Harry Potter and the 30 Day Challenge: Day Three

I don’t know what on Earth I was thinking when I made this the third item on the list. Like, okay, sure. Let’s just start simple, ease ourselves in. Your background with HP and your ranking, both of which you probably know by heart, and then bam! pick only 5 characters of the several hundred and defend why they mean so much to you.

I’m starting this list (which is in no particular order) without knowing how it’s going to end. Come on this journey with me.

Remus John Lupin, werewolf, sometimes known as Moony, one of the four creators of the Marauder’s Map, married to Nymphadora, usually known as Tonks, and I taught you how to produce a Patronus, Harry, which takes the form of a stag. Okay, so yes. As an adult, I can see all the ways in which Lupin failed. He didn’t dare to tell Dumbledore about the map or that Sirius was an Animagus (hella irresponsible), he never had the nerve to tell James and Sirius off for bullying Snape, and his reaction to Tonks’s pregnancy was…less than chivalrous. All facts. You know what else is a fact, though? Humans can fuck up and love imperfectly and still be worthy of our adoration. When it really counted, he possessed all the traits that set Gryffindors apart.

Hermione Granger For years and years, I resisted naming Hermione as one of my favorite characters. It felt boring and predictable for me, a bossy know-it-all with frizzy hair and buck teeth, to idolize her. Plus, she was a main character. How cliché. In refusing to acknowledge the impact that she had on me, however, I think I sort of perceived her as this flawless, stale character (what’s the straitlaced, bookish version of that trope, I wonder…a Maryanne Susan?) and never wholly appreciated how intergral her contributions were to saving the Wizarding World. Know better, do better.

Molly Weasley My feelings about Mama Weasley have followed a pretty conventional trajectory. As a teenager, I was fond of her, but I found her to be overbearing, short-sighted and desperately unfair. As a mom, on the other hand, I loves me some Mollywobbles. From the minute Harry stumbles across her path, she takes up the mantle of protecting him in every way she knows how. She is occasionally blinded by her loving instincts, and she makes many attempts to put the trio off their adventuring, which, in hindsight could have led to the destruction of the Wizarding World, but let’s be real for a sec. Molly was the only adult in this whole mess that questioned the assertion that a group of unqualified teenagers was their best bet against the pressing threat of unknowable evil.

Luna Lovegood Luna is an absolute delight and screw everyone that picked on her. She spoke truth to power at every given opportunity and never let snide comments or derisive looks stand in the way of being exactly who she was and honestly, what is cooler than not caring if you’re cool? Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, Luna girl.

Minerva McGonagall I struggled with this last spot. And not just because I didn’t want to give it to yet another Gryffindor (though that does pain me a bit). I always struggle with rounding out lists because I feel like I’m excluding so many worthy candidates. For example, Ginny is really cool. Harry has finally grown on me. Snape definitely sucks but I still like him for some reason. It was tough to narrow it down, but in the end, I went with McG because she just kills it at everything she does. On the surface, she seems like this stuffy old schoolmarm, but once you get under that prim and proper façade, she is one tough cookie, who knows when rules are meant to be broken. Name a better ride or die. I’ll wait.

I know I left a few fan faves off my list that may appear on your personal list. Tell me who they are!

Harry Potter and the 30 Day Writing Challenge: Day Two

The second item of Harry Potter and the 30 Day Writing Challenge is ranking the books. As someone who has read this series more than 20 times over the course of 20 years, my ranking has morphed and grown along with me, but I think I’ve settled into a definitive order, which goes as follows:

7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Look, as I mentioned in my previous post, this book was my introduction to the world of Harry Potter and it pulled me in like no other book had done before. It’s a good book. It’s just hard to place it about any of the other good books in the series.

6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix This book is a tough hang. You are stuck inside the head of a traumatized teenager, and teenagers (even those of the un-traumatized variety) are pretty exhausting. On top of that, Harry and co are under the thumb of Dolores Umbridge, and subjected to her maddeningly unfair tactics. Meanwhile, everyone is grouchy and sniping at one another. There are some amazing character moments (haaaave you met Minerva?) and great story-telling, but this book is stressful af to read.

