Harry Potter DH Review

I finished reading Harry Potter over the weekend. We read it aloud, which is certainly good practice for the upcoming school year! My poor, poor throat was not happy to be reading aloud for over 20 hours.

I loved the book. I thought JK Rowling did a phenomenal job wrapping up the series and bringing conclusion to a lot of plot arcs (over all 7 books!). I was thrilled to see characters from previous books brought back into the fold. I loved how much Harry grew up and matured over the 7 years we have known him. I even enjoyed the relationships that bloomed, though I wouldn’t recommend Rowling focuses on writing romantic novels anytime soon.


My only issue with the book was Snape. I was convinced throughout the entire seies that Snape was good. I just knew that he was “on our side”. I learned a pretty good lesson from DH, thanks to JK Rowling. To paraphrase someone pretty awesome, the world isn’t divided into good people and Death Eaters. After reading DH, I realized Snape was not a good person. He was a person who sometimes did good things. However, he just as often did bad things. While he loved Lily, he was outright cruel to Harry except in the most dire of circumstances (or under the watchful eyes of Dumbledore). This does not make him a perfect person.

I did, however, appreciate Harry’s response to his own son at the end, in the epilogue; he didn’t say that Snape was a great man or a good man. He said he was a brave man. He doesn’t have to be a perfect person to be brave. And in double-crossing Voldemort, he risked his life. This raised my opinion of his bravery, not of his personal character, however. All of this also made Snape a more realistic and 3D character. He wasn’t a flat, perfect character but someone with problems and issues. I love it!!


NY Times Posts HP Review

I am absolutely flabbergasted that the NY Times has the gall to publish a review of Deathly Hallows 2 days before the book is released. I have not read the review in question, as I refuse to be spoiled for a book I have waited almost 10 years for. However, what were they thinking??? It is one thing to review an ARC or a galley to get positive reviews for a book flowing. But to publish a review, in a major US newspaper, for a book that has been under intense security and subject to embargoes is ludicrous.

I sincerely hope that no poor, unsuspecting HP fan picks up a copy of the paper today only to end up with the book ruined for them. 😦

What House Am I In?

The sorting hat says that I belong in Ravenclaw!


Said Ravenclaw, "We’ll teach those whose intelligence is surest."

Ravenclaw students tend to be clever, witty, intelligent, and knowledgeable.
Notable residents include Cho Chang and Padma Patil (objects of Harry and Ron’s affections), and Luna Lovegood (daughter of The Quibbler magazine’s editor).

Take the most scientific Harry Potter
ever created.

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Reading Meme

A book you’ve read more than once:

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery jumps to mind, but I have re-read a LOT of books in my time.

A book you would take on a desert island:

Hmmm…probably the Bible. It’s a nice number of books all in one.

A book that made you cry:
The Notebook by Nicolas Sparks. Where the Red Fern Grows.

A book that scared you:
As a rule of thumb, I don’t read scary books. I avoid anything noted as “scary” mostly. If I think a book will scare me, I don’t read it. However, I have a pretty high tolerance for creepy books.

A book that made you laugh out loud:
Hmm. I can’t think of a book off the top of my head, but I have laughed out loud at a lot of books!

A book you loved in elementary school:
Where the Red Fern Grows. The Giver.

A book you loved in middle school:
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Anne series by L.M. Montgomery.

A book you loved in high school:
Oh wow….I read a lot in high school and it is all escaping me right now!

A book you hated in high school:
It wasn’t in high school, but in college. I absolutely loathed Heart of Darkness. I swear I had to read it for 4 different classes and I hated it every time.

A book you loved in college:
Well, on the silly front- The Alphabetical Hookup series books were a bit life-altering at one point. Not because of their content, but because of the drama they caused!

A series that you love:
I love too many series. I love the
Shadow Children series by Haddix. I love the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. Harry Potter. Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Your favorite horror book:

I don’t read horror.

Your favorite science fiction book:

The Giver

Your favorite fantasy book:
A Wrinkle in Time

Your favorite mystery:

Wow, another genre I don’t read a lot of. I do like Chasing Vermeer (clearly I read a lot of MG/YA books)

Your favorite biography:

I love many Holocaust books

Your favorite classic:

I really love Little Women

Your favorite romance book:
Right now? Anything by Nicholas Sparks and Stephenie Meyer

Your favorite book not on this list:

Mick Harte Was Here.
What book are you currently reading?

I am re-reading Half Blood Prince, so I can be ready for Saturday!

What book have you been meaning to read:

I have an entire stack of them. Something like 200 books to read before I put them in my classroom library. Yeah, I am a little crazy.

Harry Potter OoTP Movie

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Last Wednesday, I rushed out of work to see the latest installment of the Harry Potter films. I am a huge fan of the books (and have been since high school….which gives you some sense of my age). The movies have always been ok for me. I usually saw them when they came out but the books were always my favorite.

