Harry Potter Puzzle at Downtown Books

 

While on vacation, we stopped by our favorite Outer Banks independent bookstore, Downtown Books. Located on Sir Walter Raleigh Street in Manteo, this store offers a wide selection of books, greeting cards, journals, toys and more. After reading their website, I discovered they also have a selection of pre-read (used) books. Must have missed that, because I sure would have browsed that section.

In addition to this awesome Hogwarts puzzle that we worked on at the beach house, I picked up some Outer Banks fiction. I love reading books set in places I visit. How about you?

 

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From the Family Bookshelf – January 2016

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Hard to believe a new year is upon us. I hope you all enjoyed the holidays. Instead of the usual From the Family Bookshelf column where I talk about what we’ve read, I’m going to share the books we received for Christmas.

For the first time in a long time, I didn’t get Daddy any books for a present. I bought him some neat toys instead; things that would remind him of his childhood.

I received one book this year: The Christmas Star by Ace Collins. I’ve wanted it for a while now. Christianbook.com had a special offer, so I bought it for myself and had Daddy stick it under the tree.

The Lil’ Diva was happy to receive the entire Harry Potter series, as well as, The Shadowhunter’s Codex. This book is a tie-in to The Mortal Instruments series.

The Lil’ Princess received the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, Old School.

Did you receive any books for Christmas? If so, happy reading!

Wrapping Up Harry Potter

Well, I did it. I finished the Harry Potter series last month. It was tough to see it end because I had spent the past several months listening to the books in my car hp1as I drove back and forth from appointments. Music just isn’t cutting it for me anymore.

I purposefully held off on reviewing each book as I read it because there isn’t much new that can be said. Even if there was, almost everyone has heard of or read this wildly popular series, so it seemed superfluous. What I will do, however, is share my thoughts on what I liked about each book and if there is anything that niggled at me.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone sets the stage for all that will follow. We meet many of the important characters who will remain throughout the series or will perish in the war against Lord Voldemort. By making Harry a sympathetic character from the start, J.K. Rowling gave readers someone to care about. He lost his parents; he’s being mistreated by his relatives; once he gets to Hogwarts where he is wildly famous and his life should improve, he struggles with his lack of magical knowledge and is despised by Draco Malfoy and seen as a younger version of his arrogant father by Professor Snape.

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In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets a diary is discovered that ends up being part of the plot through to the final book of the series and is crucial in Lord Voldemort’s defeat. This indicates Rowling may have done serious pre-plotting before putting pen to paper. As the story unfolds, Ginny Weasley becomes more of a sympathetic character than Harry because she is fooled by Tom Riddle (Voldemort) and possessed, putting Harry and the others at risk. We also see a very important plot point begin to develop: the hatred of Voldemort and his followers for half-bloods and Muggles.

When it comes to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, we meet another new character. As the story comes closer to the end, wehp3 hope that Harry will have just a tiny bit of happiness and not have to endure another summer with his Muggle relatives who mistreat him. There is a definite theme of salvation running through the third book: the possible saving of Harry from the Dursleys, the saving of Sirius Black from the Dementor’s kiss, the saving of BuckBeak who has been sentenced to death, and in some ways Hermoine being saved from overworking herself in an effort to be the best at everything. This book also reveals who truly betrayed James and Lily Potter, leading to their deaths.

hp4Some of these books don’t actually begin with Harry. Book four, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, is one of them. It’s a nice change of pace and indicates how Rowling worked to keep the series fresh and engaging for readers. We haven’t said much about Quidditch yet, but that is the game Harry has a natural talent for (discovered in Book 1), so this helps to balance that his magic might not be up to par with that of other students. Rowling uses the Quidditch World Cup to introduce another important character: Cedric Diggory. Cedric will end up competing in the Triwizard  Tournament, which hasn’t been held for over 200 years. This brings students and staff from other schools to Hogwarts. This is the book were Lord Voldemort is resurrected by Harry’s blood and what truly begins the war in earnest because the current Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge does not believe Harry and Professor Dumbledore (Hogwarts Headmaster) that Voldemort has returned. Parents, students, and the wizarding community must choose who and what to believe.

