Friday 29 March 2013

"He saw that the presence of hundreds of books had finally convinced Hermione that what they were doing was right."

So my sister's been ill all week, which isn't something you need to know, but the illness she's had is a cough, and the cough is REALLY LOUD and happens AT ALL TIMES, so basically I haven't slept properly since Sunday (our house is really small. Plus, I have to share a bedroom with her. ALL THE BAD) and I don't even know what, if anything, I have to say about Part deux of Order of the Phoenix. Basically what I'm saying is, bear with me, people!
Right. I don't even know if there's anything I want to say in paragraphs! OK, do we want to talk about how terrible Umbridge is? I mean, she's really dreadful, right? The problem for me is, I don't think she's dreadful in a way that is AT ALL amusing (except when McGonagall basically ignores her in her class. That's pretty freaking sweet), she's more terrible in a way that makes me want to rip her limbs off her body and beat her with them until she's dead.
Sorry. I'm REALLY tired. But anyway, the point is that even though I think that this makes her a kind of masterfully drawn character, it's just another element that makes OotP EXHAUSTING for me as opposed to mostly fun but with some, you know, perilous bits. A couple more things about her though- surely she's really really not allowed to use that terrible SKIN CUTTING quill on the children? I know it's Hogwarts, but even they must have rules about this kind of thing, no? And also, IT IS NOT OK TO ATTACK HEDWIG! I mean, HONESTLY!

Sirius bashing time? I think so. Whilst I've become a lot warmer towards Harry in this section (with one notable exception that I'll point out in the bullet points that are obviously coming) I'm actually really really really annoyed at Sirius. Because, um, you don't say to a teenager who is TRYING TO PROTECT YOU and who keeps nearly getting himself killed that he should get into more trouble! That's just stupid! "your father wouldn't have done that". Well then maybe, just maybe, he's as big an idiot as YOU are, Sirius. GODDAMMIT!
Having said that, I am kiiiind of on Sirius's side when it comes to Dumbledore's Army, because even though I can see why Molly wants her kids to, you know, stay in school, possibly just because they'll be safe there because Dumbledore can protect them (because he's always been SO GOOD at that), I still think it totally makes sense for them to learn how to defend themselves. Also the lessons sound fun and this book needs some of that FOR REALS. I did love that Hermione was suddenly like 'Guys... I think this might be a bad idea...' when Sirius thought it was a good one though. Hermione's smart.

Random thoughts and shit:

  • You know when Harry gets Hedwig to deliver the letter and is like 'I know this says Snuffles, but it's actually for Sirius"? Like... Hedwig knows this already, amiright? Since she's been doing it FOR A YEAR. Honestly, Harry...
  • Percy's letter makes ME want to vom, personally, but I'm sad that it makes Harry sad. It's a bit of a 'well, he kind of KNOWS me and he thinks I'm crazy, what must everyone else think?' moment, but... Percy's a douchebag. As I'm sure we're all aware by now.
  • I feel like Harry has had his most constructive outburst, or at least the one that helps me best understand his mental state, and so I can empathise with him better. This is a really good thing. "You two sit here acting like I'm a clever little boy to be standing here, alive, like Diggory was stupid, like he messed up." Poor Harry, you have so much to deal with!
  • Guys... Is Hogwarts in Yorkshire?!?!?! For some reason, I always thought it was in Scotland, but in the Hogs Head, there are all those people with thick Yorkshire accents. Are they just supposed to be kind of dodgy (all dodgy characters have Yorkshire accents) or ARE WE ACTUALLY IN YORKSHIRE? I hope we are, because I bloody love it there.
  • "He touched the spot on his face where Hermione had kissed him, looking puzzled, as though he was not quite sure what had just happened."- Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
  • I still totally don't care about Quidditch. It's official. But this I loved: "'Yes, yes, we know about the Quidditch,' said Hermione in a tense voice."
  • And THIS was really annoying: Ron: "This is the worst I've ever felt in my life." Harry: "Join the club." REALLY GUYS?! I mean, really? Not being allowed to play Quidditch is the worst you've ever felt in your lives? Seeing someone MURDERED wasn't that bad then Harry? Fucking hell.
  • This might just be me, but I didn't really care about the giants. Whatevs.
I did a lot of shouting this week, huh?! Partly sleep deprivation, and partly everyone acting like a massive idiot, I guess! It's all ok though- I've read ahead and there seems to be PLENTY of Snape for next week. So at least I'll be happy.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

It's Paul Auster Time, Apparently

Before I started this here blog, I read and bought books really differently. Whereas now I'm all about reading the books that other bloggy people have read because, you know, they're awesome and almost always right about such things, before I was pretty much on my own. Which tended to mean sticking to authors I knew I was going to like*, and buying up any books of theirs I could find, the evidence of which still stands in my unread books list.

And that's where Paul Auster comes in. He's maybe the author that I have the most books by that I haven't actually read. It's weird, because whenever I read a book by him, I LOVE it, but somehow there always seems to be something I want to read more than a Paul Auster book. Maybe it's because I'm too lazy to deal with his mindfuckery (there is a fair bit of mindfuckery. Which in the end, I always LOVE, but when I THINK about it, it's like meh. Effort.) or maybe it's because, you know, I own too many books, but somehow, poor Auster gets sidelined all the time.

But! In the past two weeks, I've read 2 books by him. Which is something else that I haven't really done since I started blogging, because I tend to prefer spreading out books by different authors because, you know, what if people get boooored? (I care about this a lot less now. Evidently.) But, I wanted to read Man in the Dark since it was mentioned in Tolstoy and the Purple Chair (and I already owned it) and then The Book Jar told me to read Timbuktu, which is the Auster book I've had the longest. Which is a weight off my shoulders in just having read it!

Since both of these books are pretty short, and this post is already kind of long (I'm so sorry! I'm just rambling!) I'mma mini-review these suckers for you, but I feel like I should make a point first. And I guess the point is... It's really great branching out, and reading lots of different authors and styles and things all the time, but also it's sometimes nice to return to an author you know you love, and who does what he does, and does it well, without having to worry about, like, reviewing two sort-of-similar-only-not-really books really close together. Because, you know, that's the point of reading anyway, isn't it? Just doing whatever you want? Yes, it is.


Man in the Dark
"She held my hand when Oona left me, applauded when Sonia and I got back together, saw her son whenever he and his wife flew in from Chicago, attended family events, watched television from morning to night, could still tell a decent joke when the spirit moved her, and turned into the saddest person I have ever known."

If Man in the Dark and Timbuktu have anything in common, it's that they're both fairly basic for Auster books. There's very little meta-fiction, few connections with other works, and he keeps things fairly straightforward (for him). All this does is make them more powerful- considering how short Man in the Dark is, and how long ago I read it (a couple of weeks is a long time, people!) a lot of it has stayed with me, which isn't something I can always say about books.

