When did book series become so complicated?

Figuring out book series these days is difficult. It’s not like the good ol’ days of Harry Potter where there were seven books in the series and you could tell easily in what order to read them because of the nice numbers on the spine of the book.

Harry Potter

These days there are supplemental novellas popping up all over the place, like Julie Kagawa’s Iron’s Prophecy or Winter’s Passage or Summer’s Crossing. I actually purchased two of these back before I was familiar with Julie Kagawa, so I didn’t realize they weren’t stand alone stories. These new novellas have really throw me for a loop the past year and a half. I have about a half a dozen of these supplemental novellas on my Nook. For books I don’t even own. I don’t know how I keep missing that key bit of information.

I don’t know if these novellas are entirely relevant to the story line, but I do understand that they may flesh out the story since they provide different points a view and perceptions. I haven’t actually ready one of these novellas though. I guess I’d rather spend my time and money on full length novels, though sometimes I feel like I’m missing out even if it is only 70 pages.

Cassandra Clare the Mortal Instruments the Infernal Devices

And there is series within series—like Cassandra Clare’s books. Mortal Instruments came first. Then she wrote the Infernal Devices to delve deeper into the history of the world and characters she created or something. I read sometime last year that she is (potentially) writing a third series revolving around the Downworld and the Shadowhunters. I’m not really one of her die-hard fans, so I don’t know if that was just hearsay or if the information was legit. Anyway, I honestly started freaking out half way through the Clockwork Angel because I thought I was reading Clare’s series out of order and thus missing out on a lot of really cool things. I thought I was supposed to read the Mortal Instruments first. After talking to one of my co-workers who thinks Clare is the bee’s knees, I learned that’s not necessarily the case. I mean, her series are all related, but you don’t have to read her original series in order to understand what’s going on in the spin off.

Fast forward a bit to now. A week or so ago, I received a lovely box of books I won from a giveaway hosted by Bitching, Books, and Baking. It was filled with all sorts of enticing books, but the one I decided to read first was a book from the Vampire Diaries series. Only, I didn’t realize that the Vampire Diaries was one of those series that had series within the series (possibly within a series). I guess it’s more like…the Vampire Diaries Franchise. And unlike Cassandra Clare’s books, it appears you actually have to have read the original series to understand what’s going on in this new one. This is what I picked up to read first:

the Vampires Diaries: the Hunters

It says “Vol. 1″ right on the cover, so the error I made is understandable. I don’t know why they don’t call it “Book 8″. Nonetheless, I feel pretty foolish. I know the Vampire Diaries is a pretty popular series, so you’d think I’d know which book to start with. It would appear though that my research abilities have become null ever since I graduated college. Anyway, I read 46 pages into my book and decided to put it down. The first few chapters are recapping what happened in previous books…and holy crap, I feel like I’m missing out! I mean…why didn’t anyone tell me sooner that exciting things actually happened in this book? Maybe they did but I stuck my nose up at them because the book is about vampires, and my track record with the mythological beasts is not a positive one (which in turn begs the question, why do I keep picking up books about vampires?). You may be pleased to know that I’ll be borrowing the Vampire Diaries: the Awakening from the library this weekend.

This all makes me very curious about what other readers think of these series based on previous series. Or, maybe it’s more accurate if I consider them multiple series that take place within the same world. Do you like them because it allows you to revel in one of your favorite worlds? I mean, I guess I’d feel that way if there was more about Hogwarts from J.K. Rowling. I’m sure even if the proceeding works were mediocre (as if that were possible) I’d still gobble them up (because Hogwarts is my home!) Or, are you tired of them popping up all over the place now? Do you think authors are clinging on to something that made them popular? Or do you think that’s the only story they have to tell? Or maybe you’re more benign about it—do you think maybe authors just like the world they’ve created and want nothing more than to just escape into writing about all of the lives that inhabit it? (Note: The Vampire Diaries might be a little different considering the later books were written by a ghostwriter instead of L.J. Smith.)

