Why did you not tell me there is a Harry Potter Prequel?

Apparently I live on a different planet than most geekdom fans. Although, I can tell you all about the Disney Star Wars sequels and the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, I had NO IDEA THIS HAPPENED! Why did no one tell me???

9658936

This apparently came out in 2008 and I was… hmmm… I was… I have no idea what I was doing but it wasn’t reading the prequel to Harry Potter, that’s for sure because NO ONE TOLD ME! I am pretty sure I wasn’t on Facebook yet and my kids were still young-ish. Had I known, I would have read it immediately. Why you ask? Because Sirius Black is a delicious male character. Not Gary Oldman from the movie because the same sex appeal is just not there. But Sirius Black from the books? Prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

He is the ultimate bad boy with a good heart. Every girl’s dream when I she isn’t dreaming about George Clooney or Mark Messier or Doctors or Mr. Big or Mr. Darcy… anyways….

This prequel was too short, but so smart-ass fantastic, just like you’d expect James and Sirius to be. Only 6 pages long, it left me wishing for more. The worst of it? J.K. Rowling writes a note ” Not the prequel I am working on, but this was fun!’

DUDE! Ouch! I am sure it would be WAY better than A Casual Vacancy, that was just boring. At any rate, I had a taste of what I had been missing for a while. Now back to my regularly scheduled book Solar by Ian McEwan – with a little Pride and Prejudiced on the side.

You can get a free copy of the prequel here.

15th Anniversary of the beginning of Harry? I suddenly feel very old and melancholy.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

15 years ago the J.K. Rowling released the first of her epic series of Harry Potter Books. I know the first one as Harry and the Philosopher’s Stone, the Americans know it to be the Sorcerer’s Stone. Why? I don’t know, something to do with it being more marketable in the USA. I HATE it when they do that to books.Publishers did it with The Book of Negroes in the rest of the world and Someone knows my Name in the USA. Anyways…

I became a Harry Potter fan by accident. I needed to find a story book to engage my young son in so he would want to become a reader. Books that girls would like to read seemed easier to find. I picked up this book in the Scholastic Book Club Flyer and decided it would be the bed-time story for the next few weeks. By the time we had caught up on the series, we were waiting for The Goblet of Fire to come out. We dressed up and went to the book launch at the local book store, picked up the book and went home. I read the first chapter to him for bed-time as was our usual routine. I then took the book to MY room and finished reading by 4:00 AM. This became a trend for me. Taking the book and reading it in one go, then preceding to read it my son.

By the time we had reached the (near) end of the series, my son was reading novels on his own. He preferred adventure stories but would never read Harry Potter on his own, that was reserved for me. He would watch me read the book through with tears rolling down my face, or so caught up in adventure I couldn’t hear what was going on around me. The advantage to reading first was I knew when a good time to stop the book for the night. Chapters aren’t always a good break in the story.

Rowling isn’t the worlds greatest literary author, but who cares. She made children readers because they finally understood that a book can transport you away to another time and place and lets you spend time with characters who might resemble you and your friends. Better yet, they might show flaws that make you feel normal. I knew Harry had an impact on my son when, as a 16 year old, he came home from a School Trip to California sporting a wand, 11 inches long, made of holly and had a phoenix feather core. It made me smile. The movies were fine, but both of us agree the books had that extra detail that became important to the characters and their lives.

They were important to me, because it gave me some extra cuddle time past the age when your mom reading to you at bed-time was not so cool. Those books were important to him too and set the stage for the future us to discuss books, movies and other geeky things we both find so fascinating. Even now, both my kids like it when I read to them occasionally  I take advantage of every second because these times are growing few and far between. One day it will be me and my grandkids cuddling up to read new adventures.

I’ll leave Harry Potter for the future grandkid’s dad to share with them because that needs to be a special time between a parent and child to let the tradition continue.

“We read to know that we are not alone.” ― William Nicholson

 

“We read to know that we are not alone.”
William Nicholson

 

I just came off a weekend reading frenzy. I love those kind of weekends. You know the type, lay around in comfy clothes, snacking instead of eating meals and reading 3 books that had me a Page 1.