Man in the Dark all takes place in one man's head over the course of one night, and it's kind of about the stories we tell ourselves to stop thinking about the things that have happened to us. I'm pretty sure everyone does it, and if not then I guess we all use books to achieve the same effect, and I don't know if Auster is saying this is a good or bad thing, but maybe it's just a way to get through another night. There's definitely an opportunity for Austerian weirdness in the book, and whilst I definitely thought things were heading that way, in the end I was kind of glad they didn't- that the story really was just a story, and that real life ended up being more important.

"He pitied him for not knowing how to enjoy life. The world was filled with such wonders, and it was a sad state of affairs when a man spent his time worrying about the wrong things."

There's a reason Timbuktu was my longest unread Auster, and that's because it's narrated by a dog. Narrated is actually the wrong word, but it's all about a dog's eye view of the world, and so whilst I bought this because Auster's name was on the cover, I wasn't sure when I'd actually read it because that's kind of a premise that doesn't appeal to me much. Thank goodness for The Book Jar, is all I can say, because without that, Timbuktu might have been sitting on the shelf FOREVER.

Which it wouldn't have deserved. Because, and this is such a rare thing, I didn't even roll my eyes ONCE at this book. It didn't hurt that the dog in question (Mr. Bones) was kind of hyper-intelligent, so following him wasn't stupid or dumbing down, it was just... This is how this creature sees the world, and these are his experiences. It also didn't hurt that this book is kind of a chronicle of different kind of dog ownership, and also just ways of living- the devoted homeless guy, the kid-who-isn't-allowed-pets, the 'perfect' Suburban family- all experienced from the dog's point of view rather than the humans'. Mr. Bones is smarter than a lot of the humans in the book, and knows what he wants better than all of them, and yet, everyone who is kind to him, he loves in his own way.

Timbuktu is also probably THE most straightforward Auster book I've read, and I think that's because it doesn't need to be anything more- Auster is showing you the world from a wholly different perspective, and doesn't need any narrative tricks cleverer than that. It's not a hyper-realistic account of a dog's life, of course, but it feels about right anyway, and most importantly, it sucked me right in. And that's kind of enough.

So. This Paul Auster fellow is pretty good. You might want to give him a try sometime.

*I'm still alllll about reading everything by certain authors. And with music, I'm definitely more likely to get ALL of certain artists' music than constantly wanting to find new artists to listen to all the time.

Sunday 24 March 2013

Sunday Sundries: Aren't libraries cool?

Happy Sunday greetings, friends! I seem to have had a good week since that was a pretty cheerful opener, but mostly it was fairly standard- work, shopping with mum that included getting a few birthday presents for me (eeeeee!) and I got in a few walks to work, which hasn't happened for a WHILE, so that was awesome. And, yesterday I went to lunch with a coupla old friends and that was really fun and awesome even though it was SO COLD and also SNOWING in March. About which I am not impressed. At all.

To backtrack a little bit though, I walked to work some this week! And, on Friday I tried a new route and discovered that it's probably about 15 or 20 minutes quicker than the route I've been taking. About which I'm like 'Durrrrrrrr, me' and also now, 'Yay! I can have an extra 15 minutes pissing about at home now!' which, you know, is awesome. Because said walk got me into town about half an hour before work (I also left early), I swung by the library, mostly because the instagram photo-a-day thing I'm doing had 'library' as its key word yesterday, but also because, you know, time to kill in a place full of charity shops? Definitely too much temptation for poor little Laura who can't buy books.

SO, I went in the library and went 'Ahhhhh, books' in a relieved kind of way, and almost the very first book I saw was Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Wild as in, the book I've wanted to read since it came out because Strayed's Dear Sugar columns are basically my favourite thing I've read on the internet, and because Everyone Who Is Awesome has been reading it (especially this week, funnily enough) and, you know, gimme! I didn't at all expect it to be there, and, considering how good I'm already sure it is, it should probably be reserved for years but it was there and now it's mine and I'm like 'Library, I love you.'
I'm Bert. The library is Mary.

But seriously. On the whole because of this book buying ban I'm doing*, I've kind of been trying to avoid the library too because, you know, they're still books that I don't own, and I've got plenty that I do and I really should read them. But the thing is, it's awesome to know that a book that you're probably not going to find in a charity shop, at least for a very long time, and that's too expensive to buy because it's still pretty new, you're allowed to take FOR FREE and read it to your heart's content, and then take it back for someone else to enjoy. And then, if you want, you can take it out AGAIN and read it and take it back and... You get the picture.

I realise I just used a lot of words to explain how a library works, but I think it's really easy to forget how completely awesome it is that you can read books for free forever, and what else offers a service where you can get something you really really love for no money? I kind of can't think of anything. And anyone who wants to shut down libraries- ANY libraries- is clearly an idiot and I can't be putting up with that kind of bullshit (Tories beware...) 

And that's just... A thing I've been thinking about. In other news that involves books, with this library book I'm now in the middle of FIVE books which is a personal low/high for me of recent times (I've been trying to read not-too-many books at once because then I don't finish them and get all sad) and probably BECAUSE I'm reading so many, I've barely been reading at all and have been spending my evenings watching The Wire. Still, I've only got 10 episodes to go (!) and then obviously Netflix won't exist anymore so I'll HAVE to read.
Anyway. Have good weeks everyone! Tell me your library thoughts in the comments if you want. Or don't, whatever.

*Speaking of which, I told my mum how proud she should be of me since I haven't bought a book since LAST YEAR, and she pretty much laughed at me! Like it wasn't even a sacrifice at all! All I can say to that is, just WAIT until I'm set loose again after my birthday, THEN she'll see how awesome it was that I wasn't buying books. Mwahahahaha.

Friday 22 March 2013

"'His life's ambition is to have his head cut off and stuck up on a plaque just like his mother,' said Ron irritably. 'Is that normal, Hermione?'

Oh Harry.
Look. I get that he's had a traumatic experience. If he wanted to spend his time in this book sitting in a corner staring and being sad, then that would be ok. If he was just fired up and wanting to KILL VOLDIE and everything, then that would be just fine too. But it's like... He wants A LOT of credit for the things he's done, which is something he's never done before (he's usually more modest right? And like, PUSHING AWAY of the adulation and all) and then he's also all bitter and twisted and all of a sudden very much a teenager. It's kind of annoying, and kind of a lot to get used to since up until now, Harry's been kind of, you know, awesome.

