FREAK OUT!


Every June this tag starts appearing on book blogs and BookTube. It’s basically a way to backdoor brag about our reading habits so far this year. So here I am, backdoor bragging, and laying it out before June ends…

Some General Reading Stats:

Total Books Read So Far: 44

Total Left to Go in GoodReads Challenge: 8

Number of 12 Books 12 Months Challenge Completed: 2

1. Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2018?

Image result for the seven husbands of evelyn hugo Image result for TRULY DEVIOUS Image result for I'LL BE GONE IN THE DARK COVER

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was such a good book. It’s well crafted, engaging and has some really solid representation. But mostly I just loved reading it and wanted more of it. But… I’m not sure if it’s my favorite… because Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson was so fucking fun to read! I could not put it down, and when I got to that impossibly frustrating ending, I was screaming for the sequel. And obviously, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is amazing…

2. Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2018? 

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire. I love the Wayward Children series! I love that the books aren’t exactly in order and that the timelines are strange… and I love that this one played with that idea more than the others. Such a great series, cannot wait for more.

3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To?
Neverwhere Wake, Save the Date, Fatal Throne and Price Guide to the Occult are all burning holes in my TBR, but I want to be able to really give them my time and attention.

4. Most Anticipated Release For Second Half of 2018?
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor, My Plain Jane, Pulp by Robin Talley, Jessica Spotswood’s newest anthology Toil & Trouble, Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik and I am sure I’m missing at least three more…

5. Biggest Disappointment?
I’m really torn between three… The Hazel Wood was such a disappointment because I fell for the relentless PR campaign… and because it started off so promisingly. The Cruel Prince was not my cup of tea at all, because even though it was touted as being SO AMAZING it ultimately felt very much like a generic fae folk novel… ooo they’re pretty! Oooo they’re mean… I don’t care. And finally, When Katie Met Cassidy because I wanted it to be frothier, funnier, and sexier than it was. I now understand why people complained that it was too shallow. They were actually saying that it was too shallow even for a rom-com.

6. Biggest Surprise?

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Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. I don’t like Maureen Johnson’s books. She has never been my cup of tea… that is until I read Truly Devious which is an awesome YA lite thriller. I effing loved it.

7. Favorite New Author?
While I have liked a fair few of the books I’ve read so far this year… I don’t have an author that has cracked the pantheon. I also haven’t read more than one book by the same author yet this year.

8. Newest Fictional Crush?

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I mean… I don’t really know, I guess I could say Evelyn Hugo because she’s sexy and confident and full of snark and honesty. But I’m not really sure I’m crushing on her. I could go with Harrison Lowery from Summer of Salt, but I really don’t feel like I got to know him well enough. He was charming and cute though. I haven’t really been falling in love with too many characters these days.

9. Newest Favourite Character?

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Um… Evelyn Hugo, Arthur Seuss from What if It’s Us, Vira from Summer of Salt

10. Book That Made You Cry?


What if It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera and Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

11. Book That Made You Happy?
Summer of Salt… or maybe The Wedding Date. Yeah, The Wedding Date gave me all the happy feels.

12. Favorite Book To Movie Adaptation You Saw This Year?
Love, Simon was excellent, I actually really enjoyed Crooked House as well. And well Kissing Booth was absolutely ridiculous and I laughed through the whole thing… OH! How could I forget Masterpiece Theatre’s Little Women adaptation! I liked it a lot… maybe didn’t love it as much as the 1994 adaptation but it was solid.

13. Favorite Review You’ve Written This Year?
I am lazy monster who has only written one review… buuuuuuuuuuut I will say that I am partial to my mini review of People Like Us because I got to use my favorite character stand-in name: Beige

14. Most Beautiful Book You Bought So Far This Year?
I don’t know how to answer this question… I have bought a few pretty looking books, but I haven’t been gaga over any particular cover… maybe Summer of Salt… maybe Fatal Throne… I really don’t know.

