Monday, June 30, 2014

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Discussion [Summer Reading Challenge]

Hey, y'all! So, as you can see, I'm reading my June series, Harry Potter! Since Harry Potter is my favorite book series and June is my favorite month (because my birthday was on the 10th!), I couldn't think of a better challenge to set myself in the month of June!

As I said in the last posts, these Harry Potter posts will be formatted differently from the May discussion posts. I won't be writing non-spoiler sections for any of the Harry Potter books, simply because it's Harry Potter. If you haven't read the books already, go read them. At this point, there's almost no excuse for not having read the books except a lack of interest... in which case you probably wouldn't be here reading my discussion! I also will not be writing a summary of each book because, again, it's Harry Potter. If you don't know what Harry Potter is about, I'd really like to know what rock you've been hiding under because it sounds like an amazing place to get away and completely shut out all knowledge of the outside world.

Anyway, on to the discussion!



So, a little background. I first read Order of the Phoenix in 5th grade. I know that I finished Goblet of Fire sometime in January or February of 2005. I'm sure I picked up Order of the Phoenix right after, but I'm not sure how long it took me to read it. I remember it taking a while to get through it for some reason, although I've always been a very fast reader. But, I know that I finished it long before the 6th book came out in July, so I'd assume I finished OOTP by March or April. I'm not sure how many times I've re-read this book, but I know that Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix are the two books I've read the least of the series.

I think I've mentioned that Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix have always been pretty equal for me as far as my rankings of the books, but after this read-through, I'm not so sure. I've never been of the mindset that Order of the Phoenix dragged on and on and on or that it was too long, but I've definitely realized that the middle is rather slow. The first 3 books didn't really have the ability to be slow because they were significantly shorter. Goblet of Fire is almost as long as Order of the Phoenix, but the Triwizard Tournament is going on throughout the book, so we get constant excitement. In OOTP though, it's not quite so exciting. A lot of things happen, but they're more subtle and overall they're certainly not very action-packed. 

This book introduces us to the character that every Harry Potter fan wanted dead... more than even Voldemort. UMBRIDGE. That woman... I don't even know how to put my rage into words. JK Rowling is a genius for crafting her as a character, because really, no one could be that vile right? NOPE. She does, however, allow us to see the most incredibly passive-aggressive sides of the Hogwarts professors that we've ever seen before.

Just like with Prisoner of Azkaban, OOTP doesn't get really good until the end. The twins have their infamous exit from Hogwarts, Harry and Hermione get Umbridge attacked by the centaurs, and most importantly we get the battle at the Ministry. All of these things happen within the last 200 pages of the book. That's not to say that the first 600 pages aren't important or interesting... they just aren't quite exciting or page-turning. Here's how I breakdown the book: We start with Harry getting attacked. Then we get to read way too many pages of Harry screaming about being misunderstood. Then we get hundreds upon hundreds of pages of Umbridge basically destroying Hogwarts, with an intermission of Mr. Weasley's attack.  Then, we get the action. Finally, the truth.

The DA is the source for some of the excitement in the midst of Umbridge destroying Hogwarts. It's one of the few interesting things going on in the middle of the book. Since Harry isn't allowed to play quidditch, we don't really get much of that either, so we don't even get that added excitement. Mr. Weasley's attack is also one of the more exciting moments for me, and for some reason, that chapter/ section of the book is my favorite. Maybe because I think it's more interesting than some of the later scenes?

The battle at the Ministry is pretty exciting... but when it comes to exciting Harry Potter battles, it's not one of my favorites. Maybe that's because Sirius dies? I'm not sure. The whole bit near the end of it all with Voldemort controlling Harry and the battle with Dumbledore confused me the first time I read it, and I guess since then it's just never been my favorite. 

The scene in Dumbledore's office after everything is said and done is really great though. Its just too funny to watch Harry destroying things while Dumbledore just lets him. What adult just lets a teenager destroy their belongings? Although I guess at this point, Dumbledore is feeling at least just the slightest bit guilty for not telling Harry about the prophecy before then, so he thinks that Harry's anger is totally warranted, even though I'm not really sure it is. Harry's just very angry in this book. Some of it is because of the connection to Voldemort, but a lot of it is just Harry being an annoying 15 year old. 

Overall, just so many mixed feelings about this book.

So, let's talk rating. Just as with the previous books, I'll give it 5/5 stars. I'm not sure it'll receive the full 10/10 in the series discussion, but for now, it gets the 5/5.


Favorite Quotes

Page 38: "Hang on. This Lord Voldything's back, you say."
"Yes."
"The one who murdered your parents."
"Yes."
"And now he's sending dismembers after you?"
"Looks like it," said Harry.
I just love the complete lack of correction on Harry's part. Obviously, corrections would be wasted on Uncle Vernon, but it's still funny.

Page 163: "I don't believe it! I don't believe it! Oh, Ron, how wonderful! A prefect! That's everyone in the family!"
"What are Fred and I, next-door neighbors?" said George indignantly, as his mother pushed him aside and flung her arms around her youngest son. 
The poor twins. They're brilliant, but they're constantly overlooked because they aren't the "typical" successful sons. It's OK, they'll get their moment soon...

Page 247: "Is it true that you shouted at Professor Umbridge?"
"Yes," said Harry.
"You called her a liar?"
"Yes."
"You told her He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back?"
"Yes."
Professor McGonagall sat down behind her desk, frowning at Harry. Then she said, "Have a biscuit, Potter."
McGonagall is just such a great character.

Page 320: "I was just wondering, Professor, whether you received my note telling you of the date and time of your inspec-"
"Obviously, I received it, or I would have asked you what you are doing in my classroom," said Professor McGonagall, turning her back firmly on Professor Umbridge. 
Sassy McGonagall is sassy.

Page 363: "You applied first for the Defense Against the Dark Arts post, I believe?" Professor Umbridge asked Snape.
"Yes," said Snape quietly.
"But you were unsuccessful?"
Snape's lip curled.
"Obviously."
I can't read this without hearing it played out in my head as it was in the movie. Love Alan Rickman.

Page 459: A slightly stunned silence greeted the end of this speech, then Ron said, "One person can't feel all that at once, they'd explode."
"Just because you've got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn't mean we all have," said Hermione nastily, picking up her quill again.
This was a bit funnier in the movie, but still a great scene.

Page 507: "It sounds as though you've been trying to sew your skin back together," said Mrs. Weasley with a snort of mirthless laughter, "but even you, Arthur, wouldn't be that stupid-"
"I fancy a cup of tea too," said Harry, jumping to his feet.
Hermione, Ron, and Ginny almost sprinted to the door with him. As it swung closed behind them, they heard Mrs. Weasley shriek, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN, THAT'S THE GENERAL IDEA?"
Good thing they ran for it. Mrs. Weasley sounded absolutely murderous.

