Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Book Review: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

The Casual Vacancy

Written by J.K. Rowling
Published by Little, Brown and Company on Sept. 27, 2012 
Genre: Adult Fiction, British, Town Politics 
503 pages 
 

*Warning potential spoilers*

Barry Fairbrother suddenly dies in the British town, Pagford. Fairbrother was on the Parish Council for Pagford and now individuals are running for election to fill his position. There are disagreements about the changes that should take place in Pagford. The main issue concerns whether the Fields should remain within the Pagford boundaries. There are social class stereotypes between those living in the picturesque Pagford with cobblestones and individuals living in The Fields who are believed to be a lower social class. Everybody has personal secrets and grievances against others. Unique characters live in Pagford and somehow each connect. For example: a teen has a crush on a young woman whose mother is the social worker for a drug using mother whose daughter has sexual relations with a different teen whose father is the headmaster at school whose doctor has a daughter cutting herself because the headmaster’s son often bullies her. Confused? That’s just one small example about how the many individuals in Pagford connect. How will the town election change Pagford? Will the town’s secrets be made public to affect the vote and daily life?

If I saw the book cover and read the short description I wouldn’t give this book a second glance. I will admit the only reason I read The Casual Vacancy was because it was written by J.K. Rowling. I wasn’t expecting it to be anything like Harry Potter, instead I wanted to read another genre with her writing. In fact, the writing is so extremely different from her previous writing that I often forgot who the author was. Let me warn you this is definitely an adult book. It contains swearing, bullying, drug use, domestic violence, cutting,  rape, child neglect, sexual situations, political scandal, and social class issues. I mention this because the Harry Potter series was read by both children and adults, so the content should not be assumed okay for all age levels.

Personally, I didn’t enjoy the book and I had to force myself to finish it. I think there were too many characters and the plot was often dry and not exciting. I had to read over half the book before the plot fully formed and it gained some momentum. Rowling did a good job connecting characters and providing their different perspectives, but I think she almost tried too hard.  Yes, life often isn’t perfect and individuals have personal struggles and desires, but I think too many issues were thrown into the book. It was almost as though she made a check list of every possible issue (drugs, sex, violence…) that individuals may have in a small town. Don’t get me wrong, I’m okay reading harsh subjects but I think the issues in this book lacked substance and depth. The conclusion left many unanswered questions.Would I recommend this book or read the book again? No, but unfortunately I know most individuals are like me and will be reading The Casual Vacancy because of its author. I give Rowling high praise for writing something in a new genre for a different audience. If you enjoy small town conflicts, social issues, and British humor then you may enjoy The Casual Vacancy.

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Caroline:

This week is banned book week. Challenged and banned books are celebrated and each individual has the freedom to read whatever they desire. I still smile when I read this excerpt from Harry Potter.

Originally posted on Children's Books & More:

Any student found in possession of the magazine The Quibbler will be expelled.

For some reason, every time Hermione caught sight of one of these signs she beamed with pleasure.

‘What exactly are you so happy about?’ Harry asked her.

‘Oh, Harry don’t you see?’ Hermione breathed. ‘If she could have done one thing to make absolutely sure that every single person in this school will read your interview, it was banning it!’

- J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, page 512)

I remembered this small conversation between Harry and Hermione from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix after yesterday’s post about censorship in The Day They Came to Arrest the Book. (Yes, I’ve read them enough times to recall certain phrases.) I don’t think this conversation spoils the book if you haven’t read it yet. The basic idea is…

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Harry Potter is Now Available on eBooks!!!

Attention muggles, Harry Potter is now available to read as an eBook for various readers, smartphones, tablets, mp3 players, and computers!!! You need to purchase your Harry Potter eBooks on the third-party website, www.pottermore.com. Then click the lower right button for eBooks at the Pottermore Shop.

The exclusive home of the Harry Potter eBooks

The eBook prices range from $7.99 (earlier books) to $9.99 (later books). The audio book prices range from $29.99 (earlier books) to $44.99 (later books). You can also save %10 by buying all seven books. Here are some questions and answers to hopefully help.

Currently, the books are only available in English, but soon they will be available in more languages.

