Favorite Scene: Order of the Phoenix

Order of the PhoenixHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has always been my least favorite book in the series. However, after re-reading it more slowly this time, I have come to appreciate it more. I didn’t get as frustrated with Harry as I have been in the past. I found that I was more frustrated with Dumbledore than Harry. Funny how your thoughts and feelings change as you re-read your favorite books. I really thought I would have a very difficult time finding a favorite scene in Order of the Phoenix; however, I found two that really stood out to me. One is fairly obvious and then other one – not so much.

The Obvious Favorite Scene:

I love the scene at the end where The Order stands with Harry to meet his aunt and uncle after the end of the school year. After feeling so alone throughout the year, Harry sees that he isn’t alone after all. He can stand tall when he meets his dreaded relatives. Mad Eye is just the best in this scene.

…he found a surprise awaiting him on the other side: a group of people standing there to greet whom he had not expected.

“Hello, Harry,” said Lupin, as Mrs. Weasley let go of Harry and turned to greet Hermione.

“Hi,” said Harry. “I didn’t expect…what are you all doing here?”

“Well,” said Lupin with a slight smile, “we thought we might have a little chat with your aunt and uncle before letting them take you home.”

“I dunno if that’s a good idea,” said Harry at once.

“Oh, I think it is,” growled Moody, who limped a little closer.

“We thought we’d just have a few words with you about Harry,” said Mr. Weasley, still smiling.

“Yeah,” said Moody. “About how he’s treated when he’s at your place.”

Uncle Vernon’s mustache seemed to bristle with indignation. Possibly because the bowler hat gave him the entirely mistaken impression that he was dealing with a kindred spirit, he addressed himself to Moody.

“I am not aware that it is any of your business what goes on in my house – ”

“I expect what you’re not aware of would fill several books, Dursley,” growled Moody.

“Anyway, that’s not the point,” interjected Tonks, whose pink hair seemed to offend Aunt Petunia more than all the rest put together, for she closed her eyes rather than look at her. “The point is, if we find out you’ve been horrible to Harry -”

” – and make no mistake, we’ll hear about it,” added Lupin pleasantly.

“Yeah, if we get any hint that Potter’s been mistreated in any way, you’ll have us to answer to,” said Moody,

Uncle Vernon swelled ominously. His sense of outrage seemed to outweigh even his fear of this bunch of oddballs.

“Are you threatening me, sir?” he said, so loudly that passersby actually turned to stare.

“Yes, I am,” said May-Eye, who seemed rather pleased that Uncle Vernon had grasped this fact so quickly.

“And do I look like the kind of man who can be intimidated?” barked Uncle Vernon.

“Well…” said Moody, pushing back his bowler hat to reveal his sinisterly revolving magical eye. Uncle Vernon leapt backward in horror and collided with a luggage trolley. “Yes, I’d have to say you do, Dursley.”

He turned away from Uncle Vernon to survey Harry. “So, Potter…give us a shout if you need us. If we don’t hear from you for three days in a row, we’ll send someone along…”

The Not So Obvious Scene:

This scene is after Mr. Weasley has been attacked by Nagini and still in the hospital. Harry blames himself because he thinks that Voldemort has possessed him. However, Ginny is able to bring him back into the company of his friends. I think this is when Ginny became a major character in the series. She has finally entered into the fold as a trusted friend.

“Oh, stop feeling all misunderstood,” said Hermione sharply. “Look, the others have told what you overheard last night on the Extendable Ears -”

“Yeah?” growled Harry, his hands deep in his pockets as he watched the snow falling thickly outside. “All been talking about me, have you? Well, I’m getting used to it…”

“We wanted to talk to you, Harry,” said Ginny, “but as you’ve been hiding ever since we got back – ”

“I didn’t want anyone to talk to me,” said Harry, who was feeling more and more nettled.

“Well, that was a bit stupid of you,” said Ginny angrily, “seeing as you don’t know anyone but me who’s been possessed by You-Know-Who, and I can tell you how it feels.”

“Harry remained quite still as the impact of these words hit him. Then he wheeled around.

“I forgot,” he said.

“Lucky you,” said Ginny coolly.

“I’m sorry,” Harry said, and he meant it. “So…so do you think I’m being possessed, then?”

“Well, can you remember everything you’ve been doing?” Ginny asked. “Are there big blank periods where you don’t know what you’ve been up to?”

Harry racked his brains.

“No,” he said.

“Then You-Know-Who hasn’t ever possessed you,” said Ginny simply. When he did it to me, I couldn’t remember what I’d been doing for hours at a time. I’d find myself somewhere and not know how I got there.”

