Tag Archives: Blogging about books

Reading Harry Potter, the 6th book

Reflecting on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The saying never judge a book by its cover should only be applied to everything except for inanimate objects because no one wants to be deceived when buying a product, they expected to receive. Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince is exactly what you get. Based on the mass-produced book cover version, readers get to spend more time with Dumbledore! This made me a happy reader, but this book sure broke my heart (I know human emotions are just so hard to understand even I sometimes don’t understand myself). Happy to be sad. It’s a paradox. If you have been following this blog and my previous Harry’s Potter posts, you’d know that I like Dumbledore very much. I sort of suspect that Dumbledore was going to die when the author kept describing him as old and not as agile. I was still in shock when he did die. What a dramatic turn. The series is coming to a close. The symbol of wisdom and an all-knowing, benevolent wizard is no more.

The structure of the book is pretty straight forward. You got to know your enemy in order to defeat it. It talks about Voldemort’s childhood and his ancestry. It also revealed who the Half-Blood Prince is, which I was in fact surprised. Just as I expected of the author who likes to build tension and suspense to her story. The only character that I thought seemed out of place was Horace Slughorn, the new potion professor who replaced Snape. A part of me thinks the author chose this type of character to emphasize the classism issue as I previously mentioned in Book 5. He is not necessarily a bad person, but just a little bit wicked. Not wicked enough to be a part of the Death Eaters that’s for sure. Have you met people like that? Someone who only associate with those who can provide them the finer things in life? They collect people like they collect treasures. In other words, they create a circle of people and only “special people” are invited. I know I have met someone like that. It’s hard to call it a vice but it’s definitely not the type of friend who will have your back in time of needs. Their interest foremost lies in living a comfortable life, and are only persuaded to act when it threatens their lives. People like Slughorn can make anyone like Ron feels inadequate in society because ordinary is just not good enough. You have to be exceptionally extraordinary to be in Slughorn’s club, and oddly, I agree with Harry on Slughorn. He is like a “rich fussy old lady” (p. 67). No wonder the Death Eaters tried so hard to recruit him. He’s very worldly.

Speaking of Ron, I thought it was interesting how the character is used to demonstrate that one’s self worth is all in the head. You know the saying it’s all mental? There’s some truth to that statement. Harry tricked Ron into believing he poured a lucky potion called Felix Felicis into Ron’s cup right before the Quidditch match. And guess what? Surprisingly Ron performed well as a Keeper. Sometimes, it really is all in the head. How many of us have closed the door on ourselves simply because we think we are just born unlucky, or talentless? It’s a nice little message from the author to the readers. Take notes, we should have some faith in ourselves.

Overall, this book is relatively short. I don’t have much to say about the romance part on Harry and Ginny; Ron and Hermione; and Tonks and Lupin. I don’t care much about the romance drama and I was never intrigued with any of the characters beside Dumbledore and Snape. Now, I am just looking forward to finish the final book which will be some time next month. Just in time for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, which looks great!

Stay tuned for my final thoughts on the Harry Potter series. Hope to see you next time!

The First Three Year at Hogwarts: What I Learned from Each Book

I remember my co-worker, a big Harry Potter fan looked at me in shock when I told her that I have not read the books. She said jokingly that she won’t be my friend until I read Harry Potter. That was a few years ago. It’s not that I didn’t care, I just didn’t see the magic and wonder about it from the movies (it’s probably because I have a habit of mind wandering when watching a film). I remember thinking Harry Potter is just about some nerdy boy and his friends going to an exclusive magic boarding school. But I was wrong about Harry Potter. J. K. Rowling gave me what I needed in a good storytelling: humor with a little bit of horror and mystery. The biggest things the movies failed to capture were DETAILED EXPLANTIONS of the story and GREAT CONCLUSION at the end of each book! It’s the suspense that kept me turning the pages and not the flashy cool special effects that the films attempted to create. A great story is like putting all the puzzle pieces together to get a big picture. All the pieces are important, and leaving it out will only make the picture incomplete. The films took out some of the most important events in the story and turned Harry Potter into a tolerable story with great flashy impressive production. Yes, the world is magical. But why? Why is his story important? Well, for one there’s a lot to it than just looking on the surface and if I didn’t read the books, I wouldn’t understand the films as plain as that.

