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Archive for May, 2009

Back for more blood sucking!

Back for more blood sucking!

Once the Harry Potter experience was over, I decided to go back to my exploration of the vampire world as told through young adult and adult novels.  This post will be entirely about young adult books and in the next I will talk about the adult novels, which I have yet to begin.  As you know, I had success with the other two post-Twilight series I attempted, The House Of Night series and The Sookie Stackhouse books.  Both worked for me for different reasons and I’m happily going to follow them to their completions.  This time I out I found one series to continue but the rest were epic failures.  I’ll talk a bit about those first and then talk about the one I truly enjoyed.

Evermore by Alyson Noel

I heard about this book, I think possibly on a Twilight sight.  And I know someone mentioned it being as addictive and better than Twilight.  I wish I knew exactly where I read this because I would happily go back and tell the poster that no, not remotely.  I didn’t like it at all.  There was one aspect that I found possibly interesting but the writing was terrible, hard to follow and not really enlightening.  One scene she seemed to be describing a dream but then it appeared to be real.  Very strange and disjointed.

This book tells the story of Ever Bloom, a 16 year old former beauty queen whose whole family was killed in a car accident.  She nearly died but lingered while her family crossed over the bridge to the afterworld and instead was brought back to life.  She moves to California to live with her aunt and instead of embracing being popular again she keeps mostly to herself and a couple of “freak” friends.  A new guy, Damon Auguste, comes to school and starts drawing her out.  He is not a “vampire” per se, he’s apparently an “immortal”.  I guess he doesn’t feed from people at all but he drinks some red drink that is never really defined, although Ever suspects there is some blood base to it. Damon can also read minds, which calls back to Edward; as can Ever, ever since the accident which nearly killed her.

The one interesting aspect to the novel is that Ever is Damen’s soulmate reappearing over and over again over the 600 years of his life.  His former wife keeps killing her and then he finds her again in another place and time.  That could have been interesting but the idea got buried beneath her ghost sister visiting her, the stalking ex and this idea that she could choose immortality.  The concepts were there but I didn’t feel like the story explored anything to my satisfaction.  Another book is coming but I won’t be reading it.

The days of the solitary vamp in the shadows seem to be gone.

The days of the solitary vamp in the shadows seem to be gone.

The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith

I decided to look into this one since it’s being made into a show on The CW that I plan on checking out.  In this series, we have Elena, who like Ever looks exactly like a girl from the past of Stefan and Damon (there’s that name again), a pair of vampire brothers who happen across her.  Like Ever, Elena’s parents died in a car accident and she and her little sister are living with an aunt.  Unlike Ever, Elena is still the popular queen of the school and has to deal with the catty politics of high school hierarchy.  Stefan appears on the scene and Elena decides she must have him at all costs.  Initially he tries to resist her but they eventually get together.  Until Damon appears, that is.

Damon is the “bad” brother, the one who embraces being a vamp and lives for the darkness.  Stefan is Cullenized, generally only drinking from animals although occasionally he will drink from a person without killing them.  Damon’s not quite so concerned with people living and dying.  What he is concerned with is Elena, who looks like the girl, Katherine, that both brothers loved.  She’s the one who turned them both into vamps, instead of choosing between them, she chose to turn them both.  When they got angry with her for not picking one and thinking they’d be happy to live together with her for all of eternity, she apparently left herself out in the sunlight to die.  These vamps could be out in sunlight if they wore a special ring but she took hers off.  Stefan carried it on a chain for hundreds of years til he fell for Elena, then he gave it to her.

I read the first two books in the series, they were packaged together and the story was alright.  I would have probably pursued it but I did some reading up online and didn’t like where the author went with the story so I decided against it.  I liked the concept, a good vamp and a bad vamp vying for the same girl years later.  The characters were just okay, as usual the female protagonist didn’t really appeal to me.  She was kind of a bitch and not the kind of bitch I generally enjoy.  Stefan was alright and Damon had a lot of appeal but we didn’t get much of him.  I imagine the 3rd and 4th books explore him a bit more but I wasn’t interested enough to continue.

Night World No 1 by LJ Smith

These books caught my eye because they were in the same display at the House of Night novels.  Since I found them so appealing, I thought why not?  Why not indeed…there’s a lot of reasons why not.  The book contained 3 separate stories that almost read like short stories instead of novels.  I again, liked the idea behind the books but not the actual stories themselves.  The Night World is a secret world of vamps, witches and werewolves.  They hold themselves separate from society and consider humans to be an inferior race.  Falling for a human or sharing their secrets with a human is a death sentence.  I liked that idea and had the actual Night World been explored, I could have enjoyed it.

Instead I got 3 short love stories which did nothing for me.  In the first, a vampire turned his best friend/secret love into a fellow vampire because she was dying of cancer.  His evil cousin was actually tempted to turn them in to the Night Council but didn’t and that was that.  The second story had evil cousin fall for a human, which would have been kinda cool but it was too short and again, not a payoff with the Night World.  The third had a witch falling for a human and choosing to leave the Night World for him.  Nobody had any consequences for going against Night World law and it never felt like there was any threat there.  Kinda ruins the story.  There are 2 more books but again, I’m not pursuing it.

The one thing I did enjoy in this series was that there were two kinds of vampires, those that were made and those that were born.  Yes, vamps could marry and have kids and those kids would grow up until they decided to stop.  Then they were immortal.  Vampires could also feed on humans in these books without killing them.  I do like that concept quite a bit.