Harry hardly dared to believe her, yet his heart was lightening  almost in spite of himself.

There you go! Those are my favorite scenes from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. What are yours? Please leave me a comment and let me know!

 

 

Review: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Written by Truman Capote
Read by Michael C. Hall
Recorded by Audible Studios on February 11, 2014
Originally published in 1958

51rZT5DkgdL__SL300_Synopsis:

Golden Globe-winning actor Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under) performs Truman Capote’s provocative, naturalistic masterstroke about a young writer’s charmed fascination with his unorthodox neighbor, the “American geisha” Holly Golightly. Holly – a World War II-era society girl in her late teens – survives via socialization, attending parties and restaurants with men from the wealthy upper class who also provide her with money and expensive gifts. Over the course of the novella, the seemingly shallow Holly slowly opens up to the curious protagonist, who eventually gets tossed away as her deepening character emerges.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote’s most beloved work of fiction, introduced an independent and complex character who challenged audiences, revived Audrey Hepburn’s flagging career in the 1961 film version, and whose name and style has remained in the national idiom since publication. Hall uses his diligent attention to character to bring our unnamed narrator’s emotional vulnerability to the forefront of this American classic.

To date, my only exposure to Breakfast at Tiffany’s has been the film adaptation with the lovely Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly. After reading this novella I have found that it did not due it justice at all. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a very provocative depiction of a young girl living a life that many people would deem corrupt. I can imagine when this story was published in 1958 and the uproar it caused. Holly talked of sex, homosexuality, drugs, organized crime and other taboo subjects like they were everyday ideas; not the “turn the blind eye” kind of topics of the 1950s.

I can’t decide if Holly was a truly unique, strong woman or an incredibly broken one who created this life just to survive. She definitely had spunk; but at the same time, she was so sad and lost. There were many times I found it hard it hard to like her at all. She treated people so flippantly. She really had no use for them until she needed them. Was she self-absorbed, selfish and short-sighted or mentally unstable (bipolar?) and abused. After reading this novella, I really can’t buy into the Audrey version. She was so incredibly complex but at the same time so incredibly simple.

In my mind, I think Truman Capote identified and wanted to be Holly Golightly. Holly was his ideal human, man or woman. I can see a lot of Capote in Holly (from what I have seen and read about him). Her flippancy, alcohol use, and her brutal treatment of others leads me to believe that Capote captured himself in Holly Golightly. She had no ties and wanted none – or so she thought. The most heartbreaking moment for me was when she let Cat go in Spanish Harlem. It wasn’t romantic like the movie. It was cold but at the same time so sad and depressing. Holly realized, at the last minute, that she had a connection with Cat but she still turned her back on him. I’m just so relieved that Capote gave Cat a happy ending even though he give us one for Holly. Who knows where she landed…presumably like a cat.

I’m really glad I spent the time listening to Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Michael C. Hall did a great job reading it. I thought he captured the narrator, “Fred”, very well. It was just under three hours listening time and I highly recommend that you take the time and listen to this provocative novella. It won’t be a waste.

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It’s Monday! What are you reading?!

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Welcome to It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?! This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well…you never know where that next “must read” book will come from! Hosted by Book Journey.

Last Week:

This Week:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Order of the PhoenixHarry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected…

 

Death by Disputation by Anna Castle

24083300Thomas Clarady is recruited to spy on a group of radical Puritans at Cambridge University. Francis Bacon is his spymaster; his tutor in both tradecraft and religious politics. Their commission gets off to a deadly start when Tom finds his chief informant hanging from the roof beams. Now he must catch a murderer as well as a seditioner. His first suspect is volatile poet Christopher Marlowe, who keeps turning up in the wrong places.

Dogged by unreliable assistants, chased by three lusty women, and harangued daily by the exacting Bacon, Tom risks his very soul to catch the villains and win his reward.

Audiobook of the Week:

51rZT5DkgdL__SL300_Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (Narrated by Michael C. Hall)

Golden Globe-winning actor Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under) performs Truman Capote’s masterstroke about a young writer’s charmed fascination with his unorthodox neighbor, the “American geisha” Holly Golightly. Holly – a World War II-era society girl in her late teens – survives via socialization, attending parties and restaurants with men from the wealthy upper class who also provide her with money and expensive gifts. Over the course of the novella, the seemingly shallow Holly slowly opens up to the curious protagonist.

What are you reading this week?