How many people loved Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix but despised it at the same time? I know it brought out that reaction in me. So much hp5injustice takes place in this novel at the hands of Dolores Umbridge and the Ministry of Magic that at times it was hard not to scream or throw something against the wall. And for anyone who thought that Harry and Sirius would end up finding a nice cottage to live out their days once this whole war was over, they were dealt a crushing blow thanks to Bellatrix Lestrange. This is also the book where Dumbledore explains the prophecy to Harry that has brought him to Hogwarts and will eventually lead to his final showdown with Lord Voldemort.

In certain books, we learn more about other characters than Harry. That is true in books six and seven, where the history of Dumbledore and Tom Riddle a.k.a. Lord Voldemort unfolds. Book 6 is also one that doesn’t begin with Harry. Instead, the reader sees Professor Snape hp6in a meeting with Narcissa Malfoy, where he takes an unbreakable vow to protect and assist Draco in the mission Lord Voldemort has entrusted to him. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince also finds Harry given a mission of his own that will unfold in the final book. It is in this book that we learn how important the diary Ginny Weasley found in the third book is to Voldemort and his plan for immortality.

Then in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows best friends Harry, Hermoine, and Ron risk everything to bring down Voldemort. In order to do that, they set out on their own, learn more about Dumbledore’s past, infiltrate the Ministry of Magic, are captured and held prisoner at Malfoy Manor, secretly enter Hogwarts, and witness tragedy strike Snape who had been installed by Voldemort as the Headmaster at Hogwarts. It isn’t until Snape shares his memories with Harry that he truly understands what fulfilling his destiny means.

What I enjoyed most about these books is how they blended everyday things like relationship issues, coping with tragedy, love, family and friendship while harryexploring a magical world. These books also tackled controversial topics like prejudice. I loved how with each book Rowling upped the ante, so you had intense moments throughout each book, but the series as a whole slowly built up the dramatic face off between Harry and Voldemort.

I don’t believe I am alone, however, in being a bit let down by the epilogue. I am okay with vagueness, but I felt too much time had passed. There is also the matter of Draco and Harry. While I don’t believe they would ever be friends, I wanted to see a little bit more about how their relationship evolved after the Dark Lord’s defeat.

Have you read the Harry Potter series? What were some of your favorite parts? Is there anything you didn’t care for?

 

From the Family Bookshelf

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So many books, so very little time. Going back to work has truly hampered my ability to get much reading done. I have been nursing one book for months–not because it isn’t interesting, just no time to read. The only other book I read was because I edited it.

Pulitzer Prize-nominated Caitlin Rother’s book, Dead Reckoning, is a true crime story. French Illusions: From Tours to Paris by Linda Kovic-Skow is a sequel to her first book and continues her story of studying abroad.

Dad is reading a Clive Cussler book in his spare time. The Lil’ Diva just finished the last book in the Harry Potter Series and the Lil’ Princess is reading On the Way Home, a travel diary by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

What are you reading these days?

Books to Film

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Every once in a while, I get to thinking about my favorite television or movie adaptations of books. Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, The Chronicles of Narnia, Little Women, and Matilda come to mind.

For this generation, perhaps it is The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Harry Potter.

But whatever books we are talking about, when a popular book or book series is made into a movie(s), controversy surrounds it. Which characters did they change? What characters did they leave out? How much did they alter the story for film?

I remember the Lil’ Diva complaining for days because a certain character, and therefore, her favorite scene, were cut from Divergent. Gasp! How dare they?

What are some of your favorite television and movie adaptations? Were you ever irked in how they changed it for film?

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Poetry

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For this week’s reading log, the Lil’ Diva had to come up with a narrative poem using certain literary devices–alliteration, assonance, consonance, personification, and simile. It is based upon a scene from the opening chapter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix where Harry seeks out Dudley, and Dementors show up. Here is what we came up with together. Let me know what you think.

