Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June in Review

I always borrow Lily's Bookshelf outline for my month in review posts. Her blog is awesome. You should check her out

Books Read:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
The Sandman -Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

Most Anticipated: Everything Potter
Biggest Let Down: None
Favorite Read: Sorcerers Stone and Goblet of Fire
Highest Rank: N/A
Lowest Rank: N/A
Overall Reflection:
I've been really loving my Harry Potter marathon. As listed above, I read the first four books in June, which puts me up to date with my Summer at Hogwarts Read-Along schedule. The Only other thing I read this month was a the first collection of Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics. Overall this  was the hardest thing to review. I've never read a comic before and superhero's aren't really my thing but I did end up enjoying it. Even though I'm loving all of this HP I'm becoming a bit overwhelmed at how big my TBR list has become. I'm going to need to really kick my reading into high gear next month. I am also almost done with Intimations of Austen, which I had hoped to finished last night but didn't.

Overall blogging has been a big thing for me this month. I've tried to become more active in other peoples posts as well as making a lot of posts myself. Mind you my posts have been mostly Harry Potter related, but they've been more thoughtful then some of my earlier posts this year. 

Top Ten Picks: Favorite Reads So Far This Year

Jillian at Random Ramblings does a weekly top ten post. usually I have ever intent on participating but become daunted by her amazing topics. This weeks top ic is Top Ten Favorite Reads for 2010(so far) - because the end of June means we're halfway through the year!

So without further adieu, my top ten (with links to my reviews) -

After hearing amazing review after amazing review I figured I couldn't put off The Book Thief any longer, and am I glad I didn't! I absolutely loved every piece of this novel. 

After seeing this on every best sellers list and in every story I picked it up at Costco, thinking I'd read a few pages and end up throwing it on my huge TBR pile but instead I fell in love with all of these characters. The Help really brought an era to life.

This year I've been really into all things Fairytale/Fable with a twist and Arcadia Falls played right into that. Set at an art centered boarding school it is the perfect blend of fairy tale, mystery and family history to keep me interested. It also lead me to a brief Carol Goodman marathon (by brief I mean, one other book but buying several). One of the best ARC's I've gotten all year. 

Claude & Camille reminded me what I love about reading. It was completely transporting. Paris cafe's with the Impressionists never seemed to real, and Monet, whom I usually despise as an artist, is a romantic painter. Nothing at all what I expected when I got it in the mail but easily a top ten pick. 

This is a case of first impressions being wrong. I only gave this a 3.5 out of 5 stars. However this was a book that has stayed with me in the two months since I've read it, and that, to me, says a lot more than a not brilliant review. I haven't gotten around to The Girl Who Plays with Fire yet, but I expect to in the second half of the year. 

This is a case of me being a sucker for well written chick lit. It was a fun, lite read that left me feeling hopefully and in need of vintage clothes. 

My roommate loved Craig, I thought he was funny but never gave him much thought. That was until I read his autobiography. Comedians tend to write the best, most honest life stories and I feel that is the case with American on Purpose. If you've ever watched the Late Late Show, or ever seen Craig in anything it's worth the read. 

I read this a little more than a month before Salinger died. Maybe It's my overwhelming love for the Glass family but I loved these stories. I wrote all over my index page so I could remember what each story was about and which family member it was associated with.  My favorites were Just Before the War with the Eskimos, For Esme - With Love and Squalor and De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period. 

I'm a huge Chevalier fan, and while this wasn't my favorite of her works I did love it. I'm not really into fossils but Remarkable Creatures made fossil hunting cool and dangerous, two things I never thought I'd associate with dead fish sea things before. It probably helps that i was excavating a fossil for one of my classes as I was reading this, but none the less another hit from Chevalier.

If you've been following my blog you've probably noticed my Summer at Hogwarts read along. Goblet is one of my favorite of the series. It's equal parts mysterious, dangerous and funny and there is really nothing I'd change. Not even SPEW. Ok, maybe SPEW. 

Well, that's 2010's top reads thus far.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer at Hogwarts - Deathly Hollows Trailer

A new trailer for Deathly Hallows has been released, and since I watched it about 4 times last night i figured I'd share my excitement here.

Here's the trailer in case you haven't seen it

Any thoughts? obvious disappointments or cool additions?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Summer at Hogwarts - Goblet of Fire

It's June 26th and for those of you following the syllabus that means we've just finished Goblet of Fire. Hopefully you weren't to scared by the Triwizard Tournament to keep reading!