Page 551: Lee Jordan had pointed out to Umbridge that by the terms of the new rule she was not allowed to tell Fred and George off for playing Exploding Snap in the back of the class.
"Exploding Snap's got nothing to do with Defense Against the Dark Arts, Professor! That's not information relating to your subject!"
I really want to know what he did after leaving Hogwarts. Did he work at the joke shop? I don't remember him being mentioned. I guess I'll see soon enough, right?

Page 616: "...- why are you shaking your head, girl?"
"Well, usually when a person shakes their head," said Professor McGonagall coldly, "they mean 'no.' So unless Miss Edgecombe is using a form of sign language as yet unknown to humans-"
As I said, McGonagall is just the best.

Page 643: "Did you like question ten, Moony?" asked Sirius as the emerged into the entrance all.
"Loved it," said Lupin briskly. "Give five signs that identify the werewolf.' Excellent question."
"D'you think you managaed to get all the signs?" said James in tones of mock concern.
"Think I did," said Lupin seriously, as they joined the crowd thronging around the front doors eager to get out into the sunlit grounds. "One: He's sitting on my chain. Two:He's wearing my clothes. Three: His name's Remus Lupin...'"
Ah, Lupin. My favorite of the marauders. Everyone loves Sirius- and I do too, don't get me wrong!- but Lupin is my favorite.

Page 665: "-which means that this boy has as much chance of becoming an Auror as Dumbledore has of ever returning to this school."
"A very good chance, then," said Professor McGonagall.
.........
"Potter has no chance whatsoever of becoming an Auror!" 
Professor McGonagall got to her feet too, and in her case this was a much more impressive move. She towered over Professor Umbridge.
"Potter," she said in ringing tones, "I will assist you to become an Auror if it is the last thing I do! If I have to coach you nightly I will make sure you achieve the required results!"
Seriously, McGonagall is simply the best.

Page 674: "You two," she went on, gazing down at Fred and George, "are about to learn what happens to wrongdoers in my school."
"You know what?" said Fred. "I don't think we are."
He turned to his twin.
"George," said Fred, "I think we've outgrown full-time education."
.........
"We won't be seeing you," Fred told Professor Umbridge, swinging his leg over his broomstick.
"Yeah, don't bother to keep in touch," said George, mounting his own.
Fred looked around at the assembled students, and at the silent watchful crowd.
"If anyone fancies buying a Portable Swamp, as demonstrated upstairs, come to number ninety-three, Diagon Alley- Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes," he said in a loud voice. "Our new premises!"
"Special discounts to Hogwarts students who swear they're going to use our products to get rid of this old bat," added George, pointing at Professor Umbridge.
.........
Fred looked across the hall at the poltergeist bobbing on his level above the crowd.
"Give her hell from us, Peeves."
And Peeves, whom Harry had never seen take an order from a student before, swept his belled hat from his head and sprang to a salute as Fred and George wheeled about to tumultuous applause from the students below and sped out of the open front doors into the glorious sunset.
Longest quote ever, but the twins' most glorious moment. Too beautiful. Too perfect. I love them.

Page 678: Indeed, a week after Fred and George's departure Harry witnessed Professor McGonagall walking right past Peeves, who was determinedly loosening a crystal chandelier, and could have sworn he heard her tell the poltergeist out of the corner of her mouth, "It unscrews the other way."
This post has turned into McGonagall praise hour, but this book is when we really get to see the McGonagall sass because of how openly she despises and contradicts Umbridge.

Page 701: Weasley is our King, Weasley is our King, He didn't let the Quaffle in, Weasley is our King.
.........
Weasley can save anything, He never leaves a single ring, That's why Gryffindors all sing: Weasley is our King.
Ron finally got his heart's deepest desire. Such a great moment.

Page 848: "Well, Flitwick's got rid of Fred and George's swamp," said Ginny. "He did it in about three seconds. But he left a tiny patch under the window and he's roped it off-"
"Why?" said Hermione, looking startled.
"Oh, he just says it was a really good bit of magic," said Ginny, shrugging.
"I think he left it as a monument to Fred and George," said Ron through a mouthful of chocolate.
I just love that the professors continue to honor the twins' glorious last hurrah.


So, there you go, that's all for this summer reading post! I hope you enjoyed it, because I definitely enjoyed making it. I could talk about Harry Potter ceaselessly for the rest of my life and never get bored. If you have questions, ask in the comments! As you can tell, I'm a bit behind again (what a big surprise) but I'll be getting the rest of the posts out ASAP!

I've also created a Facebook page for my blog, so if you want to check that out and like it, you can click HERE. I'll try to keep that pretty up-to-date with new posts and such.

Thanks for reading! If you like my posts, don't forget to subscribe/follow, since it lets me know that you're enjoying what I'm doing. See y'all in a few days!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Embarrassingly Large May/June Book Haul! [Book Haul #2]

Hey, y'all! So remember back in April when I did my book haul and talked about how embarrassingly large that book haul was? Clearly, I didn't understand the definition of "embarrassingly large." The real definition is THIS:

In case you were wondering, that's approximately 50 books. Granted, this haul is over the course of 2 months rather than just one, and June's my birthday month so I got birthday money, but that's still an incredibly large number of books. I'm actually so ashamed of myself that I'm putting myself on a book buying ban. I've made a list of books I'm allowed to buy if I find them for a good price, and I'm allowed to buy books from used bookstores. This eliminates the real problem which is my compulsive online buying. Often, if I see a book online for fairly inexpensive, and I've heard good things about it, I buy it. Also, I'm completely out of room on my shelves, and I can't put up my full 5 shelf bookcase until I move into my new apartment at the beginning of August. So the ban will probably span all of July, and then I'll probably change the stipulations some. Because if I don't give myself limits, I'll buy all the things.

Anyway, enough rambling. On to THE BOOKS.


A Series of Unfortunate Events

So I decided to start with the section that I feel the least shame about, because I actually bought less than half of these books. As I've previously mentioned, I work at a library. One great thing about working in cataloging is that if the library gets books as a gift, and it's determined that we don't need the books, I can have them if I want them. It's not like I'm allowed to take every single discarded book, but if I see some that catch my eye, I can have them. The library got gifted the first 11 books of A Series of Unfortunate Events. We already had books 1-9 and 11, so we didn't need extra copies. I'd already bought the 1st and 6th book a few weeks before, so I got to keep 2-5, 7-9, and 11. I then found books 10 and 12 at a used bookstore. I have yet to find book 13 anywhere, but I'm not in a huge hurry. I do want to re-read these eventually, because they were a pretty significant part of my childhood. And these books are just gorgeous, so I'm really glad that I have almost all of them now!


