The Winner of the House Cup…


Thanks to the courage and bravery of Lily Nott (Litha @ Victorian Soul Critiques), who earned 40 points and won the Diagon Alley Scavenger Hunt, the House Cup goes to…




Thank you for participating!  It was lots of awesome Harry Potter fun!

Harry Potter Book Night: A Night of Spells!


It’s #HarryPotterBookNight!  From now until 9 pm CST (10 pm EST), I’ll be here and on Twitter chatting about all things Harry Potter and responding to commenters.  Below are a bunch of activities that you can participate in, as well as some other fun HP related links, but first up, we all need to find out our Harry Potter names.  Head on over to the Harry Potter Name Generator to get your name.  My new name is:

Rowena Abbott

For tonight, I’ll be going by my new name.  Let me know in the comments or on Twitter what your new name is as well as the House you belong in (mine is Gryffindor), and don’t forget to use the official hashtag, #HarryPotterBookNight.  If you need to be sorted, hop on over to Pottermore.

Harry Potter books giphy

Now, on to the games and other fun stuff:


Here are a bunch of ways to earn points for your House.  You have until 8 pm CST to complete the various games, and I will announce the winning House, along with the individual winners of the scavenger hunt and Potion Masters contest at 9 pm CST tonight.

  • Diagon Alley Scavenger Hunt: Fortified By Books has temporarily opened up shop in Diagon Alley, and to celebrate I’ve put 7 magical items on random pages and posts throughout the Fortified By Books blog!  Each is worth 10 House points, and you’ll win an additional 30 points for your House for finding them all.  Look very carefully for wizard coins, a copy of the Daily Prophet, the book cover of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, an owl, a wand (5 bonus House points to the first person who can tell me who the wand belongs to), a Chocolate Frog, and a broomstick.  Can you find them all?  Leave a comment on the page or post where you found each item and then leave a comment on this post to let me know you’ve found them all.
  • Potion Masters: You have been asked to invent a new potion.  In a comment, list up to five ingredients that it contains, what it does once taken, and a unique name for your newly invented potion.  1st place will get 100 House points, 2nd place will get 50, and 3rd place will get 25.  All other participants will get 10 House points.  Anyone who also provides what their potion looks and smells like will get 5 bonus points.
  • Harry Potter Trivia Challenge: See if you can answer all 60 questions correctly to earn an O (Outstanding).
  • G.N.O.M.E.S.: Take any, or all, of these quizzes, and for every one you answer all the questions correctly, you’ll earn 10 House points.  Just share the results and then come back here and leave the link in a comment.
  • Who Is Your Hogwarts Best Friend? Take this quiz to find out, and then share the results.  All participants who come back here to leave their shared results link in a comment will earn 10 House points.
  • Do You Remember the First Chapter of “Harry Potter”?: You’ll earn 10 House points for answering all the questions correctly, sharing the results, and then leaving the link in a comment.


Image: Sean Chun Seian Liew

This is going to be a great Harry Potter Book Night!  Enjoy the games and fun links, and let me know what your favorite is, or if you’ve got any of your own Harry Potter Book Night links to share.

Monthly Discussion: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Deathly Hallows

This is it!  We’ve come to the conclusion of the Harry Potter series, and, therefore, the end of my HP re-read.  My eyes kept getting watery while reading this book, just as I suspected would happen.  Those pesky allergies.  We’re not completely done with all things Harry Potter, though.  Oh, no.  We’ve still got Harry Potter Book Night, A Night of Spells!  Join me on February 4th to celebrate the series and the Boy Who Lived!  There will be a post chalk full of links to games and other fun activities, and maybe a few of my own creation. I’ll also be on Twitter, using the official hashtag #HarryPotterBookNight.  I’m kicking everything off at 5 pm Central Time (6 pm EST), and the party won’t be over until 9 pm.  That’s FOUR HOURS OF AWESOME!