To add to the annoyings, Sirius is being an idiot. As I think we all know, I've never been his biggest fan anyway, but I could see that he was pretty good to Harry even if he did try to MURDER Snape that one time. But at the start of this book? He's being a big sulky fool because he's not allowed out (you're a fugitive, Sirius. Why do you keep forgetting this?) and he thinks it's a good idea to go with Harry to his hearing at the Ministry of Magic.
I mean, it's not going to be suspicious or anything that Harry's being accompanied by a massive dog, is it? No one's going to say, 'Hey, what's that dog doing here?', are they? WHY WOULD SIRIUS THINK THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA?! Aaaaand I'm pissed that he DID go to Kings Cross with the gang, because STUPID STUPID STUPID. It's like he WANTS to die.

The whole 'omg, Harry used magic illegally, is he going to get kicked out of Hogwarts?' thing was a kind of non-starter for me, not because, you know, I've read it already and knew that he didn't, but because there's no tension in that anyway- of COURSE Harry isn't going to get kicked out of Hogwarts, because there would be no story. Or at least not a good one. I'm going to let this slide because I'm thinking that going into the Ministry is something that will be important later, but I feel like it could have been done in a way that didn't involve fake tension.

ON THE PLUS SIDE (yes, there is one): Tonks! And Luna! I'd forgotten about how Sirius is related to everyone bad (and everyone. He's related to all the people.) so that was newly interesting to me, and if anything the whole Black family saga has been about the only thing that has made me like him so far because leaving home because your parents are terrible bigots is a pretty cool thing to do, if you ask me.  And, oh yeah, Neville continues to be awesome. Of course.
Just a fewwwww bullet points...

  • I feel the need to do some English person explaining, firstly, that when McGonagall offers Harry a biscuit, she really means a cookie. I just don't want there to be any confusion here. Also, the reason they're doing OWLs this year is because the 5th year is the year that we do exams, (GCSEs), and then the 7th year is when we would do MORE exams. Just, you know, so that kind of makes more sense?
  • OMG this: "'What did he do to you, Diddy... Was it- was it you-know-what, darling? Did he use- his thing.'" Wait, what exactly are we talking about here... NAUGHTY HARRY
  • In other things Petunia says, "'I heard- that awful boy- telling her about [dementors] years ago.'" *meaningful looks all round*
  • Ugh, Percy.
  • Ugh, Umbridge.
  • One of Dumbledore's middle names is Brian. This is unspeakably excellent.
  • I genuinely don't know where Hagrid is, but... Look, I like Hagrid and everything, but it's kind of annoying when Harry, Ron and Ginny angrily defend his teaching, because... He's kind of not that great a teacher. I'm sorry, but he isn't!
  • Hufflepuff continues to be the best. "Said Hufflepuff, 'I'll teach the lot/ And treat them just the same.'" THAT IS HOW IT'S DONE, other houses!
As far as I remember OotP, it doesn't get much cheerier. Expect an equally moany post again next week. 

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Devouring Books: Cymbeline by William Shakespeare

"Those that I reverence, those I fear, the wise:
At fools I laugh, not fear them."

I read Cymbeline for a few reasons.
  1. I'm trying to read ALL THE SHAKESPEARE, so, you know, why not Cymbeline?
  2. Last Friday was 'The Ides of March' and I was going to post this the day before (not on the ACTUAL day, because Harry Potter) but then I didn't finish reading it in time and now it's now, and 
  3. When I went to that Shakespeare exhibition that one time, I read a quote from Cymbeline that made me think it was totally related to Stephen King's Dark Tower series, and I've wanted to read it to investigate ever since.
I realise that third reason is slightly... A mix of highbrow and lowbrow, shall we say, but hey- I'm a Stephen King-ologist, and any connections I find, I really should investigate. As it turns out, I don't think there is much of a connection- both mention 'Lud' as a place, but in Cymbeline it pretty much just refers to London, whereas in The Dark Tower, it's a place where the machines have either failed or gone crazy, and it's all gone to shit. 

Sometimes, though, things that you go into looking for one thing, can end up giving you something else. In Cymbeline, I didn't find the seedlings of a Stephen King idea, but I did find a Shakespeare play that, because it's one that no one talks about, felt like my very own discovery of awesomeness. Which, when we're talking about Shakespeare, means that I'm like a literary archeologist who has just unearthed a lost Shakespeare play that... Just happens to be in a big ole book with some plays that have been discovered. Hm. There's no getting around this really, is there?

Anyway! Back to the point. According to Wikipedia, "Though once held in very high regard, Cymbeline has lost favour over the past century", and to be honest, I can't really see why. It's got all the things you'd look for in a Shakespeare play- there's cross dressing, mistaken identity, sword fights, lovers who can't be together, an evil Queen (SO EVIL), a moron, a lusty Italian, attempted murder, ACTUAL murder, so much he-said-she-said that it's insane, and an ending that's maybe the smoothest (and quickest) wrapping up of any story ever. It's in the First Folio as a tragedy, but it's got a lot of the hallmarks of the best comedies, and it also feels a bit historical. It's got everything!

To give you a teeny summary of the story, Cymbeline is the King of England, whose daughter Innogen has just married Posthumus Leonatus (his mother died in childbirth, so... I guess that's where the name comes from?), a good guy but not fitting for someone who will be Queen one day since her brothers disappeared when they were tiny (ooh, I wonder if that'll come up sometime in the play...). Additionally, Cymbeline is married to an EVIL lady, and they both want her son to marry Innogen, but unfortunately he's an idiot. But a really really good Shakespearean idiot. Even the servants know he's an idiot! Observe:

"That such a crafty devil as his mother
Should yield the world this ass: a woman that
Bears all down with her brain, and this her son
Cannot take two from twenty, for his heart,
And leave eighteen."

And, I mean, he's not only bad at maths, he's also a terrible all-round person, and we really really don't want Innogen to marry him. At the start of the play, though, Posthumus is banished from England and Innogen is confined to, well, her room in the palace, and it's all very terrible and middle-of-Romeo-and-Juliet-like. And it makes you really really want to read on, let me tell you!

This stuff is SHAKESPEARE, so I won't bore you with how it's all well written and blah blah blah. I would say that I enjoyed it a lot more than, say, Antony and Cleopatra, which is a much more famous play, and I'm sure it would be even better on stage- there's kind of this whole battle that has absolutely no impact when you're reading it, but would probably be really cool on stage, (or the screen- IMDb tells me there was a TV movie with Helen Mirren as Innogen, so that's clearly spectacular) but a lot of Cymbeline is about the talking, and the pining, and the very very stupid man they want Innogen to marry.

I think the bottom line is, I enjoyed Cymbeline a lot more than I was expecting to for a more-or-less unknown Shakespeare play, and now I feel indignant about its neglect. I'm sure, positive in fact, that Shakespeare scholars and readers and, you know, just people who are smarter than me have their reasons for thinking that Cymbeline is kind of not-that-worthy of recognition, but in terms of pure enjoyment and entertainment, I think it's kind of great. Was this what Shakespeare was aiming for when he wrote it? I'd say probably. 

