Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Following your heart, blog post images, games, kidlit and more {From My Haphazard Twitter Files, No. 8}


The week has just flown by so fast! It’s Saturday again, and here are some of the links I tweeted on Twitter this past week. It was another eclectic week of links – I read such interesting things online!

  1. When You’re at the Crossroads of Should and Must really spoke to me, as I feel more and more these days that’s where I am, and I need to make the choice that’s right for me. The Should is so tempting because it’s comfortable, it’s familiar, it’s what I’ve been taught to do, but as I get older, I find myself with so many regrets because I never had the courage to choose my Must. I’m hoping things will change this year, and I’ll be able to embark on a path that includes the things that are in my heart to do.
  2. We all need images for blog posts these days, and when I saw this list of 32 free image sources for your blog at Lifehack, I immediately saved it to Evernote. I know this list will come in handy!
  3. Writer, Get to Work! is a free board game “of procrastination and misplaced competitive angst for 3-5 scribes”. Created by Jill Murray, writer and game designer, all you have to do is download, print to two sheets of letter-sized paper, add your own die and game tokens and off you go! I haven’t tried the game yet, but it looks like a lot of fun.
  4. Elegy for a Dead World is an experimental game that turns players into poets and writers. It’s available on Steam and I’m thinking of giving it a try. It’s another game that looks like fun.
  5. If you’re a Harry Potter fan and haven’t seen these yet, you’ve got to click through and check out these truly awesome interactive illustrations created for the first Harry Potter book by artist Kincso Nagy. I found these via @TifTalksBooks – thanks, Tif!
  6. This post from Flavorwire is filled with famous authors’ handwritten outlines – I love love love handwritten notes and things, and it’s quite a treat to be able to see how famous writers like J.K. Rowling outlined their books.
  7. This Guardian article, Children’s books are never just for children, poses a really interesting question: “Many adults – many well-known authors in fact – re-read books that in childhood had a big impact. So why is children’s literature not considered worthy of major awards?” My personal opinion? Children’s literature is in no way lesser literature simply because it’s written for children. Perhaps one day a children’s book will win a major book award, when the judges finally lose their biases against children’s books.

Audiobooks on Holiday: Comfort Re-reads for the Drive

I’m off on a weekend trip to Montreal with my sister – it will be a real foodie weekend, and I’m looking forward to good eating and some nice sisterly bonding. My sister and I have never travelled together before, so I’m really looking forward to our weekend away. Plus, she’s an event planner, and as you might expect, everything’s all arranged – room booked, reservations made, market and shopping plans in place!

We’re driving there (I say “we” but of course, I mean my sister’s doing the driving) and while we’ll be doing a lot of chatting along the way, I plan to spend a bit of time listening to audiobooks, too.

After I put together my list of potential listens, I realized I’d selected “Comfort Re-reads”. Which makes sense, because I’ll only be listening sporadically, and I don’t really want to be in the middle of a thriller of a read and have to keep stopping to, you know, be social and talk. But with a comfort re-read, it’s easy to turn the iPod off when necessary, and just as easy to turn it back on and slip right back into where I last left the story.

I seem to be in a real fantasy mood right now, as you can see from my list:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

My son and I have been listening to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at night before he goes to bed, which has made me really want to reread the rest of the books in audio – again.  I actually started Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire tonight, while I was packing. It’s a great comfort read, and so nice to be back in the world of Harry Potter.

The Golden Compass

But if I get tired of Harry Potter (okay, not likely to happen but I want to be prepared), next on my list is the first book in the His Dark Materials series: The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman. It’s been a while since I’ve read the series, and I’ve never done them in audio, either. I’m thinking they’ll make a good re-read in audio.

Nine Princes in Amber

My final pick (only three books, I know – but I’m only going away for the weekend!) is a bit problematic. The last time I read Roger Zelazny’s Amber Chronicles was many, many years ago, when I was still in university – as in, pre-kids (and my two oldest are both in university themselves now, so it was really quite a few years ago). I’m not too sure it really counts as a comfort re-read – I suspect, my memory being what it is, it will feel more like an almost new read.

I actually intend to read all the Amber books this year: I recently bought them all in this wonderful omnibus collection:

The Big Book of Amber

The Great Book of Amber contains all ten books in the series; I was thinking I’d get to it this summer, but we’re already halfway through the summer and I haven’t even started yet. So maybe I’ll get started with the audio version of the first book.

Although, I probably won’t, not this weekend!

What about you? When you go on holiday, especially holidays involving road trips, what kind of audiobooks do you like to bring along for the ride?

A Harry Potter Christmas!