So here, I am back with my 3-list post. I think it is safe to reveal some spoilers. By now, most people have been exposed to Harry Potter so I am not here to persuade people to change their opinion or convince people to like it. Let alone, criticize the films. I mean come on, Harry Potter is famous in the real world and in the book! Instead, I am going to write on what I learned during my first three year at Hogwarts.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Year 1):

There’s a lot of humor in this book. I learned what a Muggle is, although not in the best light. The book introduced the Dursleys as mean spirited and who hate everything out of the norm. But that made me wonder, if they hated Harry Potter so much because he comes from a wizard family, why did they take him in and raise him? Somewhere in their disapproval they have to have a heart. Some people would have just turned the abandoned toddler into social service, I think. In some rare cases, sadly in some countries, babies are put into dumpsters because the parents couldn’t afford them. Sad, but true. Or another sad story, is a baby who found crawling around in the apartment by himself. He was so hungry he started sucking and eating on his own fingers. So, the Dursleys can’t be so bad; at least they gave Harry Potter a place to sleep even though not the best place (under the stairs in the closet!). They’re just fixed on their own ways. They remind me of those who care about their image in the society, the herds that follow the crowd and who shun everything that is odd and peculiar. Then it dawned on me that they kept Harry Potter around for tax purposes. But more importantly, out of fear. That’s just my speculation for the time being. The Dursleys are a mystery to me and their presence serve as a comic relief to the plot. In contrast to Muggles, wizards and witches aren’t all that great either (well that is what I learned in Year 4). So, Harry Potter is more than just about race and class issues, although it’s kind of hard not to notice the author’s dislike for Sunday Christian-like folks. Or is it just my imagination?

I think I have more questions than answers. The book left me with a good impression with its quote: “To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure (pg. 297).” So why is Voldemort so adamant on obtaining the Sorcerer’s Stone, the thing that will give him life and body? Is he afraid of dying? Why is he so fearful? And why does he want to kill Harry Potter so bad?

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Year 2):

I was pleasantly surprised how spooky this book can be. There were parts where I got the chills. Students being petrified, and spiders crawling away from something ominously dangerous from the castle into the Forbidden Forest! I couldn’t help but be on my toes, eager for the mystery to unfold! I think so far, this is my favorite book out of the series. The suspense and mystery was really good. Unlike, the first book where we got a glimpse of Harry Potter’s Muggle relatives who hate all things abnormal and peculiar, there are pure blood witches and wizards who look down on Muggle blood. Mudblood is the term referred to witches and wizards who come from non-magic family. The opposite from a Mudblood is a Squib, which is someone who comes from a Wizarding family; however, he/she has no magic powers (pg.145). Lastly, we get a glimpse of the nature of house-elves through the appearance of Dobby, which are slaves to wealthy Wizarding family. So, it’s hard not to see the plot involving class and race issues. In addition, the conclusion in the end of the book was also good too. Dumbledore, a wise wizard always has something wise to say when Harry Potter finds himself in uncomfortable thoughts or situations: Anyone is capable of doing evil, but it is “our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than abilities.” (pg.333). In other words, your abilities do not defined you; it’s what you make of yourself. Another great lesson from the book is not to trust something that has the ability to think on its own because you don’t know where the brain is (pg.329). Great wisdom there. I can only imagine how a child can easily get exploited online. Be mindfully cautious, kids.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Year 3)

Don’t judge by a book by its cover and most often don’t believe everything you read in the news! The truth is more obscure than it seems. Your convict uncle is probably a good guy; your pet rat is actually a disgraceful human and your favorite teacher is a werewolf! Oops, I said too much about this book! I warned you though that there will be spoilers! I have to keep reminding myself that Harry Potter is intended for adolescent so it may be mind-boggling to them, but quite the contrary, I think it’s full-grown adults who need a good reminder not to judge people based on their social status and appearance. Apparently, there are some well-groomed looking criminals out there with high positions in society. Bottom line, don’t judge. Happy that Harry got his final say with his Muggle relative towards the end of the book. Never insult someone’s parents, especially their bloodline because what does that really got to do with character? I think I’m seeing a pattern here with Harry Potter which has gained my respect. It speaks a lot to someone who cares for social justice and think there should be more of it. Well, for that to happen, people must learn how to think properly like a sensible human being.

