J.K. Rowling

2017 Reading List #4: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J.K. Rowling

It’s probably silly of me to try to objectively review this book knowing my feelings about Harry Potter, but I’ll give it a fair shot.

I received the illustrated edition of Chamber of Secrets for Christmas, and, like last year, my mom and I reread it together, just as we did when first reading the books many years ago.

Again, it was perfect, and the added bonus of Jim Kay’s beautiful illustrations only makes the reading experience more enjoyable. I’m particularly fond of his detailed illustrations of  the Mandrakes and the Phoenix.

These illustrated editions of the series are the perfect way to enjoy some quality time revisiting the series that has forever changed me. Though I am starting to think I need an entire bookcase dedicated to Harry Potter books and their related texts. I guess I’ll have to continue my dreams for a home with a library…

2016 Reading List #11: Career of Evil, by Robert Galbraith

Career of Evil is the third installment in Robert Galbraith’s (a pseudonym for the queen J.K. Rowling) Cormoran Strike series, and it’s just as juicy as its predecessors.

While The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm centered around murder investigations, Career of Evil takes a slightly different approach: an investigation of someone who seems to be directly threatening Cormoran and his assistant, Robin. At the novel’s opening, Robin receives a package delivered to her at work, expecting it to be something relating to her wedding preparations, but the package actually contained a severed human leg.

Yeah, not great.

Cormoran spends the novel investigating three primary suspects from his past who he thinks are most likely to have committed the crime. This book is also different from its predecessors in that there’s a handful of chapters that are told from the killer’s perspective (though readers still aren’t made aware of the killer’s identity until the crux of the novel).

While I’d still say the mystery in The Cuckoo’s Calling has been the most exciting, I really enjoyed the character development that happens in this installment. Readers especially come to learn more about the ever-endearing Robin, and the nature of Robin and Cormoran’s relationship continues to change. We’re also left with a sweet little cliffhanger ending that has me slightly desperate for the fourth book.

Now that the series is three books deep, I’m itching for the supposed miniseries adaptation to just happen already. While I still think my mental casting of Clive Owen as Cormoran Strike is totally spot-on, I’m still at a bit of a loss on Robin. My roommate reminded me (because we’ve had this conversation far too often) that we’d previously decided Lily James could be a good fit, and right now, that’s the best I can come up with. If only people listened to me when casting their fancy series and movies…

Now that the semester is in full swing, I’m alternating a bit between preparing for my oral exam and trying to read or reread as many of the texts on it as possible and indulging in a bit of recreational reading to keep me sane. Last night, I cracked open After You, the sequel to Me Before You that I read last fall. After seeing the unbearably adorable trailer for the movie adaptation, I felt it was time to jump back into that world.

A little light/sad/sweet reading is the perfect antidote to this damn cold weather. Grab a blanket and snuggle up!

 

2016 Reading List #7: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling

So, this post could be one of two things:

  1. I could just say, “hey, I’ve written/said far too many things about my love for Harry Potter in my life, so what’s the point of trying to add anything new?” Or…
  2. I am far to passionate about my HP feelings to keep them quiet, so either quit reading or enjoy a bit of indulgence.

Yeah, I choose option #2.

I received the recently-released illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for my birthday in November and immediately had to sit down to read a chapter or two (because it’s impossible not to). But, for nostalgia’s sake, my mom and I decided it’d be fun to read the book aloud together, like we did when I received my first copy of Sorcerer’s Stone for my eighth birthday in 1999.

Because we took this approach and didn’t have any urgent need to get through the book, we took our time reading it.

The more often I revisit this story, the more emotional it makes me; reading about Harry’s visits to the Mirror of Erised and Neville winning the final house points for Gryffindor cause me to have semi-ridiculous reactions. You’d think I might be numb to it by now, but that is clearly untrue.

The fact that this reading was from this brand new edition of the book was a particularly gratifying treat. Jim Kay’s illustrations are beautiful–it’s so fun to take a moment when turning to a new page to examine his intricate work and see a new perspective on the story.