Monday 18 March 2013

Devouring Stephen King (as Richard Bachman): The Regulators

Ugh, The Regulators. I have a lot of problems with this book, but the main one is that it's not Desperation- which, I realise, seems like an unfair thing to say, but it's not when you know that The Regulators is connected to Desperation in the vaguest possible worlds-running-alongside-each-other way, and then this statement seems slightly saner. The Regulators isn't all bad, but in the end, for me, the bad always ends up outweighing the good.

So. The Regulators has the same villain as Desperation, albeit in a different manifestation, and all of the main characters of Desperation show up in one form or another. This time the setting is suburban Ohio rather than the Nevada desert, and everything is kind of the same but also a bit different. And a lot of these slight changes, instead of intriguing and delighting me, kind of piss me off- the Carver family from Desperation are still there, for instance, but the parents have the names of the kids, and the kids have the parents' names, and it just feels, firstly a bit creepy (marrying siblings, King? Really?) but then after that's worn off, just kind of pointless and silly and just annoying?
There are also a few events from Desperation that are repeated almost step-for-step, and the original villain of Desperation gets to be a good guy, which is a little unnerving, but mostly I can deal with it. But then there are also characters (Cynthia and Steve, for example) who are pretty much exactly the same, and it's just like... WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS, I DON'T UNDERSTAND! The manifestations of the supervillain (Tak) are so stupid that I don't even want to talk about them, so I won't.

Really, it mainly feels like King wrote The Regulators as 'Johnny Marinville's redemption'. In Desperation, Marinville is this terrible, egotistical bastard who doesn't want to help anyone and he's also disgustingly misogynistic. In The Regulators? He's pretty much the hero- he's the one who even gets close to figuring out what's happening, he puts himself in danger to save others, and instead of being misogynistic, he protects one of his neighbours from the racism of another. It's made pretty clear that he has the same past as 'the other Johnny' (who I can't help but think of as the proper Johnny) but at a certain point he made choices that the other one didn't make, and that made him a better person.

All of which is very interesting from an infinite universes point of view, but... Johnny's an arsehole. And I can't get past that, probably because Desperation is the better book.

For the sake of complete fairness: If I'd read The Regulators before Desperation (and I'm talking a long time ago- Desperation was quite an early King book for me) I think I'd have a much fairer view of it and might even see it as the definitive story. But I didn't. And I know it's stupid to think of either one as 'the definitive story', but that's the choice King made by calling characters by the same names and drawing annoying connections between the two, and so I make my choice too. I think it was an interesting idea that doesn't really work in practice, because reading one kind of makes you irritated by the other. Or at least that's what it did to me. Nice work, King.

Sunday 17 March 2013

Sunday Sundries: I have some links, and little to say

Before I say other stuff (exactly what that other stuff is going to be, I just don't know...) I have links! This part of the blog post is also known as 'clearing out my Safari Reading List' so, um, some of these links might be a little old. But the important thing is that you see them. Definitely.

  • I trust we all saw this post on Book Riot about what happens when you like books more than anything else in the world. I know I could relate to it ALL.
  • Remember that one time when I ranted about body image a bit? I think this writer gets it. GOD it's hard to be a woman.
  • You know when you're randomly good at things that you'd never think to brag about because they seem so teeny? This blogger DID brag about them. And it's kind of awesome. (And when I say 'brag' I really mean 'showcased'. There's no arrogance here.) What are YOU randomly good at?
  • I enjoyed this post of someone's top ten West Wing episodes. I want to make a similar list, but that means watching all of The West Wing all over again (obvs) and I just don't know if I'm ready for the EMOTIONS. I do agree with quite a lot of these, though.
  • Stephen King reviewed Joyce Carol Oates's new novel, and it was just like two of my favourites colliding. It was so awesome I had to read it reaaaally sneakily at work. (shhhhh...). Also, dammit, I REALLY want to read this book. 
There now, wasn't that fun? I've sent you off to a load of other posts, so now I don't have to write one. What's that? I do still have to write one? Well...
Awww, tiny Malfoy. The CRUSH I had on him when I was about 12...

Anyway. This week! It happened! It involved stuff, and also things. You know what, I have to be real, very little happened this week. I worked all day Thursday and Friday, which was good because of how I was ill and had 4 days off work, and I don't get paid for that so it made back some of that lost money, but also NUMBED MY BRAIN. You know, just a little. The world (or, like, just the Catholics of the world, I guess) got a new Pope, but I couldn't watch any of the stuff that happened because I had a pressing engagement to see Oz The Great and Powerful, which was good but I'm not raving about it. Annnd, my friend at work left work (well, technically she doesn't leave until Tuesday, but Friday was our last shift together) so I has a sad about that.

I've been confused all week because of the fact that the US clocks went forward last Sunday, and so things that tend to happen at a certain time have been happening an hour earlier, and I'm just like 'WHAT IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE, YOU ARE UP SO EARLY!' and then I remember the clock thing and BAH it is confusing. All will be well when WE put our clocks forward in 2 weeks time (wouldn't it make sense for everyone to do it at the same time? Yes, it would) but for now it just hurts my brain. Which isn't difficult. I guess that this would be the time to travel, though, so that the time difference is less harsh... *squirrels that information away for next year*.

Um, what else? Well, I used The Book Jar for the first time this week and, well, kind of gave up on the book it chose after about 40 or so pages? Which doesn't sound like a good thing, but me getting rid of books is definitely a good thing (just ask my mum) and I feel like this is going to be a secondary function of The Book Jar- not only telling me which books to read, but getting me to start books to see if I even want to finish them or not. And if the answer is not, then I can get rid of them and move onto the next one. It's going to be good, I can feel it. 

What I HAVE been reading is a mix of Les Miserables (I feel like I've read SO much of it, and I'm about a quarter of the way through?), The Green Mile (which I've tried not to read, so as to save it for a bit later, but it's proving impossible to resist), and Come As You Are, which is a book about Nirvana written in 1993, which is the WEIRDEST thing to read because the thing that's at the centre of all other books about them, and which ultimately defines the band, I guess, hasn't even happened yet. It's so strange, but also kind of nice. Also I've had the book for the LONGEST time, so it's about blooming time I got round to reading it. 
Wow, I guess I had more to say than I thought I did. Wouldya look at those paragraphs?! Amazing. Enjoy the rest of your Sundays, good people! Tell me nice things in the comments.

Friday 15 March 2013

"'You have shown bravery beyond anything I could have expected of you.'"

