Monday’s Minutes #48

“Monday’s Minutes” is a weekly post in which I track my bookish life.  All book covers are linked to Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling – for the HP re-read.
  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

Half Blood Dirk

Finished:

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  • Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

Order of the Phoenix Fool

Challenges:

S&S Bingo2update15

Total pages read: 1,169

Total # of books for the year: 85.

What are you reading this week?

Discussion and Link-Up: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Order of the Phoenix

Welcome to the fifth month of the Harry Potter re-read!  Each month I’ll be reading a book from the series, in order, until Harry Potter Book Night on February 4th.  Also, each month’s discussion includes a link-up for all your lovely HP related posts, and I’ll feature one or more of them from the previous month’s link-up.  This month, check out L.C.’s “Confession from Someone Still Waiting for Their Hogwarts Letter”.  Don’t forget to add your links to the link-up at the end of the discussion questions!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Discussion Questions

  1. Though Hermione formed S.P.E.W. in the last book, HP and the Goblet of Fire, she continues to plan and enact projects to help the house-elves gain their freedom.  She makes and leaves for the elves to find various items of clothing, despite everyone’s, including the elves, insistence that they don’t want to be free.  Do you think the elves really don’t want freedom and Hermione is wrong to continue trying to force freedom on the elves?  Or, do you think Hermione is right and should continue her work?
  2. We never get a solid explanation for why Professor Umbridge is so hateful towards most of the students.  Do you think it’s only because of her support of Cornelius Fudge and the belief that Dumbledore is attempting to overthrow him?  Or, do you think there is more to it than that?
  3. Harry is shocked to discover that his Dad was a bit of a bully, at least towards Professor Snape.  However, Harry’s thoughts concerning Draco suggest that, given the opportunity, he might take similar action.  Though Sirius and Lupin don’t go into detail about Professor Snape’s behavior as a teenager, do you think he is the way he is because he was bullied?  Or, do you think he was like Draco, and the bullying he received was retaliation?
  4. Dumbledore expresses his regret over not telling Harry the truth because of Harry’s age.  Do you think this is J.K. Rowling’s response to some of the adult criticism of her books, particularly HP and the Goblet of Fire, for including death and other dark subjects in the storyline?
  5. Do you think the Fountain of Magical Brethren shows a parallel between Wizards’ and Witches’ feeling of superiority and European Exceptionalism?  Do you think Dumbledore’s words about the statue being a lie and how the mistreatment of others is the root of what is happening now is J.K. Rowling’s message to her readers that much of the pain and suffering in the world today is a result of Europe’s past treatment of non-Europeans?

Do you have a Harry Potter related post?  Share it for the chance to be featured in next month’s discussion!

Sunday’s Sundries: Lit-Cube Unboxing

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I’ve been a subscriber of Book Riot’s Quarterly box since it started, but I’ve been feeling like the quality of each box has slowly declined.  So when I found out about Lit-Cube, a monthly subscription box, I decided to try it out.  I recently cancelled a monthly music subscription, and after deducting the amount I had been spending on that, what I’d be paying for Lit-Cube would be about the same as what I was shelling out for Book Riot’s Quarterly boxes ($55, four times a year).  I would also be getting more for my buck.  However, if I hadn’t cancelled that other subscription, I wouldn’t have subscribed to Lit-Cube, since it’s $34.98 a month, and I couldn’t afford that and the other sub.  To be fair, from what I’ve seen, that’s about average for monthly subscription boxes.

Every Lit-Cube box is put together around a theme.  Book Riot’s Quarterly box does the same, but the difference is that Lit-Cube’s themes are considerably more fun.  You’re not going to get Literary Fiction with Lit-Cube, so if that’s what you’re looking for, stick with Book Riot.  For this month, Lit-Cube’s theme was titled “Immortal Kiss”.  Yep, that’s right, vampires!  I don’t think Lit-Cube could have picked a better theme for the month I decided to give it a try, since, while I love all things vampire, I’m a bit picky too.  Here is what was included in this month’s box:

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  • Hardcover Edition of Tentyrian Legacy by Elise Waters ($19.99)
  • “Only Dracula Can Truly Love You Forever…” Lit-Cube Exclusive Lined Journal ($9.99)
  • Cotton and Silk “Holiday Skulls” Infinity Scarf ($9.99)
  • Lippincott Soap Company “Bite Me” Black Cherry Lip Balm ($9.99)
  • 5×7 Dracula-Inspired Water Color Print ($6.99)
  • Book Swag including a “Time Warper” series Pocket Mirror, a Ball-Point Pen that looks like a syringe, an Erin Hayes Autographed Bookmark, and QR Coded Bookmarks for other free and discounted ebooks.