5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone This book is delightful and engaging and a letter perfect introduction to the Wizarding World. I don’t think I could find a thing to complain about if I tried. The only reason it doesn’t top the list is that it can’t hang with the complexity of the rest of the series.

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows In all reality, this is tied for number 3 in my heart, but that’s not how rankings work. This book contains, in my opinion, the most perfect stretch of writing in the entire series (The Prince’s Tale → The Forest Again → King’s Cross). This one gets better every single time I read it.

3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire This one really reads like a mystery novel. The twists and turns flashbacks and ultimate reveal are absolutely delicious. With some tweaking, it could almost be a standalone story, which is wild, since it is also so fundamentally interwoven with the story, as a whole. “Would definitely recommend,” said Dumbledore, calmly.

2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince This used to rank much, much lower on my list. But with time, and deep diving, there is no way I could have it anywhere but here.
Moderately warm take: This is the best book in the series.

1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban I was always a reader. Beverly Cleary, R L Stine, Ann M Martin, Sharon Creech, Judy Blume, Madeline L’Engle, Louis Sachar, I read and enjoyed nearly everything they put out. But when I first read Prisoner of Azkaban, I would have forsaken them all forever, just for a chance to read it again. This book really has it all. Marvelous and compelling storytelling, beautifully written prose, the establishment of so many key elements of the overarching plot, some of the most oft-quoted lines in the series, and of course, the introduction of Sirius Black and Remus Lupin😍.

That’s my ranking, but your mileage may vary, so if you beg to differ, tell me! I mean, you’d be wrong, but I want to hear nonetheless 😉😚.

Harry Potter and the 30 Day Writing Challenge: Day One

If you’re here, you likely know about Harry Potter and the 30 Day Writing Challenge and if you don’t, you can click right here and read the entire list in all its glory. Today, I’ll be sharing how I got into Harry Potter in the first place. start
‘Twas the summer before I began middle school and I was a fairly lonely kid. Despite having lived in the same place my entire life, I was about to enter a world where I was the “new kid”. For reasons that I never quite figured out, my parents had chosen to send me out of my assigned district for K-5. Students from the elementary school I attended  went to one middle school and students from the elementary school where I should have gone went to another. I was in the district for the latter. So as prepared to begin what would arguably be the most difficult stretch of my childhood, I felt very much like an outsider.
One night, I was sitting at the piano in my grandmother’s house, after a family dinner when my dad handed me a book he had picked up at the store. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I had heard of Harry Potter, but knew very little about it. I had always preferred novels with female protagonists and my snobby ass felt like I was a bit too sophisticated to be reading a kids series about magic.
But I appreciated the gesture and decided to give it a shot. I propped it up on the piano and began to read.
When I was eleven, I had probably never heard the word enraptured but boy, did I feel it. I pulled an all-nighter and finished the book in one fell swoop. About a third of the way into it, I’d realized that it was not the first book in the series, so once I had finished, I began bugging my parents to hook me up with a copy of Sorcerer’s Stone. And by the time I had finished that and re read Chamber (this time with more clarity), Prisoner of Azkaban was about to be released in the US.
Processed with VSCO with j5 presetHowever much I liked Harry Potter before I read Prisoner of Azkaban, it absolutely paled in comparison to how I felt about it after having read it. I’ll save my ravings for the next post, but just be forewarned. I have feelings about POA.
From then on, I consumed any and all Potter-related content that I happened across and 20 years later, I am still doing so, with a rigor that borders on obsession. Sometimes, I wonder how successful I could be if there were a way for me to channel all of the energy I pour into loving this series into something, y’know…productive and/or profitable. If only, right?
Anywho, that’s my Harry Potter origin story. What’s yours?

All Aboard the Scarlet Steam Engine!

Pack your trunk and get your ass to Platform 9¾ because it’s September 1st, y’all! For the month of September, I will be using my most treasured book series to force myself back into the habit of writing every day. Brace yourself for Harry Potter and the 30 Day Writing Challenge! Inspired by a repetitive and error-riddled graphic that was shared in a facebook group to which I belong, I have compiled a list of writing prompts based on the Harry Potter universe, ready to be tackled by any blogger/IGer/or person with a soapbox that knows how to tell a gnarl from a hedgehog. So, find a compartment and flag down that trolley witch (but maybe don’t piss her off…she is deadly with a pumpkin pasty) ; it’s time to go back to Hogwarts!