15. What Books Do You Need To Read By The End of The Year?

So many… I made a list of 12 books I have to read by the end of the year, and well… I think I have read 2. I might put one or two of them on my 24in48 TBR… but I’m not really sure.

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Revisiting My Teenage Bookshelf: An Ongoing Project.

A friend recently suggested I revisit my teenage self’s bookshelf . After doing so I was struck with an idea, what if I revisit a BUNCH of old favorites and see how I react to them now compared to how I reacted back when I first read them? So a project was born. Over the course of the next year, I’m going to occasionally revisit my teenage bookshelf and write a little about it… enjoy!

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

When I was 13…

…I was not cool. I was shy, and awkward, and spent a lot of my time hiding. Yes, I was 13 and literally spent a lot of time in weird places so that no one could find me. I was also lonely, but at the time that was probably a side effect of the hiding. When I couldn’t actually hide, I attempted invisibility via burying my nose in a book. 13 was also the year I was bumped into honors English classes, and I found a place where I didn’t feel the need to hide so much.

Mrs. A* recognized my ravenous love of literature early and encouraged it throughout the year. On top of the two assigned novels we were asked to read that year (A Day No Pigs Would Die and The Giver), she would challenge me with weekly book recommendations, and once a week she would sign me out of lunch to talk about them. It made me feel special and helped me overcome some of my issues with shyness. She was a driving force in my desire to become a teacher myself.

At our last meeting she had a small rectangular package wrapped in blue paper.

She gave me A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

I DEVOURED the coming of age story of Francie Nolan and her family. I read it, and as soon as I finished it I read it again. I wanted to be Francie. She was a lot like me; she was around my age, the daughter of first generation Americans, a reader and writer, and lonely. Francie was lonely like me and I felt like we bonded.

When I was 13 the story was all about Francie; she was the only thing I cared about when reading it—obviously… she was my friend—whenever the story focused on her parents or aunts, I just didn’t have the same feeling. I cared about what happened to the girls who was like me, like it was some sort of guide to being happier (the fact that the Nolans didn’t have a great life never really affected the way I read the story back then). I fell in love with the romance of the past; turn of the century Brooklyn was like a fairytale kingdom to me, and I (naively) just wanted to fall into that world. But mostly, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn became my friend when I didn’t have any, and it always reminds me of a time when someone saw me when I wanted to be invisible.

Today…

…I finished reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for the first time in many years, and I am so happy that I did. It gave me all the same feelings—I enjoyed visiting my old friend—with the benefit of being much older and world weary. But, ya know what? I missed a lot of things when I was younger.

I completely missed the dirty side of the coin.

When I was young I saw things the way Francie does—like a dream. The book was a quaint look into a faraway time and place about good people working hard and eventually triumphing. But there is a completely different side to the story, a dark side. The Nolans’ lives are hard. They try their very best, but throughout the novel they are starving, mistreated, and wracked by the anxiety of trying to build their lives on shifting sands. Reading this book in my 20s, a graduate of college, a teacher, someone with a mountain of debt, and obviously a woman with my childhood firmly behind me, I was less compelled by Francie’s journey and more interested in the novel’s adults.

This time through I fell in love with the Rommely women. I mean, I’ve always admired Katie’s strength, Sissy’s fire and passion for life and Mary’s wisdom (Evy just kind of seems to be there… beyond her tribulations with her husband and the time a horse fell in love her, she wasn’t that interesting.), but this time I saw them in more dimensions.

I had never realized how intensely human Katie Nolan (nèe Rommely) is. She has always been an example of strength and sacrifice, bravely working herself to the bone to keep her family from falling into irrevocable poverty, but now I find myself drawn to her very human anxieties. The passages featuring her internal debates color her in a way that elevates her beyond the “long suffering mother” trope that show up in many coming of age stories (I’m lookin’ at you Marmee March). Katie wants her children to be educated and to become great things but also wants to keep them safe and fed, and sometimes these desires come into conflict. She is a woman who knowingly made one flawed choice—mortgaging her future for the temporary happiness of a handsome face—and spent much of her life paying for it. I never appreciated the richness her “failings” gave her character. I feed for her; I want her to have a happy ending more than anyone else.