 

 

Review: Persuasion

Persuasion
Written by the amazing Jane Austen
First Published in 1818
Audiobook (June 6, 2006)
Read by Greta Scacchi

208705Synopsis:

At twenty-seven, Anne Elliot is no longer young and has few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she had been persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a handsome naval captain with neither fortune nor rank. What happens when they encounter each other again is movingly told in Jane Austen’s last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, but, above all, it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities.

Persuasion is my most favorite book of all time. I can’t even count how many times I’ve read it. So, that being said, I decided for my book club (Books, Babes and Booze) selection that Persuasion would be a great pick. Not everyone is my club has read, or even likes, Jane Austen; if they had, only P&P (maybe). I really wanted to share my favorite book with my besties. I told them upfront that Persuasion is my favorite book ever; I really didn’t bear any criticism.

Since I’ve read the book so many times, I wanted to get a different perspective and decided to listen to the audiobook version. This version was read by Greta Scacchi who I really like as an actress. I picked the perfect version; she was absolutely wonderful as the narrator. She brought so much life to Anne Elliot. Her voice reflected her heartbreak, the frustration and embarrassment with her family, and the love of her friends. I loved listening to every second of it. I think you really need to take a leap of faith when listening to your favorite book. The wrong reader can completely ruin a book and, on the flipside, a reader can completely make a book. Ms. Scacchi made this audiobook; she was fantastic. She continues my belief that Persuasion is the greatest ever written (bold statement?!).

Back to my book club. Throughout the month I got text messages on how much someone loved the book. It made my heart go pitter patter. I don’t think there is anything better than sharing your favorite book with your friends and they liked it too. Of course, as modern women we had a difficult time identifying with that age. We all decided we wouldn’t do well. After all, we are all very strong and independent women! I found that many in my book club found this book surprising. Ms. Austen’s perspective on life had definitely changed since her first novel, Sense and Sensibility. In Persuasion, her writing was more mature and accomplished (did I say accomplished?).

I have one last bold statement to make about Persuasion. Captain Wentworth has to be the most romantic hero of all of Jane Austen’s novels. Mr. Darcy who? I absolutely love him! He is proud but also loyal to his friends and to Anne. Plus, he wrote the most perfect love letter of all time. “You pierce my soul!” Can you imagine someone writing those words to you. Just melt my heart!

If you need a truly romantic novel that pierces your soul, please pick up Persuasion. I promise you, you won’t regret it!

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Favorite Scene: Goblet of Fire

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With Goblet of Fire, Harry’s turns completely upside down. He gets entered into a Tournament he can’t possibly win (or possibly survive), his best friend desserts him for a time and Voldemort is making some really nasty plans. From here on out, Harry must face his destiny of vanquishing Voldemort. Now, I know you are waiting with abated breath to see what my favorite scene is. For some it may by surprising. Unlike Azkaban, I picked a more emotional scene with no light-heartedness at all. Molly Weasley is the closest thing to a mother Harry ever had. When she comforts him in the hospital wing at the end of the Tournament, my heart was completely breaking. I believe, that was the first time I cried while reading a Harry Potter. This scene just completely blew me away. I was so upset that the movie version failed to included this emotional and (to me) pivotal scene. Without further ado, here it is (have a tissue handy):

My Favorite Scene:

The thing against which he had been fighting on and off every since he had come out of the maze was threatening to overpower him. He could feel a burning, prickling feeling in the inner corners of his eyes. He blinked and stared up at the ceiling.

“It wasn’t your fault, Harry,” Mrs. Weasley whispered.

“I told him to take the cup with me,” said Harry.

Now the burning feeling was in his throat too. He wished Ron would look away.

Mrs. Weasley set the potion down on the bedside cabinet, bent down, and put her arms around Harry. He had no memory of ever being hugged like this, as though by a mother. The full weight of everything he had seen that night seemed to fall in upon him as Mrs. Weasley held him to her. His mother’s face, his father’s voice, the sight of Cedric, dead on the ground all started spinning in his head until he could hardly bear it, until he was screwing up his face against the howl of misery fighting to get out of him.

This might be my most favorite scene in the entire series. Maybe because I am a mother myself…who knows. Molly Weasley is such a wonderful, beautiful and strong character. She may end up my favorite scene in Deathly Hallows. You will have to wait and see.

You know what? I love comments! What is your favorite scene from Goblet of Fire? Please let me know. Let the debate begin!

Favorite Scene: Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Azkaban is one of my favorites of the Harry Potter series and it’s the only one without Voldemort in it. The villain (or so we think) is Sirius Black. I had a very hard time picking a favorite scene from this one; there are just so many. I have narrowed it down to three scenes with the last as my favorite.