Again vamps feeding without killing.

Again vamps feeding without killing.

The Vampire Academy Novels by Richelle Mead

Just when I was ready to declare my second go round with vamp lit a failure, I happened across these books.  And lo and behold, I got sucked in again!  When I saw the title I thought of House of Night, immediately, and this has some similar aspects although it’s very different in tone and setup.  Like I mentioned in the last paragraph, these novels also have two sets of vampires, the born and the made kind.  There are names for these and I’ll go into them momentarily.  Like HON, these take place at a school for vampires and dhampirs.  Dhampirs are half human/half vampires, generally born when a dhampir sleeps with Moroi.  Moroi are full blooded, born vamps.  There are 12 royal Moroi families, most of whom have some representation at the school.  Moroi vampires are not immortal, they live and they die.  The immortal vampires are called Strigoi.  These are made vampires, via biting, or born vampires who kill Moroi or humans.  It’s kind of strange to embrace the names and whatnot but you grow used to them after awhile.

The 3 books, with a 4th coming out in a couple months, are told again in first person, but this time our heroine is likable.  I mean, really and truly likable!  She’s Rosemarie Hathaway, a dhampir.  Dhampirs generally have two paths in life, they can either become a guardian of the Moroi, protecting them from Strigoi, or they can sleep with Moroi men and have and raise their illegitimate children.  Rose is in training to be a guardian and she’s protecting her best friend, Moroi royalty Lissa Dragomir.  The novel kicks off with them out on their own living among humans and for a few chapters I was actually afraid they’d been introduced as characters in another book and I’d just missed it.  But no, the author just immediately immerses you into this world and you have to puzzle it out through the first novel.  Sometimes I find that annoying but it worked here.

After Rose and Lissa get dragged back to school, which is not a spoiler as it happens in the first chapter, they are brought back into the world of the Moroi/Dhampir life.  The first novel focuses heavily on friendships and relationships within the school while subsequent novels bring a lot more of the battle with the Strigoi into it.  And I really liked all of it.  Rose and Lissa have a blood blond, but it’s one sided.  Rose can sense Lissa’s moods at all times and she can even enter into her head and see things the way Lissa does, but Lissa does not have the same read on Rose.  Lissa is the last of the Dragomir line, her family was all killed in a car accident that she and Rose survived.  It was after she and Rose lived that their bond formed and Rose got the ability to read Lissa.

If the books had been told through Lissa’s eyes I might not have enjoyed them as much.  She’s a definite good girl queenly type, but she’s not annoying.  Just kinda bland.  She does have a dark side to her, a battle with depression and power addiction that Rose constantly has to help her with.  Rose, though, Rose is awesome.  She’s an act first, think later kind of a girl.  She’s sarcastic, smart alecky and a badass.  Although another virgin, she doesn’t give a damn about her reputation for hooking up with guys and having a good time.  I really like that attitude amidst all the purity in most of the books.

Rose has major mother issues, a common theme in most of the novels I’ve read.  Her mom turned her over to the academies when she was four and continued her quest to be one of the top guardians in the world.  There’s a lot of resentment there but she and her mother do bond a little over the 3 books.

This series fulfilled my need to get some kind of read on the society being set up.  Where Stephenie Meyer only briefly touched on the Volturi, this one explores the Moroi royalty dynamic, courts, punishments, etc.  I won’t spoil the who’s should I convince anybody to read it, but someone Rose cares very much about appears to become Strogoi at the end of the third and novel and the fourth is going to explore her quest to kill that person.  Where I didn’t get the battles that I longed for in Twilight, here you get them plentifully.

There is a romance aspect for both Rose and Lissa, Lissa with an outcast fellow royal and Rose with an older guardian.  That’s not the driving interest of the stories for me but I like both situations all the same.

I mentioned The House Of Night novels and there is another similarity here besides the school factor.  In these books, the vampires specialize in one of the elements as well.  Lissa has yet to specialize but it turns out there’s a reason for that I won’t spoil.  I did find it interesting that calling the elements comes to play here but there is less of a spiritual aspect than in HON.

I thought it was interesting that 3 of the series revolved around dead families.  Evermore & Vampire Diaries were about gorgeous blond girls and Lissa in Vampire Academy is also a gorgeous blond.  Rose is statuesque brunette though, so there’s a little diversity.  I’m about to graduate into the big person books so we’ll see if there’s any different themes brought to life there.  I really find the vampire hierarchies to be quite interesting and that’s what made me enjoy Vampire Academy so much more than the rest.  None of these books are gripping me like Twilight did, but that was because of the love story for me.  I’m enjoying exploring the other worlds out there though and finding a couple of good series to continue with.  Back soon with more!

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Okay, this is probably my last New Moon post until the movie actually comes out.  I think I said that before, but this time is for real!  Pics have leaked of the filming in Italy and I thought I’d put them here for my own personal happiness and the happiness of others.  The Edward/Bella reunion looks good!  I’m getting quite excited about a movie that is 6 months away…sigh.  But I figured my fellow Twilighters might like to see a few pictures of shirtless Rob.  If not, well, I’ll enjoy them myself!

Edward deshirting!

Edward deshirting!

Um…yes…these do please me.  What pretty abs!  The random dots on him are for the sparkle graphics, so attempt to disregard!

The abs!!!  Who knew?

The abs!!! Who knew?

You know, I’m really trying not to come off as a creepy internet stalker here, really I’m not but the boy is damn hot, I’m sorry!

Edward prepares to step into the sun.