Well, I hope you enjoy this little rant which is more like a writing prompt. Apparently, the student in me never dies. Currently, I am on the fourth book and a few chapters left to go. Please join me next time for more discussion on Harry Potter!

Halsdoll's book collection in no particular order

3 Books I Did Not Finish

As I was looking through my library of books, I realize I failed to finish some books despite my effort and so today I list three books I shamefully tried to enjoy. Luckily, this is a personal blog where I am not trying to sell anyone anything but my honest opinion. It drives me nuts when I fall into the marketing trap by purchasing books with Bestseller on the front cover! When it comes to a matter of taste, I believe that we should disagree to agree. It makes the world more colorful and interesting. But we all know that? Most of us here are grown adults, I assume. Then why do some of us grownups get upset when someone disagree with our taste?

If you have a book sitting next to your toilet for over a year and you still haven’t finish it, you know it is on the crappy side. Well then again, when reading books whether you enjoy it or not it is due to preference or the current mindset you are in. Well, I have been debating about this statement for some time now and I realized my mindset is not going to change any time soon because I had these books for years. These following books are just unbearable:

#1 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I really tried to like it

Beautiful words become unbearable when it gets nowhere. Is it supposed to be suspenseful or it’s just for show? The author is more focused with making sentences look pretty rather than giving it a worthwhile plot for readers to follow. I read more than halfway and decided to stop. It’s getting nowhere and I could care less what happen to the superficial characters. They really are just for show just like the purpose of any circus. It would have been more interesting if the Night Circus was on crack. But then it will no longer be a pretty book! Now, I really feel bad when people came up to me and asked if the book was any good during my lunch break. I told them I liked it. I like the pretty sentences but that just about it.

Inside the tent is dark, the ceiling covered with open black umbrellas, the curving handles hanging down like icicles.

From The Night Circus, p.376

#2 Ready Player One by Earnest Cline

Overrated Books
Entertaining but cliché

Heard the film was good? This book was given to me as a gift because I was open about my gaming “addiction” at work. The problem with being label as a gamer means you are automatically assumed to be the stereotypical gamer: male, single, peter-pan syndrome. You name it. Mind you, I am just a millennial. I simply like games for entertainment purposes. It’s easy to reach over the control than do other extracurricular activities that appear more productive and noble such as tutoring English to refugee kids from broken family so you’d look good on your resume; selling freshly handpicked blackberries found on the side road to some old poor lady who is desperate to make some blackberry jam; and joining the circus because sane people spend fortune to watch crazy people do flashy things and then applaud them with gifts and recognition. You see, video game can have a noble cause like in this book. The protagonist is on the hunt for the ultimate prize so that he could have the power to change the reality for him and everyone else. In this book, the world has become an ugly place. Ironically, you might think I’d enjoy this book but like The Night Circus, I read more than halfway and quit because I got tired of reading about an exceptionally skilled gamer who is going to save the world by racing to be #1 on the leaderboard. It’s just unbearably cliché.

#3 Main Street by Sinclair Lewis

educationally boring
Educationally boring

Okay I confess, I typically finish books and I couldn’t find a third one to complete my 3-list post. This book was part of the history class reading materials that was supposed to help students get a glimpse of how America was and still is resistant to progressive social changes by focusing on an imaginary small town in Minnesota called Gopher Prairie. I did finish the book, but I would have appreciated it more if I did not try to find hidden meanings or messages in the book. Perhaps, I should reread it now that I can put things into context now that I’m wiser in age and living in the Midwest. It was just an unbearable read back then because it’s part of U.S History and history lessons can be dry sometimes. Nonetheless, quite educational.

If you happen to enjoy this post, you have my sincere thanks. I might have wake up on the wrong side of the bed to make this list. Today, I just want to be human and say I just don’t like these books and that’s all there is to it.

