Wednesday, January 30, 2013

There's Always Harry Potter

If you read my last blog and had a chance to glance at my reading list of 2012, you undoubtedly noticed that the first seven books on my list were those of the Harry Potter series. I read the Harry Potter series every year. I feel compelled to do it because I love the story. There’s just something special about these books. There’s something amazing about the triumph of a little boy who grows into a man in this magical world, one that we are near but can’t touch.

I began reading the Harry Potter series when I was 12 years old. The first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released in the US in 1998. I was in the 7th grade and a friend of mine handed me the book and told me to give it a chance. At the time I was not at all into fantasy so the idea of reading a book about a boy wizard was not at all interesting. I gave it a chance and obviously I’ve been obsessed ever since. Part of my affinity to the books has to do with the fact that as I aged, the characters aged. The first four books were released in 3 years and the last 3 were released over the next 7 years. The intensity of the books continued to increase and I honestly can not call the last three books, children’s books, anymore. When JK Rowling released the fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, she made it very evident that the stories were taking a very dark turn and she did not disappoint with the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The pain became real. The loss of characters and the struggles that our protagonist were going through became real. The fifth book has always been the hardest for me to read because of how intense and painful it is to watch the turn of events unfold. The sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and the seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ended the series beautifully. The struggles continue but they’re filled with a sense of purpose and finality. You know at this point the end is coming for these characters and you are ready to complete the journey with them. You’ve been preparing for the war versus good and evil, now its here.

When I go back through these books I always discover something new or notice something I hadn’t noticed before. It could be something as simple as Harry’s Godfather, Sirius Black, being mentioned in one line of the very first book and then being the antagonist of the third book. It could be the fact that the vanishing cabinet used to bring Voldemort’s Death Eaters into Hogwarts during book six was mentioned in two of the previous books. What about how Ravenclaw’s ghost was never mentioned by name until the last book and was only previously mentioned as the ghost with long hair. One more thing I’ve found interesting since finishing the last book is the fact that when I picked up the book for the first time the story was already finished. Everything I was reading had already taken place. The adventures of Harry Potter takes place from 1991-1998. Rowling tried to clue readers into this fact with the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, when the Gryffindor ghost celebrated his 500th “deathday” of October 31, 1492. She drove the point home though in the last book when Harry visits his parents’ grave and you’re able to see the date they died, October 31, 1981, when Harry was only one.

There are a lot of different aspects to the series. It’s a coming of age story. It’s a story about choices. It’s a story about strength, love, good, evil, friendship and prejudice. It’s the kind of story that draws you in and becomes a part of you. The story of a boy wizard isn’t for everyone but I love it so expect to see it on every reading list.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Year of Nothing but Reading

That is the best way I can describe 2012: It’s the year I read books. Don’t get me wrong I found a way to do other things but for the most part I read books, as many as possible, within a year. It was the first year I ever made a goal for myself when it came to reading. The goal evolved from 50 to 70 with me actually reading 81 books, keeping track of the books, the authors and the order they were read. I enjoyed it because I love books. It gave me a chance to just explore reading and find new authors and new styles of writing. I enjoy reading many different authors and genres, so whenever people ask me if I know of any good books, the first question I ask is what do you want to read. I don’t know about anybody else but when I pick up a book I have to be in the mood to read that kind of book. I try to break up the types of books that I’m reading at a time so I don’t get tired of that specific genre of books. You can only take so many emotional roller coasters of reading suspense novels and honestly, sometimes it’s just nice to throw a comedy in the mix or even a romance novel if you’re feeling mushy. So I’m including the entire list of books I read last year and here are just some of the gems I found during my reading adventure.

 Greg Iles

Greg Iles writes great suspense novels. I literally stumbled on to one of his books while babysitting my little cousins and going through their mother’s bookshelf. The first novel I read by him was Turning Angel and it was absolutely amazing. I managed to squeeze five of his novels into my books of last year and it was hard to put any of them down. If you are a fan of suspense novels I would definitely suggest giving him a try. More than likely you will become addicted like I can openly admit I am!

 Shayne Parkinson

I was lucky enough to get Shayne’s first novel, Sentence of Marriage, on my Nook for free online. Her stories takes place in New Zealand in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s and I found that even though New Zealand history wasn’t something I’m at all familiar with, I thoroughly enjoyed her novels. Shayne Parkinson has a way of immersing you into this culture of rural New Zealand and into the lives of her characters. I found myself wanting to research the history of New Zealand and its social life because I was drawn into the lives of these characters. Well worth the read and to make it better the most expensive book was $2.99. If you prefer paperback you can find them on Amazon.