Out of the entire series, Goblet of Fire has always stood out as one of my favorites. This read was nothing different. I've always found, as many others have, that Goblet is the transition point from Harry the boy and Harry the teenager with a cause. That's what I really love about year 4 at Hogwarts. In my post about Prisoner of Azkaban I wrote about how annoyed I was at how little happened. That isn't a problem with Goblet of Fire. Things are happening all the time, and when things get slow it's because there are hidden clues.

I know a lot of people have an issue with the 100 pages dedicated to the Quidditch World Cup, but I am not one of them. I liked seeing wizards trying to be like muggles and failing, I like that there's this energy of excitement throughout the beginning of the book and that for once Harry, Ron and Hermione are really happy. Plus we get to see more of the Weasleys, and we all know how much I love them.  

Of course the other big event is the Triwizard Tournament. Another thing I love! I think this has more to do with the fact that there are other wizarding schools with different priorities then with the actual tasks, but the tasks themselves are cool to. I think the tournament forces Harry to grow up in such a way that would never have come to him naturally, and eventually catapults him into the emo brat I so hate in Order of the Phoenix, but more on that in 10 days. 

A few of the others things I love about GoF are:
House Elves (but not SPEW)
Professor Moody - I'm always really sad that Moody is one of my favorite Professor's at Hogwarts but he's been an impostor the whole time!
Brother Wands
Albus Dumbeldore

And a few of the things that I could have really done without:
The Yule Ball
The first ten pages of the first chapter (The rest can stay. It's at least relevant)
Cedric Diggory
Ludo Bagman

I know I'm in the minority in loving Goblet of Fire as much as I do, and you'll probably get a similar post when we come to Half Blood Prince in July but I hope at least a few of you enjoyed your reread. See you in a few days for your next quiz as well as a Quidditch related challenge

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer at Hogwarts - Rate Your Professor

Hello fellow Potter readers. Here is your Quiz for Goblet of Fire, a little late but better then nothing!

Goblet of Fire deals with many of the same things that we've seen in the previous three books. We've dealt with Animagi, Hogwarts Houses, Classes, and various other things. This is one of the reasons this quiz is so late. I've had a hard time coming up with things for you to think about, or more accurately, for you to think about intelligently in the Harry Potter universe.

Quiz #6: Who's your favorite professor/staff member at Hogwarts?

And of course, my slightly long winded answer is...

Professor Mcgonagall. She reminds me a lot of one of my favorite teachers in high school, strict, but in a loving way and always willing to help those in her house so long as it is in their best interests. I could easily see myself becoming  a little bit of a teachers pet to her and working hard to earn her respect.
In a similar fashion I think Flitwick is really cool, but I think I'd always be to shy to be on great, chummy terms with him.

Again, sorry for the late post. I'll make it up with some extra ones for Order.

If you're new to Loving Books or Summer at Hogwarts and are interested in seeing previous quizzes they can be found here

Keep Reading and don't touch any accidental portkeys!

Hopping into the Weekend!

It's Friday so you all know what that means!

Another Hop!

For those of you unaware, the Hop, hosted by Crazy-for-Books, is a chance to find all of those cool book blogs that you've been missing. So if you're over from the hop - Hello! I always return visit, even if I don't always comment. If you have no idea what I'm talking about check, what are you waiting for? Check out the Hop!

This week has been a particularly slow week in most ways. I've just been reading Goblet of Fire (which I need to have finished by tomorrow) and working a ton.

I haven't gone shopping this week, at a store or online so my new book list for the week is pretty short.
I won a signed copy of Intimations of Austen by Jane Greensmith from the Jane in June event. I'm really looking forward to sinking down into a comfy chair and devouring these short stories!

Just because I didn't get any other books this week doesn't mean I haven't gotten bookish things. With my first paycheck I splurged and got a Catcher in the Rye shirt from It's super comfortable and with every shirt that is sold they donate one book to a community in need.