Edward prepares to step into the sun.

I love the zombified look of determination here, it’s so how I imagine Edward looking as he prepares to step into the sunshine and get killed for it.

Reunion moment!

Reunion moment!

See, I don’t have to just show shirtless Rob.  It wasn’t my sole focus!

This doesn't happen in the book but who cares?

This doesn't happen in the book but who cares?

Yep, looks like they have them kiss right away instead of having Bella think the entire time that he doesn’t love her anymore.  This is a change I don’t really have a problem with so long as we can see a good talk between the two of them.

More of the kiss.

More of the kiss.

Yes, I am really and truly looking forward to this movie, at least I’ll have this to anticipate while I sit through the Jacob stuff.  I know, I’m ridiculous.

So there you have it…just figured that my peeps that don’t frequent all the sites I go to might like to see a little of what we have to look forward to in November.  I know ya’ll aren’t as much of a Rob freak as I am but I like the look and feel of the pictures and think that scene might turn out well.  Bella does run through the fountain to get to him and there are a few pics of her trying to push him back into the shadows as well.  Sadly none of Demetri and Felix lurking, but maybe some will turn up!

All photos from LaineyGossip.com.

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Sookie & Bill

Sookie & Bill

Reading Harry Potter was not my sole project of the long holiday weekend; I also watched True Blood Season 1 on DVD.  Yeah, I probably will be blind in a year or two with all the work I put on my eyes, but in the meantime, you gotta do what you gotta do.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I liked most of the casting and the show in general.  I was irritated by a few of the extra plot twists, but for the most part I found it a good watch.  Clearly, as I zoomed through all the episodes rather quickly.

SookieOf course, the only way you’re going to like the books or the show is if you’re alright with Sookie.  She is far from my favorite character but she doesn’t bother me either.  Initial clips I’d seen made me think I was going to hate the actress playing her but I thought Anna Paquin did an alright job.  She’s not the bombshell I pictured in my mind but she’s alright and I got past the southern accent after while.

BillBill was also in the alright category.  I loathe Bill in the books but this guy was pretty likeable and somewhat mysterious I thought.  I’m interested to see how they play him in season 3/4 when we get more information on the characters true motivations.

EricThere was so not enough of Eric but I enjoyed what I did see.  He had that sexy menacing thing going on, although I wasn’t too much of a fan of the hair.  The actor in real life is actually much hotter, but what can you do?  I thought they foreshadowed his interest in Sookie rather well when he was watching her kiss Bill goodbye and I am looking forward to much more time with the character.  Here’s hoping they expand his role even beyond the books, right?

littleJasonJason…I definitely liked the actor playing him and he was just that right kind of redneck hot guy with little regard for anybody else.  The issue I had with Jason was the stuff they added for him.  Making him the number one murder suspect was great, he is in the book, but making him addicted to V and then throwing him in with the Fellowship of the Sun?  I didn’t care for that at all.  Jason doesn’t hate vampires…while he was a little leery of his sister dating one he wasn’t outwardly hostile and never seemed to care if a girl he was sleeping with had done a vamp before.  I didn’t care for this added element to the story.

SamSam was perfectly cast in my eyes as well.  Just the right amount of cute and overprotective.  I also didn’t like his more antivamp stance though, in the books he may have hated Eric and Bill but he wasn’t against vampire rights and such.  He’s a shapeshifter for crying out loud, it doesn’t make sense for him to be against the rights of a different race.

TaraAnd then we have Tara…initially I loved her.  I thought she was hilariously outspoken and a lot of fun, but then she started freaking out every single minute about something stupid.  I was okay with the Sam/Tara romance that doesn’t remotely exist in the books, but they took her way too OTT for my taste.  I guess it’s to set up the MaryAnn storyline, whatever that might be, but I really stopped liking her.  And I was annoyed that they didn’t stick to the true Tara from the books either, the one who was out doing vamps long before Sookie met Bill.  I think she needs a friend who will encourage her and that deviation bothered me.  I did like her friendship with Sookie, it was just really changed from the books.

LafayetteMy favorite character was probably Lafayette.  He was awesome, a gossip, totally gay and proud of it and just like I imagined him to be.  I’m quite sorry that they’ve likely killed him off already, as I assume the foot hanging out of Andy’s car at the end of the show was his.  Too bad, he rocked.

Those were the main characters I wanted to touch on.  The rest of the side characters were okay to me.  Pam was not “Alice in Wonderland” enough for my taste but that’s about it.  I thrilled to see Danko appear as the Magistrate guy ordering Bill to turn Jessica as his punishment for killing Chow.  None of that happened in the book but I found it an enjoyable turn.  Not that I like Jessica, she’s quite annoying and the fact that she got on Eric’s nerves and he gave her back to Bill worries me.  I hope she dies soon.

As to the story, well it was pretty faithful minus the extra stuff they added for Jason and the romantic twist for Sam/Tara.  I don’t mind the idea of Sam/Tara but clearly that’s not going ahead since she met Eggs but I don’t want Jason with the Fellowship at all.  They could have brought that in more with Arlene I thought.  Oh well.

Lots of sex, lots of blood, definitely more than you get in the books, particularly the sex.  But I guess if we get to experience all of Jason’s conquests we’ll be in for quite a show.  It’s fine as long as we get some naked Eric soon…it’s only fair.  All in all, not a bad show and I enjoyed seeing the characters brought to life.  For the most part I actually liked them and it makes the books a little better for me actually.  Hopefully I can find a way to watch season 2 as it happens, somewhere the internet will have it for me right???  I do have a thirst for more!