In third place: More amazing words of wisdom from Dumbledore

“I thought it was my dad who conjured my Patronus. I mean, when I saw myself, across the lake…I thought I was seeing him.”

“An easy mistake to make,” said Dumbledore softly. “I expect you’ll tire of hearing it, but you do look extraordinarily like James. Except for the eyes…you have your mother’s eyes.”

Harry shook his head.

“It was so stupid, thinking it was him,” he muttered. “I mean, I knew he was dead.”

“You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble? Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him…”

In Second Place: Sirius offers Harry a home

“You’re free,” said Harry.

“Yes…,” said Black. “But, I’m also – I don’t know if anyone told you – I’m your godfather.”

“Yeah, I knew that,” said Harry.

“Well…your parents appointed me your guardian,” said Black stiffly. “If anything happened to them…”

Harry waited. Did Black mean what he thought he meant?

“I’ll understand, of course, if you want to stay with our aunt and uncle,” said Black. “But…well…think about it. Once my name’s cleared…if you wanted a…a different home…”

Some sort of explosion took place in the pit of Harry’s stomach.

“What – live with you?” he said, accidentally cracking his head on a bit of rock protruding from the ceiling, “Leave the Dursleys?”

“Of course, I thought wouldn’t want to,” said Black quickly. “I understand, I just thought I’d – ”

“Are you insane?” said Harry, his voice easily as croaky as Black’s. “Of course I want to leave the Dursleys! Have you got a house? When can I move in?”

Now for the First Place winner: Harry’s threat to Vernon

“What’s that?” he snarled, staring at the envelope Harry was still clutching in his hand. “If it’s another form for me to sign, you’ve got another – ”

“It’s not, said Harry cheerfully. “It’s a letter from my godfather.”

“Godfather?” sputtered Uncle Vernon. “You haven’t got a godfather!”

“Yes, I have, said Harry brightly. He was my mum and dad’s best friend. He’s a convicted murderer, but he’s broken out of wizard prison and he’s on the run. He likes to keep in touch with me, though…keep up with my news…check if I’m happy…”

And, grinning broadly at the look of horror on Uncle Vernon’s face, Harry set off toward the station exit, Hedwig rattling along in front of him, for what looked like a much better summer than the last.

I picked this scene as my favorite for it’s levity. When I was reading it, I absolutely laughing out loud. The Dursleys are such miserable people, it was very nice to see Harry scare the bejeezus out of them. It was a perfect threat and Vernon’s reaction was priceless.

What is your favorite scene from the Prisoner of Azkaban?

Deborah Harkness: A Conversation

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I’m so honored to have the marvelous Deborah Harkness visiting my blog! The All Souls Trilogy has been absolute favorite of mine. THE BOOK OF LIFE has been released in paperback and I hope this gives you the opportunity to dive into her magical world. If you would like to read my reviews of each of her books, I have the links at the end of her conservation. If there is one trilogy you have to read this summer, the All Souls Trilogy has to be it. You will LOVE it!!

A Conversation with Deborah Harkness

Q: In your day job, you are a professor of history and science at the University of Southern California and have focused on alchemy in your research. What aspects of this intersection between science and magic do you hope readers will pick up while reading THE BOOK OF LIFE?

A: There is. Welcome back to the present! What I hope readers come to appreciate is that science – past or present – is nothing more than a method for asking and answering questions about the world and our place in it. Once, some of those questions were answered alchemically. Today, they might be answered biochemically and genetically. In the future? Who knows. But Matthew is right in suggesting that there are really remarkably  few scientific questions and we have been posing them for a very long time. Two of them are: who am I? why am I here?

Q: Much of the conflict in the book seems to mirror issues of race and sexuality in our society, and there seems to be a definite  moral conclusion to THE BOOK OF LIFE. Could you discuss this? Do you find that a strength of fantasy  novels is their ability to not only to allow readers to escape, but to also challenge them to face important moral issues?

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 A: Human beings like to sort and categorize. We have done this since the beginnings of recorded history, and probably well back beyond that point. One of the most common ways to do that is to group things that are “alike” and things that are “different.” Often, we fear what is not like us. Many of the world’s  ills have stemmed from someone (or a group of someones) deciding what is different is also dangerous. Witches, women, people of color, people of different faiths, people of different sexual orientations – all have been targets of this process of singling others out and labeling them different and therefore undesirable. Like my interest in exploring what a family is, the issue of difference and respect for difference (rather than fear) informed every page of the All Souls Trilogy. And yes, I do think that dealing with fantastic creatures like daemons, vampires and witches rather than confronting issues of race and sexuality directly can enable readers to think through these issues in a useful way and perhaps come to different conclusions about member of their own families and communities. As I often say when people ask me why supernatural creatures are so popular these days: witches and vampires are monsters to think with.