Oh, Goblet of Fire. You just tootle along all happily, don't you, everything's all challengey and, let's face it, it's all fun and games until someone replaces the Triwizard Tournament Trophy with a portkey and a lovely teenager dies. And then the COPIOUS WEEPING begins.
So heightened were my tear glands in anticipation for the sadness, that I started crying before there was even a hint of danger- when Harry was told that the families had arrived to watch the final task, and was all grumpy about going into a room where he'd be the one without family, but then realising that Mrs Weasley and Bill were there for him? SO WONDERFUL I CAN'T EVEN! And, if I'm honest, the crying could have started before that, even, when we found out what happened to poor Neville's parents, and Harry's lovely lovely empathy for him.
"He often got sympathy from strangers for being an orphan, but as he listened to Neville's snores, he thought that Neville deserved it more than he did."
DON'T WORRY HARRY, there's MORE than enough sadness to go around. *Glares at JK*

Now. I've read this before, obviously, so I knew what was coming, but as it turns out, I only really vaguely knew what was coming. This meant that I was completely on the edge of my seat at the new rising of Lord V, but before that, I was a little pissed off. And what I was pissed off at was how little attention was paid to Cedric's death- he was just standing there, and then he was on the ground and then we were straight back to Harry. I think for the first time, I was like, fuck your fucking Harry filter.

BUT. I get it. I totalllly get it now. It's like... Of course we're following Harry, like we always follow Harry, and the thing is, he's in a crisis situation where things just keep happening one after the other and there's no time to process anything. It's all tense, and frightening, and so so so effective that it's unreal.
But then when everything's over (and I mean everything, Mad Eye Moody revelations and all) there's time, and there's reflection, and there's mourning for Cedric- mourning by an entire school, mourning by Harry, because really, he's an excellent person, and mourning from us too. Just because our mourning happens via Harry, that doesn't make it any less effective- in fact, it really makes it more effective because Harry's our guy, and we really really care about what happens to him. If he cries, we cry. And boy, did I cry!
I don't even think I could pick a saddest part of this last section, but I think it's a toss up between

  1. When Harry's parents come out of Voldemort's wand and his mother goes "'your father's coming... He wants to see you... it will be all right... hold on...'" Because Lilyyyyy!
  2. When Cedric's ghost/wand form goes "'Take my body back, will you? Take my body back to my parents...'"
  3. When Harry gets back to Hogwarts and lets go of the cup easily but won't let go of Cedric's body (SOB!)
  4. When McGonagall sees Harry and has to try really hard not to cry because she's so sad about his trauma
  5. Dumbledore's speech at the end of year feast "Remember if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right, and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed along the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory."
All of those are bad enough, but the ACTUAL saddest part?
"He had no memory of ever being hugged like this, as though by a mother. The full weight of everything he had seen that night seemed to fall in upon him as Mrs Weasley held him to her. His mother's face, his father's voice, the sight of Cedric dead on the ground all started spinning in his head until he could hardly bear it, until he was screwing up his face against the howl of misery fighting to get out of him."

I had some other political Fudgy thoughts (Mmmmm, Fudge, being the main one) but basically, the last quarter of The Goblet of Fire UNDID me and I haven't quite been the same for a week. And I've just relived it again. I have to go and lay down now.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Devouring Books: Arcadia by Lauren Groff

"The world is sometimes too much for Bit, too full of terror and beauty. Every day he finds himself squeezed under a new astonishment. The universe pulses outwards at impossible speeds. Bit feels its spin into nothing." 

You might not know this about me, but I am essentially a giant hippy. There's kind of nothing I don't like about the whole rejection of Capitalism, and you know, that whole peace, love and understanding dealie sounds pretty great to me plus, you know, crazy dancing and constant listening to Joni Mitchell (or is that just me..?) I could probably take or leave communal living (a la Arcadia), but as long as there are enough bathrooms for everyone, then... Yeah, that doesn't sound so bad either.

So. Arcadia! It's kind of about the rise and fall of the hippy ideal, but as much as it's that, it's also the story of Bit, the child of Arcadia (basically a big commune) and his journey through life, starting from when he's 5 years old and trying to make sense of the world he's been brought into (which is not the world that most of us have lived in) and stretching all the way to him being... Actually I'm not sure exactly how old, but he's got to be in his 50s. It's a really interesting way to watch a character grow, because whilst at 50-odd he's obviously different, and the world around him is even more different, there are still character traits that you can pick out from when he was 5 years old, and worried about his mother.

I wasn't sure about the book structurally to begin with- there are 4 parts to the novel and each part jumps to a different time, so you see Bit at 5, then about 14, then 35-ish, and then in his 50s. That first jump is a little jarring, and also just shows the setting up of Arcadia, and then shows it as its falling apart, and it kind of feels like you miss out on a lot of the good times that they must have had. It's a little disappointing, but only in that I really wanted to know every detail of everything that happened in Arcadia, and to me that's the mark of a good book.

I became more convinced about the structure though when Bit is in his 30s and living outside of Arcadia (note: the blurb totally says this is going to happen. So it's not a spoiler. Also, it's not really that kind of book...) and thinking back on his time there, and talking about his life now, and I got the weirdest stab of nostalgia for the life that he had in Arcadia- because apparently, Groff had described enough of it for me to imagine what it was like, and damn, it was beautiful.

It actually took me quite a long time to finish Arcadia, and I think that's because of this: the writing is so beautiful that I wanted to really sink into it and never leave. Which, in practical terms, meant I could only read it in about 10 page bursts so I could give it my full attention before something else came up. It's not just that the odd sentence was beautiful, basically every sentence was, AND (as an added bonus) this wasn't at the expense of the story at all- in fact, it made the story, the beautiful sentences being the way that Bit sees the world, and so how we get to see the world. And it's lovely.

But- and here's why Arcadia is really great- even though we see things from Bit's perspective, and Bit is predisposed to see the world as fairly beautiful, there are still plenty of other characters, and with almost all of them, you know for a fact that they wouldn't see the same world in nearly the same way, or with nearly as much light. And this is perfect, because it means that, even whilst you're luxuriating in Bit's world, you're not blind to its flaws, and you don't feel bad that you might not be as, um, mellow as Bit, because his way isn't reality, it's just his reality. But it's a lovely place to be for the duration of the book.

Basically, Arcadia is really lovely, and I have barely even spoken about the parts outside the commune (essentially the second half of the book) which, actually, might just be my favourite parts because of that whole uneasy displacement thing that I sort of love. But, you know, you can go exploring by yourself, read Arcadia and tell me what you find. And then we can all start a commune and just read and blog and stuff and it will be MAGNIFICENT. You know you want to.