Since this last book of the series causes all the feels, especially reading it after Alan Rickman passed away earlier this month, I’ve listed some less emotional but still interesting links after the discussion questions.

Discussion Questions

  1. How have the characters changed with each book in the series?  How different or similar are Harry, Ron, and Hermione from when they started at Hogwarts?  What about other characters?  How has Dumbledore developed as a character in the series?  What about Snape?
  2. Harry, Snape, and Voldemort’s histories have been linked from the beginning of the story.  How did their early experiences and their choices in life shape their characters?
  3. How did reading the article about Rita Skeeter’s book on Dumbledore and parts of the book itself affect Harry’s feelings for Dumbledore?  Why didn’t Dumbledore share certain parts of his past with Harry?  Why is Harry disturbed when he learns at Bill and Fleur’s wedding that Dumbledore’s family lived in Godric’s Hollow?
  4. How did the Death Eaters gain control of the Ministry?  How did they maintain that control?  Compare the Death Eaters’ takeover of the Ministry to tyrannical regimes in history.
  5. Why does Slytherin’s locket affect the mood of whoever is wearing it?  Do you think the locket affected Umbridge the same way?  Is it the locket that causes Ron to desert Harry and Hermione?  Why is it fitting that Ron is the one to destroy the locket?  Compare Ron’s experience with the locket to the way in which Ginny is possessed by Tom Riddle’s diary in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
  6. When Harry, Ron, and Hermione discuss which is the most important Hallow, they each choose a different one.  What does this tell us about them?
  7. Why does Wormtail’s silver hand cause his death when Harry reminds him that he spared his life?  Compare Wormtail’s death to Dobby’s death while saving Harry and his friends.
  8. Why does Harry insist on digging Dobby’s grave himself without using magic?  Discuss what Griphook means when he tells Harry he is “an unusual wizard.”
  9. When Harry reaches Hogwarts, he doesn’t want to involve the other students until Hermione tells him, “You don’t have to do everything alone.”  Compare Harry’s response to Tom Riddle who confided in no one and worked alone.
  10. What is the most important thing Harry learned from Severus Snape’s memories?  Why was it important for Snape to share them with Harry?  By using the Pensieve, Harry discovered Snape’s love for Lily Potter and the truth about Snape’s relationships with Voldemort and Dumbledore.  What does the epilogue reveal about Harry’s final judgement of Snape?
  11. Harry gets confused between real events and his imagination, but Dumbledore tells him, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?”  Could this be used as a comment on fiction in general?  How real does the world of Harry Potter feel to you?  What makes this series so believable?
  12. What insights has Harry gained during his quest to destroy Voldemort in this book and throughout the series that makes him a real hero?

Fun HP-Related Links

Will you be joining me for #HarryPotterBookNight?  Let me know in the comments below and feel free to share any of your Harry Potter-related posts as well!

Thursday’s Things: Addendum

HP wands

First David Bowie, who, while he was more involved in music and film than literature, played one of my favorite characters in Labyrinth, a movie that celebrates Fantasy and stories.  Now Alan Rickman, a man who played a role in several of my favorite movies, many of which were adaptations of well-loved books.

As many of you already know, I happen to be re-reading one of those books right now as part of my Harry Potter Re-Read.  After the range of emotions I’ve gone through since I read the horrible news this morning of Rickman’s passing, I don’t even know how I’m going to handle Snape’s death in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I’m also not sure if I’ll be able to re-watch the movies for a while.  While Severus was never one of my favorite characters, more someone I loved to hate throughout most of the series, I do remember feeling that he redeemed himself through his actions in the final book and movies, and as much as I wanted to continue to despise him, I couldn’t.  J.K. Rowling and Alan Rickman showed me that nothing is black and white, especially human beings.  Grief is also complex.