Q: From the moment Matthew and a pregnant Diana arrive back at Sept Tours and reinstate themselves back into the sprawling family of witches and vampires, it becomes clear that the meaning of family will be an important idea for THE BOOK OF LIFE. How does this unify the whole series? Do you draw on your own life?

A: Since time immemorial the family has been an important way for people to organize themselves in the world. In the past, the “traditional” family was a sprawling and blended unit that embraced immediate relatives, in-laws and their immediate families, servants, orphaned children, the children your partner might bring into a family from a previous relationship, and other dependents. Marriage was an equally flexible and elastic concept in many places and times. Given how old my vampires are, and the fact that witches are the keepers of tradition, I wanted to explore from the very first page of the series the truly traditional basis of family: unqualified love and mutual responsibility. That is certainly the meaning of family that my parents aught me.

Q: While there are entire genres devoted to stories of witches, vampires, and ghosts, the idea of a weaver – a witch who eaves original spells – feels very unique to THE BOOK OF LIFE. What resources helped you gain inspiration for Diana’s uniqueness?

A: Believe it or not, my inspiration for weaving came from a branch of mathematics called topology. I became intrigued by mathematical theories of mutability to go along with my alchemical theories of mutability and change. Topology is a mathematical study of shapes and spaces that theorizes how far something can be stretched or twisted without breaking. You could says it’s a mathematical theory of connectivity and continuity (two familiar themes to any reader of the All Souls Trilogy). I wondered if I could come up with a theory of magic that could be comfortably contained within mathematics, one in which magic could be seen to shape and twist reality without breaking it. I used fabric as a metaphor for this worldview with threads and colors shaping human perceptions. Weavers became the witches who were talented at seeing and manipulating  the underlying fabric. In topology, mathematicians study knots – unbreakable knots with their ends fused together that can twisted and shaped. Soon the mathematics and mechanics of Diana’s magic came into focus.

Q: A Discovery of Witches debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list and Shadow of Night debuted at #1. What has been your reaction to the outpouring of love for the All Souls Trilogy? Was it surprising how taken fans were with Diana and Matthew’s story?

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A: It has been amazing – and a bit overwhelming. I was surprised by how quickly readers embraced two central characters who have a considerable number of quirks and challenge our typical notion of what a heroine or hero should be. I continue to be amazed whenever a new reader pops up, whether one in the US or somewhere like Finland or Japan – to tell me how much they enjoyed being caught up in the world of the Bishops and de Clemonts. Sometimes when I meet readers they ask how their friends are doing – meaning Diana, or Matthew, or Miriam. That’s an extraordinary for a writer.

Q: Diana and Matthew, once again, move around to quite a number of locations in THE BOOK OF LIFE, including New Haven, New Orleans, and a few of our favorite old haunts like Oxford, Madison, and Sept-Tours. What inspired you to place your characters in these locations? Have you visited them yourself? 

A: As a writer, I really need to experience the places I write about in my books. I want to know what it smells like, how the air feels when it changes direction, the way the sunlight strikes the windowsill in the morning, the sound of birds and insects. Not every writer may require this, but I do. So I spent time not only in New Haven but undertaking research at the Beinecke Library so that I could understand the rhythms of Diana’s day there. I visited New Orleans several times to imagine my vampires into them. All of the locations I pick are steeped in history and stories about past inhabitants—perfect fuel for any writer’s creative fire.

Q: Did you know back when you wrote A Discovery of Witches how the story would conclude in THE BOOK OF LIFE? Did the direction change once you began the writing process?

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A: I knew how the trilogy would end, but I didn’t know exactly how we would get there. The story was well thought out through the beginning of what became The Book of Life, but the chunk between that beginning and the ending (which is as I envisioned it) did change. In part that was because what I had sketched out was too ambitious and complicated—the perils of being not only a first-time trilogy writer but also a first time author. It was very important to me that I resolve and tie up all the threads already in the story so readers had a satisfying conclusion. Early in the writing of The Book of Life it became clear that this wasn’t going to give me much time to introduce new characters or plot twists. I now understand why so many trilogies have four, five, six—or more—books in them. Finishing the trilogy as a trilogy required a lot of determination and a very thick pair of blinders as I left behind characters and story lines that would take me too far from the central story of Diana, Matthew, and the Book of Life.