Three Films that Make Me Want to Read the Book

I love books, but I feel that it’s becoming more of a luxury pastime leisure. Hard to focus reading when your mind is constantly on the go–literally it’s hard reading when you feel restless which is why I never read a book while walking, although I have seen some do it and it always put a smile on my face when I see such a rare sight. Even taking the public transportation, I could never find myself relaxed enough to read. However, I have once read on the job, but work never seems to get done. So I completely ruled out that option. Lastly, you’re probably thinking how about before bedtime? By then I am too tired to read. So you see, I am in a bit of dilemma. Maybe if I live in a huge library such as the picture below, I’d read more. Reading is a solitary experience and I need a quiet, safe place to immerse myself in a book. The same can be said for story driven single-player games.

Did you enjoy how I bold my words in the second to last sentence of the paragraph above? I just want to make sure you got the most important stuff from this intro. 😀

Reading is a solitary experienceneed.. quiet, safe place to immerse in a book,” says Halsdoll (had to quote myself because I feel enlightened from my own writing).

masterpiece video game
Current game I’m playing: NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139

I won’t ramble on about games in this post. This is about Three Films that Make Me Want to Read the Book. I know based on the title I got it all backwards. It should be read book first and then watch the film because most films I like are based on a novel. And I must confess, I discovered most books through watching the film first. So that doesn’t make me a book snob even though I think the mind is the greatest theatre.

If you are new to this blog. I like to come up with three list of recommendations or three list of anything for this blog because most of us love making list, don’t we? I do. It declutters my brain space so I can think more clearly. Plus short, sweet post like this gives me a break from thinking too deeply and it’s more conversational (I hope I’m talking to a human and not a robot, but if you are robotic that’s okay).

So here are my list. Three list of films I want to read the book eventually:

1) Hellraiser (1987)

Director: Clive Barker

Story: Clive Barker

Hellraiser the movie
The Hellbound Heart: A Novel

I was a teenager when I first got exposed to this classic horror film. I believe it was during Halloween, the show aired on T.V. The thought of demons were terrifying to me that I remember having nightmares about it. When you start getting nightmares, you know the film is scary. It never occur to me back then that hell is like the puzzle pieces of the human psyche. But of course that is just my speculation. The book got me curious and puzzles are always fun to solve. I love a good puzzle. That’s why I need to read the book for more details to come with a stronger conclusion. Hopefully, I don’t dive too deep because hell is definitely not the place I want to be.

2) Audrey Rose (1977)

Director: Robert Wise

Story: Frank De Felitta

Audrey Rose film
Film
Book

This film is so intense that I did not finish it. It reminds me of the Exorcist and the famous Silent Hill (video game series),but of course this came before the video game and before I was born so going back in time to find good films is like going on a trip to discover ancient relics (that’s a compliment, not an insult for those who are self-conscious about age. Young doesn’t always mean better. I like a good aged wine. It’s wisdom that I am after, not eternal youth). One of these days, I will watch the film, but definitely not by myself and if I am curious enough–read the book. Reincarnation can be a very scary thing and for horror fans, we know that horror films don’t always need scary ghosts and special effects.

3) Charlolette’s Web (1973)

Directors: Charles A. Nichols, Iwao Takamoto

Story: E.B. White (book)

Charlotte's Web (2006)
Film
Charlolette's Web book
Book

I know it’s contradicting after stating how I am after wisdom and not eternal youth to switch from horror to children’s film. But eventually adults revert back to a child-like state of mind. I really enjoyed the narration in this film and found that it contains full of wisdom. I used to read the book as a child, but somehow, I think some of the concepts in the story are too deep for a child to grasp. Themes about animal rights, life and death are concepts that are a bit hard for a child to internalize. I didn’t like it as much until now. Favorite quote from the film: “How special are we just a moment?” It’s a powerful phrase to remind us to be humble. Charlotte may be just a spider, but she is also a very good friend and a writer who stretches her natural abilities to make something more out of her existence. Truly inspiring.

Yep, that’s my three list of books I eventually want to read. It’s not so bad going back in time as I am finding it hard each day to find something worthwhile to watch or read. Time has changed or it’s simply just that I am getting older and my taste in entertainment is becoming more refined. I need something with depth. I need something classically timeless.

P.S

I found a good time to read. It’s in the morning with a cup of coffee. That way I won’t get Zzz…from reading. I couldn’t be more happy and content.