The Harry Potter eBooks are provided in EPUB format, which is most common for readers. What devices are compatible with the Pottermore Shop eBooks?:

  • Sony Reader (PRS—505 & PRS—700)
  • Sony Reader WiFi (PRS—T1)
  • Sony Tablet S & Sony Tablet P (SGPT1XX & SGPT212)
  • Daily Edition (PRS—900BC & PRS 950SC)
  • Pocket Edition (PRS—300SC & PRS—350SC)
  • Touch Edition (PRS—600BC & PRS 650BC)
  • Samsung Galaxy Nexus
  • Samsung Galaxy S
  • HTC EVO
  • Motorola Droid
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab
  • Asus Transformer
  • Asus Iconia Tab
  • Motorola Xoom
  • Toshiba Thrive
  • Other mobile and tablet devices running Android v1.5 or higher (i.e. PanDigital Novel)
  • All Amazon Kindle devices and reading apps
  • NOOK and NOOKcolor (including Nook first edition, Nook Simple Touch and Nook Color)
  • Kobo eReader (including Kobo eReader, eReader wireless and Kobo Touch)
  • iPhone running iOS v4.2 or newer
  • iPad running iOS v4.2 or newer
  • iPod touch running iOS v4.2 or newer

Most eBook–reading devices support the EPUB format. For a comprehensive list, visithttp://blogs.adobe.com/digitalpublishing/supported-devices or check your manufacturer’s guidelines to see if this applies to your device.

How do I download the eBook?:

In order, to buy the Harry Potter eBook you need to set up a Pottermore Shop account. If you were lucky enough to get  early access to Pottermore you still need to  make a separate Pottermore Shop account. Click on the eBook you wish to purchase and add it to your basket. After it’s in your basket, proceed to the checkout.

How many times can I download each eBook?:

You’re able to download each eBook eight times for your personal use at no additional cost.

I was one of the lucky few who got to experience Pottermore early in October. It will open to everyone next month! Pottermore is an awesome online reading experience. You learn more about the books and become part of the story yourself. Click on the message to hear more about it from J. K. Rowling.

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Sharing Sunday – Muggles, Travel Photos, Crayon Talks & More

Here is my second Sharing Sunday that I provide information I’ve enjoyed.

Are you upset that the owl never arrived with your Hogwarts acceptance letter? Well, this muggle blogger writes adventures as though the owl actually did arrive and this muggle attends Hogwarts. Follow the adventures of learning to ride a broom and many challenges of being a non-wizard in a wizard school. Not at Hogwarts Yet

Would you like a kid’s honest opinion about books? Here is a blog written by a kid who loves books and shares wonderful reviews. It is a great site for parents and children to find books to read. The blog also features information about authors and book trivia. This Kid Reviews Books

If you haven’t updated your passport or you’re short on travel cash, then this is a wonderful blog to see the world through photos. There are Snapshots of the World  through food, landscapes, animals, buildings, culture customs, and more. I enjoy the brief travel information behind each photo.

This post is a delightful poem about diversity through the voices of crayons. At first the crayons disagree and don’t accept each other, but soon they learn that each is unique and together they make a beautiful picture. The poem is taken from a book.  The Crayon Box That Talked

Do you have too many books and not enough places to store them? Here are some fun photos that provide creative ideas about where to keep and show your books. Decorate With Books

Sharing is caring. Pass a little love about others on your blog. 

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Hermione Experiences Censorship

Today’s the last day of banned books week, however our freedom to read should be celebrated all year. I was going to end the week with my favorite series and well-known for being challenged, of course I’m referring to the Harry Potter series. Instead, I decided to use a past post about Harry Potter.

Any student found in possession of the magazine ,The Quibbler, will be expelled.

For some reason, every time Hermione caught sight of one of these signs she beamed with pleasure.

‘What exactly are you so happy about?’ Harry asked her.

‘Oh, Harry don’t you see?’ Hermione breathed. ‘If she could have done one thing to make absolutely sure that every single person in this school will read your interview, it was banning it!’

- J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, page 512)

I don’t think this conversation spoils the book if you haven’t read it yet. The basic idea is that the magazine, The Quibbler, provided information that the ministry didn’t want students to know about. Of course, Hermione catches this action right away and understands that students will now learn the truth. By the end of the day, every student read The Quibbler.

What happens when you ban or forbid something? Of course, our curiosity wins and we desire to seek what others don’t want us to learn or comprehend. Individuals crave to know what information and context is so terrible and extreme that some want to influence others from not reading it. So don’t be afraid to read the book, listen to the song, or watch the movie that others find ‘questionable’ or ‘inappropriate’. My personal philosophy is that any book worth banning is a book worth reading.

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All aboard the Hogwart’s Express

Do you have your ticket ready at exactly eleven o’clock on the first of September standing upon platform nine and three-quarters? I hope so. Many schools start  today, so I remembered what occurs on the first of September in Harry Potter. Travel back to the beginning as Harry boards Hogwart’s Express for the first time. Of course, since he lives with muggles they laugh when he mentions that the train leaves from platform nine and three-quarters when to them it doesn’t exist. Harry wouldn’t believe that so very soon he’ll begin his magical journey and lasting friendships.

Harry felt a great leap of excitement. He didn’t know what he was going to – but it had to be better than what he was leaving behind.