On that note, here is a tiny round-up of links out of oh so many I’ve come across today in celebration of Alan Rickman and the mourning of his loss:

Discussion and Link-Up: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Half Blood

It’s the last day of the year, and most of the bloggers I follow have been posting annual recaps.  I won’t be recapping my whole year, but I did decide to share some ways to celebrate, Harry Potter style.  Below is a list of past Harry Potter-related posts and links I enjoyed throughout 2015 as well as ideas for throwing a Harry Potter themed New Year’s Eve party.

This is the last link-up, so be sure to share your HP-related posts before January 28th for your chance to be featured in next month’s discussion post!


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!

Discussion and Link-Up: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban


Since it’s Banned Books Week, I’d like to take a break from the usual discussion to share with you some of the many challenges, bannings, and burnings of the Harry Potter books.  Before we get to that, though, this month’s featured post is about how Shaina @ Shaina Reads almost didn’t read the series.  Check it out to find out why and then add your own Harry Potter related posts to the link-up for your chance to be featured in next month’s discussion post.


  • Douglas County, Colorado; Moorpark, California; and Buffalo, New York – Formal complaints against Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone were filed by parents in the school districts.  In 2000, another parent in Moorpark, CA stated, “It was a horrible book…It talked about death and killing.  It talks about drinking animal blood.  That is witchcraft, and as a religion it doesn’t belong in school.”
  • South Carolina – Parents requested Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone be banned from all South Carolina schools, stating it had “a serious tone of death, hate, lack of respect, and sheer evil,” and it was “trying to disguise things as fun and easy that are really evil.”
  • Simi Valley, California – A parent stated that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was “violent, antifamily, had a religious theme, and lacked educational value.”
  • Saginaw, Michigan – Bruckner Elementary School became the first school in the United States to remove Harry Potter from the classroom.  A parent complained, “the books are based on sorcery, which is an abomination to the Lord…I read a couple of chapters and felt like God didn’t want me reading it.” The school’s principal decided to ban the books from being read in class.
  • Zeeland, Michigan – School Superintendent Gary L. Feenstra directed school librarians to remove Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone from the shelves.  Later, he decided not to ban the book but restricted it by requiring students to have parental permission to check it out.
  • Bend, Oregon – Parents asked school officials to ban the series from the district’s schools, stating the books referred to witchcraft and divination and would lead children to hatred and rebellion.  The school superintendent rejected the request and stated the parents couldn’t determine the reading materials for all of the students.
  • Band-La Pine, Oregon –  Parents requested that the school board ban the series, stating it “threatened the fundamental morality of students.”  The school board voted to keep the books.
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa – Parents asked that the books be removed from school libraries because of its “romantic characterization of witches, warlocks, wizards, goblins, and sorcerers.” and, “These things by their very nature erode the morality of our children, and therefore ultimately our society.”
  • Salamanca, New York – The school board voted to keep the series in the elementary school libraries after parents complained about the dark themes in the books.
  • Whittier, California – A petition signed by 53 parents said the series “exposes our young children’s minds to black magic and…horrible experiences that our children don’t need to hear or read about.”  The review committee stated, “if books were to be banned from schools due to violence depicted, then stories such as Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Three Little Pigs would need to be added to the list.”
  • Jacksonville, Florida –  The Public Library received complaints and was threatened with a lawsuit after passing out “Hogwarts’ Certificates of Accomplishment” to children who read all the books in the series at that time.  One parent stated, “We don’t want our children to be exposed to witchcraft. If they are going to pass out witchcraft certificates, they should promote the Bible and pass out certificates of righteousness.”
  • Pace, Florida – A resident requested that the series be removed from the school libraries on the grounds of glorifying witchcraft and the occult and opposing Biblical teachings. He stated, “I know a lot of parents and teachers love it because the kids are excited about reading.  But there’s excitement in drugs, there’s excitement in fornication, there’s excitement in crime, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for a person.”
  • Santa Fe, Texas – School principles voted to require written permission from parents before students were allowed to check out any of the books in the series.
  • Arab, Alabama – A parent requested the Board of Education remove the series from school libraries and stated she was speaking on behalf of other Christians.  She also stated that J. K. Rowling was a member of the occult, and the books encourage children to practice witchcraft.  “It was a mistake years ago to take prayer out of the schools because it let Satan in.  We need to put God back in the schools and throw the Harry Potter books out.”  The school board voted to keep the books in the schools.
  • Rural, Pennsylvania – A burning of the Harry Potter books was conducted by a church.
  • Chester County, Pennsylvania – A former substitute teacher registered a formal complaint and stated, “Harry Potter teaches you it’s OK to get back at people.”
  • Oskaloosa, Kansas  – The Public Library canceled a Summer storytelling event after residents became concerned about their children being taught witchcraft.
  • Alamogordo, New Mexico – a church burned copies of the books.
  • Cedarville, Arkansas – Angie Haney filed a formal complaint with the Cedarville School District in June of 2002.  In her complaint, she stated the books were objectionable because they teach children “parents/teachers/rules are stupid or are something to be ignored. That magic will solve your problems. That there are ‘good witches’ and ‘good magic.’”  The books were restricted and could only be checked out by students with parental permission.  The district court later overturned the school board’s decision, noting that the school board couldn’t restrict students’ right to read a book on the grounds of disagreeing with its contents.
  • Lewiston, Maine – A ceremonial shredding of copies of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was conducted the night before the film adaptation was released. The group had already done a book shredding in 2001 before the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released. The group originally wanted to burn the books, but city officials refused to grant the necessary burning permit.
2005 – 2007
  • Gwinnett County, Georgia – A parent claimed the novels were an evil attempt to “indoctrinate children in pagan religion” and should be removed from the schools. Despite not having read the books, she also stated the books were full of “evil themes, witchcraft, demonic activity, murder, evil blood sacrifice, spells.” and, “I don’t agree with what’s in them. I don’t have to read an entire pornographic magazine to know it’s obscene.”  She told the school board that she wanted “to protect children from evil, not fill their minds with it. The ‘Harry Potter’ books teach children and adults that witchcraft is OK for children.”  She also suggested the books be replaced by C. S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia” or Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind: The Kids” series.  She appealed to the Georgia state Board of Education after the school board rejected her request.  After the Board of Education upheld the school board’s decision, she took the case to a state court, which also upheld the decision. She then threatened to take the case to federal court.