All photos from True-Blood.tv.

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So here we are some 20 or so hours since I finished Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows and I’m still struggling to come up with exactly how I feel about it or exactly what I want to say.  There’s so much and yet at the same time I can’t narrow it down to anything remotely resembling decent commentary or analysis.  Certain things of course went the way I expected them to so I’m not exactly shocked by the happenings, but at the same time I’m not sure how I feel about all of it.  I guess I’ll just hit what’s flowing through my head as best as I can and see if it ends up making any semblance of sense.

The big thing, for me of course, was the whole Snape issue.  I know that many of you liked him and I figured that part of the reason why had to have been that Dumbledore was right about him all along, so no shocker when he turned out to have been following orders the whole time, albeit rather grudgingly.  I do not deny that when you know all of this about him, he becomes a far more interesting character than just a bullying asshole.  I do think that his love for Lily and his hatred for James warred within him when it came to Harry and while Lily love won out for the really big stuff, like keeping him alive, James hate won out in the everyday, like treating him like shit on his shoe.  Harry clearly forgave him, what with giving his poor second child the name Albus Severus, so I guess that’s all that matters.  I still don’t think his treatment of him was justified though.  My friend Dee tried to tell me that he was trying to make Harry a better man but I just don’t think bullying someone is the way to go about it.  I think the James hate was flowing whenever Harry was around and that’s why he acted like such a jerk to him.  But, bygones I suppose.  In the end he died, although I had expected him to die pushing Harry out of the way of one of Voldemort’s killing spells instead of without Harry around (at least as far as either of them knew).  But he gave Harry the knowledge he needed to know what he had to do in the end, so that’s really all that matters.

The same cannot be said for the Malfoy’s though.  Tripp, I don’t know where you think they paid for anything…that short amount of time they were terrorized by the leader they chose?  Nope, not enough in my book, for little Draco was still busy trying to kill Harry in the end wasn’t he?  Or at least to make it possible for Voldemort to do so.  Meanwhile Harry and Ron save that bastard twice in the end.  Not fair.  Not cool.  Not happy about it.  The only one of them getting a pass in my book is Narcissa for pretending that Harry was dead when she checked him out for Voldemort.  That was a worthy move, the rest of them should have died in battle.

Speaking of deaths, boy were there a lot of them.  As you may have surmised from a previous blog, I was not remotely happy about Fred Weasley dying.  There was Percy, finally on the right side, he should have been the one to die in sacrifice for being a douche, but no, awesome Fred dies.  At least he died as he lived, laughing.  It still sucked.  Nor was I happy that she killed both Tonks and Lupin.  What, one of them couldn’t make it?    It’s not like Teddy Lupin wouldn’t have grown up with all the Weasley offspring anyway if one parent had lived.  Sucky.  I was of course sad about Hedwig, poor owl and Moody, though I fully expected him to go at some point.  I had read somewhere that Hagrid died so I was pleasantly surprised when he made it…at the time I had never read any of the books so perhaps I saw Hedwig and made it Hagrid in my mind.  And of course I’m happy about the rest of them making it.

I think the thing I had the most trouble dealing with was the doubting of Dumbledore that Harry had going on through most of the book.  Perhaps this was because they finally formed the bond I was hoping for in the previous book (only to have him killed, sigh) and I was unhappy that Harry was already questioning it.  I’m not saying it didn’t make sense within the story, it did, and it made Harry seeing Snape’s memories and realizing that Dumbledore expected him to die all along have more meaning and pain attached to it.  Of course, there was more to it than that, thankfully, but I can see what it seemed necessary to her to go that route.  It just kinda hurt and disturbed me through the first 700 pages or thereabouts, you know?

I did like, though, that we found out Dumbledore was a real man who made real mistakes in his youth and his old age.  The fact that he caused his burned arm and his own impending death due to wanting so badly to see the ghosts of his past made him more real than anything else he did.  He did make a giant mistake in not telling Harry all about the hallows and giving him more help, but I think Hermoine said something about it being the journey Harry had to take, so there you go.

Plus it set up the tension that grew between the three friends as they bumbled around with no set plan.  I did feel this part of the book went on for a bit too long for my taste, but I felt that in just about every book.  Rowling can and did take a long time to get to certain points, not that I blame her and it all does seem to work and it’s enjoyable, so I’m not complaining really.  Just observing!  I hated it when Ron left but I understood his frustration.  I was glad to hear he regretted it immediately and tried to return but was unable.  Ron really became a man in this book…I stopped seeing him as Harry’s best friend and started seeing him as Ron Weasley.

Naturally I thought it was cute when the Ron/Hermoine very long slow burn relationship finally boiled over at the most inappropriate of times, although as Ron pointed out to Harry, what better time than as death is approaching?  I’m glad that they all got their happy endings, although I was a bit put out not to know how they were living their lives.  Dee told me that Harry and Ron both became aurors and Hermoine was big in the ministry, so that’s cool, would just have liked to have known it.

I also would have liked to have known how things went for George after his twin died.  Again, the internet yielded him marrying Angelica and having a son that he named Fred, so that was something.  But I was annoyed it wasn’t there in the time jump to go with everyone else.  I mean if they can put stupid Malfoy there, they could have mentioned George.  That’s all I’m saying.

