What I’ve been reading lately, August 2012 edition…

August 3, 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve told you much about my reading, so here are some of the highlights from the last month and a half:

“Guards, Guards” by Terry Pratchett. I’ve been enjoying the Discworld books, and this was one that was specially recommended by Alastair on the Storywonk podcasts. I’m not sure if I found it as tight and well-done as “Mort”, but it was definitely a great outing on the Discworld, and I’m looking forward to reading the further adventures of the Ankh-Morpork Nightwatch. The footnotes were some of the best parts, and I enjoyed trying to figure out what would end up happening with the Quantum Dragon plotline.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. After ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ or so, the Harry Potter books definitely get darker and darker as the series goes on, and there’s definitely an enjoyable side to that trip. Now, I came into ‘Prince’ already spoiled as to one particular detail, so was reading through it wondering just how and when a particular ‘beloved’ character would meet his end. (He actually isn’t one of my favorites from the Potter cast.) But I was taken by surprise with several details – the mystery of who the Prince actually was, though the answer was staring me in the face the whole time. Also the romantic subplot for Harry, which was very well-done and seemed natural for the characters involved.

From the very beginning, the Potter books have set up a paradoxical triangle of trust – Harry never trusted Severus Snape, but he trusted Dumbledore and knew that Dumbledore trusted Snape. This set up the obvious question of whether one or both of Harry or Dumbledore was right in their attitude towards Snape. The end of ‘Half-Blood Prince’ appears to provide a final answer to that question, but I wonder. Few things in Harry’s world are that simple, and I have most of a book left. (At this point, I’m 66 pages into ‘Deathly Hallows.’)

I’ve got quite a few books on the go at the moment, including Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles”, which is the August book for the Stringing Words Book of the Month Club. So far, that’s interesting but curiously retro, and I’m wondering what else can possibly go wrong on planet Mars. I’m also in the middle of:

  • Summer Knight, by Jim Butcher
  • A Little Night Magic, by Lucy March
  • All Together Dead, by Charlaine Harris
  • Pet Peeve, by Piers Anthony


The Prisoner of Azkaban, Part Two

June 20, 2011

Been busy for the past several days, so I’m only covering two chapters this time.

Chapter Four: In Diagon alley, Harry revels in the feeling of independence away from school and Privet drive, both of which, in different ways, full of people telling him where not to go, what to eat, and when to wake up. He does Hogwarts homework in the ice cream shop patio, he people-watches the witches and wizards, and he manages enough willpower not to spend his parent’s inheritance on a new professional-grade Quidditch broom.

He gets his school books, and finds out that Hagrid’s birthday present, the impracticably monstrous ‘Monster book’, is the textbook for ‘Care of Magical Creatures. He also has a strange premonition among the divination books, that could be interpreted as a death omen.

Hermione and the entire Weasley clan show up the day before Harry’s to leave with Hogwarts, and he’s excited to be reunited with his best friends. Hermione goes looking for an early birthday present at the pet shop, and ends up with a big ginger cat, who likes Ron’s rat Scabbers rather too much. Ron isn’t happy about that and worries that Scabbers will get eaten before long.

That night at the Leaky Cauldron, Harry goes back downstairs to look for Ron’s rat tonic that he dropped, and overhears Mister and Missus Weasley talking about Sirius Black and why the Ministry of Magic are convinced that he’s out to kill Harry. Harry immediately connects all the dots about why Fudge was acting so relieved to see him, how this means that he won’t be let out of Hogwarts until Sirius is back in Azkaban prison, and tries to keep himself from entirely panicking.

Chapter Five: Everybody heads out to King’s Cross station for the Hogwarts express, and on the platform, Mister Weasley tries to warn Harry about Sirius. Harry admits to having overheard, and Mister Weasley tries to get Harry to promise that he won’t go looking for Sirius. Harry is startled at the thought, but he has to run for the train and doesn’t actually promise. On the train, he tells Hermione and Ron about the connection to Sirius and ‘You-know-who’.

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