by Emily McGovern which is updated once a week. You can find it on Facebook or on her website by googling the title.

I'll be honest, I did not like it at first. A fellow Slytherin had told me about it and I looked it up and I was not amused. Later, the same Slytherin was talking about it animatedly and I decided to give it another shot. I went to the beginning of the comics and started reading them in order. This gave me an understanding of the characters and the basic ongoing jokes. Now I am in love with it. And it's not just for Slytherins! There are also a couple of My Life as a Background Hufflepuff/Gyffindor/Ravenclaw comics.

Maybe not every HP fan will like the comics, but they certainly grew on me. My Life as a Background Slytherin is another example of fan creation which catches the imagination of the fans just like A Very Potter Musical or Harry Potter Puppet Pals. Once a fan, you can run around saying things like FLOUNCE! or Badges! and your fellow background Slytherins will laugh with you.

Does anyone else read My Life as a Background Slytherin? Is there another HP fan creation that you love?

Friday, August 5, 2016

Review: The Long Game (Fixer #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Title: The Long Game (Fixer #2)
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: June 7, 2016
Rating: 5 STARS!!!
The Kendricks help make the problems of the Washington elite disappear…but some secrets won’t stay buried.
 For Tess Kendrick, a junior at the elite Hardwicke School in Washington, D.C., fixing runs in the family. But Tess has another legacy, too, one that involves power and the making of political dynasties. When Tess is asked to run a classmate’s campaign for student council, she agrees. But when the candidates are children of politicians, even a high school election can involve life-shattering secrets.

Meanwhile, Tess’s guardian has also taken on an impossible case, as a terrorist attack calls into doubt who can—and cannot—be trusted on Capitol Hill. Tess knows better than most that power is currency in D.C., but she's about to discover firsthand that power always comes with a price.--
Summary from Goodreads
The Long Game is everything that The Fixer is and more. More suspense. More drama. More at stake than ever before. Every time something big would happen in the book I just couldn't believe it! And then it would escalate father than I could have ever anticipated... and then that escalated even more. I was literally tense while reading this book. I dreaded knowing what would come next but I couldn't stop reading! I had to know! Even now I can't believe how amazing this book is. It surpassed all my expectations, which is saying something considering how much I love the first book.

All the characters that I love from the first book are back and it's great seeing them in action. The book starts with Tess, Henry, Asher, and Vivvie doing what they do best: blackmailing a powerful person for the right reasons. Asher makes everything hilarious and Tess is as brilliant as ever. But like I said, things get more intense after that. These relationships grow and change throughout the book as events happen and all I can say is that it is completely believable. The same can be said about Tess's relationships with her grandfather, Ivy, and Adam. I love all these characters and the author writes such complex and interesting relationships that are beautiful and sad all at once.

One of the things that makes this book so intense is because it all feels so real. The events in the book are scarily possible and I really couldn't believe the places this story went. The events were handled in a believable manner and Tess's ability to deal with the them as a teenager was realistic as well. I really couldn't respect this series any more than I do right now. I believe this to be one of the best YA series going on right now. THERE BETTER BE A THIRD BOOK!!!

The Long Game is a non-stop, high-stakes, political thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. If you love The Fixer than you will no doubt love this sequel. This is a book to move to the top of your to-reads list.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Never a Ravenclaw, Always a Slytherin

Harry Potter Month is hosted by Faith at Geeky Zoo Girl and Micheline at Lunar Rainbows Reviews. This fun event runs throughout the month of July. Find out more about it here.