Book Outlet

I had a Book Outlet coupon and stumbled across a lot of books that I'd been eyeing for quite a while, so I made a pretty sizable purchase.

Music by Nicholas Cook

This was one of the more impulse buys of the order. I'm a music/psychology major, and I'm really interested in books examining how we think about music, and that seems like what this is about. I also liked the minimalist cover.


Nothing Feels Good... by Andy Greenwald

When I saw this book, I HAD to have it. It sounded like it was practically written just for me. I love punk rock and emo music, and I started listening to it when I was a young teenager (and it feels really odd to say that I'm not a teenager anymore). I'm excited to get into this, though I noticed recently that it doesn't have such great ratings on GoodReads. 


Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

This is the first book in the Chronicles of Nick series. I've been eyeing these books for quite a while, and when I found this for only a few dollars, I decided to get it. It sounds like a really exciting and action-packed fantasy series with a similar premise to Cassandra Clare's books, and I see Sherrilyn Kenyon books everywhere, so she seems to be a pretty popular author. I'm excited to get into this series eventually. Because everything's eventual.


Invincible by Sherrilyn Kenyon

I also picked up the second book in the Chronicles of Nick series. It was a cheap hardback, and I really enjoyed the cover. I almost bought the 3rd, 4th, and 5th books, which were all also on Book Outlet, but I decided to wait just a little bit in case I didn't like the series for some reason.


The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander

In my last book haul, I showed the other four books in this series, which I also purchased off of Book Outlet. This time, the second book was actually on there (ONE lone copy- $2.99), so I snatched it up and plan to marathon the series sometime this year, complete with a viewing of the 1985 Disney movie, which is one of my top 5 Disney movies of all time. I'm just a little excited. 


Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

This is actually the book that got me onto Book Outlet. I watched one of Ariel Bissett's videos where she raved about how much she loved this book. It sounded just so interesting, so I checked Book Outlet, and they had it for $1.49. So I grabbed my coupon and browsed around to see what else I could find. The concept behind this book is absolutely intriguing. I'm not sure when I'll get to it, but it was totally worth it.


You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis

I saw this one in Barnes and Noble one time and the concept was interesting, so I took a picture of it to remember it. And then I saw it on Book Outlet for less than $3 so I just added it on. This one also doesn't have the highest GoodReads ratings, but the concept has me intrigued. It reminded me just a little of Thirteen Reasons Why, which is one of my favorite books.


Asylum by Madeleine Roux

I've been pining for this one for quite a while. I've seen it in a handful of book hauls and have wanted it since I first saw it. It looks so creepy, which is one of my favorite types of books/ movies. I think I'm going to have a horror TBR for October, so I think I'm going to be saving this one for that, along with a few more books I really want to read. 


Vicious by V.E. Schwab

This is yet another booktube find. A lot of people I watch have absolutely loved this book, and I thought that it sounded like a really interesting concept. This is also another one I've had my eye on for quite a while. I had really wanted the paperback cover of this, but this hardcover was inexpensive enough that I decided to go for it. If I fall in love with it, maybe I'll splurge on a paperback copy. 



The Pendragon series by DJ MacHale


I already had books 7-10 in hardcover, but I wanted the entire series in hardcover since it's one of my favorite series. So, I got the first six used from various sites, to varying degrees of success. At least they all will display well on the shelves, regardless of some of the semi-damaged books. I also think that some used bookstores need to re-consider what they consider to be "very good condition." I had to bring several of these to work to clean them up and remove stickers and other junk from the books. And those were the fixable problems.



Online Purchases

This section is just a random assortment of books that I got from several different orders at several different times.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I already had this on my kindle, and I'm not sure why I didn't just buy the hard copy the first time around, but now I have it in hard copy! My one annoyance is that I ordered a used copy in the original cover... and this brand new movie-tie in was what I got. In general, I'm not a fan of movie tie-in covers. I don't dislike this cover, I just wanted the original cover. I almost returned it, but it's the same book, in perfect condition, with Logan Lerman on the cover. I can cope.


Ultimate Unofficial Guide to the Mysteries of Harry Potter
(Analysis of Book 5)

I have the first Unofficial Guide (which covers books 1-4) and found it really interesting. I happened to discover that they'd made one for the 5th book, which I was conveniently not far from starting, so I decided to pick it up and read them together. 


Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

There's one booktuber who raves and raves about this book and how amazing it is. It's over 1000 pages long and sounds like a really interesting challenge. I had my eye on it for a while, and came across it one day on the Book Outlet, so I picked it up.


Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight 
by Laini Taylor

Katytastic on Youtube raves and raves and RAVES about this trilogy, and has touted it as her favorite trilogy ever. I tend to have a fairly similar taste in books, so I generally trust her quite a bit when it comes to recommendations. These were $6 apiece on Books A Million's website, so I jumped on the opportunity to get them.


City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

This book... so beautiful. I pre-ordered it back in February and finished reading it less than a week after it came out. I did a full discussion on it, which you can check out by clicking HERE. It was an amazing conclusion to one of my all-time favorite series. LOVE.


Used Bookstores

These were all purchased during multiple trips to used bookstores throughout May and June. Yay for bargain books!

Pretties and Specials by Scott Westerfeld

These are the 2nd and 3rd books in the Uglies trilogy. I read the first two books of this trilogy back in junior high and really enjoyed it, so I wanted to pick it up and read the entire thing. I have yet to find Uglies, but I'm not in a rush. I want to pick up some more of his books, because I also enjoyed his Midnighters trilogy in junior high as well. 


Holes by Louis Sachar

I've been purchasing some of my favorite childhood books so that I can have a little collection on my shelves, and this was one of the ones that I had to have. It was always one of my favorites and I absolutely cannot believe that I sold this book a few years back.


Ghost Town at Sundown by Mary Pope Osborne

This is another book I wanted from my childhood. I read this series almost religiously, and this was my favorite of the books. When I found it, I jumped at the chance to get it.


Sweeney Todd

I stumbled across this and I'm still kinda confused about it. Sweeney Todd is one of my favorite movies, but as far as I know, it wasn't originally a book. I know it was a play and a musical before the Johnny Depp movie, but I don't think it was ever a book. I'm assuming that this might be one of those random movie to book adaptations, since it does have the movie cover on it. Either way, it seems really intriguing and I'm curious to see how it translates to a book.