Q: A Discovery of Witches begins with Diana Bishop stumbling across a lost, enchanted manuscript called Ashmole 782 in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, and the secrets contained in the manuscript are at long last revealed in THE BOOK OF LIFE. You had a similar experience while you were completing your dissertation.  What was the story behind your discovery?  And how did it inspire the creation of these novels?

A: I did discover a manuscript—not an enchanted one, alas—in the Bodleian Library. It was a manuscript owned by Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer, the mathematician and alchemist John Dee. In the 1570s and 1580s he became interested in using a crystal ball to talk to angels. The angels gave him all kinds of instructions on how to manage his life at home, his work—they even told him to pack up his family and belongings and go to far-away Poland and Prague. In the conversations, Dee asked the angels about a mysterious book in his library called “the Book of Soyga” or “Aldaraia.” No one had ever been able to find it, even though many of Dee’s other books survive in libraries throughout the world. In the summer of 1994 I was spending time in Oxford between finishing my doctorate and starting my first job. It was a wonderfully creative time, since I had no deadlines to worry about and my dissertation on Dee’s angel conversations was complete. As with most discoveries, this discovery of a “lost” manuscript was entirely accidental. I was looking for something else in the Bodleian’s catalogue and in the upper corner of the page was a reference to a book called “Aldaraia.” I knew it couldn’t be Dee’s book, but I called it up anyway. And it turned out it WAS the book (or at least a copy of it). With the help of the Bodleian’s Keeper of Rare Books, I located another copy in the British Library.

Q: Are there other lost books like this in the world?

A Absolutely! Entire books have been written about famous lost volumes—including works by Plato, Aristotle, and Shakespeare to name just a few. Libraries are full of such treasures, some of them unrecognized and others simply misfiled or mislabeled. And we find lost books outside of libraries, too. In January 2006, a completely unknown manuscript belonging to one of the 17th century’s most prominent scientists, Robert Hooke, was discovered when someone was having the contents of their house valued for auction. The manuscript included minutes of early Royal Society meetings that we presumed were lost forever.

Q: Shadow of Night and A Discovery of Witches have often been compared to young adult fantasy like Twilight, with the caveat that this series is for adults interested in history, science, and academics. Unlike Bella and Edward, Matthew and Diana are card-carrying members of academia who meet in the library of one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Are these characters based on something you found missing in the fantasy genre?

A There are a lot of adults reading young adult books, and for good reason. Authors who specialize in the young adult market are writing original, compelling stories that can make even the most cynical grownups believe in magic. In writing A Discovery of Witches, I wanted to give adult readers a world no less magical, no less surprising and delightful, but one that included grown-up concerns and activities. These are not your children’s vampires and witches.

My Reviews of the All Souls Trilogy:

A Discovery of Witches

Shadow of Night

Book of Life

For additional information or to schedule an interview with

Deborah Harkness, contact:

Lindsay Prevette / 212.366.2224 / lprevette@penguinrandomhouse.com

Shannon Twomey / 212.366.2227 / stwomey@penguinrandomhouse.com

Emma Mohney / 212.366.2274 / emohney@penguinrandomhouse.com

[Read more…]

My Favorite Scene: Chamber of Secrets

Currently, I’m rereading the Harry Potter series and instead of writing a review (because we all know amazing the books are) I’m writing about my favorite scene and why. Last week, I picked my favorite scene from Sorcerer’s Stone. Now its time for Chamber of Secrets!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

15881Synopsis: The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockheart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone–or something–starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects…Harry Potter himself.

My Favorite Scene:

My favorite scene is when Harry goes to The Burrow for the first time. He finally gets a true sense of family and I love the camaraderie and love between the Weasley family members.  I love that Mr. Weasley was so excited to hear how the car flew and when he had to look outraged when Mrs. Weasley gave him a nasty look. The Weasley is the best example of a loving and supportive family.

Also, you feel Harry’s strong desire for his own family and maybe possible that the Weasleys can fit that bill. At times, throughout the series, Ron has been jealous of Harry; however, it is Harry that is jealous of Ron. His family, his home… that is something Harry never had.

If you’re curious, here’s the scenes from Chamber of Secrets.

“Harry?”  said Mr. Weasley blankly. “Harry who?”

He looked around, saw Harry, and jumped.

“Good lord, is it Harry Potter? Very pleased to meet you, Ron’s told us much about – ”

Your sons flew that car to Harry’s house and back last night!” shouted Mrs. Weasley. “What have you got to say about that, ed?”

“Did you really?” said Mr. Weasley eagerly. “Did it go all right?” I – I mean,” he falterd as sparks flew from Mrs. Weasley’s eyes, “that – that was very wrong, boys – very wrong indeed…”

Then he turned to look at Ron, who was watching him almost nervously, as though waiting for his opinion.