Discussion and Link Up: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets


Welcome to the second 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.  This month’s discussion is a bit different from last month’s.  This time around, I’d like to discuss the impact of emotional abuse on children and if Harry is a realistic example of an abused child.

While reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, I began thinking about Harry’s behavior during his time with the Dursleys and how it compared to mine when I was growing up in an emotionally abusive home.  Like Harry, I remember doing everything I could after a certain age to be as invisible as possible.  I tried to disappear and I rarely ever had more than a couple close friends at a time.  Unlike Harry, I moved so many times that I stopped making friends and retreated into my world of books.  I never learned how to deal with bullies like Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle, but there were times when I stood up for myself or someone else the way Harry does.  However, Harry has a remarkable sense of justice that very few kids his age have let alone children who have been neglected or abused.  He also never acts out in self-destructive or harmful ways.

Harry doesn’t seem to be nearly as damaged as I felt, and I’ve been wondering why that is.  Perhaps it’s because the Dursley’s aren’t his parents.  Knowing this, maybe Harry understood the way he was treated wasn’t normal, and he was just unlucky in the relatives department?  That’s a bit difficult to believe since he’s known nothing else, having been placed in their “care” when he was a baby.  Maybe there’s another reason I’m just not seeing?

I also can’t decide whether or not Harry suffers from a lack of self-esteem and confidence as most abused children do.  Perhaps he does, and that’s why he shies away from special attention?  Granted, the kind of attention he gets in Chamber of Secrets is more excessive than probably any kid would want to deal with, but he also shies away from the attention he gets for defeating Voldemort.  He doesn’t seem to have a problem with the attention he gets for being the youngest member of the Gryffindor Quidditch team, though.