She used to be an obstacle to get around so that I could learn more about Francie… I even actively disliked her because I thought she didn’t really love Francie at all, but now I love her. I love her because she is so flawed, fights against her flaws, and when she can’t, she bears up under them. She accepts the consequences of her flawed choices… even if they make her miserable. She’s one of the most human characters I’ve ever come across on paper… and I missed all that before.

Another character I blew past was Mary Rommely (Katie, Evy, and Sissy’s mother and Francie’s grandmother). She was even less interesting to me, because she was even older than Francie’s parents AND she wasn’t in the story that much so I didn’t care about her—I was pretty short sighted when I was 13. But this time (and if I’m honest a few times before this one) she, and her wise words really jumped off the page at me.

She is an uneducated immigrant who didn’t know enough to send her oldest child to school at all. Yet she still values education and sees it as the only way out of lives of poverty and drudgery (as a teacher I happen to believe there is a lot of truth in that idea however naïve it is). Not just education though, when Francie is born she counsels Katie to teach her to believe in things; in addition to reading her the Bible and Shakespeare, she must tell her fairy tales, myths, and ghost stories. And she must believe in Santa Claus until she is at least six years old, because “the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out by believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination. I, myself, even in this day and at my age, have great need of recalling the miraculous lives of the Saints and the great miracles that have come to pass on earth. Only by having these things in my mind can I live beyond what I have to live for” (Smith 84). Knowledge is one thing to Mary, something that helps you exist as a free person in the world, but imagination is the thing that makes it so you can survive in a world where the truth basically spares no chance to grind us into the ground. The realm of fantasy and imagination are the best balm against the pains of reality. It can’t stop the world from hurting you, but it can soothe the wounds it inflicts, and having the ability to retreat into it occasionally is a useful ability. It’s a great lesson to take away from a simple—deceptively simple—story.

Was it Worth a Re-Read?

Yes. A thousand times, yes. I mean it’s not my favorite book—not by a longshot, that honor goes to Moby-Dick—but it’s definitely a book that helped shape me into the reader and person I am today. It reminded me of a teacher who made me want to teach, and I got to discover some new and really beautiful things about it. And that only made me love it more.

If You Like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Try:

Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska (1925): It’s a similar story, young woman grows up in poverty in turn of the century New York. Bread Givers is, however, darker than ATGB; there is a more real and pressing sense of poverty, and oppression… it’s more real and definitely lacks the dream-like quality Smith conjures up. But it’s a great book. I read this in my junior year of college.

Ragtime by E.L. Doctrow (1975): But if you like turn of the century settings with probing and revealing looks at history and Americana, Ragtime is the book for you. I read this when I was 18.

When I Was YA: The Jessica Darling Series

Once upon a time, in the early 2000s, the YA genre was pretty limited. We had decades old Judy Blume books (which I am not knocking FYI), the saccharinely tragic love stories of Lurlene McDaniel (I never got to read them because they were always checked out) a few soapy series that put Gossip Girl to shame, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, (which wasn’t even shelved as YA at the time) and the magically pretentious works of Francesca Lia Block.

I read them all—except of McDaniel—with abandon, but I never saw myself on those pages. All of the teens were too worldly, too pretty, too troubled, too tragic etc. I never saw honestly rendered awkwardness, or anxiety, or anyone who ever seemed even a little bit real in those YA novels. That is, until I met the awesome Jessica Darling.

I recently started rereading these books and while, if I stumbled across them today there is a distinct chance that I wouldn’t like them (they’re kind of problematic…or like really problematic), I read them first at a time when I deeply connected with Jessica Darling. I mean I too had a best friend move away in high school, leaving me to form superficial connections with far inferior “social survival friends”. I also had a Marcus Flutie type dude who top up too much of my brain. But mostly I felt a kinship with Jess because like her, I overthink everything. In short the premise of the books was relatable AF.

