Category Archives: Katrina Reads

Harry Potter Forever

Harry Potter is having a bit of a resurgence in my life right now. Actually, he seems to be having a bit of a resurgence in general. Myself and two of my friends all decided within the last few months, completely independently, to re-read the entire series. Truth: I’ve done this several times since reading the first book when I was 11.

They never get old to me. They’re as enjoyable on the 10th read as they were on the 2nd (but let’s face it, NOTHING compares to the first read through of any book, let alone a series as universally beloved as Harry Potter). I watch the movies regularly as well. ABC Family makes it easy because they have Harry Potter marathons pretty much every weekend (and they air deleted scenes, you guys!). I have a Pottermore account, which goes largely unused until recently, when J.K. Rowling posted new material about where our favorite Hogwarts alums are now in the form of a Rita Skeeter article that was supposed to be focusing on the Quidditch World Cup, which took place this year (spoiler alert, Bulgaria won, with Krum out of retirement as seeker!).

I’m sure there are lots of articles and blog posts ruminating on why Harry Potter has such staying power, why the series is loved by children and adults alike, so I won’t go into that here. But I will talk a bit about why I think Harry Potter still means so much to me.

I grew up with Harry and the gang. The first book came out when I was 11, the same age Harry was in the first book. I remember very clearly sitting in my living room and my dad handing me this book he said he had read about in the newspaper. At this point I was old enough to think that whatever my dad thought might be “cool” probably wasn’t at all and I was also not yet old enough to think anyone could find anything of interest in a newspaper.

I didn’t want to read it. I started reading it anyway. And I was immediately hooked. What 11-year-old doesn’t dream that perhaps they are really a prince or princess or maybe they were switched at birth their rich, famous parents could show up any minute to whisk them away into a life of luxury? (Still waiting on that, actually.) Point being, the idea that poor Harry had a half-giant show up and tell him “Hey, you’re a wizard and you can do magic and you’re going to come with me and live in this magical world and have an owl for a pet” was extremely appealing. HOW COOL.

I then spent the next ten years of my life beholden to the publishing schedule of these books. I waited YEARS between some of the last ones. I went to midnight book releases. Then, they started making them into movies. This wonderful, magical, imaginative world that I was so enamored with was being brought to life. I stood in line for midnight showings (but I did not dress up. I had to draw the line somewhere). And don’t even get me started on Harry Potter World in Florida. (I DID wear Gryffindor colors for that visit…)

And then, when I turned 21, it all ended. Coincidentally, I suppose you could say the books ended when my childhood did. (When you can go to a bar and legally order a [butter]beer that basically means you’re an adult, right?) It was the weirdest feeling. Like someone died. NO more Harry? But…what? That’s probably when I decided to re-read the books for the first time.

They’re always there for me. The books are kind of like a security blanket for me. Nothing to read? It’s ok, all seven books are on my Kindle and I can read them whenever I want, complete with my favorite lines highlighted. I also have all eight movies on DVD, in case it’s a rainy weekend and for some weird reason they’re not on ABC Family. I have the Harry Potter theme music on my phone, as both a ringtone and the actual song, just in case I need a touch of magic during my morning commute.

I have all these things, and I enjoy them, because they take me back to when I was 11 and finding Harry for the first time. Nothing can compare to the original time you read a book, but every time I start the Sorcerer’s Stone (“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much”) it takes me back a little bit.

When life is rough or in some kind of flux, I turn to Harry. Because he doesn’t change. He always makes it out okay in the end. And whatever is going wrong in my life at the time prroobbably isn’t as bad as an evil wizard constantly trying to kill you. Perspective.

They stand the test of time. There’s nothing in these books that dates them. No pop culture references to make it obvious when they were written. The stories themselves never seem trite or immature, even reading them as an adult. They were enjoyed by people of all ages when they were originally published, and I don’t see that changing.

I can’t wait to read them to my children someday and share the magic with them. I can only imagine that the next best thing to being able to read them for the first time again is getting to see a child experience them for the first time. Lord help me if my kids don’t like Harry Potter. I”m sending them back.