When I was being sorted into my Hogwarts house on Pottermore, I assumed, because of some of my answers, that I would be in Ravenclaw. I wasn't trying to get into any house, I like them all, but Ravenclaw just made sense: I am a book nerd and I love learning. Then I was sorted into Slytherin. I was surprised, but I accepted my house immediately and when my sister was sorted into it as well, it just seemed to fit. So I have lived as a smart and kind Slytherin ever since. Then Micheline did a post on Hybrid Hogwarts Houses and so I took the quizzes expecting to get some form of Ravenclaw while fearing that Slytherin would never appear. Out of the three quizzes my hybrid houses were Gryffinpuff, SlytherPuff, and Slytherdor. Basically I am everything BUT Ravenclaw. It was actually really surprising, but I realized not being a Ravenclaw makes me even more of a Slytherin.

I didn't always like to read. It wasn't until I started finding books that I liked that I started to read obsessively. After a few years of this, I decided I was going to read 100 books in a year! And I did. I would read classics! Did that too. I would read all types of genres! And that. I kept logs of all the books I read (this was before I discovered Goodreads) and how long it took me to read each one. I wasn't only reading for the love of books, I was ambitious. Each year I tried to read more than the last. Each year I tried out new books and new genres. It was an obsession that was not always fun, but reading was the only thing I was good at, so I wanted to use that for something. This shows me that my love of books comes more from being an ambitious Slytherin than a brainy Ravenclaw.

Also, I love school, I really do. I love learning and I love the structure of it. But the reason I do good in my classes is because, like reading, I found out I was good at it and so I became a perfectionist. I am not a self-motivated learner, I need school to force me to learn and to do research. I am a last minute studier and sometimes I have severe anxiety about just writing an essay, but I always manage to get through it somehow. These don't sound like the habits of a Ravenclaw. My perfectionism is another form of my ambition. I take a lot of pride in doing things well and I like the recognition of getting a good grade.

So it turns out that all the qualities which I believed made me a Ravenclaw actually tied me to Slytherin. Truthfully, this makes me love being a Slytherin more because through my Hogwarts sorting I was able to learn something about myself that I didn't know previously. Although I may have Ravenclaw hobbies, I'm Slytherin through and through.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

HP MotW (13): How did Quirrell add to the overall storyline?

Harry Potter Moment of the Week
 A weekly meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows Reviews. For more information about how to participate and future topics, go here.

This Week's Question: How did Quirrell add to the overall storyline?

This is a really interesting question; I've never actually thought about it before. I can't really think of any specific things that he added except that he showed anyone could be a follower of Voldemort. Quirrell was very young, he was probably a student at Hogwarts right before Voldemort disappeared. It's hard to imagine how he was convinced to keep the Dark Lord in the back of his skull, the only explanation could be a lust for power. Quirrell also  acts as the first in a long line of DADA professors in the series, showing that the curse is real and still functioning (even though we don't know that it exists yet).

From a writer's perspective, Quirrell acts as the primary villain in The Sorcerer's Stone. Yes, Voldemort is the main villain overall, but Quirrell literally acts as his hands and feet in this story. Quirrell is the one who has to be stopped from getting the stone and Harry has to be the one to do it. Harry couldn't defeat Voldemort in the first book or there wouldn't be a series, and the villain couldn't just run away in the end (which is what Voldemort does). Harry had to have a win. He had to defeat someone by the end of the book or else we might be left feeling like there really wasn't a conclusion. Quirrell is that someone. Because Quirrell is human, he can be defeated by Harry; he can die and never return. That is Quirrell's true purpose. If he had known what Rowling had in store for him he probably would have thought twice before putting Voldemort on the back of his skull.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Things I Can't Wait to See in the Upcoming HP Illustrated Editions

Harry Potter Month is hosted by Faith at Geeky Zoo Girl and Micheline at Lunar Rainbows Reviews. This fun event runs throughout the month of July. Find out more about it here.

As I said in Thoughts About the Harry Potter Illustrated Edition, it took me some time to get used to the new visual look at the HP world and characters but now I'm in love with the art work. The artists style is really dark and shadowy, while at other times it is filled with vibrant colors I'm really excited to see the future books and the scenes and characters envisioned inside them. After some thought, here are some of the characters and places that I'm most excited to see in the new illustrated editions.