The Jessica Darling series written by Megan McCafferty, (who’s also written the pretty interesting dystopian YA series Bumped/Thumped) introduces the world to Jessica Darling a clever, funny, moody, and definitely not always nice sixteen year old dealing with the devastation of her best friend moving away right in the middle of high school, the ups and downs of her feelings for her complicated first love, and her endlessly frustrating family.

I loved (and still love) Jessica because she’s real to me. She’s not “troubled”, but she is deeply flawed and tartly funny. Her problems are the same ones that many teens/young adults go through. It’s her approach to the world that makes her special rather than her circumstances. Her “adventures” are commonplace and everyday. Her friends and family are exaggerated in such an honest adolescent way which makes them hilarious and charming to the reader.

Very little in this series rings false which is why it’s such a powerful time machine for me. As a relic of the early 2000s it lacks the ubiquity of cellphones (Hope and Jessica email each other quite a lot, but very little if any cellphone action) we see today, that and references to Y2K really remind me of my teen years. But ultimately it’s the honesty and humor of the writing brings me back to when I was that age and that time in my life.

McCafferty treated her devoted readers to five installments that took Jessica from a teen in high school to a young adult dealing with her first job out of college. All the while she struggles with her family, friends, relationships and life in general in a way that while familiar is fun and engaging.

Today young adults and teens have a wide variety of unique characters and interesting impactful stories to choose from, but take it from one of your elders (me… I’m an old): READ THIS SERIES.

Seriously, go read… You, Yes You.

5 Haunted House Novels to Read when You’re Home Alone

I have always been a sucker for a good old haunted house. I have and will continue to watch haunted house movies, take haunted house tours, read haunted house books and secretly harbor the belief that my own house is probably a little haunted. In my mind there is nothing more terrifying than the feeling—however fleeting—that something has violated your safe space and turned it into something menacing. That being said I LOVE that shiver of terror. A haunted house, while scary, is such an elegant monster.So without further a-boo (see what I did there?) let’s countdown my Five Haunted House Novels to Read When You’re Home Alone!

 

White is For Witching by Helen Oyeyemi


In a vast, mysterious house on the cliffs near Dover, the Silver family is reeling from the hole punched into its heart. Lily is gone and her twins, Miranda and Eliot, and her husband, the gentle Luc, mourn her absence with unspoken intensity. All is not well with the house, either, which creaks and grumbles and malignly confuses visitors in its mazy rooms, forcing winter apples in the garden when the branches should be bare. Generations of women inhabit its walls. And Miranda, with her new appetite for chalk and her keen sense for spirits, is more attuned to them than she is to her brother and father. She is leaving them slowly -
Slipping away from them -
And when one dark night she vanishes entirely, the survivors are left to tell her story.
”Miri I conjure you ”

I’m in love with this novel. I love that the house itself is one of the narrators (the cruel, terrifying one). It draws from the Gothic tradition in many familiar ways (family curse, motherlessness, haunted, isolated house, tormented young woman) and deviates or innovates in others (multiple narrators—including the house, LGBT+ themes and again THE HOUSE is telling its own story). Oyeyemi is an artist when it comes to drafting that unsettled feeling at the base of your spine (see Mr.Fox and Boy, Snow, Bird for prime examples of her elegant unease).

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson


Past the rusted gates

And untrimmed hedges,

Hill House broods and waits…

Is Hill House haunted, or is it just Eleanor? True to form, Jackson gives us a tale where the answer to that question lies tantalizingly out of reach. The Haunting of Hill House has all the hallmarks of a classic haunter house story: unexplained noises, doors that shut by themselves, isolated and disorienting grounds, a nasty reputation among the locals, and that unshakeable uneasy feeling of something not quite right in the air. All that and more draws a scholar of the occult and his team of volunteers (his assistant, lonely Eleanor, and Hill House’s heir) to the foreboding Hill House. As unexplainable events unfold and fear grips and releases the guests one of them is affected more than the others and the house—or rather Ms. Jackson—toys with the reader as to what the source could be.