Last Minute Christmas Shopping: Gift Guide for the Book Lover

Six days until Christmas morning, and I still haven’t starting shopping. Instead, I concocted another list of five items under $50– this time for the book lovers in your life:

 

Book Lovers Journal, Peter Pauper PressBook journals are a great way to keep track of books read whether the giftee is a blogger or not. I really like what the Book Lover’s Journal has to offer. It has places for you to list books you’ve borrowed, bought, lent, and pine for. The book log pages have stars to color in for rating, scales from 1-10 for aspects like characters, plot, illustrations, and more, as well as a place to write down a small review. There is even a checkable list of popular and classic books. This journal seems to rival that fancy-schmancy moleskin, but it’s will cost you about $5.00 less!

Book LampI’m absolutely smitten with my Mighty Bright Xtraflex LED book light since I do most of my reading before bed. While by significant other nods off beside me, I can keep reading into the wee hours of the morning without disturbing him. Plus, it comes in handy when the power suddenly goes out, and I have to dig around for candles and matches.

Harry Potter BookmarksMaybe if I had cute bookmarks like the ones created by bethydesigns I’d be less likely do dog ear my pages. You can hand make these little gifts, or just spend some pocket change if you’re artistically challenged. It matters not.

Nook coverMake your e-reading friends feel like they’re holding a “real” book in their hands! These covers are also useful for protecting delicate screens while being jostled around in satchels and purses. Plus, aren’t these little birdies just the cutest?

Gift cardsWhen in doubt, pick up a gift card! We all have our favorites– Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie bookshops, the Book Depository. Regardless, the book lover in your life will be able to finally snag the copy of the book they’ve been eyeballing.

 

Pssst, hey! You can check out my Gift Guide for Tea Lovers here.

 

Revisiting the Magic of Harry Potter

It’s that time of the year again. I’m having cravings for pumpkin pasties, cauldron cakes, and licorice wands! So, I pulled my dusty copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone off of my book shelf and dived in. (Note: The book was dusty because I’m really bad about dusting surfaces, not because I haven’t read it in ages.)

Harry Potter, the boy who lived
via weheartit

Cracking open a Harry Potter book is like visiting with old friends. For a moment I stare down at the book and think to myself, “Gosh, it’s been a while,” and “My, how times have changed”. And then when I start reading, it’s like I’m reliving all of these fantastic antics from yesteryear for the first time. When I’m finished, I place the books back on my shelf, sad that it’s ended. Like the time spent together was too short. But then I remind myself I’ll see them again in a year or so.

I do this every year, re-read Harry Potter. It’s a tradition I’m not keen on breaking any time soon. This year, I thought I’d do something a little different though. I’d like to incorporate my journey through the seven books in my blog. I’ll be honest, I only have a rough idea of what I’d like to accomplish with this– reviews or maybe thoughts on characters, places, and magical beasts. Maybe I’ll actually get around to trying out the different recipes for Butterbeer. The sky is the limit when you have a Nimbus 2001 a Firebolt.

You probably won’t find these teas in Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop

I discovered Adagio Tea allows you to create your own signature blend of tea. You can select one of their popular formulas as a template and edit the types of tea, or you can create your own special formula from scratch. You can further personalize the tea by naming it and adding your own original artwork to the packaging. You also have the option of keeping your specialty blend to yourself, or you can share it with the rest of the Adagio community. It’s not badly priced– about $10 for a 3 oz. bag of loose leaf tea.

There are a lot of really creative ideas like Sci-Fi Chai, an entire collection dedicated to the Zodiac, and a handful of teas based on popular books and teevee shows. Now if you’re familiar with Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop, then you probably already know where I’m going with this.