The first book was J.K. Rowling’s A Causal Vacancy. This was my least favorite of the 3 books this weekend. The story line was just fine, there were a couple of characters I really enjoyed. I loved reading about Krystal’s family and I really liked Andrew. The rest of the town was just overloading me on not caring very much. There was something about this book that made me wade through the crappy bits to get to the climax. Rowling is a master of creating excitement and building to a big finish. That was obvious from reading all her previous works. A Casual Vacancy also had a big build up. I LOVE that in a book. It was unfortunate that this story line was less than interesting. Even with the big build up to the end, I was left with disappointment in her plot line. It was just a regular little town with regular weird residents that resemble people I know. I have to admit of being sucked in by the author’s name. I will likely read her next book but am still holding out hope she will create a Marauders series. Her small town book was dull….except for the end. I rated this book 3 out of 5 on Goodreads.

After I read that book, I immediately picked up A Dog’s Purpose. My friend and bookclub mate The Reader suggested it to me. Our taste in books is very similar, so I figured I would likely enjoy this one too. Did I ever love this book! You don’t need to be a dog lover to enjoy it. The story is from the perspective of the dog, who reincarnates 4 times and has memory of his previous lives. The interesting part for me was how this pup would learn from lessons taught in each life and bring it forward to the next one knowing he has a purpose and must fulfill it. I read this book in a couple of hours and was enchanted right from the time he was Toby until the end of the book as Buddy. I rated this book 5 out of 5 on Goodreads. Love, love, loved it!

The last book I read was the Book of Negroes by Canadian Author Lawrence Hill. It won the Canada Reads award and is a book that everyone should read. I rated it 5 out of 5 on goodreads. For some reason, it is called Someone Knows My Name in the USA.  Which is a shame because of the historical importance of the book entitled The Book Of Negroes (a log kept by the British military to keep track of the slaves, endentured slaves and people freed from slavery who were transplanted to the British colonies in Nova scotia and New Brunswick). It was the story of an 11 year old girl who was captured by the slave traders in Africa. It talked about her 3 month journey to the coast where she was branded and sent on a slave ship to Sullivan Island where she was sold. The story moves throughout her amazing, yet tragic life and the 7 different places she lived. She was more fortunate than most but her life was tragic none the less. I was shocked and shamed to learn about Nova Scotia’s part in the slave trade. The underlying message from this book was timely. It stressed the importance of educating women,especially after Malala Yousafzai was shot for being an activist for girls right to education. Shining Hope for Communities is an organization that combats gender inequality and extreme poverty in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, by linking tuition free schools for girls to accessible social services for all. Studies show that by educating women, poverty can be reduced and violence is lessened. Women who are educated and well read tend to are less fearful. People shouldn’t have to live in fear.

The Dali Lama said this today on his facebook page:

Comparing the 20th century to now there are many hopeful signs. Look at the way people view war. These days many people challenge the need for it, they question why we have to resort to it. In the early twentieth century there was no talk about protecting the environment, yet now everyone is aware of it. Our perceptions are coming closer to reality; humanity is becoming more mature and I am optimistic about the future.

I think we are making gains. Keep Reading people!

Readers

Fiction - October 09
Fiction – October 09 (Photo credit: Pesky Library)

Here it is 8:00pm Wednesday night and my children are buried deep in their books. They finished their homework hour ago, this is reading for fun. The house is silent except for the hum of the water cooler and refrigerator. The odd comment comes from one of the offspring and a giggle about the part of the book they have reached. They are both reading Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan. This is the latest from the Percy Jackson series that hooked my kids a long time ago.

There is nothing that gives me as much pleasure than knowing I raised readers.

It started when they turned one. I read Good Night Moon every night before bed. Children need lots of repetition. When we could talk about what was happening in the pictures we increased the books to two before bed. Eventually, we worked up to longer content and by the time my kids were in school, we were reading chapter books together. They would read to me for homework, then before bed, I would read to them. It was pure pleasure on my part. Together we read The Magic Coin, Charlotte’s Web, The Trumpet of the Swan, The Narnia Series and of course the entire Harry Potter series. We read classics like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. I would choose stories that I loved from my childhood, like Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great and Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing.

Parent/Teacher interviews often had a book fair on the same evening. These fairs were library fundraisers for the school. I would always reward my children with a books of their choice. It was a big deal. Family nights were often a trip to the bookstore and a cup of hot chocolate. We learned that Alex Rider was a great series and Clementine made for great bedtime reading. The trick was finding books that appealed to my kids sense of adventure.

Then one day, the day came when my kids read on their own before bed. They would come and kiss me good night, and tell me they were going to bed early so they could read the latest adventures of Peter and the Star Catchers or Anne of Green Gables. Even as they entered high school, the stories changed and Michio Kaku and his physics books became more interesting than fiction, they still would read every night and complain if they were out of books.

