January 28, 2013

"Go home Harry Potter. Go home."

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Part I

In case you haven't been following along (why aren't you following along!?), we are now on the second book of Harry Potter in Alice's super-awesome Harry Potter Readalong and all the gifs. Of course, this post was supposed to be up on Friday, but I blame work and birthday celebrations for a good friend. Also, we all already know I'm like the last person on Earth to read Harry Potter, but just in case you fall into that 0.01% with me, then know that these posts are potentially full of spoilers.*

So after the the Philosopher's Stone, Harry has to go home and spend the summer with the horrible, good-for-nothing Dursley's. But my question is: WHY? Couldn't he have just gone straight to Ron's? Or stayed behind and lived with Hagrid? Isn't someone watching over Harry based on the fact that they now know how poorly the Dursley's have treated him all his life? I know, I know, it makes the story more interesting...because hello - flying car!

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But before Ron and his brother's break Harry out of the Dursley's in their FLYING CAR, we meet Dobby. Dobby, the most annoying little house elf if I've ever known one, is hell-bent on keeping Harry from returning to Hogwart's. Something about Harry being in mortal danger if he should return. It seems fitting that I have a picture of myself strangling Dobby:

{circa 2007}

Of course, Harry doesn't listen to Dobby (there would be no story then), and spends the last month of his summer with the Weasley's, which Harry proclaims to be "the happiest of his life". Oh Harry. The usual back-to-school shopping is done and Harry sees for himself how poor (money wise), the Weasley's actually are. Which brings up another question: Why doesn't Harry offer to buy Ron something for school? I mean, they did let him stay with them and they fed him for an entire month!  And then, later on, when they are back in school and Ron's wand is broken, Harry daftly states "write home for another one"- as if he hasn't actually seen the bare insides of the Weasley's bank vault. No Harry, YOU should buy Ron a new wand! Or is that expecting too much from a 12 year old boy?

{You tell him, Alfred}

We are also introduced another new character in the Chamber of Secrets: Gilderoy Lockhart - the author of the majority of their school text books and their new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. For the most part, I just find his character quite amusing. Not sure how he achieved the status that he has, seeing as all of his spells go wrong.

We end this first half of the book with:
-Harry hearing voices
-learning that the house names come from the 4 wizards and witches that founded Hogwarts
-the original Slytherin (the wizard from which this name comes from), left Hogwarts at one point in a disagreement and built a hidden chamber of secrets in the castle and the only person who can open it is the true heir (whoever that is - Malfoy? Harry?)
-Hermione convinces Ron and Harry that they must make The Polyjuice Potion in order to get inside information from Malfoy.
-Harry breaks his arm in Quidditch, Gilderoy Lockhart performs another shoddy spell to fix Harry's arm, but ends up turning it into a rubber glove.

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So while Harry lies in the infirmary, waiting for his arm to heal, Dobby returns and tells him to go home and admits the bludger that broke Harry's arm in the Quidditch match was rigged by none other than himself. Harry then over hears Dumbledore confirm that the chamber of secrets is indeed open again but by who or how they do not know...

*I'm finding it tough to search for Harry Potter gifs without spoiling things for myself so if you've come here looking for HP gifs, I am sorry to have let you down.

January 27, 2013

Saigon Sundays: Running Partner

After Saigon had his stroke, I kind of lost my running partner. I say 'kind of' because as much as I wish I was a regular runner, I am not. But when I'm in a running phase, Saigon was a great running partner. After his stroke, I tried running short distances with Saigon, but he couldn't keep a jogging pace. He quickly returned to sprinting after a ball like it's nobodies business, but a steady jogging pace was too hard for his bad leg.

It'd be fair to say that I am currently in one of my running phases. And this morning, I just had this feeling that it was time to give Saigon another chance to join me on a leisurely run.


I let Saigon set the pace, and let him rest when he wanted to. But for the majority of the 40 minutes we were out of the house, we ran.



I know I can't expect Saigon to join me on all my runs, but it's days like today that make me grateful for every moment I get to spend with him.

And I'd by lying if I said Saigon hasn't been sleeping on the couch since we got home. But a tired dog is a happy dog.

January 18, 2013

"There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other..."

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Part II

And just like that, the first book in the Harry Potter series is done. I mean, yes, it's been two weeks since the readalong started, but still. This whole readalong is just gonna fly by, isn't it?

