Sunday, August 31, 2014

An American reading the British editions: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

(SPOILER ALERT: I’m sharing details of the Harry Potter series in this post, and on the last Sunday of September. Just so you know!)

This is a blog series about an American girl reading the Harry Potter British editions. It’s been a wild journey so far, re-experiencing Harry Potter and experiencing the British editions for the first time. But I’m only 6/7ths of the way there! If you’d like to start at the beginning, here’s a link back to Philosopher’s Stone. For all six reviews, click the tag: Reading the Harry Potter British editions on the sidebar!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

First Line: “It was nearing midnight and the Prime Minister was sitting alone in his office, reading a long memo that was slipping through his brain without leaving the slightest trace of meaning behind.”

British vs. American English: I’ve been overseas so there are some things I read in these versions and don’t even recognize as different. Like car park vs. parking lot or garbage vs. bin. But here are a few differences that popped out to me. 

(British edition word/phrase = interpretation/definition)

fug = stuffy fog

higgledy-piggledy = jumbled
knock something up = make something in a hurry

careworn = anxious, grief-stricken
in high dudgeon = indignant, outraged

Laugh-Worthy Moment: When Dumbledore arrives at Number Four Privet Drive…
            “’Albus Dumbledore,’ said Dumbledore, when Uncle Vernon failed to effect an introduction. ‘We have corresponded, of course.’ Harry thought this an odd way of reminding Aunt Petunia that he had once sent her an exploding letter.” (page 49).

Cry-Worthy Moment: I cried when Harry tried to tell Hagrid that Dumbledore had died by Snape’s hand. I got teary when Harry told everyone in the hospital wing, which included Lupin, Hermione, Ron, Luna and Madam Pomfrey. And my eyes welled up during Dumbledore’s funeral. Initially, I was in shock after Snape killed Dumbledore but after the former Disapparated, I needed tissues until the end.

Notable Quote: “It was, Harry thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to the death and walking into the arena with your head held high.” (page 479)

Last Line: “His hand closed automatically around the fake Horcrux, but in spite of everything, in spite of the dark and twisting path he saw stretching ahead for himself, in spite of the final meeting with Voldemort he knew must come, whether in a month, in a year, or in ten, he felt his heart lift at the thought that there was still one last golden day of peace left to enjoy with Ron and Hermione.”

At the end of my Order of the Phoenix post, I described Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as a story about a textbook, teenage love and bits of Voldemort’s soul. I have to admit I was rather accurate. The ancient, note-filled copy of Advanced Potion-Making is essential to this story, and if Harry hadn’t been given that specific edition, his year would’ve been quite different. With the note about a bezoar being an antidote to most poisons, the book is important solely because it provides the information Harry uses to save Ron’s life when he unexpectedly drinks poisoned mead in Slughorn’s office. But the textbook also wins Harry a small vial of Felix Felicis, which he uses to retrieve a vital memory of Voldemort's school years from Professor Slughorn. And if that isn't enough, Felix saves Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and Luna when Malfoy and a few Death Eaters enter Hogwarts through the vanishing cabinet in the Room of Requirement.

Harry's curious as to who the Half-Blood Prince is from the point the textbook wins him the Felix Felicis. It's a cruel irony when Snape reveals that he’s the Half-Blood Prince at the end of the book. Snape just killed Dumbledore and Harry loathes him, yet Harry had admired him and stood up for him (to Hermione) all year long. Snape, through his note-ridden copy of Advanced Potion-Making, had made Harry the star of Slughorn’s Potions class. Snape’s assistance had won Harry the Felix Felicis and saved Ron's life. But now, the Half-Blood Prince isn’t someone to be admired. Now, Snape is the enemy.

Switching topics drastically, the theme of young love runs through HBP more than any of the previous books, and arguably more than any book in the series. There’s Romilda Vane’s love potion, Ginny’s relationship with Dean, Ron’s relationship with Lavender, Tonk’s odd behavior that Harry guesses is because she loved Sirius (he was wrong—she loves Lupin). Hormones abound in HBP, but I’m happy that Rowling uses a light hand when writing Harry-Ginny and Ron-Hermione. Neither relationship goes over the edge, neither rushes into anything, nor do they lose themselves in their respective relationship. The mission is primary, as Harry proves when he breaks things off with Ginny so she’s not in danger from Voldemort (more so than she already is) by being connected to Harry. Harry is clear that his sole focus is ridding the world of Voldemort; Ron and Hermione follow his lead.