Happy holidays, everyone! I’m still in the middle of festive celebrations, as we have some family “dos” scheduled this week. And then, of course, there’s New Year’s, although Ward and I have been so busy, we haven’t actually figured out what we’re going to be doing on New Year’s Eve.

My Christmas Day was all about Harry Potter, because this is what I found under the tree:


I’d had this book on my wishlist since I first heard about it (I think it was on Twitter), but it was one of those “yeah, maybe one of these days” kind of things – after all the decluttering book-wise we’ve done this year, I felt strange about forking over such big bucks for a big coffee table type of book. But Ward decided to pick it up for me for Christmas, and am I ever glad he did!

I spent most of Christmas Day curled up on the couch devouring Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey. It’s one of those books where, when you come up for air, you say to yourself, “And a wonderful time was had by all.” (Well, at least, that’s what I usually say to myself when I find myself immersed in a really good read.)

The parts I like best? The occasional mentions of J.K. Rowling’s contributions to the filming process, like this bit about the Black family tree:

“Within the house is a tapestry that reveals the entire history of the Black family. The tapestry is mentioned only briefly in the book but needed to be fully constructed for the film. So David Heyman called Jo Rowling to get details about the Black family tree. Within fifteen minutes, she faxed him a complete family tree for the house of Black, with over seventy-five names going back over five generations, all complete with dates of births and deaths, marriage details, and even the family crest and motto.”

It really dawned on me after reading this, how Rowling did more than simply write the Harry Potter books. She also created extremely detailed material about all aspects of Harry Potter’s world, and even though these details might show up in the series in brief mentions, or perhaps not at all, they clearly infuse the books with a realism that plays no small role in their appeal.

Know what I would love to see? A volume devoted to all of this supplementary material. Wouldn’t that be just a lovely peak inside the creative process of this very extraordinary writer?

Ward also got me the final movie in the Harry Potter series; when it came out this year, I went to the theatres to see it twice. I think it’s one of my favourites in the entire series. I haven’t had a chance to watch it again yet, as Christmas Day was given over to the reading of Harry Potter Page to Screen, and then right after Christmas, I had to dig deep into my deadlines again, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.

How were your holidays? What bookish delights did you find under your tree?

Completed: The Harry Potter Challenge!

NaNoWriMo progress report (day 4): 9,115 words to date. I’ve already had one writing session today, but I’d like to do another one, as I’d like to make it to 10,000 words by the end of today.



Now for some wonderful news. I have completed my very first reading challenge EVER!

Yes, that’s right. I’ve completed the Harry Potter Reading Challenge!

It will actually be one of my last reading challenges completed, because I’ve sworn off signing up for more reading challenges, even very interesting ones like the Women Unbound challenge (I had to sit on my hands to avoid giving into the temptation of that one – but if you’re looking for a great reading challenge, you should definitely consider this one).

I did the entire Harry Potter challenge in audio, and even though this is a reread for me, I realized I must have read the last two books in the series in one or two gulps; listening to the last two books, I found I had forgotten (more likely, “skimmed over”) a LOT of the plot, and so it was almost like reading them for the first time.

In other words, very, very exciting. And I cried lots, too. I even get teary eyed now when I think about what Harry named his middle child (you find this out in the epilogue. I won’t mention it here, as it’s a spoiler).

And while it’s a kind of funny thing to express appreciation for, I wouldn’t have finished listening to the series in audio so soon if I hadn’t had those days in October, and most recently, the first day in November, when I wasn’t feeling well. Audiobooks are great when you’re under the weather, and these Harry Potter ones were especially enjoyable.

I’ve had Harry and his friends as my bedtime reading for the past three months now – I’m really going to miss listening to the books. I’d definitely reread them all in audio again!

Some Saturday Ramblings

It feels like a “lost” week around here in a way. Monday was a holiday here (not that it matters much to me work-wise since I work when I have a deadline and take time off when I don’t, but there’s the not-minor matter of not having to get up with the kids in the morning as they get ready for school!)

Add to that the head cold I had for three days, which unfortunately came back yesterday and really, it feels like all I’ve done this week is loll around in the grip of cold medication that makes me drowsy.

Reading …

I did manage to get through a nice chunk of The Likeness, by Tana French. I’ve mentioned before that, for some reason, this novel hasn’t hooked me the way In The Woods did. I finally felt really engrossed at around page 189. I’m now very near the end, but (and it might just be because I’ve been under the weather) I don’t find myself racing through to see what happens. In fact, the book has sat on the coffee table, open to the page where I last left it, for the past two days.

I did much better with the audio version of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – I’m getting close to the end, and I just started listening earlier this week. (It generally takes me longer to listen to an audiobook because I only listen when I’m exercising, cleaning the kitchen and for an hour before bed.)