I'm trying to gather my thoughts and feelings and put them into a coherent post, but it's TOUGH. So much happened in such a short book! And if JKR could write about so much in just over 200 pages, then imagine the adventures that must be in store in her bigger books! My brain can't even comprehend all that's to come. Good thing I'm an adult and should be able to handle the bigger books like any ol' 12 year old reading Harry Potter.

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Readalongs are the best.

So since we left off:

- JKR does a good job of making you believe that Snape is pure evil. Or at least I sure fell for it. I mean, I still don't really like him, but I am kind of glad that he's not totally out to get Harry.

-Finally! Hermione, Harry and Ron are the best of friends:

"But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them." (p. 132)
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Friends forever.

-Hallelujah! Because now Hermione's nagging and bossiness is much more tolerable for some reason. I think the tone from one character towards another changes when the characters actually like each other which changes the reader's feelings towards said characters. Now that Harry and Ron are friendly with Hermione, her bossiness is just a quirk that we can all put up with. And I say this as a very bossy person myself. Because my husband tells me all the time that I'm quite bossy, yet he still loves me. So there.

-Harry finally experiences Christmas as one should and it's his "best Christmas day ever". Which is terribly sad considering that it didn't take a lot for Harry to have the best Christmas ever. A few thoughtful presents, and a great feast? God, Dursley's, how could you not have been even a little bit nice to Harry on Christmas?

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-The second terribly sad thing to happen in this part of the book (well, actually this part was the saddest to me, but it came after the aforementioned sad thing): Harry discovers the Mirror of Erised and sees the parents he's never even met in it. And it's all he can think about when he's not in sitting in front of the mirror. But then Dumbledore explains to Harry that the mirror "shows us nothing more or less than the deepest, most desperate desire of our hearts". And in that moment, my heart breaks for Harry. For the childhood he missed out on, the parents he never had and will never know and for all the unanswered questions he has and may never get answers to.

-We end this book with Harry coming out a hero (obviously). Harry, Ron and Hermione successfully put Fluffy to sleep, drop through the trap door and solve their way through the obstacles in order to get Harry to the Philosopher's Stone. This is where we find out that it's Quirrell who's all evil and not Snape. And Quirrell's not only evil, but he's also housing Voldemort in the back of his head. Which is disturbing, because, two heads in one. But Harry, just a young wizard, overcomes both Quirrell and Voldemort and manages to keep the Philosopher's Stone out of the wrong hands, before he passes out. When Harry comes to, Dumbledore tells him that the stone has been destroyed, but me thinks Dumbledore is *gasp* lying to Harry. We shall see.

Best quote of the second half of the book (other than the title of the this post of course):

'So light a fire!' Harry choked.
'Yes - of course - but there's no wood!' Hermione cried, wringing her hands.
'HAVE YOU GONE MAD?' Ron bellowed. 'ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?' (p. 202)

January 12, 2013

"Every child in our world will know his name!"

 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Part I

So before we all started this Harry Potter readalong, there was a lot of Harry Potter talk, and all I could think about was how overwhelmed I was not knowing much at all about the wonderful world of Harry Potter. BUT NOW. Now, it's all starting to make sense! Yay, soon (like the next few months soon), I will no longer be living under this rock where all I know is Harry Potter's name. While I have this vague feeling while reading this first book of having read it before, I really don't remember much of it at all. Other than poor Harry living under the stairs for the first 10 years of his life.

This week we read Chapters one through nine. And while I couldn't possibly provide any spoilers for things to come, spoilers are inevitable for what has already been read. So consider yourself warned. Although I'm pretty sure this isn't going to be an issue for like anyone. 

"...He'll be famous - a legend - I wouldn't be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter day in future - there will be books written about Harry - every child in our world will know his name!" (p. 15)

- When JKR wrote that quote, do you think she had any idea just how famous Harry Potter would really become? It's amazing really - to think about writing a series of books that would become so famous that literally everyone has heard of them. 