The Chamber of Secrets: The artist does shadowy/creepy scenes really well. I can't wait to see what he does with the Chamber of Secrets.
The Marauders: It always annoyed me a little that in the movies the Marauders were played by actors much older than their characters were supposed to be, but since the actors were so amazing I couldn't complain too much. Still, it would be interesting to see them reimagined.
Thestrals: Beautiful creepiness.
Dementors: More creepiness.
The Department of Mysteries: Mysterious and creepy labyrinth filled with magical things. 
Room of Requirements: So much clutter and interesting stuff to see.
Grimmauld Place: Dark, mysterious, magical, dangerous, chaotic. What's not to love?
Knockturn Alley: More creepy awesomeness.
Rita Skeeter: She's such a flamboyant and extreme character. It would be fun to see her reimagined.
Luna Lovegood: Pretty much for the same reasons.
The Yule Ball: The set in the movie really was visually amazing and it would be interesting to see what the artist does with it.
The Lake: I imagine that it would be cool to see under the water in GoF
Slytherin Common Room: I don't know if this will be included in the CoS illustrated, but I really hope so. There's so much to see in a common room and so many details that could be snuck in. And it would just be really cool to see my common room.
The Ceiling in Luna's Room: This is one of the most beautiful things in DH and I really wish that it would have been in the movie, but I don't think it would have had the same impact as it does in the books. That is why I really hope that it makes it in the pages of the DH illustrated. 

What things do you most want to see illustrated in the new Harry Potter editions?


Thursday, July 21, 2016

HP MotW (12): HP Lunch Budies

Harry Potter Moment of the Week
 A weekly meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows Reviews. For more information about how to participate and future topics, go here.

This Weeks Question: You can have lunch with 3 characters from the series, Who are they and why?

This question is so hard! I think I would like to have lunch with the Silver Trio: Luna, Neville, and Ginny. Luna would be such an interesting person to talk to and there would never be a boring moment. And who doesn't love Neville?! He's just the sweetest person and I'm sure we would get along fine. Ginny is the type of person who gets along well with everyone. She's a people person and would keep the conversation lively and loud. I not only love all of these characters, they also get along really well together. I love their friendship and it would be great to be a part of their group for a little while.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

My HP Profile

Harry Potter Month is hosted by Faith at Geeky Zoo Girl and Micheline at Lunar Rainbows Reviews. This fun event runs throughout the month of July. Find out more about it here.

After seeing Lee and Faith's HP Profiles I had to join in on the fun. So, here it is: My HP Profile. Ta-da!

Name: Christina
Hogwarts House: Slytherin
Ilvermorny House: Pukwudgie 
Year I Discovered HP: 2007, my sister decided she wanted to see what all the hype was about so she would read a book and then we'd watch the movie together which hooked me into the series. We read the entire series that year, went to a marathon which ended in the midnight premiere of OotP, and eventually went to the midnight release of Deathly Hallows. What a year to become a fan!
Number of Times I've Read the Series: I'm reading SS for the 10th time and I've read the rest of the series 8 times.
Last time I read the Series: 2014, I was taking a Tolkien and Rowling class. We were only supposed to read 1, 4, 6, and 7, but I'd never read the series out of order and I wasn't about to start so I breezed through the missing books in the free time that I didn't have.
Favorite Book: It's always changing, but right now I love Deathly Hallows the most.
Favorite Movie: I really love Deathly Hallows pt. 1. It's slow and atmospheric and it spends a lot of time on the characters.
Spell I'd Like to Use: Reparo. It would be nice to be able to mend a dish after I break it.
Quidditch Position: Beater. I'm not just saying that because I would get to hit people, when I played soccer I was defense, so being a Beater makes sense.
Pet I'd Like to Bring to Hogwarts: An Owl. Duh.
Class I'd Be Best At: I'm going to go with Charms. It sounds like a fun and creative class which would keep me interested. I'd say History of Magic if it wasn't taught by Professor Binns, but, seriously, how do you fire a ghost???
Class I'd Be Worst At: Transfiguration. It sounds very technical and stressful.
Favorite Hogwarts Hangout Spot: Under the tree by the lake.
Prefect or Prankster: I'd totally be a Prefect. I am (sadly) someone who follows rules.
Kiss, Marry, Avoid (Marauder's Edition): I'd kiss Sirius, marry Lupin, and avoid James.
*Yes, I know the game is supposed to be "Kiss, Marry, Kill", but I am a coward and I think James Potter has been killed enough.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