Finally, the hallows themselves…I don’t know how I feel about that, honestly.  That there were the 3 things that would make someone master of death and whatnot…since Voldemort didn’t know about it, it kind of loses some of the power of the telling, doesn’t it?  I mean, if we had to worry about him knowing and trying to unite the cloak, stone and wand, that adds a whole level of worry on top of everything else.  I get that only Harry knowing and yet making the choice not to focus on that and instead to focus on the Horcruxes showed just how little interest he showed in matters like power but we already knew that.  And Dumbledore did too, which is why he should have told him.  Neither here nor there, I suppose.  It worked out well enough in the end and I enjoyed that Harry used the wand to put his back together and then wanted the Elder Wand reburied with Dumbledore.

Harry’s death/nondeath was well done I thought.  I loved his determination to go out and face Voldemort and make the ultimate sacrifice to try to save his friends and family and I was glad that he got that dream/vision with Dumbledore that explained everything.  I assumed he’d speak to the painting but this worked and of course might have surprised a person or two who thought he might really be dead. Harry’s pretending death and coming forth at the end to take on Voldemort inside the school with everyone watching I felt was poetic.  For once he was facing the man in front of the few who believed him all along and the many who didn’t and he got to show them just what he was made of all that time.  I thought the chatting was quite a bit but I don’t mind a little taunting before death delivery so it worked alright for me.

I loved that Neville finally got a chance to shine and do something right when they all thought Harry was dead.  He was going to keep fighting and he took out that snake as Harry had asked him to.  And it’s cute that he became a professor at the school teaching his favorite subject.  Perfect for him.  And I loved that Luna, Ginny and the DA all kept on fighting the fight at the school while Harry and Ron and Hermoine were off searching for Horcruxes.   Like Harry, I really missed Hogwarts for the majority of the book, it just didn’t feel right for them not to be there.  I’m glad that’s where it ended though.

So, I think I’ve rambled enough for now.  I can say that this book really felt completely different from the rest of them.  I don’t know if that’s because they were away from school or the lack of teachers and aurors and family around Harry, Hermoine or Ron or what.  I didn’t dislike it, it just felt weird.  I think the book had to be darker and more tense than the others though, knowing where it was leading and all.  I’m interested to see what you all have to say.  I took all your comments to heart as I read through the book and often thought of what you had said on other blogs or through the phone and IM.  It helped me open my mind up a bit more to Snape, although I still don’t call myself a fan!  haha   I guess that’s all I have for now, maybe your comments will jar a little more deep thinking from me than I expressed here!  Thanks for the recommendation, it was an enjoyable ride that I no doubt will take again in a more leisurely fashion somewhere down the line.  My need to read a book in one sitting does cause me to miss stuff, I know, but I’m insatiable when I like something and I have to know how it’s going to end.  That’s the truly nice thing about coming into a series after it’s been written, at least I don’t have to wait a year or two for the next book.  Those of you that did, you’re strong!  I’m off to feed yet another obsession, back soon with that!

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One of my chief complaints about the previous Harry Potter books was that no matter what the kid did, he couldn’t catch a break at that school.  He saved the school several times, won the Triwizard cup, was a Quiddich star…none of it mattered to his fellow students.  Oh, they celebrated him temporarily but every summer he would go home and suffer through life with the dreadful Dursley’s and be excited to return to school only to find that the people at school were not so thrilled to see him.  He was either egotistical or plain old crazy, thanks to stories run in the Daily Prophet newspaper.  This irritated me to no end and I complained about it to Tripp just two days ago.

So imagine my joy when this year started out with Harry returning to school and being known as “The Chosen One.”  And not in a sarcastic, obnoxious way, but in an appreciative one.  He had been proven correct about Voldemort, suddenly everyone remembered all the times he’d saved the school and he was afforded some actual appreciation and admiration.  Girls were suddenly quite attracted to him, he made Quiddich captaincy, he had the grades to get into the auror program, all was well.

And it wasn’t just the school thing that was pleasing me.  Harry was finally recognizing interest in Ginny!  He was getting jealous of her time spent with Dean and longing to be with her and then finally they won the game without him and Ginny and he were kissing and together.  Ron did not hate this development, as Harry feared he would and that was nice as well.

Ron and Hermoine, meanwhile, continued their endless dance around one another, playing off their jealousies.  Ron finally had girls interested in him as well and while he took it overboard, I was glad that he got some attention from Lavender Brown.  I can’t say I liked her, but at least he wasn’t the only one who had never “snogged” before. hehe That word cracked me up for some reason.  We kinda left with them knowing they were into one another but again not doing anything about it, so I’m sure book 7 will have much of that, unless, you know, Rowling decides that killing one of them off will be a lot of fun.  Yes, I am still bitter.

The thing I enjoyed transpiring most though was something I mentioned in my last blog.  I was glad to see Dumbledore reach out to Harry and finally start taking him further into his confidence and bringing him further along in his development so he could take on Voldemort.  They had that bond really strengthen, the one I imagined to be more like King Arthur/Merlin but was disappointed in up until this book.  I enjoyed Dumbledore taking Harry into Voldemort’s past and teaching him the things that will be used to vanquish him.  I enjoyed his clear and obvious appreciation for who Harry was and getting to see them bond further.

I would like it to be known that I am not that much of a moron.  I have always known that Dumbledore would die.  He’d have to, to clear the way for Harry to take on Voldemort alone.  I kinda pictured it as happening midway through book 7 though, and happening a lot like Star Wars when OB Wan lets Darth Vader kill him in front of Luke.  I was prepared for something along those lines and could have lived quite comfortably with that occuring in the final book.  I was in no way prepared for it to happen in this book, particularly after Harry managed to get him back from going after the Horcrux.  I was especially not ready for how it happened.