Reading Shirley Jackson is a perverse joy. I am obsessed with the fact that even her most haunting and terrifying stories don’t draw their real terror from the supernatural, but rather from the monsters lurking inside of us. I’ve read The Haunting of Hill House four times, and I’m still not sure who/what is really doing the haunting. And that definitely gives me the chills. 

 Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin


Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse have just moved into the Bramford, a stately old New York apartment building, with a bit of a reputation, but old buildings are full of history and not all of it can be good. Undeterred by its sinister image and its strange elderly residents, the Woodhouses tackle the ups and downs of being a young married couple. Namely, Rosemary sets up house, and Guy attempts to get work as an actor in a city with no shortage of talents leading man types. But things take a turn when Guy gets friendly with their senior neighbors Roman and Minnie Castavet; Guy lands a great part, and Rosemary get pregnant. With Guy off at work, Rosemary becomes increasingly isolated with only her eccentric neighbors for company and a growing sense of dread about their interest in her baby.

So, yes I know. It’s not technically a haunted house story, but Rosemary’s Baby draws on that theme of the sacred space being violated by sinister forces. In this case both the safety of Rosemary’s house and her body become compromised by forces she cannot control nor truly understand without going mad. I love this book because it makes me feel unsafe, which I think is a great thing for a book to do. I worry terribly for Rosemary, I know that nothing is going to save her in any way that won’t scar her forever. It’s riveting, and every time I read it I am transported back to my original terrified reading as I sat on the floor of MY haunted apartment building’s laundry room floor.

Time Windows by Kathryn Reiss


The new cover of this book might inadvertently scarier than the novel itself.

It’s been an incredibly long time since I read this book, so long in fact that I can swear it had a different title when I read it in elementary school. I don’t have a brilliant enough memory to come up with an original plot description so I have to rely on the back of the book.

When Miranda moves with her family to an old hose in a small Massachusetts town, she discovers an antique dollhouse the duplicates her new home in miniature. Looking through the dollhouse windows, she is shocked to see scene from the tragic lives of the real hose’s past inhabitants. She soon realizes that her home is exerting an evil power over the women who live there. And even worse, Miranda’s own mother is succumbing to its influence! Miranda must find the key to unlock the past and so release the house from its spell. But doing so means Miranda must relive one of those terrifying dollhouse scenes.

I don’t remember much about this book, accept that I was terrified. I remember the very real fear I felt reading it during a thunderstorm by flashlight. I have read many books since then and can remember many of their plots and characters, but very few do I solely remember by emotional recall.

The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne


From the Dover Thrift Edition: Built over an unquiet grave, the House of the Seven Gables carries a dying man’s curse that blights the lives of its residents for over two centuries. Now Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon, an iron-hearted hypocrite and intellectual heir to the mansion’s unscrupulous founder, is attempting to railroad a pair of his elderly relatives out of the house. Only two young people stand in his way — a visiting country cousin and an enigmatic boarder skilled in mesmerism.

I had every intention of writing this entire post about The House of the Seven Gables, but everything I wrote came off sounding like one of my old grad school papers. So, I scrapped it. But this is my all time favorite haunted house novel. I love it because not only do I love a good creepy read, but I love Nathaniel Hawthorne and how his works often reach back into the real past of America’s early days only to come back with filthy hands. Hawthorne himself was haunted by his family’s involvement in the Salem Witch Trials (his ancestor was Judge John Hathorne, the only Witch Trial judge not to repent his role in the deaths of 20 innocent people. Hawthorne even changed his name—adding the ’w’—to distance himself from said relative) nearly 200 years after the fact. The House of the Seven Gables among many of his other works deals with the long shadow that ugly chapter casts in the United States. It is not only a story of spectral ghosts and magic curses, but of the ghosts of the cruelty normal human beings are capable of that poisons the wells of history for generations. It’s chilling in a very real way, because under the surface it’s absolutely real.

