Book Review: Harry Potter and History (Wiley Pop Culture and History) by Nancy R. Reagin

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A guide to the history behind the world of Harry Potter just in time for the last Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part II)

Harry Potter lives in a world that is both magical and historical. Hogwarts pupils ride an old-fashioned steam train to school, notes are taken on parchment with quill pens, and Muggle legends come to life in the form of werewolves, witches, and magical spells. This book is the first to explore the real history in which Harry’s world is rooted.

Did you know that bezoars and mandrakes were fashionable luxury items for centuries? Find out how Europeans first developed the potions, spells, and charms taught at Hogwarts, from Avada Kedavra to love charms. Learn how the European prosecution of witches led to the Statute of Secrecy, meet the real Nicholas Flamel, see how the Malfoys stack up against Muggle English aristocrats, and compare the history of the wizarding world to real-life history.

Gives you the historical backdrop to Harry Potter’s world Covers topics ranging from how real British boarding schools compare to Hogwarts to how parchment, quills, and scrolls used in the wizarding world were made Includes a timeline comparing the history of the wizarding world to Muggle “real” history

Filled with fascinating facts and background, Harry Potter and History is an essential companion for every Harry Potter fan.

I had this on my TBR for a few years and decided to read it for the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter. I have been on a Harry Potter kick for most of the year. I did a “reread” by listening to the audiobooks and Harry Potter: A History of Magic. I also went to the exhibit at The New York Historical Society. And I started listening to the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.

I have stated before that reading non-fiction and reading history is not my cup of tea (I prefer watching shows about history), but I have read Twilight and History, also edited by Nancy R. Reagin, and I liked that.

Before I get into all the cool new things I learned from these essays I have a bone to pick with Susan Hall in her essay “Marx, Magic, and Muggles: Class Conflict in Harry Potter’s World.” On page 288 she compares the Gaunt family with the Durbeyfield family from Tess of the D’Urbervilles. While I totally agree with the comparisons between the two families she COMPLETELYdescribes the plot of Tess of the D’Urbervilles INACCURATELY! Tess is not “seduced” by Alec D’Urberville. She was raped. She doesn’t hang for the murder of her “lover”. He raped her! WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK, SUSAN HALL!?

Also, on the same page is another inaccuracy she made when she said the Weasleys spend money they don’t have on extravagant trips. They won that trip to Egypt! Did you even read the books?

Now that I got that off my chest, and sorry for the use of the F word but I feel in this issue it was justified, onto the rest of the review which is positive.

There were topics that I already had learned about from Harry Potter: A History of Magic, such as potions and witch-hunts, but this collection goes more into topics of class conflict, politics & government, women’s civil rights, aristocracy, boarding schools, and werewolves.

I learned more about the Spanish Inquisition in this book than I did when I was in school.

One essay also goes into why most spells are in Latin and goes into the origins of the Unforgivable Curses and the term “hocus pocus.” Which I found fascinating.

A few other cool things I learned:
– There really were secret magic schools!
– There was an Emperor who was not of nobel birth named Severus.
– Lupin’s werewolf affliction is an analogy for HIV/AIDS.

Some of the essays dragged on a bit and I found myself skimming sometimes. At one point I put the book down completely to listen to The Shining. The good thing about that is that there is no plot to this book to remember. You can easily pick it up and pick whichever essay you feel like reading about.

It’s a good read for anyone who is really interested in history and is a die hard Harry Potter fan.

4 out of 5 O.W.L.S.

 

Reading Goals for 2019

I saw this on Purple Manatees and thought it was a good idea.

It’s just a number
I am not going to put a number on how many books I want to read/listen to. I do put a number on Goodreads (this year was 20 and maybe for next I will put 30), but I don’t want to be married to a number goal.

Dwindle the piles
What I do want to do is definitely read my TBR Book Con pile before going to Book Con in June.

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365 days of audiobooks

I want to listen to an audiobook each day of the year. I know somedays will be hard because I will be tired, but on days like those even a 15-30 minute short story will do. I’ll take a screen-cap of my starting days/hours/minutes count and then build it up each day of the year. And I have plenty of books waiting to be listened to on my Audible app.

Support your local library

To save money and support the wonderful NYPL I want to borrow more, especially when it comes to books that are part of a series. I have started a few series and just not finished them because I often don’t have the extra funds to spend nor do I have the room to keep them. Then because I get attached it becomes hard for me to weed my shelves to make room. To solve this problem – I will go to the library!

 

All that shouldn’t be too hard, right?  Wish me luck!

The Shining by Stephen King, Narrated by Campbell Scott

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Listening Length: 15 hours and 56 minutes

Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.

The Shining certainly lived up to the hype. I became afraid of the dark, and I even jumped in my seat on the bus when the passenger next to me adjusted his position in his seat.