- Oh god The Dursley's are the most infuriating people EVER. I wanted to reach through the pages and grab them all by the scruff of their necks and shake 'em.  My blood pressure literally rose when Harry kept receiving all those letters and Mr Dursley kept intercepting ALL OF THEM. I really hope Harry casts a spell on them later on. Why did Dumbledore leave Harry with the awful Dursley's for SO LONG? Why was it so necessary that he be "raised" (and I use that term loosely because he wasn't really raised - he was pretty much neglected) by blood-relatives? Would Harry going off to Wizard school not seem as exciting to the reader had he been raised in a loving household? Or was JKR just following the whole orphan-hero theme that is so common in so many children's stories (Pippi, Series of Unfortunate Events, James and the Giant Peach, Hugo Cabret, etc). I mean, I like Harry right away, but is that because I feel compassion and empathy for what he's been through? Is that the whole point?

- When Harry figured out he could talk to the snake at the zoo, I pictured the snake from The Jungle Book. I'm sure that snake didn't get far - much like Alfred The Turtle.


- We meet Hagrid! And I love him. I love that he gets to give Harry hope that there's actually a whole other life waiting for him outside of the sheltered one he's living with the Dursley's. And he brings Harry a birthday cake and buys him his owl for a birthday gift, knowing very well that Harry's never gotten anything for his birthday before. Tell me that isn't sweet!

- Oh Ron and Hermione. I mean, I know they all become great friends (well, I'm assuming this based on the film previews I've seen), but Hermione - you are SO annoying. And SO bossy! I'm assuming she becomes more tolerable as the books go on...and by "as the books go on", I mean, it better happen in this book.


- All the first year students take turns sitting under the sorting hat to see which house they get placed in. (Now I get all this house talk!). Does Harry's dream (that he doesn't remember when he wakes up) about how he must transfer to Slytherin because that's his destiny, foreshadowing events to come?? Hmmm. Don't answer that.

- I do not remember Snape, but I do not like him.

- Harry's a natural at broom-flying.

When I got to the end of chapter 9, there was an old bookmark in the page from when this book was last read over 10 years ago. In the same spot that this part of the readalong ended! It's like I knew I'd be back one day.

January 08, 2013

Here's Looking at You, 2013!

Throughout the year, I always hear people saying how you don't, and even shouldn't, wait until January to make a change or set some goals. While I get what they are trying to say, for me, there's something really exciting and re-energizing about starting a new year. It's like a fresh slate, a blank page in your book. Maybe the previous year wasn't such a great one, or maybe it was your best year yet. Either way, it's always exciting for me to start that next chapter in my life. That doesn't mean I save all my goals for January. If I want to start eating healthy or working out regularly, I won't wait for months to start. But I find the fall months leading up to the holidays always pass by quickly and before I know it, January is right around the corner and I've let a lot of things in my regular life fall to the way-side. Like eating well, exercising regularly, keeping documents from work organized, meal planning, staying on top of household clutter, etc, etc, etc! For me, January has always been a quiet month. There are no holidays in January, very few birthdays and overall it's just a cold, slow month. Which means I find it the perfect month to re-evaluate all the things in my life that I've been neglecting and decide what's important to me to work on for the new year.

While in the past (pre-blog), I've never written down my goals and resolutions, (because then I might feel more inclined to follow-through with them!), I think it's time I started. And putting them somewhere public and somewhere where I can easily refer back to, has encouraged me to be more thoughtful and thorough in the goals I decide on.

Things I'd like to work on in 2013, in no particular order:

My Bible
1. Get Back to Basics: A few years ago, around this time, I discovered Tosca Reno and her Eat-Clean Diet. I purchased The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged book and read it cover to cover in a matter of days. I loved everything about Tosca's philosophy to eat clean, wholesome foods. It clicked. It made sense. I was obsessed. I started paying attention to nutrition labels and actually cared about what I put into my body. I made a lot of healthy changes in a short period of time, and I stuck with the basic principles for a long time. But then, with a move from another province, coupled with wedding preparations and buying a home, I lost my way. Now that we are settled (more or less), I can no longer make excuses. Eating well, meal-planning and cooking healthful foods make me happy. I will resume meal-planning on Sundays, grocery shopping with a purpose, cooking more suppers and packing lunches (instead of always buying something on the run).

2. Get Off My Butt: It's very easy to become house-bound and sedentary during the winter months in Alberta. It's bloody cold out there for months on end and it's hard to leave the house when it's all warm and cozy inside. But exercise, like eating well, make me happy. And for me, the two go hand in hand. When I'm regularly active, my body craves healthful foods. I already play soccer and Ultimate Frisbee once a week, but often these sports are followed by a beer at the pub. Which I've been told, sort of negates the whole exercise component of each. So in addition to the sports, I will start including other neglected activities such as yoga, running and fitness classes at the gym (bodypump!). Once I get going, I'm pretty good at keeping it up! It's just building it into my routine those first few times that's tough for me.