The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

To be very honest, I almost didn't buy these. I've never read the series (yes, I know, shock, gasp, horror, etc.). Honestly, the hype surrounding it is what has kept me from reading it for this long. I've had the first book on my kindle for more than 2 years. I do think I'd like it, since dystopians are my thing, but I just haven't picked it up. These were all together in perfect condition for only $7 apiece, so I decided to get them, because I'll read them at some point. So they'll sit for a while, but I'll get to them eventually. I promise.


The Dark Tower Books 1 & 2- Stephen King

Like I said in my stand-alone book discussions, I've been wanting to read more Stephen King and this series was recommended to me by a few people I know. It sounds really interesting and I found the first two books in the same edition at a used bookstore, so I picked them up.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Before anyone freaks out, this is not my first copy of the book! When I originally bought the series, the first 5 were out in paperback, so I got them in paperback. I have the last 2 in hardcover because I bought each of them the day they came out, and so I've been trying to find the first five books in hardcover, first American edition. That's why I was SHOCKED to see this first American edition sitting in a used book store, in near perfect condition. I had to grab it.


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

My favorite used bookstore seems to get a constant flow of Harry Potter books, and many of them are in really great condition, including this one! They also had books 6 & 7 in PERFECT condition and I was extremely tempted to buy them because the dust jackets on mine are very well used. But I refrained, because my original copies have sentimental value. The store also had Chamber of Secrets and Goblet of Fire, but the quality wasn't as good as I wanted, so I haven't gotten those even though they're the last two I need in hardcover. I'll be patient though, because it's my favorite series, and I want them to be perfect.


Under the Dome by Stephen King

This has been on my to-buy list for quite a while. I'd been planning on buying the huge floppy paperback because I really like huge floppy paperbacks for some reason (like Infinite Jest! That's a huge, awesome paperback). I found the paperback and it was in good condition except that the spine was cracked in several places and I'm not a spine crack fan. I was going to get it, but stumbled across the hardcover on display just a few feet away for only $1 more, so I went for it because it was in near-perfect condition. I really can't wait to read this one because I keep seeing commercials for season 2 of the show based on this book and it seems really interesting.



Random/Misc. Books

This last section isn't super exciting, it's just a few books I got from assorted places.


Nobrow by John Seabrook

This is another book I got from the discarded books at work. Originally, I thought that it was a non-fiction psychology book analyzing our culture. And by looking at the cover, it would certainly seem like that. However, it's actually a fictional dystopian set in a world where the culture has deteriorated to the point where fast food restaurants are the fancy places. I don't know a ton about it, but what I saw sounded intriguing, so I took it home.


Sleeping Murder and Murder at the Vicarage 
by Agatha Christie

Once again, this is a book that I got from work. Agatha Christie is one of my favorite authors, so I was really excited to come across this. These are both from her Miss Marple series. I have read several Poirot novels, but I have yet to get into Miss Marple, so I think that these may be the ones that get me into it!


Wreck This Journal

This one was a birthday present from my roommate (well, we don't live together right now, but we lived together last school year and will be sharing a room starting in August, but whatever). I've actually been eyeing it for a while, but hadn't bought it yet. I've already done a few of the things in it, but I don't want to rush anything since the point is to get creative with it. This should get exciting!


So there we go, those were the nearly 50 books that I got over the last two months. Hopefully my next haul will be significantly smaller because of the semi-ban I've put myself on, but I've already ordered 3 books (all from the list of books I'm allowed to buy, and for a good price! Promise!) so it may be a bit bigger than I really want it to be. Also, new post tomorrow- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix discussion. Fanfiction chapter will be out... soon. Probably once I'm not reading constantly to finish my challenge. But it's my first priority after the Reading Challenge posts. 

Thanks for reading! If you like my posts, I'd really appreciate if you'd subscribe/follow so that I know you're enjoying what I'm posting! See y'all soon!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Discussion [Summer Reading Challenge]

Hey, y'all! So, as you can see, I'm reading my June series, Harry Potter! Since Harry Potter is my favorite book series and June is my favorite month (because my birthday was on the 10th!), I couldn't think of a better challenge to set myself in the month of June!

As I said in the last posts, these Harry Potter posts will be formatted differently from the May discussion posts. I won't be writing non-spoiler sections for any of the Harry Potter books, simply because it's Harry Potter. If you haven't read the books already, go read them. At this point, there's almost no excuse for not having read the books except a lack of interest... in which case you probably wouldn't be here reading my discussion! I also will not be writing a summary of each book because, again, it's Harry Potter. If you don't know what Harry Potter is about, I'd really like to know what rock you've been hiding under because it sounds like an amazing place to get away and completely shut out all knowledge of the outside world.

Anyway, on to the discussion!



So, a little background. I first read Goblet of Fire in 5th grade. I finished Prisoner of Azkaban while travelling to my grandparents' house for Christmas, and I remember picking up Goblet of Fire while I was still at my grandparents' house. I think I finished it sometime in January. I'm not sure how many times I've re-read this book, but I know that Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix are the two books I've read the least of the series. 

Normally, this is the part where I would be like, "Whoa, I totally forgot about this thing that happened! And I also forgot about this other thing that happened!" but... I hadn't really forgotten anything. Obviously, I couldn't recite the book back to you word for word, but I hadn't even forgotten many of the smaller plot points such as the twins blackmailing Bagman, the trio going to the kitchens, Hagrid and Olympe's secret conversation, Rita Skeeter being an animagus, meeting Sirius in Hogsmeade... etc. I was actually just a tiny bit disappointed that I didn't come across anything I forgot.

However, while I hadn't forgotten anything happening in the book, I did forget a couple things concerning my feelings toward the book and a certain character. Goblet of Fire has always floated somewhere in the middle of my Harry Potter rankings. It's never been my favorite or my least favorite, just... a Harry Potter book. Because it's been so long since I've read it and because it's floated in the middle, I've always thought of it as just average- not exciting, not bad, just average. So, when I found myself absolutely loving Goblet of Fire, I was slightly surprised. I think I had forgotten how exciting the tournament was, and how interesting the stuff in-between was. I'm not sure that it will move up in my rankings just because of how much I enjoy the books I've already ranked above it. But, my opinion on the book has certainly changed and I appreciate it much more.