I would love to know your thoughts on this subject, either in the comments or a separate post.  Also, share any of your Harry Potter-related posts in the link up.  I’ll feature at least one post each month, and if I decide to do a giveaway for Harry Potter Book Night, those that link up will get bonus points.  While you’re at it, check out the other posts such as this recipe for chocolate frogs from The Daily Mayo.

Chocolate Frog


Monthly Discussion: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was first published in the UK in 1997.  The series has become so popular that people of all ages around the world have been reading and talking about them for the past eighteen years.  While I didn’t find out about the books until the first movie adaptation and HP fans took over movie theaters everywhere, by time the final book was released I was in line to get my copy of it along with everyone else.  I didn’t care that I was an adult in my early 20s getting extremely excited about a middle-grade Fantasy book.  I had to have all of the books, and all of them had to be hardcover editions.  To give you an idea of how rare that is, the only other complete series I own that are all hardcovers is C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.

Despite my love for all things Harry Potter, I’ve never re-read the series, until now.  For anyone who wants to join me as I continue to read each book over the next six months, I’ve put together some discussion questions.  The discussion questions for each book will be posted on the last day of each month, and then there will be a final Harry Potter Book Night celebration post, possibly with a giveaway, on February 4th.  There will also be a link up each month for all of you to share your HP related posts.  I will look through all of them and then feature one or more in the following month’s discussion post.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Discussion Questions:

  1. How does Harry’s experience with living with the Dursleys build his character?
  2. How are Dudley and Draco alike? How are they different?
  3. Why do you think Harry Potter was sorted into Gryffindor instead of any of the other houses?  Why do you think he didn’t want to be sorted into Slytherin?
  4. With so much corruption coming out of the house of Slytherin, why do you think it is one of the houses at Hogwarts?
  5. If you consider the other houses to be symbols of several virtues (bravery, loyalty, wisdom), is Slytherin’s cunning and using “any means/ To achieve their ends.” a virtue?  Why or why not?
  6. What makes the friendship between Harry, Hermione, and Ron a real friendship?  Is Malfoy’s friendship with Crabbe and Goyle a real friendship? Is Voldemort’s relationship with Quirrell a real friendship?  Why or why not?
  7. What do you think of Harry and Ron’s reliance on Hermione’s intelligence to get them out of difficult situations?
  8. If you had an invisibility cloak, what would you do and where would you go?
  9. What do you think you would see if you were to look into the mirror of Erised?

If you’ve got a Harry Potter related post, share it in the linky.  Feel free to answer the discussion questions, write your own, or do something else entirely.  As long as it’s related to Harry Potter, preferably the first book, you can share it for the chance of it being featured in next month’s post.

Sunday’s Sundries: Harry Potter

Harry Potter books giphy

Last year, I posted that I was going to re-read the Harry Potter series after I learned about Hogwarts Online.  I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and completed most of my First Year classes at Hogwarts, but life intervened as it always does, and I never got back to the world of Harry Potter…until now.

I found out on Thursday that Bloomsbury announced the next Harry Potter Book Night.  It will be on February 4th, 2016.  To “prepare”, I’ve decided that I’m going to finish re-reading the series by reading one book a month starting in July.  That means I’ll finish Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows in January.  Since I’ve already read the first book, I’ve got a small breather in my already jam-packed schedule.

Instead of doing a read-along and review for each book, I’m thinking of doing a series of discussion questions at the end of each month, and perhaps throw in an “Easter egg” or bit of trivia.  Regardless, I’ll only be posting one Harry Potter related thing a month since I realize that not everyone is a fan of the series (I’m looking at you Boyfriend).

I won’t be doing a link up just yet, but if you’d like to join me, leave a comment with a link to your blog, Goodreads, Facebook, or Twitter.  Each month, you’ll have the opportunity to link up your Harry Potter related posts, and I’ll do my best to mention one, several, or all of them in the following months’ posts.  Who knows, by February 4th I might be able to do a giveaway for participants.