Though I didn’t expect to have so many rereads this early in 2016 (this, Attachments, and Death of a Salesman are all on my completed or current rereads that have made it to this year’s reading list), but this was one I couldn’t resist. In fact, I can already feel myself just itching to crack Chamber of Secrets open. 2016 might mark my next of countless ventures back to Hogwarts. We shall see…

TV Shows I Watched in 2015

I’m a bit of a champion at television-watching, so my TV list is usually rather impressive, especially at the end of the year. I don’t really set numeric goals of how many shows I hope to watch, but here’s my general list of things I wanted to watch in 2015.

Some members of my original list have been pushed to 2016, and I have two on-going projects that I’ll be finishing early in 2016 (those are the shows listed in bold). Here’s a look at what I watched this year.

  1. The Affair (1 season, 10 episodes)
  2. Angels in America (miniseries, 6 episodes)
  3. Bloodline (1 season, 13 episodes)
  4. Broadchurch, season 2 (1 season, 8 episodes)
  5. The Casual Vacancy (miniseries, 3 episodes)
  6. Catastrophe (1 season, 6 episodes)
  7. Empire (1 season, 12 episodes)
  8. The Fall, season 2 (1 season, 6 episodes)
  9. Frasier (11 seasons, 264 episodes)
  10. Game of Thrones (watched season 1 – season 5, episode 5)
  11. Inside Amy Schumer (2 seasons, 20 episodes)
  12. The Jinx (miniseries, 6 episodes)
  13. Jessica Jones (1 season, 13 episodes)
  14. John Adams (miniseries, 7 episodes)
  15. Lost (6 seasons, 120 episodes)
  16. Luther (3 seasons, 14 episodes)
  17. My So-Called Life (1 season, 19 episodes)
  18. The Office (U.K.) (2 seasons, 14 episodes)
  19. The O.C. (watched season 1 – season 3, episode 14)
  20. Olive Kitteridge (miniseries, 4 episodes)
  21. Outlander (1 season, 16 episodes)
  22. Rectify (3 seasons, 22 episodes) 
  23. Teen Wolf (4 seasons, 60 episodes)
  24. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (1 season, 13 episodes)
  25. Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (1 season, 8 episodes)
  26. Wolf Hall (miniseries, 6 episodes)

After all this, I watched a grand total of 26 series and miniseries in 2015 and 764 episodes this year (though this doesn’t count any of the shows I watched live, so these numbers are a bit low).

Here’s to much more great TV in 2016!

Book #71: Macbeth, by William Shakespeare

Macbeth marks the first of the five tragedies and histories I’ll be reading in my Shakespeare class. This was my first encounter with the Scottish play, and I’m very happy to have read it, but I think I need to let my thoughts on it settle a bit before I can make a very formed opinion about the text.

My professor, interested in discussing the visual aspects of Shakespeare’s plays, specifically assigned us a graphic novel version of Macbeth to read. Unfortunately, I lasted about 2 scenes before I gave up on reading it that way. Shakespeare is hard enough to read on his own, but the fact that the graphic novel didn’t identify the speakers by name and didn’t include footnotes meant I had no idea what was going on. If I’d had previous experience reading graphic novels or had read Macbeth before, this may not have been an issue, but I had to resort to getting a normal version of the text before I could make any sense of it.

Another thought: as a Harry Potter expert, I felt like J.K. Rowling really pulled from Macbeth throughout the series. Some of the references are obvious — the fact that there’s a band in Rowling’s series called “The Weird Sisters,” a name also given to the three witches of Macbeth — but I also felt like some of the scenes were just generally similar. One scene in particular featuring the witches reminded me of Voldemort’s “reverse baptism” scene at the end of Goblet of Fire, and Macbeth’s bloodthirsty actions as a result of the witches’ predictions also reminded me of Voldemort. (These are all things that would have been helpful had I read this play a year ago when I was writing my Harry Potter thesis project.)

Anyway, I think it’ll take a few class discussions for me to come to a real understanding of Macbeth. But I think it’s safe to say that you know you’re in good hands when you’re reading Shakespeare.