There is an entire collection of teas based off of the Harry Potter books! *squeals in delight*

 


Harry Potter Tea was created by Cara McGee and is a blend of Masala Chai, pumpkin spice, and caramel. Cara described this blend:

Treacle tarts, Pumpkin Juice and deep, warming spice. Boyish, yet brave, resourceful, and powerful.

 

The Luna Lovegood may not include dirigible plums (thank goodness), but it is a unique blend of Earl Grey Lavender, Rooibos Jasmine, and guanabana. Cara describes it:

The sweetest, softest, warmest tea imaginable, with a wild, surprising finish.

 

Neville Longbottom’s blend includes Irish Breakfast tea, Rooibos Vanilla Chai, and peach. This is surely a blend that characterizes Neville to a T(ea). Cara describes it:

Sweet, a bit befuddled, but all together warm and reassuring. A tea stronger than you’d expect, and endlessly comforting.

There are also blends for Remus Lupin, Hermione Granger, Severus Snape, Sirius Black, James Potter, Ron Weasley, Draco Malfoy, Cedric Diggory, and Peter Pettigrew.

Stand up badgers!

In case you were wondering (you were wondering, weren’t you?), I was sorted into the Hufflepuff house on Pottermore! I think the placement is pretty spot on! As for the site, while the potion brewing and wizard dueling is pretty fun, what I love most is reading about Professor McGonagall’s backstory. She’s such an intriguing woman!

FF: Lengthy Reads

What is the longest book you’ve read? What are your favorite 600+ page reads

The longest book I’ve ever read is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at 896 pages, and it also happens be one of my favorite books of all times.

In second place comes Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at 759 pages.
In third place comes Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at 734 pages.
In fourth place comes Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince at 652 pages.

Are you noticing a pattern here? Even though these books were some of my longest reads, I blew through these books like they were just novellas time and time again. It’s so easy to get lost in the world of witchcraft and wizardry!

I’ve also read Eclipse from the Twilight series (629 pages), but it seemed so much longer than that. And, I’m still in the process of reading Breaking Dawn, which has 768 pages. It’s taken me nearly a year to get through this book…

 

I would really love to add books to my 600+ pages list, but as a slow reader I sometimes find these books to be a bit daunting. Especially as a blogger! Still, I’ve had my eye on the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini for a while now (books 2-4 have over 800 pages each). Other than the Inheritance series, I can’t really think of any super long YA books. Do you have any recommendations for YA books that are 600+ pages?

Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Rachel at Parajunkee’s View!

Re-reading Harry Potter (again)

It has happened every year since I started college.  Somewhere between the start of the school year and the first, really crisp day, I get the urge to re-read the entire Harry Potter series.  This year is no different.  I started re-reading The Sorcerer’s Stone two days ago.

I am not certain why I associate reading Harry Potter with this time of year.  I mean, I read all of the books during the summer since that’s when most of the books were released.

Maybe it’s because the books start at the end of summer vacation and the beginning of the school year.  Now that I’ve graduated, I no longer buy supplies for school, one of my favorite pastimes, so I live vicariously through Harry, Ron, and Hermione as they buy new books and quills and parchment in Diagon Alley.

Maybe it’s because all the food and beverages of the wizarding world seem so hearty and cozy like a big bowl of piping hot chili on a cold day.  The Hogwarts meals were so grand that it would rival my family’s Thanksgiving dinner.  By the way, for the first three books, I wondered why Thanksgiving was never celebrated.  I swear, I really was a bright child.  And, food with pumpkin was available at every meal (pumpkin juice, pumpkin pasties)!

Maybe it’s because there are so many characters/creatures/things I associate with the month of October and Halloween.  Pumpkins.  Witches and Wizards.  Trolls (Mountain Trolls released in the school on Halloween).  Goblins.  Werewolves.  Spiders.  Ghosts and poltergeist.  mischief making.  The list could go on, really. 

***

When I started re-reading the series this year, the boyfriend asked me why I was bothering with it when I have so many new books piling up (this also translates to “Your new books are taking up too much of our floor space, so you should read those first”).

