Rereading Harry Potter – Week 12

Rereading Harry Potter – Week 12

Good afternoon (for me at least) my fellow bookworms! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week, I know I have. The sun has been shining all week here in the Netherlands and the sun can always brighten up a day, so I hope you’ve all been having a lot of sunshine wherever you are. Now on to Harry Potter related business. The last thing that happened last week, was the disappearance of the Fat Lady (where did that name come from by the way, it’s not very woke to be honest..). I have a lot tabbed in my book this week, so let’s get started.

After the Gryffindors found the portrait of the Fat Lady empty and ripped to pieces by Sirius Black, Dumbledore appears and leads them all to the Great Hall, where they are later joined by the other three houses. They’re supposed to spend the night there while the teachers search the school for any sign of Sirius Black. The students are left with the Prefects as guards and the Head Boy and Head Girl (Percy and is girlfriend) in charge. Personally, I might have added a teacher or two to that equation, considering that there is a murdering maniac on the loose who is known for killing a bunch of people with a single explosion, but who am I. Obviously Sirius Black wasn’t found, because nobody would be dumb enough to linger after a failed attack. Snape of course thinks that Black had inside help, which is not exactly a strange assumption when you consider that Black and Lupin were good friends in school. Although, since Snape serves Voldemort, he should probably be aware that it was Peter Pettigrew who blew up those people and not Black, right? Or was Pettigrew the only one who knew about that? Well, Snape should at least be aware that Black wasn’t a Death Eater.

After their night in the Great Hall, everyone gets to go back to their own common rooms and Sir Cardogan (remember him from showing the trio the way to the Divination classroom?) temporarily takes the Fat Lady’s place in the portrait. Gryffindor is supposed to be playing against Slytherin that weekend, but Slytherin backed out of the game due to their seeker’s arm still being injured, even though we all know there’s nothing wrong with Malfoy’s arm and he is obviously faking it. This means they’re going to be playing Hufflepuff instead, though and they just got a new seeker and captain.. Cedric Diggory! Did you know he made an appearance in the third book already? I had no idea! I was so excited. I can’t get the image of Robert Pattinson on a broomstick out of my mind.

As you may remember, the Quidditch match didn’t go too well. Harry got attacked by a Dementor and fell off his broomstick, which was smashed to pieces by the Whomping Willow. So Harry ended up in the hospital wing for the weekend and his Nimbus 2000 was damaged beyond repair. Every time they say that something is damaged beyond repair, I’m like.. but what about Reparo? Dumbledore was able to repair an entire house in the Half-Blood Prince, but a piece of wood is too complicated? Could it be because of the enchantments on the broom?

After Harry’s next DADA class, Lupin holds him back to check if he is okay. He tells Harry about the Dementors and about Azkaban. He says that Sirius Black must have found a way to fight the Dementors. My guess is that he had some kind of new found hope of finding Harry and protecting him or something. Let’s hope we’ll find out soon. Lupin agrees to give Harry Dementor lessons, though he will have to wait until next term since Lupin still has to catch up on some work from when he was “ill”.

Just before Christmas, another Hogsmeade weekend comes up. Of course Harry’s not allowed to go, but the Weasley twins have got just the thing to avoid those annoying little things called rules. They give Harry the Marauder’s Map, which shows where everyone at Hogwarts is at any given time, but it also shows the secret passages to Hogsmeade. The only available passage is the one that ends up in the cellar of Honeydukes. So movie-Harry was relatively sensible about breaking the rules and decided to take his invisibility cloak. Book-Harry, though, didn’t much care that he wasn’t allowed to go to Hogsmeade, apparently, and didn’t much care if he was seen. Up until professor McGonagall, Hagrid, Cornelius Fudge and professor Flitwick appeared at the Three Broomsticks, that is. It is here that these three highly intelligent individuals and Hagrid and Madam Rosmerta (she runs the Three Broomsticks) decide that it’s a good idea to talk about Sirius Black loud enough for the three students we know and love a few tables over to be able to hear them. This is the moment Harry finds out that Sirius Black was not only his father’s best friend, but also his godfather AND his parents Secret Keeper. The whole Secret Keeper-thing doesn’t appear in the movie, though, so for those of you who (like me) have no idea what a Secret Keeper is: it’s a complicated spell where a secret is concealed inside a person. Only that person would be able to reveal the secret, in this case that would be the location of the Potters.