I refrained from saying much of anything about both Snape and Malfoy in my first blog because I didn’t have much to say other than that I loathed them both.  Well, I also would say that I wanted Malfoy to die, preferably at Harry’s hand, but that was about it.  And since I have been assured that Malfoy does not die, I’m not too happy.  As for Snape, I find him foul and heartless.  I don’t care what side he is truly on, he didn’t have to treat Harry the way he did for 6 years.  I found it disgusting and despite what I suspect might happen in the final book, I don’t know if he’ll win my approval.  I assure you that Malfoy will not though.

In fact, I might have been able to respect Malfoy a little if he didn’t show, again, what a coward he was.  I’m not saying I would have approved of him killing Dumbledore but at least he would actually be doing something and not hiding behind his family name and his creepy friends.  I am aware that his family has been threatened, but you know what?  They made their damn choices years ago.  They knew what they were getting into so I don’t remotely feel sorry for them.  Maybe I’m a cold hearted bitch, but I don’t give a damn about any of the Malfoys.  I really and truly want them all to die and knowing that I won’t get that wish angers me greatly.  Not enough to stop reading, mind you, but it’s going to stick in my craw.

Having Harry there, watching that whole confrontation between Malfoy and Dumbledore, immobilized, was agonizing and heartbreaking and wonderfully done.  Having him watch as Snape came out and killed Dumbledore was crushing and again, a powerful and great writing choice.   I know I’m partially spoiled on these books but I wasn’t spoiled on this scene at all.  I realized that Snape was following some silent instructions from Dumbledore when he killed him.  I know he must have been very conflicted about it, not that he let it show.  I’m not willing to forgive his past behaviors, but I get why it had to happen that way.  And with Harry watching, poor kid.  He needed that push and drive to get him through and I’m very interested to see how/when he figures out that Snape was doing what Dumbledore wanted and how he reacts.  I’m sure he’ll flash back to that scene and remember that Snape could have killed him as he escaped and in fact he stopped Harry from being killed.  Will he eventually be grateful?  It’s interesting to wonder about and think about and it would be quite a turnaround from their previous relationship for sure.  I will be able to forgive Snape for killing Dumbledore if it’s as I imagine, but I still will dislike him for his treatment of Harry prior.  Some things you don’t forgive or forget.  I also realized early on that Snape was the “Prince” in the potions book, it just made too much sense for it not to be.

So I went from feeling happy and smug to being shocked and traumatized over the course of the book.  It was definitely a great read and I’m itching to get my hands on the last book so I can know.  I don’t think that Harry was necessarily ready to strike out on his own against Voldemort yet so I’m glad Ron and Hermoine are going to be along for the ride.  I’m sad that he broke it off with Ginny but I’m glad she knows why and I have hopes that she’ll get to live (why do I have these hopes when everybody Harry loves gets killed but Ron and Hermoine?).  I will say if Ginny does die you might not want to read my next blog!  Fair warning!

So I’m off to bury myself in the final book and I’ll be back sometime tomorrow to discuss it.  I have been told by several of you just how different this final book is, so I’m anxious to check that out.   Oh, and all the Weasley’s better make it (minus Percy).  Harry has to have someone live dammit.  That’s all, back for more later!

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I’ve spent the last week immersed in the world of Harry Potter and 5 books in I’m finally ready to talk a little about it.  I am happy, again, to reveal that I’m not Twilight obsessed over these books but I’m quite into them and reading at a fast clip, clearly.  The books are quite well written and the imagination that went into them is almost astounding.  And intimidating.  I’ve always longed to write but never had the story, so when someone comes up with one that’s creative and captivating I’m filled with envy.  Kudos, of course, to JK Rowling for creating a wonderful world.

The first three books were good but I have to admit that once book four hit, that’s when I got more into it.  Once Voldemort assumes a real form and becomes his biggest threat, well, that’s when I get captured.  That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the first three, I just find the elevated level of danger to be more intriguing.  The fourth book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,  is my favorite so far, I just love the Triwizard competition and since I saw the movie last weekend and was able to picture my Rob as Cedric, well I was probably even more involved.  Yes, the fangirl obsession continues!

The fifth book, Harry Potter &  the Order of the Phoenix, however, is the one that has made me the most emotional.  Now that primary emotion is anger, but I was emotional all the same.  I think, before I discuss the why of that, I should admit that I came in with a preconceived notion about Harry and Dumbledore’s relationship.  Having only seen a couple of the movies, I assumed them to be more along the lines of Merlin/King Arthur.  I thought Dumbledore would be spending all sorts of time with him and guiding him through school, but that really hasn’t happened.  They’ve spent far less time together than I imagined and in this last book their lack of communication drove me batty.  I was pissed at Harry for not going to Dumbledore with more details on his visions.  He’s a kid and I could understand the mistake but it still annoyed me.  I was even angrier at Dumbledore for avoiding Harry, not filling him on anything and sticking him with Snape for his training without explanation of that move either.  Yeah, we got all the explanation toward the end of the book but that lack of communication can be blamed for the death of Sirius and it’s on both of them as far as I’m concerned.  I was constantly mentally yelling at both characters throughout the book and quite annoyed most of the time.