On the “I have read these books” shelf, my kids have placed The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Steve Jobs, The Time Travelers Wife, 11/22/63, Tara Road and many other adult fiction titles. It makes me smile when they pick up a book they have already read because it feels like an old friend. The books that get revisited most often are the Peter and the Starcatchers series and the Hunger Games. Occasionally book #4 of Harry potter comes out or a companion book like Magical Beasts and Where to find them.

Dinner conversation sometimes revolves around books, “I never thought I would see the day when ‘underscores’ were used in dialogue.” Huh… I wasn’t even sure what that meant, but a meaningful conversation ensued. Both offspring have decided to take it slow with Mark of Athena because of the sadness that comes with finishing a great book. We have all gone through that mourning period when we think about the characters long after the book is finished. They each have several books in queue, but the one they are reading is currently the best. Perfect for a quiet Wednesday night at home.

What were some of your favorite reads as a kid?

Fifty Fifty Me: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

This week in an effort to participate in the 50/50 me project,(you can read more about it here) I finished one book and started two others. Who does that? Who reads more than one book at a time that aren’t text books? I guess I do. I am reading Sense and sensibility by Jane Austen and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I only watched 2 movies, I must be busy or something. I finished Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I didn’t think I would get through it but look at me! I did it! Anyways…. on with the words!

The Book

I didn’t expect to enjoy Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. It was on my list of new genres to try and lots of people were talking about it. The creepy pictures caught my eye and I read a blog review that made me bump it higher on my To Read list.

The beginning of this book was riveting. The Grandfather told crazy unbelievable stories just like my Grandpa did. This alone made me love him. As I became hooked, there was a moment when I thought this book might be too scary for me. Old me would have closed it and been scared of “What might have been”. New me sucked it up and kept pressing forward. I learned it wasn’t scary, but peculiar. By the end of the book I was so captivated I couldn’t put it down. I found it to be very exciting in a Harry Potter kind of way.

Don’t get me wrong, this is NOT a Harry Potter knock off, but is had a similar feel as the Potter books – well for me anyways. I enjoyed the quirky nature and time loops. The best part for me was the photographs that showed who the characters were. These wonderful vintage photos of children doing impossible things all through the magic of trick photography…or was it?

This is a great young adult book and I think my children would quite enjoy it. Only they never take my advice anymore.I wish I could be deep and insightful about how it effected me, but it was just a fun read. And it made me miss my Grandpa. Sometimes books should be just fun.

The Movie

I watch two movies this week. One at home snuggled under a blanket and one at the movie theatre with my

The Jane Austen Book Club (film)
The Jane Austen Book Club (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

daughter. We saw The Lucky One, based on the Nicolas Sparks novel. For the first time, I did not read the book first. It was enough for me to enjoy the beauty that is Zac Efron. His eyes are something else! The story was magical and fate driven. I need that in my life right now. Was it my favorite of the two? Not by a longshot. My favorite was The Jane Austen Book Club.

This movie was everything I needed to see this week. Women having intelligent conversation about well written books, helping each other through various crisis in their lives. I need a book club in my life. Every character’s life resembled one of Austen’s 6 books. They discussed strength of character, doing the right thing and struggles of life. Just like the Austen books themselves. The difference being the movie gave insight into lives down the road. Austen ends her books usually with the marriage…and they lived happily ever after blablabla…but do they? How could you not with Mr. Darcy? But i suppose Elizabeth Bennett found his stories tiresome after 30 years of hearing the same one over and over. So maybe it was just as well they ended when they did. Austen never married herself, so perhaps she did not know what to write having never lived behind those doors. The movie, however, takes you to a happily every after a few years later. That was nice but unneccessary. Life doesn’t have to be happy, and often isn’t. The point is to feel it and be present for it. Most of the movie was just like that. Real. Maybe that is why I liked it so much. It has moved into my top 10 favorite of all time, and it has me reading Sense and sensibility for the first time. I don’t love it like I love Pride and Predjuce…but her writing is exquisite none the less.

The Asian Hut or in English : The Russian Tea House

Today was the day it was decided to visit the Russian Tea House. It is a “restaurant” on Jasper Ave, downtown Edmonton. You eat lunch and have your tea leaves read by one of the psychics that work there.

Driving downtown Chatterbox says. “Where is the Asian Hut?”

Me: Huh?

ChatterBox: You know that place we are going to have our fortunes read.

Me: You mean the Russian Tea House?