Sunday 10 March 2013

Sunday Sundries: I love my mummy, and also THE BOOK JAR

This Sunday Sundries, I was mainly just going to go on about the book jar I made (and I still will, don't worry!) but then I 'remembered' (i.e. it is happening today and I know it is and therefore I am writing about it) that it's Mother's Day today and so I just have to make it clear, for the record, that I really super love my mum, which I have proved with chocolate and Lush goodies and daffodils and also I made a cake, so... If she didn't already know I loved her, then hopefully that should do it.
I love her so much, I smooshed her face with my face. Also this is a really old picture.

If you're American and this whole thing just freaked you out, then DON'T WORRY! It's totally not the American Mother's Day (aka the incorrect mother's day. Just so you know.) You can fully show your love for your mums on... Whatever day that is, I don't know guys.

Now, I just spent a really long time going through photos on facebook to find one of me and my mum (there are disturbingly few. I should have gone into the archives, ie the cupboard where there are some photo albums, to find some from when I was teeny, but I didn't, so... Never mind!) and I'm tired and need a nap, so to summarise my week: Work, a teeny bit of shopping, falling in love with Arrested Development, breaking my heart over the end of Harry Potter 4 (WEEP), and celebrating my friend's birthday last night.

But more important than ANY OF THAT, I made a Book Jar. And what exactly is a book jar, I hear you cry? Well, I was inspired by Alex (inspired is a coy way of saying, 'it was totally her idea and I did the same thing') who made a book jar that seems far more organised than mine (different colours for different categories and whatnot) and basically it's just a jar filled with the books I own and need to read and is also a way of avoiding the tricky decision making process that comes with picking the next book. I probably won't use it for EVERY new book choice, but I'm definitely going to use it for it will make me read the books I have and that is exactly what I need.

What's that? You want to SEE The Book Jar? Well, here it is!
(Aren't there a lot of photos of me in this post?! DEAL WITH IT). As you can see, I am simply amazed with how wonderful The Book Jar is, and frankly, I think we all should be. Look, even GOD turned up because he wanted to have his picture taken with The Book Jar (see: the blinding light) and I hear that dude hardly ever turns up for anything. Magical.

I don't really know how to top that last picture/paragraph, so... Have a nice week, everyone!

Friday 8 March 2013

"His immediate reaction was that it would be worth becoming a Prefect just to be able to use this bathroom."

So, a lot of important things happened in this part of the Goblet of Fire, things are really heating up for the big giant finale that I am equally excited and terrified to read about, and we learnt a lot about a lot of stuff. But, more important than all of that, my very favourite scene in all of Harry Potter happened.

BASICALLY, I love the prefects' bathroom in every possible way a woman can love a bathroom, and dammit, I will have a bathroom like it one of these days!
Mostly though, I think it's just one of those things where I can't really explain why I love it so much, because it's not exactly a major happening or anything, but it's just amazing and perfect and I love it. I think a big reason that I haven't seen any of the movie version (I've only seen all of the first one, but I've seen bits of most of the others... But not this one) is because I can't bear to see what they've done to the prefects' bathroom because WHAT IF IT'S NOT AS GOOD AS IT IS IN MY BRAIN?!

I mean, it definitely isn't because nothing in the world is as good as that is in my brain. So I just don't want to know.

Anyway! Other things did happen, probably. I might be too busy daydreaming about taps that pour out bubbles instead of water to write about them, but... NO, ok, I'm done talking about dream baths! So, Dobby's back (this is the first part he appears in, right?) and this time I... don't hate him?
But seriously, I guess when he's saving Harry's life instead of RUINING it, he's a lot less annoying, and also he's a free elf and he's happy and Hermoine's cause has its first good example, which is good because it was looking uncomfortably like we were going to have to go 'So... JK thinks that slavery is actually ok? That's... Really weird and horrible.' There is always Winky though, and actually I really like the contrast between Dobby, who likes being free, and Winky who thinks it's the worst thing ever. Plus Winky NEEDS to be there so I can transfer my House Elf Hate onto her and away from Dobby. Because anyone who says "'Dobby cannot let Harry Potter lose his Wheezy!'" is alright in my book.

Speaking of Harry Potter and his 'Wheezy' (awwwwwww!) I think the second challenge is awesome even though Harry and even Hermione couldn't figure out how to, y'know, deal with it and it was left to Dobby to steal stuff from Snape for Harry to properly compete. (But how did the others find the Bubblehead charm?! They couldn't find the charm for that?!) But ANYWAY- I strongly enjoy that Harry got there first and found three people he really cared about all tied up and ready to drown, and then he saved two of them, and didn't even CARE about winning so much as, you know, saving LIVES and this is why Harry is an awesome hero and I love him. An added bonus of this challenge is when Percy is all adorably worried about Ron because OMG SO CUTE!
Now, I've been writing this for approximately forever because short attention span+ the internet= Deadly. So I think it's time for bullet points.

  • Harry and Ron trying to get partners for the Yule Ball was both hilarious and tragic. I LOVED all the tension between Ron and Hermione about it though. I feel like this was the very first point where I was like 'ohhhh, is that what JK's trying to do here..?' so it's fun to revisit.
  • Harry's Christmas present from the Dursleys is a single tissue. I mean, at this point JK's really just having fun with the mean guardians story, isn't she?
  • The Yule Ball seems like it was SPECTACULAR even if Ron and Harry completely wasted it by just sitting down together and then going for a walk and basically being each others dates. Why didn't they just do that in the first place?!
  • Hagrid is a half-giant! OMG!
  • Speaking of Hagrid, remember when Karkaroff SPAT AT DUMBLEDORE (um, no Karkaroff, NOT OK) and then Hagrid lifted him up by the neck and told him to apologise? That was awesome. Hagrid's love for Dumbledore is one of my favourite things.
  • Baby unicorns are pure gold! I am a total girl when it comes to unicorns.
  • There is a lot of setting up for a big revelation for Snape. Which I'm assuming does happen in this book. But it may not. 
  • "If you want to know what a man's like, look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals." #rejectedtitlequotes . Also, alright Sirius, be all noble now, why don't you? It's all about the life lessons when you're not trying to murder Snape.
  • I feel like Mrs Weasley wouldn't be taken in by Rita Skeeter's stupid article (especially since she's already written mean things about Arthur IN THIS BOOK) so her sending Hermione a teeny easter egg seems out of character. UNLESS she somehow knows that Ron is in love with her (note: Ron doesn't even know this) and snubs her on his behalf. But I doubt it.
  • "All those substitutes for magic Muggles use- electricity, and computers and radar and all those things- they all go haywire around Hogwarts, there's too much magic in the air."- This explains the quills. And all the candles. And also, you know, the lack of internet and all.
And that's about all I have for you folks! I am so looking forward to/terribly afraid of the things we will find next week, but I will read on regardless. Hold my hand though, you guys. Please.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Devouring Films: The Lookout

I'm not sure I've ever been as surprised by a film as I was by The Lookout. It's not that I wasn't expecting it to be good because, with JGL as the leading man I never expect anything but perfection
But just from looking at the movie poster, and reading the description of it on Netflix, it sounded very much like a straightforward action movie with not all that much going for it except, obviously, for JGL. (Does my JGL-worship bore anyone? I mean... I don't really care if it does, but I am interested!) But anyway, I couldn't have been more wrong, and for that I am grateful.