Sweltering, sticky summer day,
Taunting Dudley makes fun play.
Ickle Diddykins, popkins too,
Dinky Diddydums, to name a few.
Face like a pig, lumbering dude,
Always seems to give me ‘tude.

Whipped out my wand, I’d show him,
My anger bubbling beneath the brim.
Darkness raced in, blackened the sky,
Suddenly, all my happy thoughts died.
Dementors surround us on every side,
Dudley’s afraid, and so am I.

Kiss worse than death, memory gone,
Dreadful thoughts their touch do spawn.
Can’t use magic. What to do.
Spell’s not working, we are screwed.
Slimy hands gripping Dudley’s wrists,
Silver stag, he did persist.

Dementors gone. Magic saved the day.
Whimpering Dudley had nothing to say.
Life and death. This is no game.
Dudley’s looking pretty lame.
Problem is I’ll be expelled.
Gee, my life is really hell.

Interview with Andrew J. Cole, Author of Flight of the Lazarus

Joining us today is Andrew Cole, author of the science fiction e-book Flight of the Lazarus.

Thank you for joining us today, Andrew. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I’m a huge science fiction fan from Lexington, Ky. Growing up on a steady diet of Saturday morning cartoons, books, comic books, anime, movies,  and video games I developed a well rounded imagination. I’m also an army veteran and I was stationed at Ft. Bragg as an airborne special operations soldier. I love music and I have to have it playing in my headphones while writing. While anything beat oriented will do, I prefer industrial rock. Fave band is Nine Inch Nails. 

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

In 2004, I had a dream so vivid that it couldn’t be ignored. The story of Captain Taylor came from that dream. To date, the story is over two trilogies large and will ultimately span over ten books or more to tell the story of what was created in that one dream. 

Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?

Fantasy taps into the imagination. Younger people tend to be more imaginative, so here I am. 

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

I’m just having fun as this epic unfolds one book after another. You have to keep the stories fresh. Readers can smell a bad plot a mile away. 

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

When Captain Taylor of the Starship Lazarus discovers the missing link of an alien war machine hiding on his freighter, he and his crew of misfits, orphans, and robots must discover its secret before a terrible evil is unleashed not only  on Earth, but on all other sentient life in the universe!

The story of Captain Taylor and his crew is a modern sci-fi telling of Joseph Campbell’s heroes journey. People would recognize this epic story arc as it appeared in Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Matrix, and Harry Potter. If you enjoyed the range and arc of those stories; the unlikely hero, the companions to help along the way, a love story, marvels to spark the imagination, and complex villains, you’re going to fall for the action packed ride that’s found not only in the Captain Taylor Trilogy, but the continuation of the story The War for Tomorrow Trilogy. But Flight of the Lazarus is just the tip of the iceberg. Just as Fellowship of the Rings was the start of Frodo’s journey and The Sorcerer’s Stone was the first step for Harry Potter, Book 1 of the Captain Taylor Trilogy starts the next unlikely hero, his friends, and the reader on the adventure of a lifetime. 

What inspired you to write it?

A dream. A vivid and wonderful dream that continues to reveal itself one episode at a time.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

You can download a free sample or the whole e-book for your Kindle, Ipad, Iphone, or PC at Amazon.com. 

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

I have a blog at andrewjcole.blogspot.com 

What is up next for you?

Three more books in the “Captain Taylor Saga” and a few other projects are on the way. Stay Tuned! 

Do you have anything else to add?

Both The Captain Taylor Trilogy and The War for Tomorrow trilogy are available on Amazon.com! No waiting! Flight of the Lazarus is available for only 99 cents and the rest of the books are for sale for only 2.99 each!  That’s like two thousand pages of awesome for less than sixteen dollars! A better deal does not exist. Try the first one fro a buck and I’m confident you’ll be back for the rest! Happy Reading! 

Oh, if you’re sick to death of vampires, you now have an alternative.

Thanks for spending time with us today, Andrew. We wish you great success.

Thank you for making time for me. I hope others will enjoy reading this epic as much as I love creating it!