Here's my new shirt!
And Finally: To all those who are following my Summer at Hogwarts Read-along, I'm sorry i haven't gotten a quiz/question up for Goblet of Fire. I'll try to get something up before I work this evening but if nothing else you'll get a summary post tomorrow and an extra quiz for Order of the Phoenix!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Sandman - Gaiman

A little over a week ago I was hanging out with my friends when one of them wanted to go to a comic book shop by my house. I didn't know this place existed and wasn't to interested in comics but piled in the car along with everyone and took the two minute ride to the shop.  We didn't stay long and it wasn't a comfortable space for me, but as I was walking along the aisles I saw Neil Gaimans name. Of course I stopped and picked up the comic, intrigued because I read The Graveyard Book earlier this year and have been interested in the rest of Gaimans work. My comic-knowledgeable friend had read the particular comic and thought I would like it, but as it was not the beginning of the series and being more expensive than most books I buy I shrugged it off and insisted we find dinner. I didn't really think any more about Gaiman or the Sandman until yesterday when, after hanging out with my friends again, the comic enthusiast shove The Sandman: Volume One in my hands and told me to read it. So I did. 

I don't really know how to review comics, but here's my best shot.

In PRELUDES & NOCTURNES, an occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman. This book also includes the story "The Sound of Her Wings," which introduces us to the pragmatic and perky goth girl Death (From Goodreads)

Now I'm not into superheros or graphic novels. Nothing against them, they've just never interested me. I started The Sandman with little expectation to enjoy it. I was pleasantly surprised. It took me a while to understand what was happening but once I did I couldn't put it down. I got through all 233 pages in an few hours and was curious about what the other volumes contain. My only problem was with the illustrations. I could see that they were detailed and required a lot of skill but they just weren't my cup of tea. Gaimans words, on the other hand were more than enough to make up for the images, in my opinion. I found Dreams and Bettes thoughts to be some of my favorite, for lack of a better word, dialogue.

As always, I love Gaiman's afterword. For some reason I find him writing about his own work more interesting then some of his stories.  

Overall it was an enjoyable read and good for me to get out of my comfort zone. Now back to Goblet of Fire

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hopping & Following & Buying

Hello Everyone. It's Friday (or almost Friday) and that means it's time for another hop. If you don't know what the Hop is you should check out Jen @ Crazy-for-Books blog, she hosts it every Friday.
If you are over from the hop : Welcome! Hope you're having a great Friday and I'll be checking out your blogs soon!   

Now I wasn't going to buy any more books this week, especially since I'm not even halfway through my Summer at Hogwarts read-a-long, but I was at a thrift shop with some friends and they had a surprisingly full book section. Who can turn that down? I got four books and a video game guild for my brother all for $5.50.
Here's what I got-

I don't really know anything about any of these, but they all looked decent enough (ok, Running in Heels looks kinda trashy, but it's summer and that's fine). Have any of you read any of these? I'd love to know what I've gotten myself into :)

Lastly, I've just seen Follow My Book Blog Friday over at Parajunkee's blog and figured I'd give it a go as well. 
To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Host { } and any one else you want to follow on the list
  2. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing.
  3. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments
  4. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can
  5. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers
  6. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post! 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summer at Hogwarts - Prisoner of Azkaban

We're halfway through June and that means that, according to the slightly daunting reading schedule we've come to the end of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Per usual I'll give you all my impression and new discoveries from this read, as well as any questions I've come upon. This will be a little different from past sum ups but as the books get longer I'm trying to sort out the best way to approach summing them up without making everyone scroll a million times. 

I've never been a big fan of Prisoner, not because of the story or anything - If anything it has one of the better plots of the whole series - but so little happens. I mean, the first 300 or so pages really centers on the most typical year Harry has at Hogwarts, it isn't until the very end that anything drastically important happens. 

This pet peeve aside, I really did enjoy this read of Prisoner of Azkaban. I don't think I really ever realized just how much you learn about Rowlings Wizarding World in this book. We see more classes, the Night Bus, Anamagi, Dementors, and of course the Marauders. All of these things are really what makes Azkaban worth rereading for me.  I have a special place in my heart for the Marauders. Sirius and Lupin are the first adults in Harry's life that are, for lack of a better word - cool. They're obviously both flawed, but I think part of what makes them so interesting are their flaws. They have a history, and for a change we actually get to see some of it. 

Other high points this time around:
The Marauders Map and Hogsmead

Hermione's reactions to everything

Biggest Question that has arisen from this specific read through:
How was Peter Pettegrew sorted into Gryffendor?!

Let me know what you thought of your reread? Did you find anything you had skimmed over in the past? Or if you weren't reading along with me any general thoughts?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer at Hogwarts - Anamagi

We are now a little over 2 weeks into the Hogwarts Summer term and that means it's time for your 4th quiz. As you should be getting near to the end of Prisoner of Azkaban todays topic deals with Anamagi, as well as the Patronus Charm.