ChatterBox: Same thing

Me: …………………………..

We arrived and were seated. We ordered food that was Meh, while we waited to to be escorted to the back where a psychic was waiting for us to tell us our future and steal take $200 from us. While I can’t speak to the rest of the family, I can talk about MY fortune…or lack there of.

I had ordered tea for reading and drank it up. I carried it carefully back to Nicky or Julie or Bobby…(I can’t remember her name). I REAAALLY wanted my tea leaves read since Harry Potter has his done by Ron and it was forecast that he would die. I loved that! I liked the idea so much I had placed in on my 50 in 50 list!

We ordered food that no one really liked and waited. When it was my turn, I carefully carried my tea leaf laden cup to a table in the back. Psychic Nicky set it aside and asked what kind of reading I would like. Hmmm, I never had a Crystal Ball reading before, so I chose that one! She washed it of to free it from energies of others then placed it in my hands. It was HEAVY and made my hands sweat. She glanced into it and looked shocked. I said give it to me straight, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Your life is in chaos. Really? NO KIDDING! There is someone you work with who is ( insert what she said) Yes yes that is true. You are working towards something to advance your career. Yes. Your marks aren’t as good as you want them to be. I laughed. This is true. In spite of the honors I am achieving, I want honors with distinction. I was told to apply my self more and I would have that. ( hmmmm I guess that means no more writing a paper on the day it’s due!) There are secrets you keep because you feel alone and abandoned WOW yes this is true. I don’t tell people what I am thinking very often because I don’t suspect they will be interested or understand. In 2 years my new career will take off. I will have a choice of which road to take, but it looks like paper work will be the path I choose (YIPPEEE KI YAY!) You will go on two major holidays this year, one City by a major ocean that feels like the Atlantic (Hello New York!) and one feels like a cruise. (YEEEEEEEEEEEEESSS!) There was a bunch of talk about my kids and really great stuff regarding them, and some sad stuff too.

The the Crystal Ball was removed from my hands. It was time for the tea leaves to be read. I was asked to turn the cup over in the saucer and spin it 3 times.

And….then she dropped THIS little nugget…

You had a medium sized dog who was very special to you. He has passed over and is around you a lot. This opens the door for you to get a small dog, that becomes a medium size dog (so a puppy?) within the next 2 to 5 months. (insert bewilderment and cute squeaky baby talk voice….A PUPPY!!!!)

I’M GETTING A PUPPY! So does this mean I should go out and get one in 2-5 months…or do I wait for the Crystal ball and Tea leaves to send one over? How does this future stuff work?

 

Mrs. Weasley, We Should Meet for Coffee!

Apparently I am a Magical Being. Surprised? I sure am! It is just like when Harry Potter discovered he could talk to snakes and make glass disappear. He was busy being mad at Dudley when magical things started to happen to the world around him. The exact same thing happened to me this morning!

No, no, no, I cannot talk to snakes, I use to when I worked in the family business…but I digress. Nor did I make a window disappear. It was more magical than that! I was making lunches this morning. When it was time to leave for work, Chatterbox said,”Did you make me a sandwich?” I sure did! I hate making lunches, I distinctly remember making them by the coffee pot. (Sure I drooled a bit looking at the cold empty coffee maker, thinking about how delightful a hot creamy dark roast might taste.But no drool dripped onto the sandwiches, I SWEAR!) I left all the lunches and sandwiches on the counter. Everything was there except HER sandwich! What the? I was baffled. Where did it go? I checked the pantry beside the peanut butter, no- not there. I checked the fridge in the fruit bin, no- not there. I looked in the microwave, silverware drawer, coffee cup cupboard, and I even checked the trash. We simply could not find it! I started to doubt my mom skills! I looked at the clock and realized I needed to make a new sandwich for Chatterbox.

I was pretty excited as I drove to work. Think of the possibilities! I would just need to learn to harness this power! I was sure someone would show up today explaining to my about my new-found magical abilities. I couldn’t wait to be able to pop in and out of places or use charms for household tasks. I knew how it worked, I read all the Harry Potter Books! I couldn’t WAIT to get started! This theory is much more appealing than the real possibility that I am losing my mind due to old age.

I arrived home all happy and excited. I couldn’t wait to tell Honey how magical I had become. Chatterbox interrupted me in mid-sentence. “Oh, By the way, I found my sandwich in my lunch bag. So I ate two sandwiches.” Then she walked away. I was crestfallen. So much for all my fantasies coming true. I was so close to hanging out with Mrs. Weasley.