I don’t know how J.K. Rowling managed to create this amazing global phenomenon. I mean, she jotted down the original idea on a napkin, and it somehow grew into what it is. Still, nearly 20 years later, Harry Potter is A Thing. Rowling is still giving us some original material via Pottermore. They’ve just expanded The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal. It truly is magical.

So obviously, J.K. Rowling is a witch.

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April Books

I did way better with my book count in April. This is mainly in part to a horrendously boring work project and my discovery of audiobooks. The two went together like peanut butter and jelly and I managed to finish THREE books while working on the project. So I guess the horrible, brainless project was balanced out by getting to enjoy three books while I did it.

I’d never listened to an audiobook before. I thought I wouldn’t be able to focus. Now I’m obsessed. I listen in the car. I listen before bed, like someone is reading me a bedtime story. It’s amazing.

Anyway, here are the books for April!

The Here and Now – Ann Brashares

I didn’t love this one. The premise was intriguing and I loved the Traveling Pants series when I was younger, but I felt meh about this. The love story part of the book was really just horrible if I’m being honest.

Timebound – Rysa Walker

This one wasn’t too bad. It was about time travel, which for some reason always sucks me in. It had a lot of historical elements which could get a bit snoozy. Lots of heavy blocks of text. The romance aspect felt like it was tossed in at the last minute and added nothing to the story, so that was problematic once again.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

I had an interesting reaction to this one. I enjoyed reading the book, but when I went on Goodreads and read the reviews I found myself agreeing with many of the complaints people had. It ended up changing how I felt about the story. In any case, it was an enjoyable read if you don’t think too deeply about it.

Looking for Alaska – John Green

John Green is my man. While this was no Fault in Our Stars, it was good.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

This started out so strong! A mysterious bookstore, how intriguing! This was also my second foray (more on the first later) into audiobooks and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this. But as the story went on, it just kind of started to suck. So that was super disappointing. Womp womp.

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

Amazing. Everything you’ve heard is true. Don’t bother with the movie.

Coraline – Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman, oh how I love thee. This was an audiobook which was delightfully read by Gaiman himself, thus making the entire experience that much more magical.

And finally, though this doesn’t count towards my total for this endeavor,  The Devil in the White City (Abandoned).This was my first audiobook attempt and holy crap. More like The Mayor of Boring City. As my mom would say this just “wasn’t my cup of tea”. I ditched it about 1/4 of the way through.

Total: 20

I’ll be back next month with my books from May! (I’m already getting a slow start, ugh.) Also, are you on Goodreads? If you are, add me as a friend! I love seeing what others are reading, and occasionally I’ll write slightly better reviews than the ones I write here.

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Fictitious Dishes

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I love food. This is no secret. I enjoy cooking it, I enjoy eating it, and I even enjoy looking at it. I also enjoy books and reading, as we also know. Perhaps that’s why I find Dinah Fried’s new book particularly captivating.

She created and then photographed meals from various books, and the result is fascinating. She set the meals up as they would have looked to the characters in the books (the top photo here is from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and the bottom photo is from To Kill a Mockingbird). Holden Caulfield’s cheese sandwich and malted are presented on a diner counter.

Fried feels that the act of reading fiction is a sensory experience. For this book, she focused on one sensory element from fiction – food – and created visuals to match.

“Each photograph does not represent a meal exactly as it was explained by the author, rather aims to capture the essence of each novel, evoking the setting and atmosphere of the narrative. Whether or not you’ve read the books, these images should provide a little taste of what they’re like.” (Huffington Post)

Kind of cool, right? The Huffington Post link has a slideshow with more meals pictured, and you can also peek inside the book on Amazon. Worth a look!

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February/March Books

Started to lose track of what I was reading in February and March! I believe everything below should cover it, bringing the grand total so far up to 13.

 

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Beautiful Chaos – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

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Beautiful Redemption – Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

I had started this series awhile back and never got around to finishing it, so I picked up the last two books so I could get a couple of quick reads in for this challenge. It wasn’t the best series I’ve ever read, but I enjoyed it and they were indeed quick reads.