“It’s a bit small,” said Ron quickly. “Not like that room you had with the Muggles. And I’m right underneath the ghoul in the attic; he’s always banging on the pipes and groaning…”

But Harry, grinning widely, said “This is the best house I’ve ever been in.”

Ron’s ears went pink.

What is your favorite scene from Chamber of Secrets?

 

Harry Potter!

My name is Kendal. I’m 45 years old. And I love Harry Potter!

I have decided to re-read the Harry Potter series for the umpteenth time. Instead of writing reviews, I going to write about my favorite of each book. I will write about the what and the why it’s my favorite scene.

My kids are finally old enough to read Harry Potter; however, they feel they need to rebel against their mother and said, NOPE! I even bribed them $50 to read Sorcerer’s Stone. Still… NOPE. Recently, Amazon had a sale where I got the entire paperback set for just $25. My youngest daughter uses the set as room decoration. At least that’s a step. Right?!

My next thought was… how about I re-read the entire series where they can see me react to every and LOVE every word of Harry Potter. I hope that I can tempt them to take the dive into the most amazing world of Harry Potter!

sorcerers stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Synopsis (like we don’t already know): Orphan Harry Potter is miserable in an under-stairs closet. Dursleys – his witch mother’s sister, husband, Dudley – held no birthday party for Harry in 11 years. Owls fly notices to attend Hogwarts School. Wizard Harry flies on broom, hides under Cloak of Invisibility, sneaks past 3-headed dog with friends Hermione and Ron. A great destiny awaits if Harry can survive.

My Favorite Scene:

My favorite party is NOT the Mirror of Erised. Actually, it is when Hagrid gives Harry is first birthday present ever…Hedwig. I can just envision the face of pure joy. For your 11th birthday (and first every birthday present), you receive a beautiful snow white owl. So completely AWESOME! But Hedwig becomes so much more.

Hedwig is Harry’s constant connection to the magical world. She is so loyal. She, also, represents Harry’s freedom from the Dursleys. She is a magnificent creature and she helped Harry through so many times of complete loneliness and abandonment.

For Hagrid to give him such a precious gift, is a complete turning point in Harry’s life. It represents the beginning of his life as a wizard and one of his truest and most loyal of companions.

I love Hedwig and to me she was his anchor in the wizarding world.

l_hedwig05_pr_hpe6

 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SCENE FROM SORCERER’s STONE? 

Book Excerpt: Sudetenland

Please join George T. Chronis as he tours the blogosphere with HF Virtual Book Tours for Sudetenland, from March 16-27.

02_Sudetenland_CoverPublication Date: September 30, 2014
BookBaby
Formats: eBook
ASIN: B00O2T6B9Y

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Sudetenland is the premiere novel by author George T. Chronis. The book delivers suspenseful and sweeping historical fiction set against Central European intrigue during the late 1930s leading up to 1938’s Munich Conference. Having swallowed up Austria, Adolph Hitler now covets Czechoslovakian territory. Only France has the power to stand beside the government in Prague against Germany… but will she? The characters are the smart and sometimes wise-cracking men and women of this era – the foreign correspondents, intelligence officers, diplomats and career military – who are on the front lines of that decade’s most dangerous political crisis. If Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš ignores the advice of French premier Édouard Daladier and refuses to give up Bohemian territory willingly, then Hitler orders that it be taken by force. The novel takes readers behind the scenes into the deliberations and high drama taking place within major hurtles toward the crucible of a shooting war.

Book Excerpt:

Général Gamelin appeared satisfied with the progress marked on the main campaign board illustrating the disposition of French units committed to Offensive Sarre. At least that was the conclusion of the général’s adjutants who were reliably quick to sense the slightest sign of irritation in the normally unruffled demeanor of their chief of staff. What he had wanted, Gamelin had achieved: a springboard into Germany should he choose to press the attack. Of course, Gamelin had yet to make that decision but this was something he by rights kept to himself. Colonel Petibon, the général’s chef de cabinet, knew Gamelin’s mind yet was just as secretive. For now, Gamelin was content to finish bringing up his reserves while allowing advance units to probe the German lines for weakness. Outside of Petibon, Gamelin’s intentions were something of an enigma to the général’s staff. Out of earshot there was a lively debate whether the chief of staff would turn out like McClellan in Virginia; raising a great army he was unwilling to commit to battle; or Marshal Davout, who’s wise prudence never impeded his boldness of action.
“Fine, fine… everything is as it should be,” Gamelin moved away from the board. “Now what of the British? Any word?”
“No developments,” Commandant Huet supplied like a shipping clerk checking off items ordered yet not delivered. As one of Gamelin’s primary adjutants, Huet had a full list of topics to stay current on. The British were at the top of the list.
“High time for Chamberlain to get off the pot. What more does he need? The Czechs are mounting a spirited defence against all expectations. Hitler has already been denied the easy victory he coveted. Now is the moment for us to settle the matter,” Gamelin allowed his growing impatience to show.
“A shame the prime minister appears set on denying himself a role in the final outcome,” Petibon coveted the sole disposition of spoils that might lie ahead.
Much of Gamelin’s strategic goals had hinged on what the British did or did not do. Three weeks prior the général had sincerely believed that his freedom to choose an aggressive offensive against the Germans required, at the very least, commitment of Royal Air Force squadrons to the battle. Gamelin accepted that London was hard-pressed to raise an expeditionary corps of any consequence. Yet France’s glaring need was for far more aircraft than she could raise herself. On the ground, Gamelin was in a far better position to move forward without British ground troops. The French chief of staff’s analysis had long been that without the promise of fresh reserves from the United Kingdom, the depth of any French penetration into Germany should be limited. Push too deep into the middle of Germany and he risked the Wehrmacht sweeping through Belgium to outflank the French lines, which is why Gamelin had always sought British support opposite the Low Countries. But that was before the Czechoslovak’s amazing battlefield success in their border mountains. The bulk of Hitler’s available divisions were tied down and suffering significant rates of attrition. Those regiments would be difficult to extricate from action to shift west. That gave Gamelin more aggressive options, and he was flirting with availing himself upon them.
A runner from the headquarters wireless section hurried into the room and approached Huet. The adjutant took receipt of the message and dismissed the clerk. An eyebrow raised as Huet read the details.
“What is it?” Petibon, who was aware of everything that went on around the général, inquired at once.
“Editors from the major newspapers are calling, sir. Their correspondents are reporting by telephone from the Sarre that units of the 3éme Brigade de Chars have accepted the surrender of Saarbrücken. They seek confirmation on this great victory,” Huet felt like whistling but did not dare.
“Which regiments of the 3éme Brigade?” Petibon sharply cross-examined the messenger.
“Such details were not provided,” Huet answered truthfully, although there was little doubt about who was leading this attack.
“Damn that man! Those were not his orders,” Gamelin pounded a fist onto the table.
“Of course, if true, it could be argued that Delestraint’s regiments never operated beyond their artillery cover,” Petibon thought to soften Gamelin’s ire. “Which means they have not violated the principles of the Methodical Battle.”
“Do not attempt to sugarcoat the matter. We both know this is de Gaulle’s handiwork. That rogue is attempting to force my hand – a great victory indeed,” Gamelin would not put it past de Gaulle to have delivered engraved invitations to the correspondents corps.”
“Général, how would you advise we respond to these inquiries?” Huet returned to the topic at hand. “If we say nothing the editors will print whatever they wish.”
“Quite correct,” contemplating a plan of action permitted Gamelin an avenue to calm himself. “Until we get confirmation from General Georges’ command, issue a communiqué: The campaign in the Sarre is continuing as planned.”

Praise for Sudetenland

“Chronis impresses with such a challenging and intriguing debut effort, well written, impeccably researched.” — Melinda, Unshelfish

“Anyone that is looking for a thorough and rewarding read will enjoy Sudetenland.” — Diana, BookNerd

“The plot moves quickly along keeping you intrigued with well defined characters and great imagery to help immerse yourself in the story… I adored the way George managed to weave together the tragedy of war, depression and politics with romance, love and hope.” — Jennifer, pirategrl1014

Buy the Book

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About the Author03_George T. Chronis

After years as a journalist and magazine editor, George T. Chronis decided to return to his lifelong passion, storytelling. A lover of both 1930s cinema and world history, Chronis is now devoted to bringing life to the mid-20th Century fictional narratives that have been in his thoughts for years. Sudetenland© is his first novel. Taking place during turbulent times in Central Europe during the 1930s, the book took eight years to research and write. The author is already hard at work on his second novel.

Chronis is married with two daughters, and lives with his wife in a Southern California mountain community.

For more information please visit the Sudetenland website or George T. Chronis’s website, or follow him on Tumblr. Subscribe to George T. Chronis’s newsletter.

Sudetenland Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, March 16
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, March 17
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, March 24
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, March 26
Review at A Virtual Hobby Store and Coffee Haus

Friday, March 27
Review at Genre Queen

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