The overarching series plot pushes forward quickly and surely in Half-Blood Prince. Dumbledore’s lessons give Harry more information than he could have ever hoped for on Tom Riddle’s parentage, childhood, school years and transformation to Voldemort. The concept of seven Horcruxes, two already destroyed and four left to hunt down before Voldemort can be killed, is laid out before Harry. In learning about Voldemort, Harry spends a lot of time with Dumbledore. The reader sees more of him than ever before. His appearance at Privet Drive is cheer-worthy, especially in the calm, honest way he treats the Dursleys. From that point on, Dumbledore’s presence (even though he is rarely at Hogwarts) is steady and reassuring. This makes his death at the end of the book that much more of a shock. And Snape’s involvement leaves the reader reeling. Luckily, Harry is more sure-footed in the immediate wake of Dumbledore’s death, as he chases Snape and Malfoy across the grounds.

Nothing manages to rile Snape when Harry confronts him except calling him a coward. Snape blocks Harry’s curses, and even stops another Death Eater’s spell. But when Harry calls him a coward, it gets a reaction. Also, it’s intriguing that Snape doesn’t condemn himself in the moments before he flees Hogwarts. However, Harry, McGonagall and Lupin all condemn Snape in the following hours. The characters' belief that Snape was never for the Order nor for Dumbledore transfers to the readers. Snape was always Voldemort’s man, in opposition to Harry, who has assured the Minister of Magic repeatedly that he his Dumbledore’s man, through and through.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a dark continuation of the series. It sees Ron and Katie Bell close to death, Malfoy becoming a Death Eater, Snape choosing Voldemort and Dumbledore’s death. Harry loses his last protector and parental figure. HBP is a low point leading to the lowest point of the series. And somehow, it’s my favorite book. Probably because it’s Harry, Ron and Hermione’s last year at Hogwarts. HBP is also tighter than OOTP but still longer than POA (another favorite of mine). It has more Dumbledore, more history and explanation, more love and relationships. It has Harry and Ginny getting together and Ron and Hermione nearly there. It has them growing up and very close to becoming fully educated wizards.

It's a bright spot heading toward a dark horizon.

Up next: The final installment of this epic series, where Harry hunts Horcruxes, learns about the Deathly Hallows and leads the Battle of Hogwarts.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Seven Authors to Read if You Love If I Stay

Earlier this week, I re-read If I Stay because I’m seeing the movie TODAY. I can’t wait! I’m stocked up on tissues and everything. After I finished the re-read, I decided to look for books that had a similar feel to If I Stay. Truthfully, it wasn’t an easy task and in the end I decided not to focus on specific books but authors who weave tales that might appeal to fans of Gayle Forman. Here’s what I discovered:
Laurie Halse Anderson
Out of these three books, I’ve only read Speak, which is a must-read for the YA category. Speak addresses serious issues in a high school setting, and is simple, forward and real. The Impossible Knife of Memory and Wintergirls are on my to-read list.
Sarah Dessen
Dessen writes relatable romances about real-life issues. Her tales have strong female leads, unique situations and take place on the beautiful Carolina coast. I’ve read a handful of her books and I’ve never been disappointed by the hopeful nature of her endings.
Gayle Forman
Okay, so this might be cheating a little bit. But if you love If I Stay, then Where She Went is the logical next step. And I can’t say enough nice things about Just One Day and Just One Year, Forman’s other series, which is a love-at-first-sight European adventure.
Anna Jarzab
When I read All Unquiet Things, I was awed. The Opposite of Hallelujah didn’t have quite the same effect on me but it did have a killer Harry Potter reference (that I still remember even though I read it over a year ago!). Both stories are captivating tales about the intricate binds of relationships.
E. Lockhart
We Were Liars is a summer story in the simplest sense, but it's also a thrilling mystery, a twisty-turny tale of life and death and, of course, lying. Even though this is the only book of Lockhart’s I’ve indulged in, I can’t wait to meet Frankie Landau-Banks. I plan to before 2015!

Jandy Nelson
In The Sky is Everywhere, Lennie is reeling from her sister’s sudden death when she gets caught between two boys, one who helps her forget and one who helps her remember. The theme of music swings through this beautiful and honest story. I’ll Give You the Sun will be released September 16!

