Thursday, August 24, 2017

Let's talk about Snape

I’m doing a HP reread, and I’m currently on book three. This will be my third full reread of the series since it was completed. The first time I read it was just rapture. I was enamored by the story and the characters and got sucked in. The second time, I read with foresight. I knew what was coming, so I looked for clues and hints that I didn’t pick up on the first read. This time, I feel like it’s my first time really reading it as an adult person with perspective and life experience. 

 Can I just say, Snape is an actual crazy person. It’s third year potions class. These are 13 year old CHILDREN. Neville is so terrified of Snape that he is shaking and messes up his potion. Instead of showing him the correct way to do it or even letting Hermione help him, Snape reacts like a freaking maniac. He calls Neville out in FRONT OF THE ENTIRE CLASS and tells him that his punishment is that he will have to give his potion to his toad at the end of class. Which, naturally, makes Neville (a CHILD) panic even more. 

This toad is not only his pet, but was a gift from his uncle to congratulate him for getting into Hogwarts. Hermione surreptitiously tells Neville how to fix his potion and thank God she does. We know that Hermione is not comfortable with breaking rules, but she does not hesitate.  It's never really explained what her thought process was.  Personally, I think that she saw a teacher failing a student and decided to step in. 

So at the end of class, Snape makes a big show in front of everyone and brings the potion and the toad up. He literally says that if Neville messed the potion up (which he believed he had) it would actually KILL Trevor! Like, actual death. Of a child’s pet. Because he was having a tough time in class. Because the teacher is so mercilessly intimidating. 

When the potion is given and Hermione’s remedy has worked, sparing the toad, Snape is furious. He takes 5 points from Gryffindor because he told Hermione not to help Neville. This is a child and a living, breathing animal. Snape is a monster. Yes, I understand the whole "tragic backstory" argument.  People live through tough things every day, but they cope and manage and don't try to kill children's pets.  I seriously think he chose the wrong career path.  If you're not able to get past your personal issues, you should not be teaching children. 

And where is Dumbledore in all of this?  Are teachers observed and reviewed at Hogwarts? 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Where'd You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go, BernadetteWhere'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved this book. I have a soft spot for epistolary novels (thanks, Dear America!) and there aren't many that I've found that are written for adults and done well. This was one of them. I was totally sucked into the story and just thought it was so, so good.

Bernadette Fox is an eccentric, quirky woman at the center of the novel. She is consistently picking fights with the other mother's from her daughter's school, embarrassing her hot-shot husband, and working as hard as possible to avoid leaving the house - including hiring an online personal assistant from India. The emails that she writes to her assistant caused me endless amusement.

That is, until she's gone. In the middle of planning a family trip to Antarctica, Bernadette goes missing. She leaves her precocious (but not annoying) daughter Bee and husband Elgin confused. Where had she possibly gone?

I could not get enough of this book. I wanted to be best friends with Bernadette. Immediately after finishing this, I tried to shove it into the hands of anyone around me that would read it. Five stars and one of my favorite books I've read so far this year.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

AttachmentsAttachments by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rating 3.5 - bumped up to 4.

I enjoyed this book. It was a read that didn't take a lot of thought and was a cute and compelling romance. Lincoln is a perpetual student that has taken a job in security - systems security. His job is to read other people's emails when they are flagged for having some sort of inappropriate content. I have to admit, I would love that job. The voyeuristic nature is so compelling, which is the reason I picked this book up.

Beth and Jennifer know that their email is monitored, but they don't care too much. Their emails are regularly flagged and Lincoln is sucked into this world.

It was a great premise and great writing, but about three-quarters of the way through the book it just seemed like the author gave up. I was rooting for the characters and then the end just sort of...happened.

I bought this as a beach read, and it served it's purpose. It's a forgettable story and even though it's been less than two weeks since I finished, I had to look up the character's names.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Transgender Head Canon

Last night, I finished reading The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George.  I really enjoyed the book and the diverse perspective that George brought to YA, but there is one thing in particular that has had my mind spinning nonstop ever since I put the book down.

From almost page one, I knew that Jesse was a transgender woman.  Now, if you haven't read the book, this is not a spoiler, because it was never confirmed as true or untrue.  I know in my heart of hearts that this is absolutely true.  I believe this so hard that I searched through pages and pages of reviews on Goodreads and google and went to the author's website and could find no confirmation that this is true OR that anyone else read this the same way.