Lesson learned. Focus on the task at hand, THEN dream about magic.

But I don’t want to watch TV Dad! I’m reading!

It happens every summer. A big blockbuster release. No, I am not talking movies, I am speaking of books! In past years its was the Twilight series, or the Harry Potter series, or even Peter and the Starcatcher series. This year the book with buzz amongst the teen set is Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins was released yesterday. It is the third part of the Hunger Games Trilogy. Could we wait for it to come out in paperback? No. How about for it to be available at the public library? Don’t make me laugh! We need to own it RIGHT NOW! Why? Because reading books over and over is part of the fun! (and because his friends are reading it too!) This is one indulgence that I permit my children. If they want a book, they may have it.

I would be the last mom on earth you would expect this type of behavior from. I never, and I mean NEVER buy my kids “stuff”. They get an allowance, or have jobs so therefore must make their own purchases and learn how to save and budget accordingly. But there is something about a book that makes me cave in.

I am a big believer in escape into reading. The pure pleasure from a great story is ecstasy for me. The very fact that my children desire a new book and start reading it in the car 3 minutes AFTER purchase thrills me like nothing else can. We have an extensive children’s library. We own everything from Goodnight moon (the very first story my young little minds heard at the age of 1) to every Ridley Pearson book written for the under 18 set. With every book in between.  There is no one happier than me – except maybe my dad – that I raised have readers! At this point you maybe wondering why this is an important part of my personal tourism.

Well for starters, you need to know that I don’t think I am a complete mess and need a total overhaul! I have some excellent qualities thank you very much! And books teach me things that I might never have learned, or taken me places that I have not seen yet, or gave me friends when I was lonely and in need of someone who understood the pain I was going through.

I remember the very first novel I ever read. I was in grade 4, age 9. I was laying on my bed reading an Archie Digest when dad walked into my room. He handed me a book and said I would like you to read this and then he left. Up until that point, my parents read to me every night. We would discuss the book. I would ask copious amounts of questions and all would,very patiently, be answered by my father. I couldn’t wait until the next night! So, you could imagine my disappointment when I had to read a book on my own. But what a GIFT I was given! Charlotte’s Web was the very first book I read on my own and I never looked back.

I have very strong memories associated with books I read as a child. Apples Every Day, by Grace Richardson was a gift from my mom. She thought books should be under every Christmas Tree, and I agree. This was a novel that she randomly picked up and thought I may enjoy it. I read it 20 times. I do that. If I love a book, I will reread it. Every time I will gain new insight or be comforted by the familiar setting. Judy Blume was an author who had a tremendous influence on me. I snapped up every one of her books. I remember Mrs. Erickson our librarian suggesting that maybe I branch out and try a new author. But I didn’t want to! Why should I? I loved her books! But again, another adult in my life was right and I met L.M. Montgomery. HOLY CRAP! Her books rocked my world! My Great Grandmother gave me the entire series. Her reasoning was she wanted for me to understand what Island life was like for her when she was a girl, and to understand that Canada has some pretty amazing authors. But with any author I like, I must read all that they publish. A sickness really. But I am not caring! After reading a great novel I mourn the characters for a while. I miss them. So when I found Maeve Binchy, she made all my dreams come true! She would throw in old characters into her other stories so I could visit with them for a while and see how they are doing. This made me very happy. I read Tara Road and Evening Class every year. They are like old friends.

However, like most people, I love to meet new friends too! I believe that people come into our lives for a reason. They make you think, feel or react. This year I met a person who when asked if he ever read a particular book, he replied, no I don’t like to read but I saw the movie, it’s the same thing. What the…?!?!?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?!? Poor fellow, I felt nothing but pity for him. He will never know the secret pleasure that a book will provide. To me books and people are major influences in my life. I can’t express to a book how much they have influenced me but I can with people.

So the next travel stop on my journey is New York. I am about to begin Sundays at Tiffany’s by James Patterson. Recommended by a book club friend of mine. I want to visit New York but will happily read about it for now. I am sure I will be heavily influenced in someway, I always get something out of a book, even if I hate it. If you are a person who has been an influence or an inspiration in my life up until now, you can bet I will let you know and express a debt of thanks. Because that my blogger friends, is the next real stop in my journey. I am going to start telling people how much they mean to me. It feels like a risk, but is that not the point of my being a tourist in my own life?

In case you haven’t heard me say it, thank you for being an influence in my life. You inspire me to write this everyday, because you read it.