Thankfully, the Weasley twins were there to diminish my anger now and then, thanks to their attacks on that evil Umbridge bitch.  I was quite thrilled when they pulled their fireworks out and made their swamp and told the woman off and flew out of school.  I adore George and Fred…well all of the Weasley’s with the exception of Percy.  Of course, Umbrage did not get enough of a comeuppance for my taste though.  I would have liked her to have disappeared into the forest forever, leaving what happened to her to my much vengeful and twisted imagination.  But no, Dumbledore got her out and she only got chased from school.  Humiliation is nice, pain and blood and possible death are much better.  Or do only the good die?

Not that I thought Sirius was all that good.  I was not overly fond of him honestly and only wanted him around for Harry’s sake.  It seemed nice for the boy to have someone else who loved him.  I know he’s a surrogate Weasley and that’s truly awesome but he had a special love for Sirius so I was sorry to see that taken away from him.  I’m also sorry that he got a glimpse of his dad’s past behavior in Snape’s office and that he, and we, found out that James Potter was a dick.  I suppose he changed with time but it does make Snape’s hatred make a little more sense.

Not that said hatred is remotely justified for a child.  Not at all.  I cannot believe the stuff Snape does to Harry and again I am mad at Dumbledore for not stepping in.  He seems to know about everything, so he should surely know what Snape does to Harry in class and how he treats him.  There is no justification for it, and I try my damndest to write it off as part of a play to make Malfoy and co think that he’s on their side, but it gets harder with each little malicious act.  I feel for Snape’s sucky past but I don’t think he has the right to torment children.  I’m hoping that the next two books feature a little more of a redemption for him, as I think he is an interesting character, but I hold out little hope.

As for the rest of the professors, I do enjoy the majority of them, particularly McGonagall and former professors Lupin and Moody (well the real one, not the imposter).  I am enjoying the rotating Defense of the Dark Arts teacher thing, especially now that the students took it into their own hands and decided to have Harry teach them the spells he’s used on Voldemort.  It was nice to see Harry get some recognition for what he’s done from some of his classmates.

For that is the other thing that’s driven me batty.  I said to Tripp, does he ever get to go to school and start of the school year in a good place?  I mean, every summer he goes home and deals with the terrible Dursley’s and then he comes back to school excited but there are students judging him and thinking he’s nuts and a liar and whatever else.  That, despite all the times he’s faced Voldemort and walked away and helped save the school and such.  It irritates me.  Just once I’d like him to return to school and have a little fun before the shit hits the fan.  Not bloody likely now that he knows the prophecy either.

I realize, of course, that our hero needs to be tested but does everything have to be a test?  His whole life sucked up to Hogwarts, then he gets to find a place where he COULD fit in but he doesn’t.  He becomes a great Quiddich player, which should win him some love.  That’s temporary.  He wins the Triwizard thing but Voldemort’s return, Cedric’s death and the lack of belief in what he says taints that.  So that aspect annoys me a little.  I understand it, I really do, but those little moments of enjoyment Harry gets are precious to me and probably most other readers and I wish there was more time to savor them.

As you might have noticed, I’m quite fond of Harry.  I just want to hug him and see the weight taken off his shoulders for a day or two.  I guess maybe that’ll happen in another thousand or so pages, at the end of book 7.  It better!  I can deal with nonhappy endings but if ever someone deserved one, it’s Harry.

I guess I should talk a little about the relationship angles, huh?  I have to say, from the first time we met her, I have wanted Ginny to get with Harry.  I just found her crush on him adorable and it’s so sweet to think of a romance playing out years later.  I like that she got over that crush this past year and was able to talk to Harry and he found out from her that was because she had a boyfriend.  It was just adorable.  I also enjoy that Ron really seems to want them together.  Ron, clearly, is meant for Hermoine and vice versa.  It seems that she’s known for ages now but he’s clueless as to her feelings for him.  He has only gotten to the “jealous” stage with her, seeing her with Krum and talking about him is when he shows it more than anything.  I expect both or one of the relationships to advance in book six and I’m looking forward to seeing how they go.

I love the majority of Harry’s circle of friends, with the possible exception of Neville.  I feel for him, especially knowing what his parents have gone through, but he’s just so clumsy.  And not in an endearing way, in an exasperating way to me.  I find it fascinating that it could have been him or Harry that was Voldemort’s potential foe…talk about opposite ends of the spectrum.  If Voldy (hee) had gone after Neville instead, he wouldn’t have found it much of a challenge.  Unless the mark makes all the difference?  I dunno.  I feel sorry for him but I still find him annoying.

Initially I found Hermoine to be rather annoying but she had grown on me by the end of the first book, rather like she did Harry and Ron for that matter.  Her Little Miss Know It All schtick can get old from time to time but it’s obviously useful and I’d rather have her be the know it all than Harry himself.  It’s one thing to be the chosen one, we don’t need to have him be the perfect student on top of it all.  I like how Hermoine is the one to try to reign Harry in much of the time balanced out by Ron and Harry taking the other viewpoint toward adventure and potential trouble.  I think the 3 make a great group.

Oh I guess I could go on for hours more, seeing as I’ve barely skimmed on main characters and ignored some altogether, but then I’d have to put off going to the store to buy the last book and coming home and starting the sixth.  Can’t have that, can we?  I just really wanted to come in and share some of my thoughts and thank Tripp, Dee & Rameau and everyone else who told me to get reading these books.  They are a definite treat, a nice escape from real life and I’m having a fine time reading them all.  Someday I will reread slowly and take more than just the surface looks at the books but I’m too into the story to take my time and savor for now.  But that just makes the rereads all that much more enjoyable, right?  I’ll see new stuff every time and glean more from each book.  So, thanks guys, I’ll come back and discuss the final two and let you know my reactions soon!