So the character I mentioned... I've never made it a secret that Harry, while a good character, is nowhere near my favorite. I don't know why, but this is a common theme for me when it comes to narrators/ main characters. I never seem to like them as much as the rest of the characters they're surrounded by. I often feel like the other characters are more dynamic, and I'm not really sure why that is. I honestly can't think of a book or series where the main character is my favorite character. Literally none. One of the secondary main characters (like Jace in TMI) is almost always my favorite character. However, this book reminded me how much I underestimate and undervalue Harry. He was strong and sarcastic and able to stand his ground and speak his mind, and I respect that immensely in a character. I think it was when Harry told off Rita Skeeter in the middle of the Three Broomsticks was when I really respected Harry more than I had in the past. I'm not sure why it was then, but it reminded me that he actually is a dynamic character who can hold his own.

As I said, I really enjoyed the Triwizard Tournament part of the book. It was really exciting and interesting. I really also love the intricacy of all of the smaller story arcs combining to create this really incredible story. Plus, the darker tone really starts to set in with this book, which is just great because that's when the series gets really exciting.

So, let's talk rating. Just as with the previous books, I'll give it 5/5 stars. I'm not sure it'll receive the full 10/10 in the series discussion, but for now, it gets the 5/5.


Favorite Quotes

I'll be adding commentary on these since this post is really short so far...

Page 48: Dudley was no longer standing behind his parents. He was kneeling beside the coffee table, and he was gagging and sputtering on a foot-long, purple, slimy thing that was protruding from his mouth. One bewildered second later, Harry realized that the foot-long thing was Dudley's tongue- and that a brightly colored toffee wrapper lay on the floor before him.
Serves Dudley right!

Page 60: The source of the commotion was revealed as they entered the garden, and saw that Bill and Charlie both had their wands out, and were making two battered old tables fly high above the lawn, smashing into each other, each attempting to knock the other's out of the air. Fred and George were cheering, Ginny was laughing, and Hermione was hovering near the hedge, apparently torn between amusement and anxiety.
This family is just absolutely perfect.

Page 83: One of them was a very old wizard who was wearing a long flowery nightgown. The other was clearly a Ministry wizard; he was holding out a pair of pinstriped trousers and almost crying with exasperation. 
"Just put them on, Archie, there's a good chap. You can't walk around like that, the muggle at the gate's already getting suspicious-"
"I bought this in a Muggle shop," said the old wizard stubbornly. "Muggles wear them."
"Muggle women wear them, Archie, not the men, they wear these," said the Ministry wizard, and he brandished the pinstriped trousers. 
"I'm not putting them on," said old Archie in indicnation. "I like a healthy breeze 'round my privates, thanks."
How on earth did this gem get cut from the movie?

Page 157: "I'm never wearing them," Rom was saying stubbornly. "Never."
"Fine," snapped Mrs. Weasley. "Go naked. And, Harry, make sure you get a picture of him. Goodness knows I could do with a laugh."
Sassy Molly is sassy.

Page 186: "It is my very great pleasure to inform you that the Triwizard Tournament will be taking place at Hogwarts this year."
"You're JOKING!" said Fred Weasley loudly.
The tension that had filled that Hall ever since Moody's arrival suddenly broke. Nearly everyone laughed, and Dumbledore chuckled appreciatively.
"I am not joking, Mr. Weasley," he said, "though now that you mention it, I did hear an excellent one over the summer about a troll, a hag, and a leprechaun who all go into a bar..."
Once again, I love the twins.

Page 200: "... your dark hair... your mean stature... tragic losses so young in life... I think I am right in saying, my dear, that you were born in midwinter?"
"No," said Harry, "I was born in July."
Trelawney is just so bad. So, SO bad.

Page 206: "What- what are you doing?" said Professor McGonagall, her eyes following the bouncing ferret's progress through the air.
"Teaching," said Moody.
"Teach- Moody, is that a student?" shrieked Professor McGonagall, the books spilling out of her arms. 
"Yep," said Moody.
This scene was just too good in the movie.

Page 260: For a split second Harry thought it had worked- George certainly thought so, for he let out a yell of triumph and leapt after Fred- but next moment, there was a loud sizzling sound, and both twins were hurled out of the golden circle as though the had been thrown by an invisible shot-putter. They landed painfully, ten feet away on the cold stone floor, and to add insult to injury, there was a loud popping noise and both of them sprouted identical long white beards.
The entrance hall rang with laughter. Even Fred and George joined in, once they had gotten to their feet and taken a good look at each other's beards.
Too funny.

Page 367: Just then, Neville caused a slight diversion by turning into a large canary.
"Oh- sorry, Neville!" Fred shouted over all the laughter. "I forgot- it was the custard creams we hexed-"
Have I mentioned that I love the twins?

Page 384: "Percy wouldn't recognize a joke if it danced naked in front of him wearing Dobby's tea cozy."
JKR's sense of humor is spot on.

Page 417: "Oh, I would never dream of assuming I know all Hogwarts' secrets, Igor," said Dumbledore amicably. "Only this morning, for instance, I took a wrong turning on the way to the bathroom and found myself in a beautifully proportioned room I have never seen before containing a really rather magnificent collection of chamber pots. When I went back to investigate more closely, I discovered that the room had vanished. But I must keep an eye out for it. Possibly it is only accessible at five-thirty in the morning. Or it may only appear at the quarter moon- or when the seeker has an exceptionally full bladder."
Harry snorted into his plate of goulash.
Are we really supposed to believe that Dumbledore, the most brilliant wizard alive, who had lived in that castle for over 50 years, could make a wrong turn in the castle? Or that he'd never found the Room of Requirement previously? Still funny though.

Page 490: "Harry Potter has to go into the lake and find his Wheezy-"
"Find my what?"
"- and take his Wheezy back from the merpeople!"
"What's a Wheezy?"
"Your Wheezy, sir, your Wheezy- Wheezy who is giving Dobby his sweater!"
Dobby is another fave.

Page 525: "If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."
Sirius getting all deep.

Page 733: The twins turned. Harry pulled open his trunk and drew out his Triwizard winnings.
"Take it," he said, and he thrust the sack into George's hands.
"What?" said Fred, looking flabbergasted.
"Take it,"Harry repeated firmly. "I don't want it."
"You're mental," said George, trying to push it back at Harry.
"No, I'm not," said Harry. "You take it, and get inventing. It's for the joke shop."
"He is mental," Fred said in an almost awed voice.
.........
"Look," he said flatly, "take it, or I'll hex you. I know some good ones now, Just do me one favor, okay? Buy Ron some different dress robes and say they're from you."
I actually teared up a bit at this. I wish it had been in the movie. It's such a beautiful moment.


So, there you go, that's all for this summer reading post! I hope you enjoyed it, because I definitely enjoyed making it. I could talk about Harry Potter ceaselessly for the rest of my life and never get bored. If you have questions, ask in the comments!