While I’ve reread the first three Harry Potter books a few times, I realized as I was listening to this one that this is my first reread of it. There were several things I’d forgotten, and one thing I was pleased to rediscover was that (tiny spoiler here, for those of you who haven’t read this one or seen the movie), unlike the movie, it wasn’t Cho who ratted everyone out. I hadn’t realized that the movie had parted ways with the book there (which goes to show how much of the book I’d forgotten by the time I saw the movie!).

Writing …

I’d meant to spend this week doing up character sketch thingies for my NaNoWriMo novel, but never lifted even a finger in that direction. I did, however, find a very handy set of free Excel worksheets right before I came down with that head cold. I’ll only be using the character worksheet, but for those of you who like to plot first, The Novel Planning Excel Workbook might come in handy (you can see all the worksheets in the novel here, but you need to go here to download it).

When I was writing NANTUCKET, I ended up taking a file folder and writing down all my secondary characters in it, because I found myself wasting a lot of time trying to remember names, especially the names of the more minor characters. I think using the character worksheet will really be helpful.

Fitness Challenge

I haven’t done that well this week with the challenge, logging in only two miles, on the day when I was feeling better. I was supposed to do another 1.5 miles yesterday, but kept postponing it, and then that head cold came back again. I really should get on the treadmill today, but I’m still feeling tired.

Ah … discipline. Nope. I don’t have it, not for fitness, anyway!

The Food Blog

Earlier this week, I posted about our Thanksgiving dinner this past weekend; I also mentioned that I was hoping my husband would start blogging at our food blog, Muse in the Kitchen, because I have been doing a terrible job of keeping it up-to-date.

The thing is, while I do love to eat, it’s Ward who’s really passionate about the cooking and the recipes. He’ll be so thrilled about discovering a new technique that creates a much better result, while I’ll be like, “okay, that’s wonderful, is it okay if we dig in now?”

So guess what? He wrote his first post at Muse in the Kitchen the same day I wrote about our Thanksgiving dinner! You can check it out here: 30-Minute Homemade Pasta.

Since that first post, he’s also written several more posts. And today he told me he’s having a great time blogging! My job with the food blog now is very much like my job in the kitchen. During prep time, I play the role of sous chef; at the blog, I do a bit of reformatting.

Life feels pretty near perfect right now …

Where I Throw Up My Hands in Resignation and Yell, “I’m Giving Up!”

There’s no graceful way to post about this, so I thought I might as well let my Inner Drama Queen take over.

(If you have any pots and pans handy, feel free to bang on them and add to the general noise and ruckus.)

Are you ready?


So, what exactly am I giving up on?

My reading challenges.


So this is my official notice that I have totally failed at almost all of the reading challenges I’ve signed up for, and my declaration that I will be exercising more discipline henceforth when it comes to all the gorgeous, glorious reading challenges that I just KNOW will be coming up now that we are in the final quarter of this year and heading into the new year.

And I’m trusting all of you to hold me accountable. From now on, if I find myself accepting another reading challenge, I will include in my post all the reasons why I will be able to succeed, and if I can’t think of enough reasons, I will not accept.

See, it’s not even that I’m not reading the books that I challenged myself to read. The fact is, I don’t have a clue whether I am or not.

There’s no getting around it. I just have a tough time keeping track of the books that I’ve read. And when I write reviews, I can never seem to remember to check on my challenges and see if the book I’m reviewing fits into any of the categories.

Take J. Kaye’s 100+ books challenge as an example. I’m pretty sure I’m on track to meet my goals for this challenge, but for the life of me, there’s no way I can list the all the books that I’ve read this year – I just haven’t kept track and can’t remember them all.

So this post is my not-so-graceful way of admitting that I simply fail at reading challenges – even when I’m technically fulfilling the challenges, I’m still failing them.

Sad, but true.

From now on, I’m only going to take on challenges that I know I will be able to meet; yes, I know this rather defeats the point of challenges but so be it. I might, for example, tackle a Betsy-Tacy reading challenge if I come across one (I’m sure I will). Or an Anne of Green Gables rereading challenge. But that’s the extent of it. No thrill of discovering new-to-me authors for me, no ecstasy of reading newly published books, no triumphant reading-across-the-finish-line posts.

As for my current challenges, I am letting myself stick with the following challenges:

The Harry Potter Reading Challenge


The Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge

And now, as gracefully as I can after admitting to so many stupendous reading challenge failures, I will exit this post …

Harry Potter in Audio: Books 1 and 2

hprclogoFor the Harry Potter Reading Challenge, I decided to re-read the Harry Potter series in audiobook format.

I’d just like to pat myself on the back now, and say, “Good decision, Belle”.