- J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, page 98)

We’ve all had similar feelings of excitement and apprehension about the journey ahead. Besides brief chats with Hagrid, Harry had no knowledge about the wizard world. What situations have put you into the unknown? Harry’s completely alone until he stumbles upon the Weasly family who help him through the brick wall and onto platform nine and three-quarters. What or who has led you through struggles of unknown? I love that this is where he meets Ron and during this casual conversation they become instant friends especially to Harry who’s had no true friends.

Here Harry and Ron share food in their compartment on the Hogwart’s Express:

You don’t want this, it’s all dry,” said Ron. “She hasn’t got much time,” he added quickly, “you know, with five of us.”

“Go on, have a pasty,” said Harry, who had never had anything to share before or, indeed, anyone to share it with. It was a nice feeling, sitting there with Ron, eating their way through all Harry’s pasties, cakes, and candies (the sandwiches lay forgotten).

- J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, page 101 -102)

It’s the people we meet along the way that make the journey worthwhile. Sure, Harry may have joined a different compartment but they may have made him a different person. Ron gained recognition, since Harry saw him as an individual and not the many from a large family. Hopefully, I’ll be meeting you abroad Hogwart’s Express as we buy sweets and start our journey together.

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Owl arrives to enter Pottermore

Something very wonderful and magical happened today. After waiting weeks I received my ‘owl’ (email) that my Pottermore account is ready to enter. I was one of the lucky million to give feedback on the site that gives new insight into the Harry Potter books. It really is quite amazing. J. K. Rowling includes personal information behind the story and how she created the ideas. You’re taken along a journey through the entire series. Individuals, such as myself, provide feedback as to how they think the site will be even better when it’s open to everyone in October. I think it just opened, since I received my registration on the first day, July 31st. If you’re not one of the lucky few then you will surely be delighted when you enter later.

The magical world of Pottermore is now just a click away.

by J.K. Rowling

Before you step into the exciting world of Pottermore, we’d like to welcome you as one of the first million people to be granted access. You are being invited in early to help shape the experience and ensure that it is as magical as it can be for the full launch in October.

Pottermore builds an exciting online experience around the reading of the Harry Potter books, allowing you to read and share exclusive content from J.K. Rowling, visit Diagon Alley, get sorted into a house, cast spells and mix potions to help your house compete for the House Cup. All we ask is that you let us know what you like and if there’s anything you think would make Pottermore even better.

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Doesn’t everyone wish to have Hermione’s time turner?

What we need, ” said Dumbledore slowly, and his light blue eyes moved from Harry to Hermione, “is more time.

- J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, page 393)

I apologize if you haven’t read this yet. This is my third Harry Potter reference, which is understandable since the series holds so much. The conversation between Dumbledore and Hermione described what occurred after Sirius was captured and held under false pretenses. Dumbledore mentioned that three turns should be enough which translated into three hours in the past. Of course, Dumbledore let the two decide what needed to be done with the transfer back into time. Those who’ve read the book remember the changes that occurred in those three hours. That’s the key word: change. What do you wish you could change if given a time turner?

So, many times we think to ourselves ‘If I only knew what I know now’ or ‘I didn’t enjoy it while it lasted.’ or ‘What was I thinking about getting the (fill in the blank)?’. However much we wish, hope, dream, pray, and think upon we can’t change what occurred in the past. We can alter certain aspects, such as manage a terrible hair cut, refinance a poor money choice, repaint the olive walls, or sell extreme purchases. There are certain things that can’t be changed, such as a heated argument created difficult relationships or reckless behavior that caused physical bodily damage. True, people grow and learn from their past and develop skills through life. Stop and think about the choices that you make right now before you regret later or wish you could change.

Now, there’s also the opposite of turning into the past. Would you use the time turner to see your future? Of course, nobody wishes to suddenly age, but perhaps just a glimpse to quickly turn forward 3 weeks, 6 months, or decades then turn back. (Exception is if you’re turning 16 to drive or 21 to legally drink.) All of us have ‘count downs’ whether it’s a movie opening, exam, presentation, interview, graduation, wedding, celebration, competition, and endless tasks and deadlines.  We cross off calendar dates, cut off Christmas paper link chains, ask others to remind us, or program reminders onto phones. I even put a Harry Potter movie countdown on my phone. Countdowns into the future create suspense, anticipation, excitement, dread, and even fear.

Unless, you have a magical time turner you don’t have the power to switch to the past and future. Enjoy the present and try not to change the past or wonder about the future. You can’t control your past, but you can prepare for your future even if you can’t see it.

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Fighting a troll = lifelong friendship

But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.

- J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

I like this quotation, because it marks the beginning of the strong friendship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Beforehand, Harry and Ron made fun of Hermione and didn’t want to associate with her, but that all changed the moment they fought the troll in the bathroom together. They could have easily gotten upset or blamed someone, but the struggle brought them together. Of course, they have no clue how challenging their struggles will be in the future.

