Friday, December 28, 2012

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I and II

When I opened this Christmas present from my husband, I was extremely happy and a little bit sad. I commented to him that it's the last time he will buy a Harry Potter movie for me. It's really the last time I'll buy much that's Harry Potter - I'm sure that Warner Brothers and the book publishers won't like the sound of that, but honestly, how many copies of the books, the audio books, or the movies does one person need?

I already have all the books in hardback and paperback versions, well read to be sure but in fairly decent condition. (There were a couple of books I replaced after I read them over and over and loaned them to my daughters who read them over and over and they finally fell apart.)

I have all the Stephen Fry audio books of Harry Potter and listen to them all the time. And now I have all the Utimate Editions of all eight movies. I love having all the deleted scenes and extra content, but I don't need the versions that come in a special box or anything else they will come up with in the future. Enough is enough.

To be honest, I was kind of expecting this particular gift. The one that took me by surprise is the book, edited by Travis Prinzi, Harry Potter for Nerds: Essays for Fans, Academics, and Lit Geeks. Cool.

My husband, Terry, who knows a lot about Harry even though he hasn't read any of the books and has only seen four or five of the movies, asked why I listen to the audio books all the time. I listen when I'm going to sleep. I started thinking about it and I think it goes back to my childhood. I've never fallen asleep easily, unlike Terry. I liked being read to as a child, I loved reading to our daughters when they were children but found that sometimes I was the one who got sleepy. There is something soothing and relaxing to me about someone reading to me. Listening to a book when I know the story so well lets me fall asleep quickly. It's different than listening to music. If the music is instrumental, I find myself keeping time to the music. If someone is singing, I want to sing along and pay so much attention to the words that I'm more wide awake than when I crawled under the covers.

A special gift indeed - one that I will cherish for years to come. And now it's time to find my place in Chamber of Secrets on my mp3 player where I fell asleep last night - just as soon as I finish my tea and have one more piece of Christmas fudge.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pottermore . . . and more

I'm not sure why I didn't post this back in April, 2012, when I wrote it, but I didn't. A little late, but there you go. Sometimes it just works out that way.This should really be posted before the one below, but I can't seem to change the date so it ends up in the right place. Hmmm.

Errol did arrive last fall and I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Pottermore in Beta - except for the times that my potion melted my cauldron even though I had followed all the steps. Or the times that all my comments went into moderation because . . .  Well, I never did figure out why my comments were moderated. I wonder if my account has been flagged because I'm over the age of 12. I finally fixed that irritation by just not commenting any more. I love the look of the site and the extra content from J.K. Rowling. But then the site was down for quite a while in the late fall and I got busy with other things. Before that I had been spending at least some time (sometimes a LOT of time) on Pottermore every day.

Our family had a busy fall with things that were more important than the time I could spend on Pottermore - shocking, I know, but there it is. And then it was Christmas and the New Year. About the time Pottermore was again available we had a nasty snow storm and lost power for a day and a half. I went back through all the chapters of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's (Philosopher's) Stone to see the changes. They aded sound and it does make it a lot better, but I couldn't see that anything else had changed.

I'm very happy that I was sorted into Hufflepuff. At first I tried to add to the House points, but I started watching the jumps in points and it seemed clear that people were cheating. I expected that they would fix it by making everyone start earning point at the beginning once Pottermore opened to everyone. But they didn't, so the points are always going to be off. That has taken the fun out of it for me so I don't really care much about trying to earn points anymore. Maybe it's an age thing, but cheating to win is just not something I tolerate.

After that, Terry and I were getting ready for a trip to Hawaii in March. When we came back we just had other things to do so I've not gone back to spending time on Pottermore every day. When they released the eBooks for all the Harry Potter books, I bought the set the first day for my Nook. I'm delighted. I'm looking forward now to the time when we can explore Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on Pottermore. So I will spend time there again when each book is added. Now that the Beta period is over, they have improved it, but it still has glitches (like my exploding cauldron). I haven't tried the comments again and probably won't.

Rowling has updated her personal web site. Actually, it's completely changed. I kind of miss the old one with all the things to do to get the information. But the new one makes sense as she has announced that her first non-Harry book will be out in the fall. It's The Casual Vacancy. I'm looking forward to it. It sounds like it will be a book full of interesting characters and that's what I liked best about all the Harry Potter books.

I still read/listen to all my Harry Potter books. They are like an old friend and I enjoy the visits. But I've been reading other things in the last few years just as I always have. In a way, I have moved on, but there is something about the writing and the stories in all the Harry Potter books that keeps me from moving away from the books. I just don't have as much to say as I once did.

I'll be back when I read Rowling's new book, even though it's not a Harry Potter book or when there are new things to explore on Pottermore.

In the meantime, keep reading - I know I will.


My Neglected Blog

No, I haven't quit reading or listening to Harry Potter. Every time through the books I either find something I hadn't noticed or had forgotten or appreciate the details all over again. And that makes it worth rereading and thinking about. But aside from reading Harry Potter, I have been doing a lot of other things. I'm now a proud grandmother. Terry and I are traveling more and enjoying his retirement. I've started going to yoga with Laura which has made my arthirtis less painful. And I have actually been reading things that have nothing to do with Harry Potter. Gasp - how can that be?

So, I've moved into a new phase with Harry Potter. I'm spending less time talking to other people about the details of the book, even though I still enjoy that aspect. This last year I've enjoyed Pottermore, just because it's a way to stay connected to Harry Potter. The best thing is the new content that Rowling has included, especially the backstory about Professor McGonagall. She is one of my favorite characters but I hadn't thought about how much we didn't know about her life. By the end of the books, we knew quite a lot about Harry, Ron and Hermione, and Draco, for that matter. We found out about Lily and James, Sirius and his brother, the house elves, Dobby and Kreacher. We even learned more about Dumbledore who, until the last book, seemed to have no past at all, other than the mention of his brother who got into trouble with goats. So many of the teachers were like the teachers we all had in school. It's the only place they existed and we were surprised to find out they had a life outside of school. I was lucky enough to have four of my elementary school teachers live in my neighborhood, so I knew they didn't live at the school. I even took to visiting my third grade teacher and got to spend time in her home getting to know her and her cats.

Those things are all good and we are finally into the second book. But I can't get the hang of dueling so I haven't done it at all. Brewing potions is sort of OK. I'm just not good at that sort of stuff on the computer. And the controls on people trying to have a conversation or connect with anyone they don't already know is so tight that it's not worth the effort. Besides, when I first started on Pottermore, nearly every comment I made ended up in moderation - so I quit commenting.

But just like my start of reading the Harry Potter books, those of us on Pottermore have found ways to connect. Only instead of message boards, we've met on facebook. Now, facebook has it's own issues, but it's been a fun place to talk to some people I already knew and meet a lot of people I never could have met on Pottermore, even though we are all on it.

Those kind of friendships that started because of a book are a delight. And that makes the tight security on Pottermore, the dueling I can't do or the potions that sometimes give me problems or the pages about the story that are hard to do (flinging garden gnomes was more of a pain to me than the poor little critters who kept landing in the mud or smacking into the tree or the wall), all worth the effort.

I've always said that when Rowling wrote the books she probably had no idea of the effect she was having on kids and adults returning to reading, but especially the ways that we have all connected with each other.

That's the magic, and it's still working.