So there you have it, a whole neighborhood of my favorite haunted houses, feel free to trick or treat there this weekend!

Let me know what your favorite haunted houses are in the comments, on facebook, or instagram

Unboxing: September Uppercase 

As you may remember, Owlcrate’s September box theme (Mythical Creatures) didn’t appeal to me at all and I opted to skip this month with them. 

But I didn’t want to go a month without a box…especially my birthday month (more on that later) so I opted to try out Uppercase this month, and I was not disappointed!


First of all, how effin’ cute is the packaging?! It’s not bulky and doesn’t take up space in the way other boxes do. I mean I can’t be the only one who for some reason takes forever to throw out boxes, can I?


Inside the cute bag are delightful little treasures!

  • A signed copy of Warcross by Marie Lu
  • A Warcross button
  • Hogwarts house crest coasters
  • An Uppercase exclusive “Book Queen” keychain 
  • An ALA Banned Book Week sticker 
  • A Reading Experience bookmark 

For the price (it’s one of the most affordable book subscription boxes) it’s a great buy! I’m really pleased with it, and actually can’t wait to read Warcross!


I’ll be back on Owlcrate next month for their “Meet Me in the Forest” theme, and I’m debating trying out LitCube’s “It’s Just a Bunch of Hocus Pocus” box.

I Solemnly Swear That I’m Up To… THE ULTIMATE HARRY POTTER TAG!

So, I was supposed to write about my trip to seeing Moby Dick at Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago… but time got away from me and all of a sudden it was July 31st, Harry Potter and JK Rowling’s birthday, and what kind of book blog would this be if I didn’t mark the occasion?

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THE ULTIMATE HARRY POTTER TAG!

Books and Movies

1. Favorite Book? Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban I’m a sucker for the Marauders… especially Sirius and Remus so this book is my jam.

2. Least Favorite Book? Harry Potter and The Order of Phoenix I have reasons (Hagrid’s Tale, Sirius’ Death, Dumbledore, Cho Chang etc.) and I just… ugh I love so many parts of it that the bad parts make me angrier.

3. Favorite Movie? Deathly Hallows Pt 2

4. Least Favorite Movie? Prisoner of Azkaban

Favorites

5. Favorite Quote? “When in doubt, go to the library.” …I may or may not be wearing a Harry Potter Alliance t-shirt that says just that at this very moment…

6. Favorite Weasley? Molly. No question. Molly Weasley is everything.

7. Favorite Female Character? Three way tie between Minerva McGonagall, Luna Lovegood and Molly Weasley

8. Favorite Villain? I don’t know if this counts, but Tom Riddle (not Voldemort) in Chamber of Secrets always gave me chills, a seductive, alienating villain. He was really well crafted. Umbridge is one for the ages… she’ll go down as one of the great villains of literary history.

9. Favorite Male Character? Another tie… four way Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Neville Longbottom and Arthur Weasley

10. Favorite Professor? McGonagall… hands down, no question

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Would You Rather?

11. Would you rather A) wash Snape’s hair or B) spend a day listening to Lockhart rant about himself? I’d rather listen to Lockhart rant about himself.  Snape is gross. And I could laugh about Lockhart later.

12.  Would you rather duel A) an elated Bellatrix or B) and angry Molly? Please… Bellatrix. Never cross Molly Weasley.

13. Would you rather travel to Hogwarts via A) Hogwarts Express or B) Flying Car? Why is this even a question? HOGWARTS EXPRESS! Harry and Ron didn’t want to take the flying car, they thought they had to. The Hogwarts Express is so cool! Magic, hanging out with friends, sweets trolley… so cool

14.  Would you rather A) Kiss Voldemort or B) give Umbridge a bubble bath? Give Umbridge a bubble bath… she’d probably be very uncomfortable with it… and maybe she might accidentally drown if I’m not paying close enough attention to her.