I watched The Lookout on the night I learnt what stomach lining tastes like (sorry...), just before all the vomiting, so the fact that I still think it's an awesome film is a testament to... What an awesome film it is. If it had been any less than what it is, I would feel faintly queasy at the thought of it (negative associations and all) but actually I pretty much feel like I want to watch it AGAIN because it's kind of complex and brilliant and I love it?

So. JGL plays this guy who is the ice hockey STAR of his high school (is ice hockey even big in Kansas? I have no idea) who one night drives like a moron and ends up with short term memory problems. We next see him 4 years later, when he's trying to figure out how to live his life when he can hardly remember the most basic of things (where the can opener is, for example) and trying to reconcile the way he lives now with the way he used to be. It's honestly heartbreaking (possibly mainly because I love JGL... But only because he MAKES me love him, with all the acting he does), and I was kind of like... This is the weirdest start to an action film...

And it kind of kept not being an action film! I mean, there are some guns, and there's some plotting, and it's pretty dramatic, but if it is an action film, then it's a really really character-based one and it didn't make me roll my eyes or sigh even ONCE. It's more like... Here's this guy whose life has very very much not turned out like he wanted it to, and someone (a VERY manipulative someone) offers him a chance to, if not go back to the way things were, at least to make things better for himself now, if by better you mean being part of a bank heist and stealing money so you can buy stuff. Too bad there's no cure for memory damage.

And it's really really sad to go through the various stages of this dilemma with JGL, and some EVEN sadder things happen (there's a particular sad thing that happens that I don't think is dealt with seriously enough, because it happens in the middle of an actiony bit. Aaaaaand there's basically my entire problem with action movies.) but mostly it's a film about learning to accept the lot in life you've been given and do the best with it that you can. Oh, and not to rob banks. That's an important message too.
So. In a nutshell, I really liked this film, as I almost always like films that involve JGL. Unlike SOME of his films though (say, for example, 50/50) The Lookout didn't SCAR me so that I can never watch it again- in fact, I kind of want to watch it again, like, right now. The mark of a good film, or evidence of an overwhelming JGL obsession? We may never know...

Monday 4 March 2013

Devouring Books: Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch

"The whole world should tremble and shake at every death, but if it did, we would never be still. The world would literally rock with death and sorrow. How is it that we hold on to the shell of the earth and of our lives, and go on?"

For some reason, I've been obsessed with Tolstoy and the Purple Chair for the longest time. I think it's been around since juuust about the time I started blogging, and apparently I'm really suggestible just by seeing the cover of a book, if it's a good cover (it doesn't hurt that I read Anna Karenina not long after I started blogging, and, I don't know, I really like purple? And chairs, obviously) and obviously I decided that I MUST read it. And so, 2 years later, I did! (Huge thanks to Hanna, who sent it to me!)

And. Well. I didn't love it. I liked it fine, and I did read it in, I think, 2 days, but it really is pretty short, and reading a book about someone who's reading a book a day (ooh, meta) does sort of get you in the mood to, I don't know, compete with Sankovitch and at least read this book in a day (and a bit)? Although that might just have been my reaction to it all. I'm pretty sure that when I first heard the concept, 'oh yeah, she read a book a day for a year' my reaction was 'cool!' which is pretty far from what my reaction should have been, which is 'what a crazy!' because, if you think about it, that's a pretty consuming, almost life ignoring goal.

Which, to be fair, is something that I think Sankovitch appreciates and admits to, but she thinks that the positives of reading a book a day for a year will outweigh the negatives, and besides, it's something that she needed to do to try and reconcile herself with her sister Anne-Marie's sudden death. My thoughts on the grieving process are, essentially, if you need to do it then do it, and that's kind of what Sankovitch did. But then, my question becomes, did I really need to read a book about it, and was a book about it any good?

Well, yes and no, to the 'any good?' question. I liked it when Sankovitch was talking about specific books and what they meant to her, and I appreciated that she tried to tie in lessons she'd learnt from books to things that had happened in her life, and things she was going to do with her life, because, you know, that's the whole point of books! There were also a few books that she'd read that I actually own, and her enthusiasm about them has really made me go 'oooh! I want to read it now!' which is really awesome, actually.

But, and I really feel like a douchbag saying this, but there were points where, when it came to her sister, she became really repetitive. I'm not saying that I don't care about her dead sister, and I can't even imagine how awful, how much of a shock it must have been to have her sister die so suddenly. But...I didn't really need her repeating, in basically every chapter, that her sister was the greatest person who ever lived. I understand why she feels that way, and I think death makes people very difficult to be objective, but it's basically impossible for a person to be as perfect as Sankovitch says her sister was, and more than that, it's kind of dull to have it pressed upon us AT ALL TIMES that she was amazing. I got that after the first chapter, I didn't really need to hear it over and over again.

To be slightly less, um, MEAN TO THE DEAD, I have to say that, in the end, I felt a tiny bit cheated by the reading challenge (if that's what you'd even call it) itself. I had kind of assumed that Sankovitch read a full sized (ish, I'm not saying she should have read, like, The Stand every day or anything) book every day, but practically all the books she read were pretty teeny, or they were novellas, or short stories. Which, you know, makes sense because she was also writing a blog and so had to have thoughts about these books and then write about them etc etc, but... I kind of thought it was more of a challenge than it actually was, and so yeah, I felt a little cheated!

So. As far as books about books goes, it's maybe not the amazingest, but I still liked it plenty (see: reading it in two days) and there are some good insights about books in there, mixed up with many, many complimentary paragraphs about her sister. It hasn't exactly inspired me to read a book a day for a year (I once read 3 books in 3 days and it nearly KILLED me) but I appreciate knowing that it can be done, and yeah, books are the coolest. Maybe you should pick one up sometime.

SPECIAL OFFER! Since Hanna sent this to me cause she's lovely, I thought I'd see if anyone else maybe wants to read it? Let me know in the comments if you'd like it, and I'll see what I can do (i.e. I'll send it to one of you because I am passing on the love).

Sunday 3 March 2013

Sunday Sundries: Ms, Miss, or Mrs?

Happy Sunday blogettes! I have very little life happenings to report this week, having had the first 3 days of the week off work to recover from the ILLNESS THAT TRIED TO KILL ME, so that involved basically just laying around and watching tv (managed to finish Season 3 of The Wire though, so that's good!) and then I did go back to work and it totally tired me out so then both of those nights I kind of... laid around and watched tv.