Even if I don’t end up liking the books (I haven’t read them yet), all the other stuff makes this vampire-themed box worth the money I paid for it.  December’s theme is “You’re a Mean One, Grinch.”  I’m looking forward to it 🙂
lit-cube-300

Join Lit-Cube!

Review: The Witching Hour

Witching

  • Author: Anne Rice
  • ISBN: 9780345384461

I bought my copy of The Witching Hour well over a decade ago, and though I thought it was incredible back then, I wasn’t as thrilled by it the second read through.

Why?  It’s too long, and huge chunks of pages could have been cut.  It was repetitive.  Worst of all, quite a bit of the dialogue between the main characters, Rowan and Michael, felt contrived, forced, and unrealistic.  Sometimes it went as far as to make me think I was reading the script for a soap opera.  I didn’t feel their deep, unending love for each other.  Instead, I felt like gagging and rolling my eyes.  Hot, passionate sex after just meeting doesn’t equal true love forever.

While the rest of the story is classic Anne Rice, I think she got a bit out of her depth with the romance.  It would have been better if she stuck to what she knows: Horror, the supernatural and paranormal, and steamy sexual encounters.  I’m going to continue with the Lives of the Mayfair Witches trilogy since it becomes more about Lasher and an interesting twist on some Pagan mythology, but, had this been the first time I had read The Witching Hour, I would probably just stick with her Vampire Chronicles.

The Twelve Books of Christmas Challenge

12 Books of Christmas

Shaina @ Shaina Reads has challenged those of us who wish to participate to read 12 books during the month of December!  I would have posted this earlier, but I refuse to do anything Christmas related, other than stashing away presents for those I love, before Thanksgiving.

The only rule is that the books have to be at least 100 pages in length.  So, I’m making up a rule for myself.  All the books I plan to read for the challenge will be Christmas or Winter related.  Some of the books on my challenge TBR are maybe stretching that a little bit, but it’s my rule, so I can do what I want 🙂  I doubt I’ll be able to read all 12 on the list since a couple of them are door stops, but I’m going to try.

My TBR List

  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (I read this every year.)
  • A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • Snowglobe 7 by Mike Tucker
  • The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson
  • White Fang by Jack London
  • The Winter Freak Show by Daniel Parsons
  • Greenglass House by Kate Milford
  • Around the World with Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis
  • Fire and Ice by Patty Jansen
  • The Girl from Krakow by Alex Rosenberg
  • Ice Demon by Elizabeth Watasin

I have several backups in case any of these wind up being DNFs.

Are you participating in the 12 Books of Christmas challenge?  Even if you’re not, are your December reads Christmas or Winter themed?  What are your favorite Winter books?  Comment below!

Review: Coraline

Coraline

  • Author: Neil Gaiman
  • ISBN: 9780061649691

The above ISBN is for the paperback edition, but I listened to the audiobook I checked out from the library.

When I saw the movie “Coraline” a couple years ago, I had no idea it was an adaptation of a book by Neil Gaiman.  I had only read his Sandman comics and American Gods by that point.  I love the comics, and I enjoyed Coraline as a movie, but I was disappointed in American Gods.  So, when I did find out about Coraline, I added it to my “check it out from the library” list.  I didn’t want to waste money on Coraline on the off chance that I would be just as disappointed in it as I was with American Gods, no matter how much I liked the movie adaptation.

An older audiobook version, narrated by Neil Gaiman himself, was available at my library, so I decided to listen to it during October when I read scary, creepy, and dark books.  I’m fairly sure I enjoyed Coraline more by listening to the audiobook a bit each day on my way to and from class.  It’s relatively short, and being a Middle-Grade book, I would have easily finished it in an afternoon had I read it instead of listening.  I don’t think the story would have been as wonderful if I had sped through it.  I also don’t think I would have gotten as much out of it if I had read it, but my opinion might be different if it were a graphic novel.  I don’t know why, but I often feel Neil Gaiman’s writing is missing something in novel format that isn’t lacking in the comics, but I also don’t know what that something is.