1567427696445-1Harry Potter and the 30 Day Writing Challenge:
1. How did you get into Harry Potter?
2. Rank the books in the series.
3. Who are your 5 favorite characters?
4. Which Hogwarts house would you belong to?
5. What would be your favorite subject?
6. What extracurricular activities would you join?
7. Favorite spells?
8. Favorite places in the magical world?
9.Coolest magical objects?
10. Favorite magical creature?
11. What would you do after Hogwarts?
12. What would your patronus be?
13. What would your boggart turn into?
14. What would amortentia smell like to you?
15. What would you see in The Mirror of Erised?
16. Which Hallow would you choose?
17. Top 3 HP quotes?
18. Favorite chapter in the series?
19. Hardest death to cope with?
20. Favorite ship (canon or made up)?
21. Thoughts on Snape?
22. Thoughts on the epilogue?
23.Favorite movie?
24. Best performances in the movies?
25. Best movie changes?
26. Most egregious movie changes?
27. Favorite Potter-related media?
28. What spin-off would you like to see?
29. Thoughts on your first reading of the books vs now?
30. How has Harry Potter affected your life?

And Now His Watch Is Ended

I used to be an avid reader. I was the kid who would camp out with a flashlight under the blankets after the lights were out and stay up half the night because I just needed to know what happened next. Just one more chapter. The one who read ahead in class. The one who broke out a book whenever I had free time. However, like most things that I once enjoyed, it has taken a backseat to parenting. With two small, very busy children, I simply do not have a lot of time to myself. And when I do have time, the peace is usually too short-lived to dig into a good book. But I sorely missed reading.
A few years ago, I discovered the closest thing to a compromise that exists: audiobooks. Sure, you miss a few things that you get from reading the book (like the ability to assign your own tone/intent to characters’ words), but I think you gain a few worthwhile things, as well. There is a wonderful performance aspect to it. And you can take in a story while folding laundry or cleaning the playroom or driving your kids all over creation.
Prior to subscribing to Audible, I had made several attempts at reading A Game of Thrones. I enjoyed the show and I knew I would enjoy the books. But as much as I loved the story and the writing, it was simply too complicated for me to keep up in between screaming at parenting my kids. After reading the first five chapters, for the billionth time, I decided to try out the audiobook.
Screenshot_20180208-090722I was instantly hooked. The narrator, an acclaimed British actor who I had somehow never heard of named Roy Dotrice, was incredible. He had a unique voice for every one of the 200+ characters and read the book the way I expect it was meant to be read. It was dramatic and passionate, and I couldn’t get enough of his performance. I went on to download the entire series, and have since listened to it four times.
Whenever  I have heard people complain about GRRM dragging his feet on Winds of Winter, my thoughts have drifted to Roy, wondering if he would live long enough to narrate it, because truly, I cannot imagine anyone doing half as good a job.

Last night, I was on my favorite online forum and someone mentioned that they were listening to the ASOIAF books for the first time. I was typing a reply, and I googled Roy to figure out his exact age (I knew it was ninety-something) and I found out that Roy had passed away in October.
I felt stunned. I felt hollow. I felt bereaved. And, in truth, I also felt a little ridiculous. After all, I had never met this man that I am currently crying actual tears for. I hadn’t even followed him closely enough to realize that he had died.
But I had spent more than 800 hours listening to his voice. He had gotten me through long drives and dark days. He had lulled me to sleep countless times. He had given life to a story that has come to mean more to me than I had ever anticipated. We shall never see his like again.

67 Thoughts I Had While Watching Game of Thrones: The Spoils of War

Whilst settling in to watch Season 7, episode 4, I realized that few things could bring me more joy than live blogging it. And here we are.