I’m still so confused about this whole thing. How did Pettigrew end up being the hero of this story and Black the villain? Pettigrew receives the Order of Merlin and Black ends up in Azkaban. How does the Secret Keeper thing fit into the story if Black wasn’t actually the one who betrayed them? So many questions!

During the Christmas holiday, only Harry, Ron, Hermione and two or three other students remained at Hogwarts. Harry wakes up on Christmas morning to a bunch of presents lying at the foot of his bed, including a brand new broomstick. Someone has sent him a Firebolt, though there is no note with the broomstick. Since they can’t figure out who sent it, Hermione thinks that Harry shouldn’t use is until they have found out who sent it to him. She goes to professor McGonagall, who agrees with her and confiscates the broomstick so that it can be checked for enchantments and jinxes. Both of them think that the broomstick might’ve been sent by Sirius Black.

There’s a feast on the evening of Christmas with just the six remaining students and six teachers. Halfway through, professor Trelawney joins them as well, but she does not dare sit down, for there would be thirteen at a table then (the first one to get up is the first to die). It kind of confused me that McGonagall was bashing and making fun of Trelawney throughout the entire meal, since she is the only one sticking up for Trelawney when Umbridge kicked her out in the Order of the Phoenix. Earlier in the book, she told Harry that Trelawney had predicted a student’s death many times before and no one had died yet, but that seemed like a harmless piece of commentary. This whole scene is just plain mean.

That’s it for this week! I know, I know, but don’t worry. There’ll be more next week when we’re going to resume school in the new year and get some dementor lessons from Lupin (among other things, I haven’t read it yet). Have a great remainder of your weekend and I’ll see you next week!

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The Wrath and the Dawn – Book Review

The Wrath and the Dawn – Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Adhieh
  • Fiction
  • Fantasy/Young Adult/Romance/Fairytale retelling
  • Ebook
  • 418 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.08

The Kingdom of Khorasan is ruled by a murderer. Every night Khalid, the caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride and every morning, he kills her. Until a 16-year-old girl named Shahrzad volunteers to be his next wife. She has a plan to avenge the death of her best friend and put an end to the needless suffering of families who have their daughters taken from them. Except her new husband, the boy-king, is not what she had expected. He is kind and compassionate and seems to have a soft spot for her. She is his first bride who has lived past the morning.

This was an absolutely gorgeous retelling of the A Thousand and One Nights fairytale. It is only loosely based on the story, which gave it the intrigue of the Arabian story while still remaining original and surprising in all aspects.Though I’m only just getting into fairytale retellings (Cinderella is Dead was my first one), this one was definitely nothing like anything I’ve ever read before. It definitely got me into the warm Arabian/Persian aesthetic with all its silk and sand and jewels. The names are very difficult to remember and differentiate, though. There’s Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran, Tariq Imran al-Ziyad and Rahim al-Dir Walad. You get used to it, but it takes a little while. Though the names are beautiful, they’re rather difficult to remember at times.

“So you would have me throw Shazi to the wolves?”

“Shazi?” Jalal’s grin widened. “Honestly, I pity the wolves.”

Renee Adhieh, The Wrath and the Dawn

The characters in The Wrath and the Dawn are wonderful and colourful. Though most of the side characters are still a little flat in the first book, the main characters are vibrant and have amazing character development. The book is written from the perspective of multiple characters, so that gives you some insight into information that some of the other characters do not have. It keeps the tension high and the story interesting. It is also a great way to show character development.