Coraline had that something, at least in the audiobook version, so I’m not giving up.  My next Neil Gaiman book will be The Graveyard Book, but I own the paperback edition, so I guess we’ll see.  Regardless, I recommend listening to the author narrated audiobook of Coraline.

#FitReaders #47

Geeky Bloggers Book Blog
  • This check-in is for November 16th – 22nd.
  • I did better than last week, but I was sick over most of the weekend.  This week, since I’m only on campus for one day, I’m going to try to make it to the gym every day.  I’m a couple dollars behind on my goal donation, and I’d love to meet my step goal of averaging 9K steps a day before I graduate.
  • If you’d like to add me as a friend on FitBit, you can find me HERE.
  • Yoga Workouts: 0/5
  • Steps: 47,915/63,000
  • Miles: 19.71/21
  • Flights of stairs: 122/70
  • Active Minutes: 256/210
  • Total Money Donated: $36.95/$50.00

Monday’s Minutes #47

“Monday’s Minutes” is a weekly post in which I track my bookish life.  All book covers are linked to Goodreads unless otherwise noted.

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling – for the HP re-read.
  • Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

Order of the Phoenix Fool Dirk

Finished:

  • The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
  • A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
  • The Soak by Patrick E. McLean

Paris Grimm Soak

Challenges:

S&S Bingo2update15

Total pages read: 848

Total # of books for the year: 83.  I didn’t get much of a chance to read until Thursday afternoon, but I made up for that by reading most of the weekend.  Part of the problem is that none of the audiobooks I have or are listed in my library’s catalog are calling to me, so the two hours I have every day of the week to get some reading in are being spent listening to other things, like podcasts or music.  Is it possible to have an audiobook slump?

What are you reading this week?

#COYER Going Back to Basics Challenge

COYERBTBsignup

From December 19th to March 4th, I’ll be participating in the Clean out your E-reads (COYER) Challenge hosted by Fantasy is More FunBecause Reading & Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh, My!

The Rules

  • Read your e-reads. Every book read for the challenge must be in an electronic format – meaning ebook or audiobook.
  • The books must be FREE or NEARLY FREE. What’s nearly free? No more than $5 for ebooks and no more than $16 for audiobooks.
  • Review & link reviews.

My Goals

  • Read at least ten ebooks/audiobooks.
  • Clear out my Netgalley ebooks.
  • Participate in at least one Twitter party.

TBR

This list will probably change by Dec. 19th since I’m hoping to have several of the books already finished and reviewed by then.

Review: Bird Box

Bird Box

  • Author: Josh Malerman
  • ISBN: 9780062259653
  • Genre: Horror/Suspense/Post-Apocalyptic

The above ISBN is for the hardcover edition, but I listened to the audiobook I purchased.

This is a story about what happens when the world goes violently insane, and just like a Shirley Jackson story, Bird Box kept me riveted.  So it was no surprise to find out that Josh Malerman’s novel was a 2014 Shirley Jackson Award Nominee.

The story is told by Malorie by going back and forth between her and her two children’s present situation and Malorie’s past in which you find out how they got to the point of trying to row down a river blindfolded.  This construction is why the book sucked me in and kept me listening.  Not only did I want to know what would happen to Malorie and the children, but I wanted to know even more how it all happened and why Malorie is the way she is.  There were so many questions I wanted answered that I got through the book in a matter of days.

Has this story been done before?  Yes, as is the case with most Post-Apocalyptic novels.  However, never once did I feel the story was contrived or overdone.  Instead, it was a refreshing take on the subgenre that didn’t, for once, involve zombies or The Stand style super-virus.  I also appreciated that we never really know what the monster is or looks like, where it came from, or why everyone is driven to extreme violence after seeing them.  To me, that’s realistic and horrifying.  Aren’t we often more afraid of what we don’t know than what we do know?  I recommend Bird Box to anyone who loves Horror and Suspense, Post-Apocalyptic stories, and fans of Shirley Jackson.