There were three factors that made it 100% clear to me that Jesse is trans.
1.  Her name.  Jesse is traditional a name given to boys.  Girls often go by Jessie (note the i), which is typically short for Jessica.  Because this sounds so much like the female nickname, I was under the impression that she chose to keep the spelling of her name.  This is not a overtly masculine sounding name so it would not raise any red flags.
2.  The bathroom.  In the opening scene of the book, Jesse is hiding in the girls' bathroom in an attempt to avoid attending the pep rally.  When she is confronted by some stereotypical mean girls when she is trying to escape, they point out to her that this is the girls' bathroom.  Jesse's internal monologue explains that this is something that happens to her a lot and she has to explain that she is a girl.  Yes, this could potentially be the case based on Jesse's butch appearance, but I read deeper into this.  On top of that, bathrooms play a huge role in the novel.  Whether on the third floor of the library or getting busted by the vice principal, most major events in the book happen in a bathroom.  Of course this is a place this is so, so significant to the trans community given the political climate right now.
3.  When confronted by the mean girls in the opening scene, one of the repeatedly uses masculine pronouns to insult Jesse.  It is clear that these are meant to hurt her.

I read the whole book, waiting for some kind of reveal to the reader that Jesse is trans, but it never came.  I'm kind of okay with that.  It didn't matter at all to the story, and the fact that it just wasn't an issue is almost better.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Readathon!





I'm participating in the 24 in 48 readathon next weekend. I just pulled some books for it, and I'm hoping to get through them all this week and next weekend. It's my first readathon, and I'm stoked! I've started The Difference Between You and Me already, and I'm a few chapters into the Harry Potter book.  I'm hoping to get through these in the 24 hours.

If you're interested, I'll be posting updates throughout the readathon:
      Litsy - @cephareads
      Instagram - @chelseamceros
      Twitter - @chelseamceros


Friday, July 14, 2017

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

CaravalCaraval by Stephanie Garber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Recipe for Caraval:
1 cup of The Night Circus
1/2 cup of Once Upon a Time (boy do I love me some Killian Jones)
2 tbsps. Murder Mystery Party
A dash of romance

Mix all ingredients well, bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 hours, and enjoy!

Seriously, this book is over 400 pages and I read it in under 12 hours. This is the most compelling novel I have read since Divergent (which I kept on the passenger seat of my car and read while waiting at a red light - DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME I AM A LITERAL CRAZY PERSON). I could not put this book down and just fell in love with this world and the characters.

Now, let's be real. This is not the best world building that you will find, nor will it ever be heralded as literary prose. BUT - that's not what I'm here for.

I am here for the adorable soft-hearted pirate. I am here for the magical world. I am here for sisters who love each other more than anything else (I personally have two of those). I am here for the mystery and the twists.

I had some suspicions about the twist of this novel, but my theories were all blown mid-novel. I was along for the ride and I could not stop. I threw the book at my wife so she could experience this ride, too.

Honestly, the thing I liked least about this book was that this is the author's debut novel and there was not more for me to devour.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Join a Knitting Group!

That's been some of the best advice I've received recently.  One of the knitting podcasts I listen to really emphasized it.  Go out.  Meet other knitters.  Join a group.  You'll love it, we promise.

To say I was skeptical is an understatement.  I have some (read: MAJOR) social anxiety, so putting myself out there was the last thing I wanted to do.

I had been to our local group a few times before, but never really felt like a fit.  When my wife and I moved, it happened to be to the same town where the knitting group met up every Saturday morning.  I knew some of the girls from my previous foray into social knitting, and I decided to push myself into going.

It also just so happened that a brand new local yarn store was having a soft opening that same day, and the group decided to meet there.

Well, those podcasters were not wrong.  It's been almost five months since that day, and I feel like I've gained so much.  If I have a knit-mergency, I am no longer stuck googling and youtubing until I find a solution that seems like it works okay.  I can go into the yarn shop or wait until knitting group (which is now TWICE a week!).  I have friends that I get to talk to.  I get out of the house and go to events at the store.  I have not only expanded my knitting skills, I have significantly expanded my social calendar.  This is not something I ever would've thought I'd wanted.

Last night was Knit Night, and I realized how far I've come.  When I open the shop door and I'm greeted by all the friendly faces that are happily knitting at the table, I exhale.  I breathe.  This is what I look forward to.  No matter how busy I am professionally or personally, knit night is the one thing I do a week for me.  I feel like I can reset myself and take a break not worry about everything else.  I feel accepted.

Join a knitting group, I promise you won't be disappointed.