HP MotW (11): Favorite Ginny Moment

Harry Potter Moment of the Week
 A weekly meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows Reviews. For more information about how to participate and future topics, go here.

Question of the Week: What is your favorite Ginny moment?

Ginny's got so many awesome moments that it's hard to choose. But the first one that came to mind is from Half-Blood Prince. It's during a quidditch game (I love me some quidditch) and the temporary commentator, Zacharias Smith, is talking trash about Harry as Captain, Ron and Ginny, and the entire team in general. Gryffindor ends up winning the game and shutting Smith up, but that isn't quite enough for Ginny:
"Ginny, Where're you going?" yelled Harry, who had found himself trapped in the midst of a mass midair hug with the rest of the team, but Ginny sped right on past them until, with an almighty crash, she collided with the commentator's podium. As the crowd shrieked and laughed, the Gryffindor team landed beside the wreckage of wood under which Zacharias was feebly stirring; Harry heard Ginny saying blithely to an irate Professor McGonagall, "Forgot to break, Professor, sorry." - Pg. 298, Ch. 14
 You can totally tell that the twins had an influence on Ginny. I love it!

What are some of your favorite Ginny moments?


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Thoughts About the Harry Potter Illustrated Edition

Harry Potter Month is hosted by Faith at Geeky Zoo Girl and Micheline at Lunar Rainbows Reviews. This fun event runs throughout the month of July. Find out more about it here.

I love the Sorcerer’s Stone illustrated edition, I really do, but I have to admit I was a bit hesitant after I first saw the picture of Diagon Alley. It’s huge, incredibly creative, completely chaotic, and there are so many things to find. It is magical. My problem with it at first was that it was not the Diagon Alley that I knew. There’s nothing in Rowling’s text to say that Diagon Alley doesn’t look the way it does in the picture, but I had grown too attached to the movies.

I am not a visual reader. The majority of the time when I read a book I cannot picture the setting or what people look like. I find magic in the words themselves even though I usually cannot conjure up the picture in my brain. When I watch a movie that is based off a book it gives me the world and the characters in a way I never had before. It gives me something to visualize. So when I read the Harry Potter books I see Hogwarts, I see the lake, I see the great hall, I see the Hogwarts Express. The world that the movies bring to life, the actors that bring the characters to life are what I see when I read. To me, those images are a part of the books.

At first I was hesitant about liking the illustrated book because it was not showing me the world I knew and loved. Now I know that is what makes it magical. The art by Jim Kay is showing us the world of Harry Potter through different eyes. There’s new magic to experience in the artwork and the way it brings the story to life. One of my favorite pictures is the one at dusk where there are dozens of birds sitting on the Quidditch hoops. That one picture seems to bring the story into the physical world; of course the birds would want to sit on the hoops, I wonder if Filch has to go clean them off or if Madam Hooch has a spell to take care of the mess. I wonder if Oliver Wood ever had to chase away birds when he was playing keeper. The picture itself is beautiful, but the way it encourages readers to continue to use their imagination while reading and access the world in new ways is exciting.

Because of this book, I’ve stopped trying to see the Wizarding World one way. The visual world the movies provide will probably always be more prominent in my mind when I read, but now the art from the illustrated edition will help visually enrich the world I love.