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I’ve been negligent in my sports commentary since football season ended.  I know it, I just haven’t been into sports at all now that football has gone and even things I love, like the draft, failed to stir me out of my sports funk.  This is in large part due to hating everything that my former team, Tampa Bay, has done this off season; from releasing Derrick Brooks and Warrick Dunn to drafting a project QB in the first round to spending a fortune on a tight end with an attitude problem.  Hated every single part of it and still not hyped about the upcoming season.  Derrick has yet to sign anywhere and I’m waiting patiently to see if he will sign for someone I can root for.  I’ll continue to root for the Pats, of course, but right now the Bucs are dead to me and they’re going to have to work pretty hard to get back my love.

Despite my lack of interest, I haven’t turned a blind eye to sports these past few months.  I still watch PTI every day and Sportscenter more than is healthy.  I still check my Cardinals box scores feverishly even though their early fast start has come to a screeching halt.  I could tell you who the teams in the NBA playoffs are, even though I have never cared for basketball.  So I am on top of things, I’m just not enamored of them like usual.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some things going on that I don’t care deeply about.  I start with the latest, the release of Michael Vick from prison and the resulting “where will he land?” conversations.  I know Michael Vick served his time and I know there are players in the NFL and other sports who probably have done worse than Vick and not paid as dearly as he did for his crimes.  I get that.  Hey, if it was up to me the Leonard Little’s of the world would not be gracing the football field.  The fact that he is doesn’t change the fact that Michael Vick sickens me and I will never root for any team that takes him (and yes, I have heard the speculation that the Pats could go there…they better not).  If you’ve read any of my TV blogs you know that I can deal with all the horrors and tortures that people do to one another but anytime they kill an animal, I can’t stand it.  And I realize that is probably silly and we’re talking fiction vs. real life, but the truth of the matter is, I will never forget what Vick did and I will never forgive what Vick did.  If he wants to partner with the Humane Society and speak to the ills of dog fighting, that’s great.  I’m all for it.  But does he believe it, or is he doing it simply because he needs some good PR?  Cause I have to figure he doesn’t value an animal’s life anymore now than he did prior to prison.  He just values a paycheck and his livelihood.  If he can perhaps influence some of the other morons of the world that consider torturing animals a form of entertainment, good.  It doesn’t mean I have to support him though.  It doesn’t mean I have to cheer for him.  As far as I’m concerned he’s a thug and a murderer.  Scum.  He was a thug before he got money and he was a thug after he got money.  Will he be a less of a thug after prison?  I don’t know.  A part of me is glad a man like Tony Dungy is reaching out to him, another part of me doesn’t want Tony soiled by his presence.

I, of course, have no say as to what Roger Goodell does when it comes to reinstating Mike Vick.  It’ll happen, be it with or without a suspension for lying.  But I do have the right to say that I’m not going to root for any team that takes him.  I won’t watch a game in which he plays.  I find it interesting that everybody seems to think he’ll just waltz onto a team and be able to play anyway.  He hasn’t been on a football field in 2 years.  I doubt prison life was great for his speed and agility.  So here’s hoping it’ll be a nonissue and he won’t be able to cut it anymore.  Let him get a real job like the rest of the world and learn what it’s like to work for a living.  Let him stay the hell away from any four legged creature.  Let him prove that he can be a decent person before rolling out the red carpet, okay?

The other big football news, as always and forever, is the never ending saga of Brett Favre.  I didn’t write a post celebrating his “retirement” because I knew…I knew that he’d pull this bullshit again and we’d be stuck with months of “Will he?” or “Won’t he?”  Now he’s courting the Vikings and vice versa and everyday we’re getting breathless reports on whether or not he’s getting shoulder surgery.  I don’t give a damn.  I can’t even make myself have rage over it because it was so expected that he’d pull this again.  He just can’t stand not having his name out there.  Next year we’ll be talking about this again.  I won’t ever believe he’s done.

Jon Gruden is joining the MNF booth and I’m pretty delighted.  I love Tony Kornheiser as much as the next gal but he didn’t add anything to games and often took away by interjecting something pointless.  Gruden is always a good quote and I hear that he did well on the NFL draft coverage on the NFL Network (which of course I would not know due to not having the NFL Network, thanks Brighthouse and NFL!) so I’m looking forward to hearing what my former coach has to say.  I think he’ll go well with Jaws and Tirico.

I’m not freaking out about Tiger Woods yet but I am getting slightly worried about his ability to close out wins.  I want Tiger to excel, he’s the only reason I remotely pay attention to golf.  He needs to contend.  While I’m talking golf, thoughts are with Phil and Amy Mickelson as she fights breast cancer.  There are few words scarier than “cancer” and having dealt with it in my family, it’s something that I wouldn’t wish upon anybody.  They seem like great people and I am sending some prayers their way.

I’m not paying much attention to baseball but I do know my Cards have fallen apart with injuries to Ludwick and Ankiel, not to mention having a cobbled together pitching staff.  Carpenter is back tonight and I wish him well but I have no faith that he won’t be injured again in a couple weeks.

Well those are the main sports things I felt like discussing.  Plenty of other stuff has gone on but it’s all flown out of my head at the moment.  I will try not to wait so long for my next sports post, not that they get read like my TV ones. hehe  Back at ya later!

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