This is the first King novel I have ever read/listen to. I have read/listened to a couple of novels by his son Joe Hill, and I can see their similarities with their prose. I liked the way King describes the settings and actions. I bookmarked a few favorite parts.

The pacing and character development was just right and so engaging. It is very hard to put it down. I jumped, gasped and groaned in reaction.

Campbell Scott’s narration was excellent. Without overly changing his voice too much he made it easy to distinguish the characters and when Jack is possessed at the end, the insanity in his voice is chilling.

Some Favorite Quotes:
Chapter 8: The mountains did not forgive many mistakes.

Chapter 33: (about the woman in 217) Like some malevolent clockwork toy she had been wound up and set in motion by Danny’s own mind… and his own.

Chapter 43: All the hotel’s era were together tonight now, all but the current one, the Torrance era.

5 out of 5 Roque Mallets.

I think most people have seen the movie by Kubrick, but that does not do the story justice. It missed the point and changed the essence of the characters. Danny is an intelligent boy and the movie dumbs him down, especially with his imaginary friend, Tony.

Jack Torrance being played by Jack Nicholson makes him seem like he was always a sinister, crazy man when he is more of a tragic character that gets manipulated by the Hotel.

The movie is great on it’s own and I will still watch it when I see it on TV. However, it is not a great adaptation of the book.

 

ABC Book Challenge ✰ A

I saw this challenge at Purple Manatees, and The Bibliophagist, and I want to join in too!

✰ Memorable books starting with A ✰

  1. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
  2. Anna and the Swallow Man, by Gavriel Savit
  3. Ahsoka, by E.K. Johnston, Narrated by Ashley Eckstein
  4. Alive, by Scott Sigler

✰ Books on my TBR starting with A ✰

  1. Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
  2. After On: A Novel of Silicon Valley by Rob Reid
  3. Alone by Scott Sigler
  4. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Top Ten Tuesday: October 9: Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl.

What constitutes a long book? I think that depends on the reader. A person who doesn’t read much may say anything over 200 pages is long. But to someone who reads 50 books or more a year, they may say it’s anything over 600.

To keep this list reasonable and in the realm of 10 books I am sticking with anything over 500 pages.I’ll do this in order of page numbers, which means I am not grouping trilogies or series together.


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Top Ten Tuesday September 25: Books By My Favorite Authors That I Still Haven’t Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl.

September 25: Books By My Favorite Authors That I Still Haven’t Read

1) Maureen Johnston. While I really wish she’d complete the Shades of London series, I also want to read Truly Devious

2) “Robert Galbraith” a.k.a. J.K. Rowling. I have had the The Cuckoo’s Calling on my TBR pile since it was revealed that Galbraith is really Rowling. Just keep putting it off. Now I am too busy listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks since it it the 20th anniversary.

3) Ruta Sepetys, Out of the Easy. I love her other two books Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea. Two of my favorite historical fiction stories, so I should move this up the TBR pile.

4) Scott Sigler, Alone. I bought it around the time it was first released and it’s the conclusion of The Generations Trilogy. I’ll have to review my notes of the first two to refresh my memory.

5) Jane Austen. I have only read and listened to Pride and Prejudice. I want to read or listen to all her other books. Especially Emma, which Clueless is based on.

Top Ten Tuesday September 18: Books On My Fall 2018 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl.

September 18: Books On My Fall 2018 TBR

Currently I am revisiting the Harry Potter series. I have been listening to them on Audible and am currently midway through Order of the Phoenix.

I’ll continue till I finish Deathly Hallows, but also today I will start reading…

1) Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness

I also want to finish my NYCC 2017 TBR pile.

2) Year Zero by Rob Reid

3) After On by Rob Reid

4) Age of Myth The Legends of the First Empire 1 by Michael J. Sullivan

5) Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

I also plan to listen to a bunch of scary themed books in October. This is very ambitious and I don’t think I’ll really get through all of these, but here is my list anyway.

6) The Shining by Stephen King

7) Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

8) Nos4a2 by Joe Hill

9) Dracula by Bram Stoker
I tried reading this once and gave up after 40 pages. But I saw B. J. Harrison narrates the audiobook and since I loved his narration of The Count of Monte Cristo I thought he could make Dracula interesting.

10) I am Legend by Richard Matheson
I read it before and downloaded the audiobook.

11) Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wolstonecraft Shelley.
I read this in high school and want to revisit the original story.

This is very ambitious of me already but we’ll see. After all I will post the reviews.

Star Wars: Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn, narrated by Marc Thompson.

Star Wars: Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn, narrated by Marc Thompson. 13 hours 21 minutes.

Grand Admiral Thrawn and Darth Vader ally against a threat to the Empire in this new novel from bestselling author Timothy Zahn.

“I have sensed a disturbance in the Force.”