Book #60: The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith

I’ve been itching to read J.K. Rowling’s most recent novel (the second written under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith) all summer, so I decided to make it my final reading project before embarking on some of my school reading to get ahead before my first semester of grad school begins August 25. I’m happy to report that The Silkworm did not disappoint; it was the perfect page-turning mystery-thriller to close the summer with.

Like The Cuckoo’s Calling, the 2013 novel to which The Silkworm is a sequel, this book follows the investigations of private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant, Robin. The Silkworm picks up eight months after The Cuckoo’s Calling, and, thanks to his skillful solving of the Lula Landry case,Strike has a full business load. 

The central mystery to the sequel begins with the disappearance of author Owen Quine. When Quine’s wife, Leonora, asks Strike to find her husband who she believes is at a writer’s conference, Strike takes on the case, only to find that it’s actually a much more sinister, complicated situation. Readers will also see Strike’s and Robin’s relationship develop as Robin becomes frustrated that Strike doesn’t recognize her full potential as a budding private detective herself.

Like The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm is peppered with a handful of interesting (and often suspicious) characters, and I was again surprised to see how the case wrapped up. I didn’t find the ending as satisfying in this novel, but it was certainly entertaining and exciting. I know Rowling has plans to continue with this series, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. 

July 2014: What I’m Watching and Reading This Month

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last update, so it seemed time for another. Here’s what I’ve been up to lately in my entertainment ventures.

TV — Since the Emmy nominees were announced, I’ve been doing lots of thinking about the past TV season and trying to catch up on some of the nominees that I missed out on in the past year. Part of that process was completing season one of Masters of Sex,” watching the miniseries “The Spoils of Babylon,” and watching the HBO movie The Normal Heart. Now that I’ve done all that, I’m as prepared as I intend to be for the Emmy awards, which are of course over a month away. I’m a big fan of being prepared.As far as my reactions go for these, I think “Masters of Sex” is great and I’m excited to see how season two progresses, “The Spoils of Babylon” is ridiculous fun that isn’t for everyone, but I’m glad Kristen Wiig got another nomination out of it, and I thought The Normal Heart was good, but by no means great. It doesn’t live up to the quality of two of HBO’s recent movies, Game Change or Behind the Candelabra.

In my other TV news: I finished Seinfeld”! Since I started it last fall with my roommate, this was a very big accomplishment in my book. Now I’m working on “Cheers, and I’ve already completed one season and started another. Just two full seasons and another partial one to go before I finish it. Considering “Cheers” is 271 episodes, I think finishing it will also be a momentous occasion.

Since I’m trying to stay focused on one project at a time with TV right now, I’m not sure what my next project will be once “Cheers” is complete. I plan to rewatch Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23″ with my roommate when he’s moving in, but I’m not sure what my solo project will be. Suggestions? Stay tuned to see what I choose.

Movies — It’s been nearly a month since I saw a movie in theaters, but I’ve been trying to do my own catching up through Netflix, On Demand, and Amazon Prime. I’ve now watched 78 new movies this year, so I’m making progress toward my goal of 125. My favorite that I’ve watched recently was Short Term 12, which I’ve watched twice in the past week. It’s a great emotional story and well-worth watching. 

I’m also trying to work on my goal of watching 10 movies from the AFI Top 100 list. I’ve only watched two so far this year, but I hope I can work on a few more in the coming days and weeks. We have an old movie theater in town that screens “classic” movies, and so I’m seeing American Graffiti later this week, and since The Godfather trilogy in On Demand right now, I’m going to try to take full advantage of those films. 

Books — I finally finished Jane Austen’s Emma earlier this week, so that was another big thing to cross off my list. I’m now back to working on The Death Cure, the final book in The Maze Runner trilogy. I’ve only got 5 books left on my “set” reading list for the year, but since I’m starting an English graduate program this fall, I think it’ll be important to try to get ahead on my reading. Once I finish The Death Cure, I think I’ll read The Silkworm, J.K. Rowling’s sequel to last year’s The Cuckoo’s Calling before starting Moby-Dick, one of the many reading projects for my classes this fall.

I must say, it’s pretty fantastic to have the whole summer free for fulfilling all my entertainment wishes.