Thanks for reading! If you like my posts, don't forget to subscribe/follow, since it lets me know that you're enjoying what I'm doing. See y'all in a few days!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Stand-Alone Book Discussions #1


Hey, y'all! Today, I'm going to do spoiler-free discussions on all the stand-alone books I've read in the past few months. I've been planning on doing this post for quite a while, but didn't really want to yet because I only had 4 books to talk about. However, since ALL the books I'm reading this summer are within series, I realized that I would probably forget stuff about the books if I waited for more books. So, therefore, I decided to go ahead and do this ASAP so that I don't forget the details.  

I'm planning on making this a new series. I'll probably do a new one whenever I've accumulated 6 or 7 books that I haven't discussed yet. This time, however, I just have the 4, so let's start talking about them!

1984 by George Orwell

I read 1984 at the beginning of March. Surprisingly, it had never been required reading in school, so this was the first time I'd read it. It was, however, on a list of books I could choose from to read for a project in my senior English class, and I'm now really annoyed with my 17 year old self for not choosing this book! (I instead chose All The Pretty Horses, which was SO not my jam.) I have a thing for dystopians, as well as classics written in the first half of the 20th century, so I went into this with the feeling that I'd enjoy it. Surprisingly, I loved it! Free speech and free thought are huge things for me, and to read about a society where both were illegal was completely cringe-worthy for me. The manipulation of information was equal parts intriguing and terrifying. I'm still not sure how I feel about the ending. I really, really liked the book up until that point, but the events surrounding the end of the book... I don't know. One second, I'm saying that although I didn't like what happened, I thought it was well done and was necessary for the point Orwell was making. On the other hand, I find myself thinking that I don't like the commentary being made and that the ending just sucked. 

Overall, I really liked the book and gave it 9 stars out of 10.


Fahrenheit 451- Ray Bradbury

I picked up Fahrenheit 451 at the beginning of April, right after finishing the Across The Universe trilogy. All I really knew about it was that it was a dystopian where books aren't allowed and if found, are burned. I went into this with fairly high expectations. I was really curious about the world where books were banned. I found myself slightly disappointed. When I read a dystopian, world building is really important to me. I like to find out all about the world and what happened to cause it to be that way, and how it functions. All we really get to see in the world of Fahrenheit 451 is the burning of books and the TV obsession. I wanted to know so much more. I also didn't find it particularly interesting during the first half of the book. The second half got slightly more interesting because of the growing action, but overall I just wasn't as impressed with this book as I thought I would be. 

Overall, it was good but not impressive, so I gave it 6.5 stars out of 10. 


Carrie- Stephen King

I picked this up right after reading Fahrenheit 451. I'm pretty sure this is the first Stephen King book I've read all the way through. I got 2/3 of the way through The Shining, but put it down. I think it was partially because of his writing style. It's not that I dislike his writing style, it's just very different and unique and I was having trouble getting through the book. Oddly, my favorite thing about Carrie was the way it was written. I haven't seen either of the movies, and all I really knew about the book going into it was that Carrie had some supernatural ability and that the Prom scene was scary. The way that Carrie was written was near perfection for me. The little book excerpts hinting at the incident, the interviews years in the future, the articles about Carrie's state of mind, the court excerpts, they all came together really nicely to give Carrie a really interesting and exciting format. The story was good, and the characters were good, but the formatting was the star of the show. I really enjoyed it, and it convinced me that I need to try more Stephen King books. 

Overall, I gave it 9 stars out of 10. 


The Giver- Lois Lowry

Yes, I'm well aware that this is "technically" part of a series, but they're really just companion novels, so I'm counting this as a stand-alone. I read this right after reading Carrie. Surprisingly, I never had to read this for school, so this was the first time I read it. My best friend told me several times that I would really love it, because I love dystopians. However, like with Fahrenheit 451, I think I was a little over-hyped. We got more knowledge about the world than in other dystopians, and it was a really fascinating and messed up world. I know it's a middle-grade book, but it just seems so short. The ending seemed kinda sudden and was a pretty different tone than the rest of the book. I am, however, really excited for the movie, because they will probably be able to flesh out the storyline a bit and give it a little more interest.

Overall, it was good but I expected more, so I gave it 7 stars out of 10. 



So there you go, those were my stand-alone book discussions/reviews! I hope you enjoyed this post! I've got a lot of things planned for the near future- a long-awaited chapter of The Secret Lightning Scar, a book haul, and some other exciting stuff you'll have to wait a little while for. It'll be worth it, I promise! In the near future, however, you can expect to see my Goblet of Fire discussion either tomorrow or Tuesday, followed closely by my discussions for the rest of the Harry Potter books and my wrap-up post. The end of the month is when everything gets exciting!

Thanks for reading! See y'all soon!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Disussion [Summer Reading Challenge]

Hey, y'all! So, as you can see, I'm reading my June series, Harry Potter! Since Harry Potter is my favorite book series and June is my favorite month (because my birthday was on the 10th!), I couldn't think of a better challenge to set myself in the month of June!

As I said in the last posts, these Harry Potter posts will be formatted differently from the May discussion posts. I won't be writing non-spoiler sections for any of the Harry Potter books, simply because it's Harry Potter. If you haven't read the books already, go read them. At this point, there's almost no excuse for not having read the books except a lack of interest... in which case you probably wouldn't be here reading my discussion! I also will not be writing a summary of each book because, again, it's Harry Potter. If you don't know what Harry Potter is about, I'd really like to know what rock you've been hiding under because it sounds like an amazing place to get away and completely shut out all knowledge of the outside world.

Anyway, on to the discussion!



So, a little background. I first read Prisoner of Azkaban in 5th grade. I can't fully remember when I first picked the series up, but I know it was during the first half of 5th grade, because I have distinct memories of my first reads of books 3 & 4 being during Christmas break. Random story- my family was travelling to my grandparents' house for Christmas and the roads were terrible, and I remember just chilling in the backseat of the car in the middle of the night, trying to read the last 100ish pages of Prisoner of Azkaban, while my dad was trying to actually be able to drive on the road. I think I actually did finish it that night. Anyway, I've read it several times since then, but the only one I distinctly remember was July of 2012. And I'm not sure I even finished it.

Honestly, for quite a while, I did not like Prisoner of Azkaban. From around the time that I first read the book, I didn't like it as much as the previous two, and I can't remember how long that lasted, but I remember not being a huge fan of it for quite a while. I also know that it's been one of my favorites for quite a while as well, so I have no idea when that shift happened. I think it was probably when I re-read POA for the first time, but like I said, I have no idea when that might have been. I think my initial disappointment was largely due to the ending (which is rather ironic now... but I'll talk about that in a bit). The last two books, Harry had faced Voldemort at the end and had managed to escape and be a hero. But in this one, Harry didn't face Voldemort. He didn't even really face a villain. I think that the 10 year old me was not only disappointed by the lack of an epic Voldemort fight, but also by the fact that the real exciting action is over with approximately 70 pages left. The rest of the book is Harry and Hermione with the time-turner, which (to a 10 year old) seems just a little anti-climactic after the last two books. 