3. Walk the Dog: Don't get me wrong, Saigon gets walked regularly, sometimes even twice a day. But there's no routine with when he gets his walks, and sometimes I feel this is unfair to him. In BC, I was really good at walking Saigon first thing in the morning. Now, the majority of his outings are in the evenings, even on my days off. My goal, on my days off, is to walk Saigon first thing - before I sit down at the computer, before I catch up on a show or do a few chores. That way I can go about my day without feeling guilty for not having walked him yet. On the days Jim and I both work, we will start walking Saigon together in the evenings, rather than trading off like we are often inclined to do.

4.  Cook-Book Scrap-Booking: On the last day I could use my book-store staff discount, I purchased this recipe binder. All my recipes that I've copied from friends, family or from on-line are on scrap pieces of paper held together by one big paperclip. It's a horrible, ugly system and I'd love to start a scrap-book for all of my favorite recipes.

5. Abolish Clutter: Clutter is my nemesis. I can't stand it, yet it constantly has a presence in my life. It's on our counters, on our kitchen table, but the worst of it resides in our second spare bedroom upstairs. I not-so-lovingly refer to it as our shit room. It's an abyss of things that don't really have a place in our home but we can't bear to part with (yet), boxes that still haven't been fully unpacked since moving in, and the place where clutter from downstairs gets thrown when we're tidying up the main floor. I usually keep the door to this room closed so I don't have to acknowledge it, but I hope that by posting a picture, I'll be shamed into tackling this room once and for all.

For Shame!

6. Write: Before Christmas, I bought myself this Q & A journal. A different question every day for the entire year. Repeat x 5 years. Simple yet brilliant. It's not overwhelming, it's not time consuming yet it still provokes thought. Is it realistic to think I can keep it up for 5 years? Probably not. But I desperately want to try my hardest. I started the journal on January 1 and make a point of taking a few (literally) minutes to answer the question of the day.

7. Finish Unfinished Projects: In the summer I started on a few furniture projects. But before I knew it, cold-weather was upon us and the projects got moved from the garage down to the basement, where they have sat, unfinished, since. These projects include the repainting/refinishing of two small bookshelves, an end-table and a small chest of drawers that I plan to use as a jewelry cupboard.  Our basement is unfinished, so there's really no reason why I can't finish these projects before summer rolls around. I mean, other than my sheer laziness.

Future Home to all my jewels.

8. Catch Up: It's no secret that I fell behind in blogging sometime last year. I struggled to find my groove, and in feeling pressured to post more often, I ended up just not posting at all. 2013 is a new year and while I'm not going to dwell on last year, I do want to write about the books I read but didn't blog about. These posts will most likely be shorter posts and more for "me", but it's something I need to do or it will always bother me.

9. Read:  Duh. More specifically though, read 50 books this year. It shouldn't be that hard, yet I didn't make it in 2012. I really want to hit that number this year.

10. Stop Biting my Nails: Self-explanatory. It's on my "resolution" list every flippin' year and it never happens. And no, that gross-tasting polish does not work. But I'm open to other suggestions!

Tell me: What are your resolutions for 2013?

January 04, 2013

Harry Potter Readalong: LET'S DO THIS

So all the cool kids are doing this Harry Potter readalong (THE ENTIRE SERIES) hosted by Alice over at Reading Rambo, and well, I wanna be a cool kid too dammit! Also, (confession time) I've never really read Harry Potter. *GASP* I know. Well, that's not entirely true. I know I read the first book in the series, and I'm pretty sure I read the second one, and maybe even the third one, but this was over 10 years ago people so really, the whole HP experience is going to be brand new to me. And since readalongs with this particular group of people - not that I have any other readalong experience - are THE BEST, it was a nobrainer on joining along. And it's not too late for you to join in too! Pretty much everyone except Megs and I have read the series.

I was about 14 years old when the first Harry Potter book came out. I wasn't really a big reader back then, but I did read. I remember my little brother, who would have been 7 or 8 at the time The Philosopher's Stone came out, loving the first few books in the series. My mom would buy them for him and then I would get to read them once he was done. When the first big book in the series came out - The Goblet of Fire - my brother was visibly upset that it was such a big book. He was so overwhelmed by it and so angry with being overwhelmed, that he hid it somewhere and said no one could read it if he couldn't. I wasn't that invested in the series seeing as how when you wait over a year in between books being released, it's easy to lose momentum.I figured I'd get around to them one day.