Quiz 5: If you were an Animagus what animal would you turn into? In the same vain what would your Patronus be? I don't believe I've read anything stating that they must be the same, so if you have any opinions on this topic as well, feel free to answer for extra credit!

I've been putting a lot of thought into this lately and can't seem to come up with a definitive answer. I think I would either be an Owl or a Rabbit. What I think is interesting about being an Anamagi is that it reflects your true self in a different way than being sorted into a house would, like how Sirius becomes a loyal dog and Pettergrew a rat. In that rain I think I'd be an Owl, Solitary but caring but on the other hand I could be a playful rabbit, hopping around being adorable.  

I hope you all aren't as indecisive as I am! Enjoy the rest of PoA and I'll see you tomorrow for a warp up post!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer at Hogwarts - Registration

Hello fellow students! By now you've at least read part of one of the Harry Potter books and are preferably over 70 pages into Prisoner of Azkaban. Today we will be taking a break from our quizzes to pick our classes for next term.

If you're new to Loving books or over from the Hop feel free to participate in this and all other Summer at Hogwarts quizzes.

The Question: What class would you most like to take at Hogwarts? Are you crazy for Charms or dreaming of Divination?

Hogwarts offers a an abundance of courses for it's fictional students. I think I'd be most interested Charms. It seems like the right balance of usefulness and whimsy for me. On the reverse I don't think I'd be very interested in Herbology or Care of Magical Creatures, and I'd probably be ok at Potions but not really like it as a class.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hop and Shop

It's Friday (or will be in a few hours) and that means another Hop! Thanks to all who have stoped by from Crazy-For-Books weekly Blog Hop. It's been a not so eventful week, I've been running my Summer for Hogwarts read-a-long and started a new job. I'm hoping to get a few more reviews and non Potter related posts up this week, including this one.


I haven't really been buying books lately. ARC copies show up frequently enough and I still have a ton of books from Christmas but one of the other book communities I follow is starting a new book club. I used this as an excuse to head over to Costco to grab a copy of Norwegian Wood. Of course I had overestimated Costco's stock, but did end up with two other books.
To make a long story short I got 4 books this week. 2 from Costco, 1 from Barnes and Noble and one is an ARC from Goodreads
I'm really excited for all of these. I've been on an Italy kick lately. Not Italian fiction but American fiction set in Italy so The City of Falling Angels and The Blind Contessa should fit right into that, and I've heard nothing but good things about Murakami. I'll hopefully be starting both Norwegian Wood and Contessa shortly, as well as keeping up with my Harry Potter summer project and maybe even finish Lolita. Stay tuned for crazy cool Harry Potter questions, reviews and a possible give-a-way in the not to distant future!

Summer at Hogwarts - Chamber of Secrets

Hello everyone! We're now 10 days into the term and that puts us at the end of another book - Chamber of Secrets.  Hopfully a few people have keept up with the reading and have now officaly opened the chamber, defeated the basilisk and are now starting your third year shadowing Mr. Potter at the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Sticking with my No Reviewing Books We've All Read and Enjoyed policy I'll now dive into things I noticed, liked and didn't like about Chamber of Secrets.

For starters I'll mention that this was my tied for my favorite book in the series for quiet some time and it still holds a special place in my heart, but on this read it did not live up to my memories. I think the biggest issue i noticed on this read was the pacing. I thought it was just a little off and sometimes had a hard time following how much time had passed. Not that this is really that important in the grand scheme of things, especially knowing the story so well but it still kind of irked me.  

What really struck me was how little I thought about this book, it was just a quick read but in the whole of the series it does little in moving the plot along, much like in Sorcerers Stone. There is obviously a lot of useful information here, even if it wasn't apparent the first few reads before HBP and DH came out. However this is the start of my love/hate relationship with House Elves, especially Dobby. He is so annoyingly hilarious and every time he appears on a page i both want to close the book and laugh. 

My favorite thing of Chamber of Secrets is the the overwhelming mystery that passes through it. What is the Chamber? Where is it? What's in it? Who's opening it? Why is Harry a Parseltongue? Of course all of these things are answered by the end of the book, but these questions are really the only intriguing part of the book for me and probably the only reason I finished it instead of skipping ahead.

What are your thoughts on Chamber of Secrets?

The Prisoner of Azkaban recap will be more in depth, and will have more compelling quiz entry's along the way.