That being said, let's talk about my favorite part of the book- the end. See the irony now? About half-way through this re-read, I found myself wondering why exactly it was one of my absolute favorites. It wasn't bad or disappointing in any way, but nothing particularly exciting or wonderful had really happened. But, I'd forgotten that everything in the Shrieking Shack onward is not only the highlight of the book, but also one of my favorite parts of the series. We learn the truth about Sirius Black and see him reunited with his only true friend that he has left. Harry finally gets a chance to have the father figure that he has wanted and needed his whole life. Harry finally performs an amazing patronus. And we get a really cool time-travel scene, which is pretty controversial because of what else could've been fixed using the time-turner, but is cool nonetheless. Although, I will admit that I honestly enjoy watching the time-travel scene in the movie more than reading it in the book. Yes, blasphemy. I know. 

One bit of the book that I had totally forgotten about was the Gryffindor vs. Slytherin quidditch match. And I'm not sure how I forgot about that, because it's literally the coolest quidditch match in all of the books. Penalties left and right, dirty playing from both sides, Lee Jordan giving some of his best commentary to date, Wood sobbing uncontrollably, Fred Weasley smacking a Slytherin in the head with his bat... the list goes on and on. My point is, it's the most exciting, hilarious, and rewarding quidditch match throughout all the books and somehow, I totally forgot it even existed. Shame on me!

Another really cool bit of the book has to do with Hogwarts itself. We learn so many Hogwarts secrets (not included in the movie- ugh!), which are just fascinating. To me, Hogwarts is one of the coolest, most interesting parts of the Wizarding World as well as the books. The Marauder's Map not only gives us really cool secrets about the school, but also about James and Sirius and Lupin. And Wormtail, but he doesn't matter. Speaking of Sirius and Lupin, this book also introduces us to both of them, and they happen to be a couple of my favorite characters in the series. Lupin is certainly my favorite Hogwarts professor- tied with McGonagall.

I usually like to talk about some things that I didn't like in a book... but I honestly can't think of any. Except maybe that Ron and Hermione were constantly mad at each other and that they were both being stupid, but that was a somewhat important plot point. I guess I could complain about the same thing as everyone else- that the time turner was used to save Buckbeak and Sirius, but not for James and Lily or any other important deaths, but that would be like beating a dead hippogriff at this point. And since Buckbeak was saved, I can't really do that. 

So, let's talk rating. Easily a 5/5. It's one of the best books in the series for sure. My lack of legitimate problems with the book shows how good I think it is.


Favorite Quotes

I'll be adding commentary on these since this post is really short so far...

Page 4: "HELLO? HELLO? CAN YOU HEAR ME? I- WANT- TO- TALK- TO- HARRY- POTTER!"
Ron was yelling so loudly that Uncle Vernon jumped and held the receiver a foot away from his ear, staring at it with an expression of mingled fury and alarm.
This scene always cracks me up. I wish this was how the movie had started rather than Harry doing homework.

Page 62: "Harry!" said Fred, elbowing Percy out of the way and bowing deeply. "Simply splendid to see you, old boy-"
"Marvelous," said George, pushing Fred aside and seizing Harry's hand in turn. "Absolutely spiffing."
Percy scowled.
"That's enough, now," said Mrs. Weasley.
"Mum!" said Red as though he'd only just spotted her and seizing her hand too. "How really corking to see you-"
I LOVE THE TWINS. I've probably said it about 1,000,000 times, but it bears repeating as many times as I get the chance. They're just too great.

Page 63: "We tried to shut him [Percy] in a pyramid," he [George] told Harry, "But Mum spotted us."
Have I mentioned my love for the Weasley twins?

Page 63: "It's because of you, Perce," said George seriously. "And there'll be little flags on the hoods, with HB on them-"
"- for Humongous Bighead," said Fred."
I love them.

Page 109: "You look in excellent health to me, Potter, so you will excuse me if I don't let you off homework today. I assure you that if you die, you need not hand it in."
Sassy McGonagall is sassy.

Page 192: "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."
Never truer than when uttered by a Weasley twin.

Page 261: "JORDAN! ARE YOU BEING PAID TO ADVERTISE FIREBOLTS? GET ON WITH THE COMMENTARY!"
The dynamic between McGonagall and Lee Jordan is always lovely.

Page 287: "Mr. Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape, and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people's business."...
"Mr. Prongs agrees with Mr. Moony, and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git."...
"Mr. Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a professor."...
"Mr. Wormtail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his hair, the slimeball."
The Marauders though...

Page 293: Harry and Ron both made furious moves toward Malfoy, but Hermione got there first- SMACK!
She had slapped Malfoy across the face with all the strength she could muster. Malfoy staggered. Harry, Ron, Crabbe, and Goyle stood flabbergasted as Hermione raised her hand again. 
"Don't you dare call Hagrid pathetic, you foul- you evil-"
Yet another reason why Hermione is awesome.

Page 307: A moment later, Fred Weasley chucked his Beater's club at the back of Flint's head. Flint's nose smashed into the handle of his broom and began to bleed.
You hit a Gryffindor teammate, you mess with Fred Weasley.

Page 309: Bole hit Alicia with his club and tried to say he'd thought she was a Bludger. George Weasley elbowed Bole in the face in retaliation. 
TWINS.

Page 310: "YOU CHEATING SCUM!" Lee Jordan was howling into the megaphone, dancing out of Professor McGonagall's reach. "YOU FILTHY, CHEATING B-"
Professor McGonagall didn't even bother to tell him off. She was actually shaking her finger in Malfoy's direction, her hat had fallen off, and she too was shouting furiously.
Like I said, their dynamic is just great.

Page 312: Then Wood was speeding toward him, half-blinded by tears; he seized Harry around the neck and sobbed unrestrainedly into his shoulder. Harry flet two large thumps as Fred and Georrge hit them; then Angelina's, Alicia's, and Katie's voices, "We've won the Cup! We've won the Cup!" Tangled together in a many-armed hug, the Gryffindor team sank, yelling hoarsely, back to earth.
I actually teared up at that point. It's just such a beautiful moment.