Ominous words under any circumstances, but all the more so when uttered by Emperor Palpatine. On Batuu, at the edges of the Unknown Regions, a threat to the Empire is taking root—its existence little more than a glimmer, its consequences as yet unknowable. But it is troubling enough to the Imperial leader to warrant investigation by his most powerful agents: ruthless enforcer Lord Darth Vader and brilliant strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn. Fierce rivals for the emperor’s favor, and outspoken adversaries on Imperial affairs—including the Death Star project—the formidable pair seem unlikely partners for such a crucial mission. But the Emperor knows it’s not the first time Vader and Thrawn have joined forces. And there’s more behind his royal command than either man suspects.

In what seems like a lifetime ago, General Anakin Skywalker of the Galactic Republic, and Commander Mitth’raw’nuruodo, officer of the Chiss Ascendancy, crossed paths for the first time. One on a desperate personal quest, the other with motives unknown…and undisclosed. But facing a gauntlet of dangers on a far-flung world, they forged an uneasy alliance—neither remotely aware of what their futures held in store.

Now, thrust together once more, they find themselves bound again for the planet where they once fought side by side. There they will be doubly challenged—by a test of their allegiance to the Empire…and an enemy that threatens even their combined might.

 

My wish came true! I had mentioned in my review of the prequel that I wanted the story of when Thrawn met Anakin Skywalker and would he figure out that he became Darth Vader?

I don’t think one has to read Thrawn before reading this sequel, but it sure would help to know his background. That said I was reading some reviews on Goodreads and some people mentioned that they missed Eli Vanto. I honestly did not. Though knowing the outcome of Thrawn: Alliances I wouldn’t mind seeing what he is up to with the Chiss Ascendancy.

I listened to this story on audible and once again Marc Thompson is a fantastic narrator. I did laugh at his voice for Padmé, but what can you do? He’s not Natalie Portman, or Catherine Taber.

I also bought the Barnes and Noble exclusive edition, only because I wanted the poster of Padmé. (Side rant: why must they put that ugly sticker on the cover? It’s hiding Vader’s buttons. And it is already printed inside that it’s a B&N exclusive. I pealed it off but there will always be a sticky residue.)

Ok, so back to the review.

I like that we have a time frame. The past is set after Ahsoka has already left the Jedi Order. The present is set after the Battle of Atollon on Star Wars: Rebels. So between seasons 3 and 4.

I’ll start with some critiques and then end on the positive. This is going to get spoiler-y.

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Radiate by C.A. Higgins (Some spoilers)

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In the follow-up to Lightless and Supernova, C. A. Higgins again fuses science fiction, suspense, and drama to tell the story of a most unlikely heroine: Ananke, once a military spacecraft, now a sentient artificial intelligence. Ananke may have the powers of a god, but she is consumed by a very human longing: to know her creators.

Now Ananke is on a quest to find companionship, understanding, and even love. She is accompanied by Althea, the engineer who created her, and whom she sees as her mother. And she is in search of her father, Matthew, the programmer whose code gave her the spark of life.

But Matthew is on a strange quest of his own, traveling the galaxy alongside Ivan, with whom he shares a deeply painful history. Ananke and her parents are racing toward an inevitable collision, with consequences as violent as the birth of the solar system itself and as devastating as the discovery of love.

 

Radiate was a great and satisfying conclusion to the Lightless trilogy. I loved how each book focused on different important characters. The construction was really well thought out and executed. Lightless sets up the story and is linear. Supernova and Radiate move back and forth in time, (fits the theory of time travel) and does it in a really organized way.

In Radiate each Part starts with Ananke and Althea’s POV, then the chapters focus on Ivan and Mattie through flashbacks to set up some history and the development of their friendship while also showing us their present story. It’s all spelled out so there is no way to get confused when what scene takes place. I do have one critique and though it didn’t ruin the book it does really annoyed me. I really wished we got to see a flashback of how Ivan and Mattie found out about the Ananke and why they decided to go investigate her. I thought we would get one towards the end where it would have fit in perfectly.

Most of Radiate focuses on what Mattie and Ivan were up to for the time period of Supernova, which they were only mentioned in. Both men are dealing with and learning to face the consequences of their actions. I also felt Ivan’s PTSD was handled really well. His time in captivity and Ida Stays still haunts him.

Like I said, Ananke and Althea don’t appear much in this book, but I feel that that’s ok because their scenes would have been very redundant. We already know what havoc Ananke has been up to, so now we got to see the consequences of her actions.

I also want to give a shout out to the cover designs. I love the faces with the stars and how each book has one of Ananke’s parents. Ivan, Althea, then Mattie. (At least that is who I think they represent.)

I am very glad I decided to read them all at once so that the details were fresh in my mind. It was like binge watching an awesome sci-fi mini-series.

Radiate4.5 out of 5 Con Men
Lightless Trilogy4.5 out of 5 A.I. Spaceships.

Favorite quotes below:

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