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The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

Everything you have heard about this book is true. It is phenomenal. Yes, it’s sad, but it’s so much more than just a sad story. Green captures teenage romance and that feeling of first love so well. His characters are interesting and complex and strong. I’ve added his other books to my list. My barre studio just started a book club (it’s really the best barre studio ever you guys) and this is the first book we are reading. So pumped.

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Crazy Good – Rachel Robinson

This was sent to me from the author as an advance reader copy. Ladies, if you are looking for a steamy romance novel, this is it.

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Orphan Train – Christina Baker Kline

This one was SO good. The story switches back and forth from present-day to around the time of the Great Depression. I haven’t read many stories that take place during the Great Depression, so this was particularly interesting to me. The bits about the actual orphan trains were particularly interesting. I’d highly recommend.

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We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

This was another advance reader’s copy (if you sign up to get Publisher’s Weekly emails sometimes they send offers for ARCs, totally worth it). I’d never read anything by this author before, but the synopsis sounded intriguing. I read it really quickly, which is always a good sign, and the ending is still sticking with me, which is also a good sign.

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January Books

So, remember when I made the resolution to read 100 books this year? It turns out that’s a lot of books. I mean, I know how much 100 is. I knew it was a lot going into it. But then N so helpfully did the math for me (math is obviously not my strong suit) and told me that meant I needed to read one book every three-and-a-half days.

That’s a lot of reading, you guys.

No matter, I am still trucking along. Let’s see how close I get to 100, at the very least. These are the books I finished in January:

 

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If You Were Here – Jen Lancaster

Thoughts: This was just okay. It was a fluffy, easy read. It read like a fictionalized account of her real-life experiences, which is pretty much exactly what it was. Her memoirs are all really funny, and I think her writing style is better suited for memoirs.

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The Light Between Oceans – M.L. Stedman

Thoughts: Loved this one.  A unique story, it didn’t feel like anything I’ve ready before, which is always refreshing when you read as much as I do. Definitely pick this one up.

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The Boy in the Suitcase – Lene Kaaberbol

Thoughts: Meh. I didn’t love this one. Apparently it’s the first in a series and I don’t care to continue with the series, so that says something. It’s a crime drama which I can take or leave. It’s somewhat in the vein of The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, but only in that it’s Scandinavian and involves crime, I suppose.

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Stardust – Neil Gaiman

Thoughts: Loved this one. Adding everything else Gaiman has written to my list for this year. This was a wonderful, whimsical, fairy tale. Ugh, so good.

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The Phantom Tollbooth – Norman Juster & The Mark of the Dragonfly – Jaleigh Johnson

Thoughts [Tollbooth]: I didn’t love this one. I know it’s a classic and all, but it didn’t knock my socks off. It was definitely clever and fun, but not my favorite.

Thoughts [Dragonfly]: The publisher was giving away ARCs for this book, and I like free things. That being said, I also thought the cover was pretty, and I judge books by their covers. Now that we know I am a cheap and judgmental person, I will tell you that I thought this book was pretty good. It’s sort of a middle grade steampunk-fantasy type story. I hope this is part of a series, because while this book stands on it’s own just fine, there’s definitely a lot more to explore in the world Johnson has created here.

 

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Hollow City – Ransom Riggs

Thoughts: Obviously I ordered this as soon as it was available, since I liked the first one so much. I don’t know why. These books are good (I read both really quickly), but they’re so weird. I don’t know how else to describe them. Good but weird.

So that rounds out my January total at 7 books. I gotta step up my game here.

*Note: This post does contain affiliate links. They will all re-direct you to Amazon, where I purchased 90% of these books.

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Happy New Year!

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Finally 2013 is over. Man, that was a rough year. It felt like every time I got on my feet, I was knocked right back down. I’m exhausted, and so ready for 2014 to be relaxing and rejuvenating.

I’m only making one resolution this year, because I never ever have kept a resolution. It just feels like I am setting myself up for failure and putting way too much pressure on myself to be a certain way. I’m over it.

The only thing I am resolving to do is read 100 books in 2014. I don’t think this will be a huge problem for me. I’ll be tracking my progress using the hashtags #100books2014 and #katrinareads2014, so join in if you want! I’ll need book suggestions!

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2014!

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