Lauren Oliver
Panic is about pushing yourself to the brink. It’s about taking risks, indulging danger and feeling immortal as only teenagers can. It’s about courting death for the chance to escape. Panic is a profound, quotable, heart-pounding thriller. It’s greatness reminds me that I need to read more Oliver, and soon!

What authors do you recommend for fans of Gayle Forman?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Why I'm Struggling to Write

The short and simple answer: Life.

Life gets in the way of writing. Packing, moving, unpacking, decorating, working. Cleaning, organizing, grocery shopping, new apartment shopping, working. Reading, blogging, tweeting. Working. Spending time with my (live-in!) boyfriend. Living.

Technically, it all gets in the way of writing. (But some things must.)

I chose to focus on unpacking before writing, thinking the sooner I got the former done then the sooner I would get back to the latter. Now all that’s left to do is to hang a few pictures, but I have yet to seriously get back to writing. I’ve thought about my WIP. I’ve opened Scrivener. Jotted down some ideas. Talked about it with my boyfriend (who read a partial draft last month). I recorded some plot changes on my phone.

But actual editing? Actual writing? Not so much.
It’s all about time. No, that’s not true. I’ve had time.

It’s about decisions. Making a decision to write instead of doing the dishes (though they need to be done eventually). Making a decision to write instead of watching the next episode of Buffy on Netflix. (It’s my first time watching the series and I’m engrossed in season three). Making a decision to write instead of reading another chapter. I wish I could say making a decision to write instead of work… but I kind of need the money. (And I like my job.)

Basically, making the decision to write instead of doing unimportant things.

I recently saw a quote from a writer about this on Tumblr. (Specific, I know.) I think it was Stephen King and he said something like: he writes first because writing is important. He decides to do it before all the unimportant things. Of course now I can’t find this quote… But that’s not important; the message is important. Write first, before all the other things.

This morning I have an hour before my boyfriend wakes (I really need a codename for him, something nicer than Yeti and more original than Lover), then I leave for work shortly after. In an hour, I’ll reacquaint myself with my WIP.

And tomorrow I’ll get back to writing. I have ALL MORNING both Monday and Tuesday.

So, I will write/edit for two hours on Monday and three hours on Tuesday.

Five hours of writing to start the week off strong.

Hold me to it, internets.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Time Travel in YA

I don’t remember how Outlander popped onto my radar two nights ago. I knew nothing about it except that there were kilts, which was enough for me to watch the first episode on And can I say WHOA? Outlander is much more than kilts—it’s about history, Scotland, war, love and time travel. And that’s just the first episode! After experiencing this beautiful, moving, multi-genre TV pilot (featuring a strong female lead!), it got me thinking: what does YA have to offer on the time travel front? Here’s what I found:

The Future of Us—Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
It’s 1996 and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet. Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM. (Remember those? I barely do.) Emma and her best friend, Josh, power up and log on—and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future. They’re about to find out their future through Facebook friends, photo albums and status updates.

My Goodreads rating: ★★★★


The Here and Now—Ann Brashares
Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love. These are the laws seventeen-year-old Prenna James lives by. She immigrated to New York when she was twelve, except she didn’t come from a different country. Prenna came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins. Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth. But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan, a boy who goes to her high school. 

My Goodreads rating: ★★★★


Ruby Red series—Kerstin Gier
In spite of Gwen’s ancestors' peculiar history, she’s lived a relatively normal life so far in London. The time-traveling gene that runs like a secret thread through the female half of the family is supposed to have skipped Gwen. She hasn’t been introduced to “the mysteries” so it comes as an unwelcome surprise when she starts taking sudden leaps into the past. She’s totally unprepared for time travel, not to mention what comes with it: fancy clothes, archaic manners, a mysterious secret society and Gideon, her time-traveling counterpart. He’s obnoxious, a know-it-all and possibly the best-looking guy she’s seen in any century...

Be sure to continue Gwen's story in the sequels, Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green!

My Goodreads rating: ★★★★


Time Between Us—Tamara Ireland Stone
Anna and Bennent were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett’s ability to travel through time and space brings him into Anna’s life and with him, a new world of adventure and possibility. As their relationship deepens, they face the reality that time might knock Bennett back where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe in to question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate and what consequences they can bear in order to stay together.
There's also a companion titled Time After Time, which is told from Bennett's POV. It's still on my to-read list!