Adhieh has incorporated the enemies to lovers trope wonderfully and in a highly original way. Shahrzad’s new husband has killed her best friend and many other girls. She believes him to be a monster. No matter how much she tries to hate him, though, she feels there is much more to the story and to Khalid than meets the eye. The internal struggle to keep regarding Khalid as her enemy and plotting to kill him, while falling in love with him against her better judgement, is described beautifully and progresses naturally. Often the enemies to lovers trope can feel a little forced and considering what I knew about the story, I was afraid it would in this book too, but it didn’t.

“You are not weak. You are not indecisive. You are strong. Fierce. Capable beyond measure.”

Renee Adhieh, The Wrath and the Dawn

Khalid eventually reveals to Shazi the story behind all of the wives he has murdered. He tells her about his first wive, Ava. I obviously don’t want to spoil anything, so I can’t say any more about the story. I can tell you, though that it is a heartbreaking story. I had mixed feelings about Khalid throughout the book, until he told Shazi the story of Ava.

Definitely read this book if you like a fairytale retelling, if you like the Arabian/Persian aesthetic and/or if you like a good enemies to lovers trope.

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Elevation by Stephen King – Book Review

Elevation by Stephen King – Book Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.
  • Fiction
  • “Horror”
  • Fantasy
  • Paperback
  • 192 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 3.67

Oh boy, did I have high expectations for this one. My very first Stephen King novel! I picked Elevation because I came across it at a bookstore once and it looked interesting. Also it was the shortest Stephen King novel I had come across so far. I have wanted to read Stephen King for ever, but the books are so ridiculously big (IT by Stephen King is 1116 pages, just to name one) that I was just kind of scared to. So when I came across this one, I figured: it couldn’t hurt to start with this one, right? Before I share my thoughts on this book, I’ll give you a short summary of the plot.

Scott Carey has been losing weight steadily for the past few weeks. He was delighted at first, only he doesn’t look any different than he did 30 pounds ago. And then there’s something else. When he steps onto the scale while holding all sorts of heavy things, he weighs exactly the same as he does naked. Scott consults with his best friend Bob Ellis, who is a retired doctor. As Scott keeps losing weight, he wonders what will happen when he reaches zero pounds..

So let’s begin by discussing the fact that this book won the 2018 Goodreads Choice Awards for the category horror. I’m sorry, but this is not a horror story. Mystery, okay. Sci-fi, sure, a little. Even fantasy is more believable, but please. Calling this a horror story, is an insult to actual horror stories.

Elevation only has a few characters that are introduced throughout the book, which makes sense since there aren’t enough pages to introduce any more. If you ask me, the story could’ve been a little longer. The story wasn’t at all bad, but the characters were extremely flat. There’s a lesbian couple who owns a restaurant that is going bankrupt because the whole town consists of Trumpies, so nobody wants to eat there. The couple’s dogs shit on Scott’s lawn and every time he tries to confront them about it, they tell him he just hates them, because they’re a same-sex couple. Extremely flat and uninspired. I’m not denying there are still (sadly) plenty of people who think like that, but this is just a very bad stereotype. Of course all the other characters are rich, middle-aged white guys and white church-going housewives.

The part that bothered me most, though, was the fact that you don’t get any explanation as to what caused Scott’s condition. If something weird is happening to your body, you want to know why, right? I would! But Scott just accepts that he is probably going to float away when he reaches zero and that’s that. The ending was probably the most disappointing part of the whole book to me.

The keyword in this review is obviously “disappointed”. This story could’ve been epic, if King had put in a little effort. Honestly, it feels like he had a deadline to make and he had something laying on a shelf somewhere and decided to just hand that to his publisher without even looking at it. There’s Stephen King on the front cover, so people will read it anyway, right? I could see that his writing is amazing, or at least could be amazing. I’m still planning on reading more Stephen King novels (I’ve got Misery and 11.22.63 waiting on my bookshelf), but I might wait a little bit.