15. Would you rather A) ride a Hippogriff or B) ride a Firebolt? Neither. I’m scared of heights.

Movies

16. Is there a character you felt differently about in the movies? Yes. Hermione. I love book Hermione but the way she’s written in movies and  Emma Watson’s performance kind of ruins her for me. Ginny also suffers a similar fate. I actually like Seamus Finnegan more in the movies.

17.  Is there a movie you preferred to the book? Maybe Order of Phoenix depending on my mood.

18. Richard Harris or Michael Gambon as Dumbledore? I would have liked to see what Richard Harris would have done with the role if he had lived. But I think Gambon did a great job with a few exceptions (HARRYDIYOUPUTYERNAMEINTHEGOBLETOFFIRE)

19. Your top thing (person or event) that wasn’t in the movie that you wanted there the most? Well… SPEW would be high my list.  Meeting Neville’s parents would be another…um… I would have liked to see Potterwatch come into play more. I can’t really think of many off the top of my head because I think for the most part the movies are pretty good adaptations that cut what they did for reasonable reasons.

20. If you could remake any of the Harry Potter movies which would it be? Prisoner of Azkaban. 

General

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21. Which house was your first gut feeling you’d be a part of? Ravenclaw. I held no delusions about being in Gryffndor. I knew what I was.

22. Which house were you actually sorted into on Pottermore? Ravenclaw. Obviously.

23. Which class would be your favourite? Transfiguration, maybe History of Magic

24. Which spell do you think would be most useful to learn? Accio… or Lumos.

25. Which character do you think you’d instantly become friends with? Luna or Neville or both.

26. If you could own one of the three Hallows, which would it be? Cloak of Invisibility. If I had access to the Hallows I think I’d know the story and know which one didn’t end up with me dead.

27.  Is there any aspect of the books you’d want to change? I would love to see Hermione be canonically black, and a lot more explicit, obvious diversity at Hogwarts. Also, Harry… do NOT name your kid after Dumbledore and Snape… any of his father figures or friends deserve the honor more Remus, Arthur, Rubeus, Neville… hell even Dobby showed him more love, loyalty and friendship… name your son after Dobby.

28.  Favorite Marauder? Well, logically, I say Remus, because he is good and kind, and smart… and a lot of honorable wonderful things. But I’m always going to be Sirius Black’s girl…

29.  If you could bring one character back to life, which would it be? Fred. Come on, now. Fred didn’t deserve to die and the Weasley’s didn’t deserve to lose him.

30. Hallows or Horcruxes? Hallows… I’m not interested in murdering anyone.

There you have it! Happy Birthday JK and Harry, thanks for all the magic!

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Book Quirk Confession: Favorite BOOK

This is a preface to a longer bit coming tomorrow about my trip to see Moby Dick at Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago.


I’m the kind of girl who has a favorite edition of her favorite book. The 2003 Dover Giant Thrift Edition of Moby-Dick is my favorite one to read. It fits my hands perfectly, the type isn’t too small, the paper is sturdy, I love the color blue it is. I wrote my first draft of my MA thesis using this book. It’s been across the country with me. I own MANY copies of this book, but this is the one I read and reread. I love it.

Getting to Know the Girl in the Garret aka The Newbie Book Blogger Tag!

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Real Name: Katy Alice
Favorite Books: Moby-Dick,American Gods and The Night Circus
 

Explain the Blog’s Name: Well, as I mentioned in my first post I took the ‘Garret’ idea from Jo March’s attic hideaway in Little Women. As for why I chose the ‘Girl’ part when I am more of the age to be called a “woman”… well it’s because it’s alliterative and rolls off the tongue better. Also, I have no problem with the word girl. I know that makes me controversial in some of the feminist circles I run in, but you see, I don’t see anything inherently pejorative or wrong with being a girl and therefor I don’t see anything wrong with calling myself a girl regardless of my age.