But, honestly, every time I start my Harry Potter re-reading adventure, it’s like I’m cracking the books open for the very first time (again).  I guess this is both a good thing and a bad thing.  It’s bad because I’ve forgotten so much of the book even though I’ve read the series about four times.  It’s a good thing because the series never ever gets old!  I also notice little things that I overlooked in past reads– at first read, the cabinet Harry hides in while at Borgin and Burkes seems irrelevant (Chamber of Secrets).  The cabinet Montague is trapped after hassling the D.A. also seems irrelevant (Order of the Phoenix).  By the time Half-Blood Prince came out, I had forgotten about the cabinets.  But, after a re-read of the series, that cabinet that seemed like a pointless detail before becomes mind-blowingly relevent!

The series is complete and all the movies have all been released, so I don’t have any new additions to the wizarding world to look forward to (K, except for Pottermore).  But I have re-reads to look forward to where I will discover new details that I never noticed before, and I have old adventures to re-live.  So, I suppose in a way, as cheesy and as cliché as it sounds, the magic won’t ever die out, and I will never get tired of re-reading to series.

***

Are there any books you associate with the Fall time?  What books or book series do you re-read?

hem hem!

Book Blogger Hop

Who is your all-time favorite book villain?

There is no book villain who makes my blood boil more than Professor Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series.  What I wouldn’t give to be smote by Lord Voldemort or put under the Cruciatus curse by Bellatrix Lestrange than brush elbows with Umbridge.  She takes pleasure in watching the physical pain of youngsters as she punishes them.  She is a bigot(!) and believes discrimination is a perfectly honorable practice.  She’s manipulative!  She’s passive-aggressive.  She exercises extreme measures of censorship!  She put Mad-Eye Moody’s eye in her office door and used it to spy on workers!  She’s not the average villain.  She appears normal–like she could be your neighbor.  Maybe invite you over for some coq au vin and then trick you into writing lines with a quill that cuts messages into the back of your hand.  Umbridge is the only character from a book who has made me audibly groan in frustration. 

* Book Blogger Hop is a meme hosted by Crazy For Books

 



What embarrassing thing have you done on cold medicine?

Somehow, I managed to catch a cold during the middle of summer vacation, or maybe I had allergies.  Whatever the cause for the stuffy head and runny nose, I gulped down some cold medicine right before work.  Regrettably, I didn’t notice the side effects that were listed on the box: may cause drowsiness.  That summer I worked in a factory making cables (the kind that hooks into the back of tv cable boxes), and about a half hour into work, the medicine kicked in. 

I had the hardest time keeping my eyes open.  And, the longer I fought the sleepiness, the more disoriented I became.  As you can imagine, factories are not the most opportune place to feel disoriented.  I almost shut my fingers in the vice on several occasions.  I shudder to think of the destruction that would have caused.  At one point, I allowed myself to rest my eyes.  For just a moment!  But, I guess I ended up nodding off.  One of my friends had to nudge me awake.  She startled me, and I totally tipped over!

Everyone thought I was hung over from the night before, or totally depressed because the boyfriend and I broke up.  Which I wasn’t, and we didn’t!

I excused myself and escaped to the bathroom where I tried to get ahold of my boyfriend on my cellphone.  When the receptionist told me he wasn’t available, I busted out crying (while on the phone with the poor lady) and returned to the factory floor.  Several minutes later, my dad phoned me (he just happened to be The Boss  at the place where my boyfriend worked) to tell me he was on the way to pick me up.  He also told me that the receptionist had been paging the boyfriend every 15 minutes for about an hour.

The boyfriend was responsible for picking me up after work since I didn’t have a car at that time.  He never got my message because he just so happened to have left work early that day!  Harrumph! Had he not skipped work, he would have known that I left work early.  And, had he known I left work early he wouldn’t have waited for me at my place of work for 20 minutes.

* Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee’s View!