 The Forever War by Joe Haldenman

Who doesn’t love a great science fiction novel? If you are in need of one, let me suggest The Forever War by Joe Haldenman. Imagine you go to war on a different planet for 2 years and return to Earth where time has passed much differently and decades have gone by.  The war, however, is still going on and you choose to continue to fight not knowing how much more time will pass before you are able to return again. That is essentially the plot of this novel that was written in 1974. It is well worth taking a look at.

And Lastly… The books I read YEARS after seeing the movie


Starship Troopers and Jurassic Park are movies that I’ve enjoyed watching for years. (Yes, I enjoyed Starship Troopers! I consider it to be one of the best B movies ever.) I had never read either of the books until this year and I must say that I am glad I saw the movie before I ever thought of reading the book. I, more often than not, pick up a book, fall in love with said book and find out its getting turned into a movie. I am then filled with a sense of dread at how horrible the movie version will undoubtedly be. There are times when I have been surprised at how well the book was translated to screen but usually I go to the movies with low expectations and somehow the screen version is worst that I could have imagined. Starship Troopers and Jurassic Park suffer from the latter. If I had read either of those books before watching the movies I would have thrown something at the screen. Both of these books were stripped to their bare bones, left with just character names and 2 or 3 key points, and then thrown on the screen. Thankfully, I already had an affinity for the movies or I don’t think I could watch them again. If you enjoyed the movies at all, indulge in the books and allow yourself to be fully immersed in the stories. There were so many different angles in both of these books that weren’t even mentioned in either of the movies that you can only benefit from trying either of these books out.

Now with all that being said, stay tuned… There’s a lot more reading and reviews to come on this blog. Stop by often and see what the next book is on my list.

 2012 Book List

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
JK Rowling
The Waste Lands
Stephen King
Wizard and Glass
Stephen King
Wolves of the Calla
Stephen King
Songs of Susannah
Stephen King
The Dark Tower
Stephen King
The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins
Cathcing Fire
Suzanne Collins
Suzanne Collins
Nefertiti: The Book of the Dead
Nick Drake
Auschwitz: A Doctors Eyewitness Account
Mikos Nyiszli
While We're Far Apart
Lynn Austin
Lone Wolf
Jodi Picoult
Sentence of Marriage
Shayne Parkinson
Mud and Gold
Shayne Parkinson
Settling the Account
Shayne Parkinson
13 Reasons Why
Jay Asher
A Second Chance
Shayne Parkinson
My Lady Gisbourne
Charlotte Hawkins
Soul Identity
Dennis Batchelder
Soul Intent
Dennis Batchelder
Martha McPhee
Gods and Kings
Lynn Austin
Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d'Art
Christopher Moore
Life Love and a Polar Bear Tattoo
Heather Wardell
Wind Through the Keyhole
Stephen King
Rain Song
Alice Wisler
When the Wind Blows
James Patterson
The good Guy
Dean Koontz
Twenty Thousand Leagues under the seas
Jules Verne
A Stolen Life: A memoir
Jayce Dugard
Clash of Kings
George R R Martin
Pillow Talk
Freya North
The Wedding
Nicholas Sparks
Veiled Eyes
CL Bevill
Daughter of the sea
Mira Zamin
Liars Market
Taylor Smith
J Evans
Daisy's War
Shayne Parkinson
Mirror, Mirror
Gregory Maguire
Thomas Hoover
Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood
Rebecca Wells
Turning Angel
Greg Iles
True Evil
Greg Iles
Great Expectation
Charles Dickens
Sleep No More
Greg Iles
The Davinci Legacy
Lewis Perdue
The Jefferson Key
Steve Berry
Off Balance: A memoir
Dominique Moceanu
The Best of me
Nicholas Sparks
Starship Troopers
Robert A Heinlein
The Casual Vacancy
JK Rowling
Flying Changes
Sara Gruen
The Forever War
Joe Haldenman
The Woman who Wasn’t There
Angelo J Gugliemo Jr
The Time Keeper
Mitch Albom
The Twelve
Justin Cronin
24 hours
Greg Iles
Heroes Day
Jesse Gordon
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
Seth Grahame Smith
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
Gregory Maguire
The Stolen Crown
Susan Higginbotham
MC Moore
The Summerhouse
Jude Deveraux
A Family Affair
Mary Campisi
MC Moore
The Dante Club
Matthew Pearl
The Last Templar
Raymond Khoury
Michael Crichton
The Book of Lies
Brad Meltzer
The Loom
Shella Gillus
Nearly Departed
Max Patrick Schlienger
Dead Sleep
Greg Iles
And When She Was Good
Laura Lippman
Jurassic Park
Michael Crichton