For this movie, I didn’t re-read the novel beforehand. I’m too busy trying to re-read HBP so there was no time to squeeze in OoTP! I think that was a huge help when I was watching this movie. Instead of sitting in the theater, noticing what was left out, I enjoyed the film for what it is.

Let me say this loud and clear- I loved this movie! I thought the directing and staging of the shots were fantastic. The transitions using the Daily Prophet covers were a brilliant idea and really showed the political mood of the wizarding world without spending too much time on it. I also thought that the kids have really learned a lot about acting over the last few years. Daniel Radcliffe did a really nice job, especially in the Occlumency scenes and the final battle. I rarely enjoy a film’s portrayal of specific scenes more than the original books, but that does not hold true for the final battle, in the scene where Voldemort enters Harry’s mind. It was a million times better than I had ever pictured in my own mind!

The only thing I noticed missing while I was watching the film was that when the twin left Hogwarts in their blaze of glory, we didn’t get my favorite line. “Give her hell, Peeves!” That scene wasn’t built up as much in the film as it was in the novel, so I wasn’t cheering as loudly, but the rest of the audience certainly was!

Until I got home, I didn’t even realize Mundungus was not in the movie. Very interesting. I also forgot that Cho is not the one who betrats the DA. However, the choice to use her in the film worked in tha narrative that they were building. (Oh, and I was really uncomfortable in the Cho/Harry kissing scene. It went on way too long!) I also did not realize how little Kreacher was in the movie. However, I am, glad they left him in.

As far as casting choices, Evanna Lynch is my picture of Luna Lovegood. Her voice, her mannerisms, her ethereal quality were exactly the same as the Luna in my own head while reading the book. And Imelda Staunton was impeccable as Umbridge. As a teacher, I got a few chuckles (all by my lonesome!) out her need to teach to the test. A great testament to education in our world, too!

I have to say, I think this is my favorite of the Potter films. It certainly made me even more excited for this weekend!!! Only a few more days until we have all the answers! I plan to pick up the book at midnight and start reading ASAP, not stopping until I have reached the end. Of course, I have to attend a bridal shower on Sunday. Who has the nerve to plan anything on Harry Potter weekend????? Oh well, just more incentive to finish the book!!!!!!!1

First Daughter*Extreme American Makeover by Mitale Perkins

I read this quick read over the holiday weekend. Now, I am a political junkie so I was a little prejudiced when I picked this book up. I have also been reading Sparrow’s Blog after stumbling on it a few weeks ago. Definitely check it out if you get a chance- great info on the possible first kids on there!

So, what if your dad was running for President of the United States of America? And what if you were not the typical blue-eyed, blonde-haired, all-American girl next door? How would your life change? Sparrow/Sammy/Sameera attempts to explain to her dad’s constituents just that! The campaign wants to change her into a giggly, silly girl. Some of her dad’s handlers believe they have a better idea of the typical US teen than an actual teen does. Sparrow sets out to prove them wrong while hopefully not disrupting the life she has planned for the summer.

First, the few negative things I picked up while reading the book. I felt like some parts of the book went by too quickly, with very little explanation. I can’t think of any specific examples right now, but two or three times I would go “huh? how did we get here?”. I doubt many younger readers would feel the same way, but it threw me off a few times. Also, I wanted more blog entries! I guess http://www.sparrowblog.com will have to appease me for now.

Now, on to the positives! I absolutely love the voice that the book is written in. It feels like you really are reading the thoughts and blog of a teen girl. And not one of those giggling, hair-flipping, ditzy ones so often portrayed in the media. Sparrow is a thoughtful, intelligent, and compassionate young girl. She is realistic and that’s why I loved her. She also struggles with issues all teens struggle with. Her parents are over-protective (ok, her dad is running for President, so they have a good reason), she isn’t sure what she believes when it comes to religion, and she doesn’t know who to include as friends on her private blog. All of these issues come together to make Sparrow a well-rounded and realistic character. Her voice and tone also sounds like just a kid. Not like an adult writing as a kid. (No Wilder here! 😉 ).

I really enjoyed this book. I was sad that it ended before Sparrow moved into the White House. However, I am excited to see that a sequel will be released. I am already looking forward to it!

Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis

Emma Jean Lazarus is not your typical 7th grade girl. She is “strange” (dictionary definition: extraordinary, remarkable, singular) and proud of it. Emma Jean approaches her interactions with her peers as a cultural anthropology study. After years of study, she has learned how to interact with her classmates and the adults in her life. In fact, she thinks she knows them better than they know themselves. Throughout the novel, she is determined to help her classmates, her mother, and her teachers be happy and fulfilled. Unfortunately, her ideas usually involve forgery of some sort. As one can imagine, this has a tendency to backfire on her.