So I ask you this, what friends have stuck by you through your difficult life situations? How far are you willing to go for your friends? What moments are so great and bold that you’re bound to become someone’s friend? Treasure those who stay near through all ups and downs.

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‘The Quibbler’ excites Hermione

Any student found in possession of the magazine The Quibbler will be expelled.

For some reason, every time Hermione caught sight of one of these signs she beamed with pleasure.

‘What exactly are you so happy about?’ Harry asked her.

‘Oh, Harry don’t you see?’ Hermione breathed. ‘If she could have done one thing to make absolutely sure that every single person in this school will read your interview, it was banning it!’

- J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, page 512)

I remembered this small conversation between Harry and Hermione from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix after yesterday’s post about censorship in The Day They Came to Arrest the Book. (Yes, I’ve read them enough times to recall certain phrases.) I don’t think this conversation spoils the book if you haven’t read it yet. The basic idea is that the magazine, The Quibbler, provided information that the ministry didn’t want students to know about. Of course, Hermione catches this action right away and understands that students will now learn the truth. By the end of the day, every student read The Quibbler.

What happens when you ban or forbid something? Of course, our curiosity wins and we desire to seek what others don’t want us to learn or comprehend. I know this sounds wrong, but perhaps the best business for an author is for their work to become challenged or banned. Think about it. Individuals crave to know what information and context is so terrible and extreme that some want to influence others from not reading it. So don’t be afraid to read that material, listen to the song, or watch the movie that others find ‘questionable’ or ‘inappropriate’ to themselves. My personal philosophy is that any book worth banning is a book worth reading.

The page number refers to the adult version. I still remember when I bought this ‘adult’ book. I was in Europe at the time when Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix released, so I somehow wanted to get my hands on it. Finally, I found the book in Amsterdam and was asked ‘Would you like the adult or children’s version?’. Well, in the United States I’ve only heard of one version and I thought to myself: ‘Hmm, what exactly makes Harry Potter ‘adult’ material?’ So of course, my curiosity won and I bought the ‘adult’ version. I learned the only difference was the font and cover, supposedly to encourage adult readers and not being caught reading Harry Potter. Personally, I think these covers appear darker as the series should be portrayed. However, as I mentioned in an earlier post, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

Adult Version                                                     Children’s Version

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Harry Potter excitement continues!

So, are you one of the lucky few in a million who has early access to J.K. Rowling’s newest work? You’re asking yourself: ‘I didn’t know she was writing more books.’ however that’s not true. Her new work is about Harry Potter, but with no additional books instead it’s an interactive online site: www.pottermore.com. It isn’t exactly clear what the website is all about, but Rowling states it’s an online experience surrounded around the Harry Potter books.

The countdowns for the books and movies may be over, but this is a new countdown for the website to be open in October. However, if you’re one of the lucky few (such as myself) you will be able to ‘shape the experience’ before the site opens. For seven days (seven books) starting on July 31st (Harry’s birthday), fans have the opportunity to register. It was very exciting and just like Harry Potter ‘magic’ with the whole process. You need to find a magic quill and answer questions about the book. For example, “How many types of owls are sold at the Owl Emporium? Multiple this number by 44.” Of course, I didn’t know the number but I knew where to find the information (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when he first buys school supplies in Diagon Alley)

After this success, you’re asked numerous questions and an email is sent to confirm. You’re then declared ‘magical’ to pick a screen name from those provided. I suppose I was lucky, because I got through right away on the first day. (However, it may have been because it was just after midnight. No, I wasn’t waiting until it was posted instead just skimmed info on Facebook.) The ‘magic’ again occurs when it’s open only a certain amount of time each day before registration is closed. I actually wanted to check each day to see if I could correctly answer the next questions.

However, even though I’ve been selected as ‘magical’ I still have to patiently wait for a ‘welcome email’ that arrives within the next few weeks. The website can’t handle everyone at the same time. I think it’s worse than a book or movie opening, since I don’t know the exact date. Oh well, it’s just like waiting for an owl post.

The website, www.pottermore.com, is also a place to see the books in a digital format. Rowling stated that she wants it to be available for all regardless of which e-reader is used. If anyone can control how books are digitally formatted and distributed it’s her. Rowling has been very hesitant in the past to allow her books into digital format, but confessed that it’s here to stay. I think any reading format of Harry Potter whether audio, print, or soon to be digital is magical for everyone.

Post on website after a successful registration:

Congratulations!
You’ve successfully validated your early access Pottermore account. You will be one of the lucky few to shape the experience before the site opens to all in October.

You may have to wait a few weeks for your Welcome email to arrive as we can’t let everyone into the Beta site at the same time.

We look forward to seeing you.

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