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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

  • Fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Ebook
  • 226 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 3.89

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hi fellow bookworms! I’m back with a review for the very first book I read in 2022: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I had a hard time choosing the first book of the year, but I eventually settled on this one, because it is relatively short and when someone asks what your first book of the year was, you can say: “Oh just The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, why?”. So, there’s that.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

I was a little bit disappointed with the book (hence the 3-star rating). My expectations were pretty high because of the good ratings and all the praise on Bookstagram and Booktok, but it kind of let me down. Funny thing is, now that I take a closer look at some other reviews of this book, the keyword there is “underwhelmed”. So I guess I’m not alone in my disappointment.

First of all, the main character, Santiago, is constantly referred to as “the boy”, but at no point in the book do you have any idea how old he is. This may be a tiny detail, but if you say “boy”, I may think he’s like 7 years old at first. But then suddenly that 7-year-old says he wants to marry the merchant’s daughter next year and you figure, okay I guess he’s probably a little older than I’ve been picturing him. If I’m constantly trying to figure out how old the main character is, I’m not paying attention to the story.

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

The other thing that bothered me, is the circumstances around the search for Santiago’s destiny. I mean, I love a good story about someone trying to find their destiny and eventually finding it, but in this case the destiny was basically just getting rich. So I guess this a religious self-help book written by a capitalist? Also, the boy is constantly told that all that matters is fulfilling his destiny and as long as he does that, everything will magically fall into place. Except, he forgets that he is trying to fulfil a destiny like every 10 seconds. Most of the book he’s just doing his thing in a crystal shop, making a lot of money and thinking of ways to make even more money.

I really liked learning new things about the Islam, like how the Quran dictates that you should always feed a hungry person. I love how the book paints the Islam in such a positive light. The world needs more books that show how beautiful Islam can be.

All in all, The Alchemist was alright. It had some beautiful quotes and some life lessons to remember every now and then, but also a lot of life lessons you should forget as soon as possible. If all you have to do to get something, is to want it bad enough, I would be married to Ryan Reynolds right now. Also, without spoiling anything, the ending to the story was really frustrating…

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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

  • Historical Fiction
  • Fantasy/Magical realism
  • Hardcover
  • 560 pages
  • Goodreads rating: 4.24

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I have been putting off reviewing this beautiful piece of art, because I just knew I would never be able to write a review that would do this book justice. I read this book almost 9 months ago and I haven’t found any book that surpasses it yet, nor do I think I ever will. I would probably sell my soul to be able to read it for the first time again (though not to the Gods that answer after dark). But alright, here we go.

“Never pray to the Gods that answer after dark.”

V.E. Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

In the year 1714, a young woman named Adeline LaRue makes a bargain with the devil to be free. From that moment on, though, she is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets, as soon as she is out of sight. For 300 years, she walks the earth without being able to leave a single trace, until she walks into a second hand bookshop in New York to exchange the book she just stole from there the day before.

“If you only walk in other people’s steps, you cannot make your own way. You cannot leave a mark.”

V.E. Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

I have to be honest, I cried throughout most of the book. Every time Addie is forgotten by.someone she has grown to care about, every time she tries to leave a mark on the world that fades away after just a few seconds, every time the devil tells her to give up on life, because nobody will every remember who she is.

This was actually the very first book I read because of Bookstagram. I came across a reel of a girl describing the plot of the book and saying it was the best book she had ever read. She was so passionate about it that I decided to read it too. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more.

It’s a slow-paced story, but it captivated me from the very beginning. The story starts in 1714 with Addie running for her life. From then on it alternates between the past, starting in 1714 and working your way up throughout Addie’s 300 year long life while Addie figures out how her new life works, and the present, where she goes through life stealthy, knowing the exact moment she’ll be forgotten.

I’ve literally never read anything like this, but if I had to compare it to something, it would be the movie The Age of Adaline (the name is probably a coincidence). This is a movie featuring Blake Lively, about a young woman born in 1908, who gets hit by lightning at age 29 and from then on never ages a day again.

Shortly before publishing this book, Victoria Schwab posted on Goodreads the following words: “I can’t believe we made it. Addie spent so many years haunting me, I hope she haunts a few of you.

Oh Victoria, you have no idea.

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