I'll be more interesting next week, honest!

Ok, now I'm going to make a point about a thing that I've been thinking about for... about as long as I've been at my job. And, well, for longer than that, really, but it's been really pissing me off for about 4 months now, so. Obviously I'm not going to tell you ALL about my job because it's top secret and blah blah blah, and also because it's not that smart to talk about work on the internet, but basically I listen to phone calls and score them according to guidelines and blah blah blah (Don't get jealous- it really is that boring).

Anyway. Part of the whole process is that whoever is conducting the call needs to get the caller's name because, you know, common courtesy and all that. And when it comes to women callers, the assumption is almost ALWAYS that they're a Mrs. Even when they've given their first and last names, with no title, still it is assumed that they're a Mrs., or, if they sound young, then they're obviously a Miss.
It just makes me wonder, what the HELL has happened to Ms.? (For the record, if they say their full name without a title, I always record them as Ms. I'm fighting the SYSTEM, man!)

I mean, seriously, why are we still living in a time where women are defined by their marital status? Such advances feminism has made, and we still have to put up with people assuming that we're married, or that we're not. And the thing about it is, none of this is malicious in any way, it's almost an unconscious assumption that if a woman is a certain age that she must be married, and therefore she's a Mrs., which really doesn't allow for the billions of differences between women that may be a reason that they reject that particular title.

The thing is this. If you look at basically any form, the title option goes like this: Mr/Miss/Mrs/Ms. At least Ms. is basically always included, but if you ask me, that option should just be Mr/Ms (oh yeah, also Dr, and Rev, and whatever else. But for the ladies and the dudes). I mean, how simple is that? No one needs to worry themselves about whether anyone else is married, and no one needs to define themselves by being married, or not so much. I feel like there's a real stigma against 'Ms', like if you use it you're this crazy angry feminist, who no one likes, and to THAT I say firstly, shut up;
and secondly, look, defining women by their marital status is sooooo old, and part of a really gross patriarchal system that it would be really easy to defy if everyone just called themselves Ms.

Plus, you know, it would stop me getting pissed off at work every 5 minutes.

As always, I'm not saying that people are wrong for calling themselves Mrs, or Miss, and if I'm honest, probably about 95% of the time, the women who don't title themselves probably are 'Mrs' someone and don't even notice what's being done to them. I'm not even going to touch the whole 'taking his name' when you get married thing, but I honestly think that the Ms/Mrs/Miss thing is a much more important thing to think about because, well, it's no one else's business what your marital status is, men don't have to have it hanging out there at all times on their names, and it should be no different for women.

*Relinquishes soapbox for next speaker of awesomeness*

But, I mean, I'm right though, right? Or am I making mountains out of molehills? I'm aware that there are some more important issues affecting women that should maybe take precedence over this one, but it's such a small thing that makes a really big symbolic difference. I'll always be a Ms, anyway.

Friday 1 March 2013

"'Harry,' he said, very seriously, 'whoever put your name in that Goblet- I- I reckon they're trying to do you in!'"

Firstly, I just need to say... Do you know how DIFFICULT it is to be in the middle of Harry Potter when you're ill and need something lovely to read and then to have to STOP? It is the difficultest, and only my immense respect for the boundaries of the readalong prevented me from reading... well, all the books this week. Also because I didn't want to miss out on the future fun, but it's MAINLY the respect thing.
So. I wonder if anyone in the history of ever has been surprised by Harry's name coming out of the Goblet of Fire. I think it was pretty smart to have him be like an 'extra' champion rather than the actual Hogwarts champion, so there was that element of it to be surprising, but other than that... I mean, THEY ARE HIS BOOKS, so obviously he has to take part in the Tri-Wizard Tournament! It wouldn't make sense otherwise!

Now let's talk about Ron. Who is being an idiot, but who I think also can't really help it and I see it from his perspective and daaaamn it must hurt being Ron Weasley. I'm not really down with him not speaking to Harry at all, and just adding massively to Harry's stressload (speaking of, HOW STRESSFUL was basically this whole section?! I was not a fan of HARRY'S PAIN!) and I wouldn't really like to get into who is worse off, but Ron does get a pretty raw deal at all times, and it's not really his fault.
I think that really what they need is a freaky Friday situation where Harry gets to see what it's like being a sidekick, and Ron gets to see what it's like nearly being murdered all the time. And THEN they'd know.

And now the time comes, as it does almost every week, to talk about Snape. I'm willing to admit that I tend to err on the side of letting things go when it comes to Snape, because of... Reasons, but this time... I'm actually really cross with him. FIRSTLY for being all like 'Yep, Harry Potter definitely got his name in the Goblet, even though he's RUBBISH AT MAGIC like I tell him all the time,' because, really Snape? WHERE IS THAT LOGIC WE SAW IN BOOK 1?! (did we all catch this though? "'He's been crossing lines ever since he got here'"
Gotta love that wordplay!) But much much more annoying is when poor Hermione has the teeth growing going on, and he just looks at her and goes "'I see no difference'" and I'm like
Because NO, you can't say shit like that to teenage girls and ANYWAY Hermione is a goddess and SHUT UP SNAPE.

Phew. Bullet point time?

  • "'Does he still think I entered myself?'" Presented without comment.
  • I enjoy Madame Maxime and her frenchness and her accent: 'Dumbly-Dorr'- Amazing!
  • It's fun reading and talking about these with other people (Obviously...) Because you pick up on things that don't really bother you but you know will annoy/amaze someone else. E.g. I assume Alice is annoyed by Beauxbatons because they sit at the Ravenclaw table, and I assume that Tika's MIND WAS BLOWN by the fact that you can have Veela hair as your wand core! OMG!
  • This: "'You only like him because he's handsome,' said Ron scathingly. 'Excuse me, I don't like people just because they're handsome!' said Hermione indignantly. Ron gave a loud false cough, which sounded oddly like 'Lockhart!'"
  • It constantly seemed like a bad idea allowing Rita Skeeter to be alone with Harry. I mean... Yeah. No. Are there no adults supervising this thing?!
  • The thing with the dragons was pretty awesome. Dramatic and exciting, but I kind of love that we sat with Harry through most of it, because JK perfectly built up the feeling of when you're waiting to do something really intimidating and scary and it's the WORST and you feel like you might die, but then when you're actually doing it, and when you've done it, it's fine. So, you know, nice work JK!
And that's about all I've got, people! I think this section ended at a really good point, where Harry has Ron back, and the whole school doesn't HATE him anymore, and we can go back to all having a good time! Because nothing bad could possibly happen! Ever! Right?