 

While I’m not exactly a fresh hand at the old book blogging game, this is my first real attempt at running one on my own. So, I figured I’d give the tag a try. Without any further ado, let’s get to it!

Image result for belle in the bookstore
           Why did you start this blog?
Because my blogging home of two years closed at the end of May, and I’ve grown accustomed to having a voice in the online book community. Also, I don’t have many people in my immediately social circle with whom I can chat about books, and I like having an outlet for my ramblings. Also, I just got a job at a public library and I need to tune up my RA skills (that’s Readers’ Advisory) with a little one-sided bookchatting.
        What are some fun and unique things you can bring to book blogging?
Well, I tend to bring a slightly more academic feminist read to popular fiction than the casual blogger based on my education background–it’s more of a bad style habit than anything else… I never learned to turn the student part of my brain off. And I am not shy about sharing my honest opinions of books in reviews even if they are not flattering. But if I’m being REALLY honest the only truly unique thing I bring to book blogging is me, my perspective and particular love of books and the bookish community.
 What are you most excited for about this new blog?
I’m excited about  just getting to be the primary voice on this blog. While I loved blogging for The Bookish Blog, I was part of a staff and that meant keeping with a certain tone. I was never told to keep my politics and beliefs to myself, I felt compelled to because the tone of the site in general was pretty light, and I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers. But THIS is my blog and I’m the only one I have to answer to… so that’s pretty exciting.
Image result for hermione reading
Hermione Reading before Bed by Lincevioleta.deviantart.com on @deviantART
 Why do you love reading?
Geez… that’s a loaded question. What’s not to love about reading? I guess I first loved
reading because I learned how to very early and was always praised for it, so it became kind of my thing. I was the bookworm of my family/neighborhood/friend group. I was Belle and Jo and Matilda and Hermione and that identity meant and means a great deal to me. I continue to love reading because I’m a touch socially awkward and overly cautious in the real world, but in my books I can be absolutely anyone, go anywhere and do anything. Reading takes me away from me, but it also teaches me about myself in surprising ways. It’s just my very favorite thing.
         What book or series got you into reading?
My mom read Little Women with me when I was five (she read it to me when I was home sick for two weeks with scarlatina aka Scarlet Fever which isn’t a genius idea if you’re familiar with that particular novel, but that’s another story for another time), but I probably really fell in love with reading when I read Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume, Matilda by Roald Dahl, and Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. I liked books about bold girls because I wasn’t and I learned how be brave from them… I sometimes think I should go back to those books and relearn some of those lessons.
         What questions would you ask your favorite authors?
How do you do it? How do you focus the ideas and make them come out story shaped? Do you ever lose your voice? How do you find it again? And I guess I’d asked them how they would write me as a character.
         What challenges do you think starting a blog will be the hardest to overcome?
Keeping up with it when I get busy or blocked. It’s the same thing that has plagued me every time I’ve tried to blog in the past. But in the past I’ve done kind of general lifestyle/personal blog things, so I think the specific book focus should help with that… that and I’ve got a backlog of old reviews/posts I can reshare when I’m feeling stuck.
         When did you start reading?
I learned to read when I was three (little things and picture books, I didn’t get into chapter books/novels until I was five or six) and it became part of my daily routine around that time.
 Image result for matilda reading
         Where do you read?
Anywhere, everywhere. I keep a book with me at all times. But I guess my favorite reading spots are in my bed and in the corner of my couch… I prefer quiet places.
       What kind of books do you like to read?
I prefer fiction of most stripes… I don’t really dig fantasy or Science Fiction. I also go through phases where all I want to read is Nonfiction. Soooooo I guess I read all kinds of books.

 

Well there you have it, a little bit about me! I’d love to learn about you, feel free to answer any of these questions in the comments!