  1. Why doesn’t HBO’s episode description, ya know, describe anything?
  2. Ah, we’re reminding everyone about the catspaw dagger. Iss back.
  3. Check out the Lannister host leaving Highgarden with the *hehe* “spoils of war”.
  4. BRONN! And he has dialogue!
  5. I prefer Bronn with the other Lannister bro. He and Jaime are too much the same character.
  6. Oh hey, Dickon. Giggle. 🙊
  7. Cersei’s eyes glazing over while Tycho is jabbering about being an instrument of his institution…same, girl.
  8. Trying to get a credit line increase. Royalty. They’re just like us.
  9. Bran and Littlefinger having a creep-off.
  10. Whoop, there it is (the dagger, o’ course).
  11. He ain’t falling for your shit, Baelish. He’s the goddamned three eyed raven.
  12. Chaos is a ladder, indeed. *mic drop*
  13. Let it out Meera, oh, my sweet audience avatar.
  14. A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell. And she is HOME!
  15. These poor, stupid guards have no idea who they’re fucking with.
  16. The shot of Arya with the direwolf banner behind her. Chills.
  17. Poor Sansa is not getting any gratification from these sibling reunions.
  18. I have a bad feeling that these already lukewarm feelings betwixt the Stark sisters will cool rapidly.
  19. So, like, how does Bran know everything but how to talk to other humans?
  20. Can’t wait to see Arya fuck shit up with that dagger.
  21. Pod telling Brienne that Catelyn would be proud. I’m not crying; you’re crying.
  22. Missy and Dany having girl talk about Grey Worm is on point.
  23. Watch out Khaleesi. I’ve seen what Jon Snow does to girls in caves.
  24. Ooh what else you gonna show her Jon? Huh? Huh? Something that Southren Lords do to their ladies?
  25. Oh, undead army runes. Bo-ring.
  26. But important…obvi.
  27. That is some intense eye contact.
  28. I love Emilia Clark. Really I do. But there is something ‘nails on a chalkboard’esque about the way she says “bend the knee”.
  29. Varys and Tyrion are the bad news bears.
  30. Oooh, Dany taking Tyrion to task. I both love and hate this.
  31. More intense eye contact. Not gonna lie, I’m shipping it. It’s fine.
  32. Poor Pod. He gets knocked down, but he gets up again.
  33. Ooh la la. Arya vs Brienne is bound to be amaze-balls.
  34. And there’s Sansa being melodramatic for literally no reason. Don’t let Littlefinger see you sweat.
  35. Make Syrio proud, you beautiful faceless, water dancing badass.
  36. Excellent action angle.
  37. NO ONE.
  38. Sansa, get ye over thyself.
  39. Arya is going to return that dagger to Petyr…in spades. I’m certain of it.
  40. I love this Dragonstone camera work they keep doing. I wonder how many times this camera dude has fallen down.
  41. Davos, what is this weird thing you’re doing with Missandei?
  42. I need a bestie who loves me like Missy loves Dany.
  43. HOLY HELL. Jon and Theon. The intensity.
  44. I’d have been cool with it if Jon had punched him in the face.
  45. Hope you aren’t too attached to that loot Jaime. Mama’s coming for it.
  46. Ooh, I hope someone lights Randyll Tarly on fire.
  47. Dickon. Never gets old.
  48. IS THAT THE HORSE LORDS’ MUSIC?!?!?!
  49. Cannot wait to see these proper soldier against some bloodriders.
  50. Someday, I may not get goosebumps when Daenerys says dracarys. Today is not that day.
  51. Everybody was Arakh fighting. *whistles*
  52. Not even taking the food. Just burn it to the ground. I sorta dig it.
  53. Oh no. Don’t kill Bronn.
  54. This ish is intense. Fab cinematography.
  55. Oh no, but, like, don’t hurt Drogon, either.
  56. Wait, Tyrion’s there?!
  57. This must be hard for him.
  58. I mean, it’s hard for me. And I’m not related to and/or serving as hand to anyone here.
  59. WTF NOOOOO. DROGON!!!!!!!!!!
  60. Oh he’s okay-ish. Dany, please be careful on the ground.
  61. Jaime don’t be dumb! I see you looking like you’re going to be dumb.
  62. See? Tyrion agrees.
  63. Ugh, how will they get him out of this?
  64. Bronn with the assist.
  65. How deep is that water at the shoreline, really?
  66. Is he unconscious? Or is his armor too heavy? Why is he sinking?
  67. THAT is how we’re leaving it?