But then the films started coming out. And I've had this thing, even back when I wasn't really a reader, where I tried my best to always read the book before the film. So I told myself that I would start the series over and read the book before seeing the first movie. Well, that never happened and then the second movie was coming out, and then the third, and you get the picture. By that point I kind of gave up trying to catch up.

I've always planned on reading Harry Potter. Heck, I even own FIVE books in the series and in hardcover to boot! The first one might even be the original that my brother owned.

And not only that, but I worked in a book store during the midnight release party for The Deathly Hallows and I even have the t-shirt to prove it. It's like a concert shirt but for book nerds and yes I still own it, even 5 years after the fact. It's like fate knew I would one day need a picture of said shirt for this blog post.

The Deathly Hallows Midnight Release Party

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt

So yay! I'm FINALLY going to read Harry Potter. My sister-in-law will be so proud. I also plan on watching each movie following the completion of each book. Because that was my original plan - way back before blogging - read one book, followed by it's movie until both book and film series was complete! I'm so happy to be reading the series in a group though.  And since pretty much everyone on the planet has already read them, you should be able to read all my posts in all their glory and share in all the feelings because spoilers won't be an issue for you!


**Edit: So it's come to my attention from Alice's comment below and everyone's intro posts that spoilers for ALL the books are a given at any time. And THAT'S OK GUYS. Really, it's my own damn fault that I haven't read the books yet. And I'm pretty sure I've heard spoiler-ish stuff during my bookstore working years. So deep breath. Spoil away.

January 02, 2013

See Ya Later, 2012

It's scary how fast time flies. A year ago, Jim, Saigon and I were living in a little cramped town-house outside of Edmonton when I decided to start this blog. While I claim to write a book blog, I cannot deny that I often will write about whatever I feel like. Which, I've been told by my mom, is when one should write. If you come here for bookish talk, but it's a Sunday and all you get is adorable photos of Saigon, I cannot apologize. My goal when I started this blog was never to get uber-popular or categorize myself into one specific niche. First and foremost, I wanted a place to talk about books. But for me, talking about books is so much more fun when you get to know the people talking about said books. So, therefore I assume you want to know more about me and my life, and why I read the books I do and why I feel the way I feel about certain books. And I hope that by being myself and letting you learn more about me, you'll feel comfortable enough to chime in with your own thoughts at the end of a post. There is no right or wrong answer to what you thought about a book. For me, one of the greatest things about reading is sharing all the feelings with someone else who has also read the same book. So to the handful of you who read this blog and engage in conversation with me, I thank you for that.


When I started Eat Books, it coincided with me signing up for the 50 Book Pledge. In all my years of reading, I had never thought of actually keeping track of the books I had read, let alone the number of books I read in a year. But I love lists and stats so this was a no-brainer.  50 books in one year? Easy. That's only a book a week with a 2-week grace period. Ha! I'm embarrassed to report that I only read 39 books this year. Not that I have any regrets though. I read some amazing books, met some amazing bloggers along the way, and experienced some firsts in a lot of things. I read listened to my first audiobook (even if it was a fail), I hosted my first author Q&A with a giveaway, I was contacted and sent a book for review from a local author via Twitter, and I completed my first readalong. Not too shabby.

Of the 39 books I read, here are the super exciting stats:

Number of pages read: 12,657

Percentage of female authors read: 72%

Percentage of Canadian authors read: 10%

Shortest book read: Ethel & Ernest at 103 pages

Longest book read: The Thorn Birds at 692 pages

In my personal life, 2012 was a good year. Jim and I bought a house in Edmonton and I finally got my very own "library". We had three amazing vacations this year: Vegas, Nova Scotia and Florida. We celebrated our first wedding anniversary in November. Saigon had his one year anniversary post-stroke and hasn't looked back since. I fulfilled my need to work amongst books, before returning to my nursing career.I met an amazing group of bloggers and friends through The Edmonton Book Bloggers. I am excited and looking forward to what 2013 has to offer!

November 13, 2011

So see ya later, 2012. It's been a blast, but it's time to move on.

I'd love to hear: what were your memorable moments of 2012?