I finished this novel a few months ago. I usually don’t go back and review something after that time period because I have forgotten about it. However, Emma Jean (and Lauren Tarshis) left an impression on me. Tarshis captures the heart and soul of middle school in her novel. Emma Jean is strange. No one will deny that. However, her classmates have learned to tolerate her and even include her. While reading the novel, I pictured a few of my own students. I wish they appreciated being “strange” as much as Emma Jean does.

Emma isn’t the only great character in this novel. Colleen is a 7th grade girl. You know- insecure, sometimes sad, and always unsure of herself. One of my favorite passages could be used to describe almost every girl in my 6th grade room at some point during the year: “She wished she could recapture the feeling she’d had the other day at school, when for just a few moments she really didn’t care what Laura Gilroy thought of her. But that had lasted no longer than the flavor in a stick of sugarless bubble gum” . The boys in the book are also equally oblivious to the goings on around them as the boys I see everyday. I laugh, because they don’t even realize all of “girl world” is going on around them (and about them!) while they go about their daily business. Lauren Tarshis captures this perfectly. Even the adults are flawed and imperfect. Exactly what every middle-schooler sees in the adults in their own lives.

I would love to read this aloud to my students next year. It is not a long novel and I hope to fit it in. In fact, it is on my short list for novels to begin the year with. I believe in building community in my classroom and no other book I have read this year and struck that theme as greatly as Emma Jean Lazarus.

Into the Wild

I picked up Sarah Beth Durst’s debut novel a few days ago at Barnes and Noble. I will be perfectly honest and admit that I am a covergirl- any book with an interesting cover usually ends up in my shopping bag. Durst’s cover is gorgeous! I love the pinks, purples, and silvers. I also love the silhouettes of the main characters on the front. Plus, if you slide the cover off, the actual book is purple! How cool is that?

On to the book. I loved it! I will admit that I was hesitant at first. I like fairy tale retellings but they can get redundant. I was afraid that “Into the Wild” would suffer this same fate. Boy, was I wrong! Julie is your average 12-year old girl. She is annoyed/embarassed by her mom, wants to be accepted at school, and more than anything she wants to be normal. Sounds like most of my 6th grade students. Julie’s problem is that her mother is Rapunzel. Yup, that Rapunzel. See, it turns out Julie’s mom helped the fairy tale characters we all know and love escape from the Wild, or fairy tale world. It turns out, “happily ever after” is not all it’s cracked up to be. Now, Julie has the Wild living under her bed. That is, until it manages to escape because someone makes a wish at the wishing well. Suddenly, the Wild has taken over and everyone is sucked into its tales.

What an interesting and novel way of looking at fairy tales! I actually put the book down and pondered the idea that we take “happily ever after” for granted. The fairy tale characters are doomed to repeat their stories over and over again. Happily ever after just means they go back to the beginning and start again. Stories never end. Ok, fine if you are a hero or heroine. Not so fine if you are a victim in the story!

I really enjoyed this book and I can see the girls in my class passing it around come September. It’s modern, it’s hip, and it’s nostalgic. Who hasn’t wanted to be the princess in a fairy tale? Who hasn’t wanted their own Prince Charming? Sarah Beth Durst shows us the other side of the fairy tale coin. I look forward to any more works from her!

First Light by Rebecca Stead

I picked up Rebecca Stead’s “First Light” a few days ago, after reading reviews on a few other blogs. One of my goals this year is to have read the Newbery winner (or an honor book) before it is chosen this year. It got rave reviews all over, so I grabbed it on one of my many trips to Barnes and Noble.

When I first read the flap description, I thought I might use this novel as a read-aloud during our survival unit this fall. However, after reading it I may move it to our ecology unit. Honestly, it would do well in either place.

“First Light” is actually two stories in one. This made me wary at first, because I wanted to skip ahead. However, I trusted that Rebecca Stead would not lead me astray and that the two stories would intersect. Thankfully, I was right!

Peter is a young boy living in NYC. His parents are both academics, which leads to his “vacation” of sorts in Greenland. his father studies glaciers and mom is writing a book about mitochondrial DNA. What a great concept! What kid would turn down a trip to Greenland during the school year? It sounds exciting, fun, and definitely not school-related. 😉 Of course, Peter has a lot to learn- about Greenland, his parents, and the wider world.

Thea is the second protagonist in the book. She and her family live in another world of sorts, below the earth’s surface. Both stories intersect brilliantly by the middle of the book. By the end, I was cheering on all of the characters!

I enjoyed this book a lot and look forward to using it with my students this fall. It is exciting, full of action, and still packs a punch in regards to global warming (without preaching!). It will make a great conversation starter.

Off to the races!

Well, here goes nothing. I am a 6th grade Language Arts teacher who loves to read. I plan to use this blog to review literature that I read. Most of this will be middle grade novels, but there should also be some YA and a few professional books thrown in, too!