My Goodreads rating: ★★★★


All Our Yesterdays—Cristin Terrill
Imprisoned in a secret military base, Em has nothing except the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain. Only Em can complete the final instruction. She's tried everything to prevent the creation of a time machine that will tear the world apart. She holds the proof: a list she has never seen before, written in her own hand. Each failed attempt in the past has led her to the same terrible present- imprisoned and tortured by a sadistic man called the doctor while war rages outside.

My Goodreads status: to-read


I also added Outlander to my to-read pile, and I’m excited to dive into the book and the rest of the first season! Now let’s go travel through time!


*Book descriptions adapted from

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Top Ten Authors I Own the Most Books Of

There’s this cool thing that happens in the YA blogging community every Tuesday. It’s hosted by the Broke and the Bookish and called Top Ten Tuesday! They provide a topic and dozens, if not hundreds, of bloggers post on that topic and link up here. I’ve never participated because I post on Sundays and that seems more than fashionably late. However, last week’s topic intrigued me! It had me staring at my bookshelves for a half an hour and gave me a different perspective on my library. So I decided to dive into the fray!
1.     I own 12 books by JK Rowling.
All 7 British editions, Tales of Beedle the Bard, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch through the Ages and the American edition and French edition of Sorcerer’s Stone.
2.     I own 7 books by Scott Westerfeld.
Leviathan, Behemoth, Uglies, Pretties, Specials, Extras and Bogus to Bubbly. I still need Goliath to complete the Leviathan trilogy (one of my favorites, btw). And coincidentally, I just finished the DRC of Afterworlds, which I loved. I’ve never learned so much about the publishing world from a book!
3.     I own 6 books by David Levithan.
Are We There Yet?, Boy Meets Boy, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Wide Awake. I almost missed this one because I shelve the books co-authored with Rachel Cohn under her last name!
4.     I own 5 books by Jane Yolen.
Armageddon Summer, Briar Rose, Dragon’s Blood, Heart’s Blood and A Sending of Dragons. The first two go way back—I’ve owned them since high school!
5.     I own 4 books by Libba Bray
A Great and Terrible Beauty (both hardcover and paperback, the former is signed!), Rebel Angels and The Diviners (also signed!).
6.     I own 4 books by Ally Carter
I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You, Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy, Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Cover and Only the Good Spy Young. Still need the last two to complete the series! Also, Heist Society is one of my favorite books so why don’t I have it on my shelf?!?
7.     I own 4 books by Cassandra Clare
The Cities: Bones, Ashes, Glass and Fallen Angels. CoFA is signed!
8.     I own 4 books by Sarah Dessen
This Lullaby, Along for the Ride, The Moon and More and a very ancient (in YA terms) copy of Dreamland!  The middle two are signed!
9.     I own 4 books by Anna Godberson
The Luxe quartet: The Luxe, Rumors, Envy and Splendor.
10.  I own 4 books by Aprilynne Pike
Wings, Spells, an ARC of Illusions and the start of her newest series, Earthbound. The first and last are signed! I still need Destined to complete the Wings series. Also, I can’t believe I haven’t read Earthquake yet, which came out almost a month ago! It’s next on my list after Landline…

What did I learn by doing this?

1.     My favorite authors aren’t necessarily represented by the books I have on my shelves. JKR will always reign as my favorite author and the rest of the above are high on the list but some of my fantasy favorites are missing, such as Sarah J. Maas (I own three of her books), Marie Rutkoski (I own three of her books) and Laini Taylor (I own one of her books).

2.     My bookshelves represent my reading preferences through the years. I loved Jane Yolen in high school and though she’s an icon of YA, I haven’t read anything of hers recently. Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones trilogy helped spark my love for YA six years ago, but I haven’t dived into anything of hers since Clockwork Angel came out. I devoured Godbersen’s The Luxe series, but it’s been almost four years since I read Bright Young Things.

3.     I own signed books by half the authors in my top ten. I ordered signed copies of Leviathan and City of Fallen Angels. I’ve meet Libba Bray, Sarah Dessen and Aprilynne Pike and have two signed books each by them. I’m more likely to have more of an author’s books if I have the opportunity to get them signed!

Now if only I had a signed Harry Potter… I’d even settle for a signed Cormoran Strike. Just kidding, no I wouldn’t.