I’ve always had a sort of strange envy for people who decided to start reading the Harry Potter books after book seven was published. I think to myself how delightful it would be to have that opportunity to sit down, new to Harry’s wizarding world, and polish off the entire series from beginning to end, one lovely book after another.

And now, listening to the books in audio, I feel like I’m getting the chance to experience the books that way, too. (Well, almost, anyway.) Jim Dale, the narrator of the Harry Potter audiobooks, is a superb narrator;he ably brings each story to vivid life, and I find myself caught up in the books almost as if I didn’t quite know what was about to happen.

I normally listen for an hour or so before bed, and it’s like my own personal bedtime story. Once again, I find myself drawn into Harry’s story, and there’s just such a good feeling when I come to the end of one book, and know that the next book is there for me, waiting for me to start it.

When it comes to audiobooks, I have a tendency to favor books I’ve already read before. That way, there are no surprises. I know beforehand that yes, I do like the book (and no, there aren’t any scenes that are too intense for me to handle in print, much less in audio, where you can’t flip through the next page or two, eyes closed).

So the books in the Harry Potter series are perfect for an audiobook re-read. Although they’re pricy (and I noticed that Audible isn’t currently carrying them, either), I discovered that my library has a few copies of each volume.

Audiobook bliss. That’s about all I can say.

And the Harry Potter challenge is definitely one that I will be completing (I’m afraid I’m going to have a generally woeful post coming up soon about the state of my reading challenges). So far, I’ve listened to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (that’s the UK title) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (finished that last night, smiling all the while at Dobby’s reward). I also started Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban last night.

One thing, though: I do find that the images in my mind resemble to a great degree the images I remember from the movies. If you’ve re-read the Harry Potter books, do you find this happening too?

Harry Potter Reading Challenge


I couldn’t resist! And yes, I know I’ve been very derelict in keeping my other reading challenge posts updated. But come on! It’s a Harry Potter reading challenge!

I just couldn’t say no. So I’m signing on for this one.

I’ve read all the Harry Potter books (I can remember waiting by the mailbox, eagerly awaiting the delivery of the newest, just-released book – whichever it was depended on the year in memory – and ripping the package open, having already made the entire family promise to leave me alone for the entire day so I could read from beginning to end in absolute bliss.)

I’ve also re-read several of them once or twice now, and I’ve been wanting to sit down and do a re-read from beginning to end.

So, for this challenge, I’m thinking about listening to each of them in audio. Jim Dale, who narrates the books, is a wonderful narrator, and I think this will be a great way to complete this challenge.

The challenge in full is this: Read or listen to all seven books in the Harry Potter series, anytime beginning August 1, 2009 to July 31, 2010.

What are you waiting for? Sign up at GalleySmith’s and come join me in the fun!

Tuesday Thingers – Most Popular Book

Tuesday Thingers

Tuesday Thingers

I’ve been really enjoying Tuesday Thingers – I’m very new to LibraryThing and with each Tuesday Thingers I participate in, I learn something new about LibraryThing. Today was no exception. Here’s today’s Tuesday Thingers question:

What’s the most popular book in your library? Have you read it? What did you think? How many users have it?

I checked around, and discovered that you can find the most popular books at LibraryThing on this page: right in the middle of that page is a section called “Top Books”. These are books that are owned by the most people over at LT.

Of the books listed on that page, I actually own the following (the numbers in brackets are the number of people at LibraryThing who own a copy of the book):

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (37,389)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (34,750)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (33,277)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (32,642)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (32,343)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (32,108)
The Da Vinci Code (26,843)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (26,109)
The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again (24,939)
Pride and Prejudice (23,275)
To Kill a Mockingbird (20,520)
The Great Gatsby (18,776)
The Lord of the Rings (17,972)
Jane Eyre (16,841)
Angels & Demons (15,342)
Life of Pi (15,176)
The Fellowship of the Ring (14,160)

And out of the list of these books that I do own, I’ve read all of them except Life of Pi. For some reason, Life of Pi has been one of those books that I keep “meaning to get to”.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Sorceror’s Stone, but my copy is Philosopher’s Stone) is the most popular book, and it happens to be one of my favourite books. I’ve re-read it quite a few times, along with the rest of the books in the series. This “popular” list holds another one of my favourite books, Pride and Prejudice. It’s also a book that I re-read quite frequently. With Pride and Prejudice I find that I get something new out of it with every reading; the Harry Potter books, on the other hand, are just pure unadulterated FUN!

Mind you, my LibraryThing account currently has just a meager handful of books in it. The idea of entering all of my books into my account is rather daunting, so I don’t know how long it will take before I get all my books listed there.