Page 374: "HOW DARE YOU SPEAK TO HARRY?" roared Black. "HOW DARE YOU FACE HIM? HOW DARE YOU TALK ABOUT JAMES IN FRONT OF HIM?"........."THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!" roared Black. "DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!"
Spoken like a true Gryffindor.

Page 379: "What-live with you?" he said, accidentally cracking his head on a bit of rock protruding from the ceiling. "Leave the Dursleys?"
"Of course, I thought you wouldn't want to," said Sirius quickly. "I understand, I just thought I'd-"
"Are you insane?" said Harry, his voice easily as croaky as Sirius's. "Of course I want to leave the Dursleys! Have you got a house? When can I move in?"
Sirius turned right around to look at him; Snape's head was scraping the ceiling but Sirius didn't seem to care.
"You want to?" he said. "You mean it?"
"Yeah, I mean it!" said Harry.
Sirius's gaunt face broke into the first true smile Harry had seen upon it.
Such a great moment. Made better by the fact that Snape's head was scraping the ceiling.

Page 374: "Godfather?" spluttered Uncle Vernon. "You haven't got a godfather!"
"Yes, I have," said Harry brightly. "He was my mum and dad's best friend. He's a convicted murderer, but he's broken out of Wizard prison and he's on the run. He likes to keep in touch with me though... keep up with my news... check if I'm happy..."
Genius move, Harry. One of your better moments.

So, there you go, that's all for this summer reading post! I hope you enjoyed it, because I definitely enjoyed making it. I could talk about Harry Potter ceaselessly for the rest of my life and never get bored. If you have questions, ask in the comments!

Thanks for reading! If you like my posts, don't forget to subscribe/follow, since it lets me know that you're enjoying what I'm doing. See y'all in a few days!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Elusive Perfect 10 Star Rating

I apologize in advance for how rambley this will probably be. This post is as much for working out my own thoughts as it is to get the opinions of other people.

I've always enjoyed rating and ranking things. Whether it be CDs or movies or books, I've always felt the need to have distinct favorites, a distinct list of my top 10, and to rate things (which is in stark contrast to the fact that I'm completely indecisive about everything). This might be why I chose to start a blog where I review things. I like not only expressing my feelings about something, but also giving it a score that defines how good I think that thing is.

However, as I've been reviewing more and more books, I've realized that I seem to be a fairly tough rater. Many of my favorite booktubers have average book ratings somewhere above 4 stars (out of 5). I, however, have an average of 3.38. Of the 113 books I've rated on Goodreads, only 14 books have received a 5 star rating. In comparison, I've given out thirty-nine 4 star ratings and forty-one 3 star ratings.

Am I that unimpressed with the books I read that I've rated the majority of my books as just "average" and have only thought that 14 books deemed receiving five stars? I mean, I only gave three of the Harry Potter books a 5 star rating, and that's my favorite series ever!

I've realized that the large number of 4 star ratings is due to me shirking away from giving a book 5 stars unless I think it truly deserves it. I've read a book, thought that it's good enough to deserve 4.75 stars... and yet still clicked the 4 star rating, simply because I didn't think it deserved the full 5 star rating. That book was closer to being a 5 star than to being a 4 star, and yet I still gave it 4.

Along similar lines, when I go to do the ratings for my CDs On My Shelf posts, I have trouble giving CDs the full 10 stars unless they're one of my all-time, perfect, can't-be-beaten, CDs. So far, I've discussed several CDs that I would consider to be among my favorites... and all but 1 of those favorites has received 9.5 stars rather than 10. And when it came to that single CD that received 10 stars, I knew going into the post that it would get the full 10 stars, because it's my second favorite CD of ALL TIME. The 4 CDs I've discussed which received 9.5 ratings would all fall within my top 20 CDs ever, and possibly in the top 10, and yet they only received 9.5. Why?

I feel like I often hold the books I read (and the music I listen to) to unreachable standards. A couple times, I've found myself thinking that a book wasn't as good as Harry Potter, so there was no way it deserved the full 5 stars. That's a ridiculous standard for me to hold any books to, because I know full well that I'll never love a book or series as much as I love Harry Potter. And yet I use it as a comparison. Is it justified, or is it stupid? I can't decide.

Lately, I've been more lenient with my 5 star ratings, just to try it out. I've been using Goodreads' little descriptors attached to the ratings (5 stars= it was amazing, 4= really liked it, 3= liked it, 2= it was ok, 1= didn't like it) to help me decide what to give it. In the last month, I've given 3 books 5 star ratings- Clockwork Princess, City of Glass, and City of Heavenly Fire. I definitely think that Clockwork Princess deserved every single decimal of the 5 star rating... but I'm not sure about the other two. How can I give all 3 books the same rating, when I could easily rank them from best to worst?

Do I give out less 10 star ratings because I want to save them for those very special books/movies/CDs, or because I'm not as easily impressed as the general public? I'd like to believe that it's both. As creative and artsy as I am, I'm also a thinker. I tend to be really analytical and that tends to lead to being somewhat critical. So I can certainly see that I'm probably a more difficult person to please. However, I do feel like I try to save the "full marks" for books/CDs that are genuinely special- books that I can re-read over and over with the same enjoyment; CDs that I can enjoy all the time, regardless of any outside factors. It's not just a quality rating, but an emotional rating as well- the difference between like and love.

I guess I say all of this to say... I'm stingy with my 10 star ratings, and I think I'm OK with that. If you see that I've given full stars to anything in any medium, you know that it's not just something I thought was good and slapped a rating on. Rather, it's something I think is special and really care about, which is what I think that a full star rating is all about in the first place. Could I be a little more lenient? Sure. Should I just go ahead and give the rest of the Harry Potter series the full stars? Probably. Will I?......... Maybe. I like being able to easily denote my favorites in the series.

So what are your thoughts on this whole thing? Do you (whether you're a reviewer or not) tend to be picky with your ratings? Do you hold off on full-star ratings like I do, or do you tend to hand them out fairly freely? Once again, sorry for it being so rambley- it was practically stream of consciousness writing. I used my filter very sparingly.

Hopefully, either Monday or Tuesday will be my Prisoner of Azkaban Discussion post. That will hopefully be followed closely by my May/June book haul (which is slightly extremely impressive... I have yet to count the books I have bought. and I'm not sure I want to). I also plan on getting a chapter of my Harry Potter fanfic up soon. I would've done one sooner, but I hit a bit of a snag with the plot and have been trying to figure out where to go for this chapter before moving on to some of the most exciting/ my favorite plot points!

Thanks for reading! If you like my posts, don't forget to subscribe/follow, since it lets me know that you're enjoying what I'm doing. See y'all in a few days!