Random News: Literary Celebrations

Hello Lovely Readers,

I have some fun literary finds for you today, however, they have both been such popular news that I am afraid you may have already seen them. However, if you haven’t I hope that you enjoy them, I know I did.

The first was an epic Harry Potter themed wedding that a couple had. It was very impressive all the details from the series that they were able to include. It looks like it would have been a very fun wedding to attend, and everyone seems to be having a great time. I think the wand wedding favors were my favorite element!

The second is truly a reason for literary people to celebrate. There have been some new unearthed recordings of JRR Tolkien from a Hobbit themed dinner. These recordings are still being cleaned and digitized, but they should be coming out soon. Apparently there is even a lost poem in Elvish that he also translates into English. I am very excited to hear this when it is finally released. The article also peeked my interest in Tolkien as a person, as I have only ever heard the basics about him (mostly because I have visited places where he once lived).

Until next time,

Random News: Hogwarts’ Classes

Hello Lovely Readers,

There is some exciting news that I am sure some of you have heard about. A group of Harry Potter fans have created a new website where you can complete the classes from Hogwarts. It is here: http://www.hogwartsishere.com/ Just as a heads up, you may need to re-fresh the page a couple times, it is having trouble coping with all the people accessing it. But keep trying.

So I have only just signed up, so I don’t have a full review of site yet. However, you can sign up with your name, or a made up name. While they do not assign you a house, you choose the one you want (I used my Pottermore sorting). And then everyone starts as a first year and you enroll in classes.

Right now I have only signed up for Defense Against the Dark Arts, as I just wanted to do one class first. When they say class, they mean there are readings and essays that will be marked. While this might not be for some people, I am excited. Also it seems like there is a way to make a community within the site, where you can interact with other fans, unlike Pottermore. So far from the icons that I can see it looks like many of the participants are older, late teens-early twenties. I will have a better idea in a couple weeks, and will report back then.

One other thing that you can do without actually joining is getting an acceptance letter to Hogwarts. You can view mine below. You get to make up the name and address. However, you can find me on the site under the name on the letter, so feel free to add me.

So will any of you be joining me in taking Hogwarts’ classes? Which ones are you looking forward to?

Until next time,

Random News: News from/About Three of the Best Female Authors

Hello Lovely Readers,

This week, two of my favorite authors made announcements that I thought I would pass on to you guys. Then a third author was the subject of a rather “interesting” criticism, that I just can’t help weighing in on! Best yet, is that I realized I have met all three of these wonderful women!

First up is Anne Rice. She announced that she will be on her son’s (author Christopher Rice) podcast show on March 9. This in and of itself is not that exciting, but what she is going to talk about is. She has said she will release the official details about her next novel on the show. Read more about the show and her upcoming announcement here. Additionally, Rice has been making waves by taking on many internet bullies/trolls in several ways. I will have a post about this coming out soon, so look for that!

Second to make an announcement this week is Robin McKinley. While I was hoping for a new book, she has instead been given the honor of being asked to be the Guest of Honor at Boskone (a science fiction convention hosted by the New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA) in Boston, Massachusetts). This is very exciting news for you American readers, as McKinley doesn’t do many book events, and especially not in the USA. Having seen her in London in 2011, both Frances and I would recommend reading her books and meeting her! You can read her amazement at the honor here on her blog.

The last author that was in the news this week was JK Rowling. In a very strange move, novelist and copywriter Lynn Sheperd, wrote a rather scathing opinion about Rowling. You can and should read the article here. It is a very strange move, especially as she opens with a note that her friend told her it was a bad idea to write this piece. The article titled, “If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It.” I will admit it was very hard for me to keep a level head while I read the article, but it was hard when Sheperd not only attacks Rowling, but those of us adults who read “children’s” novels. Sheperd’s basic argument is big names in adult (she doesn’t care about children’s or YA novels or their authors) literature should step aside and let new people try their luck. Unfortunately, I (and most commentators) do not believe that publishing is a zero-sum game. Instead big authors get people’s initial attention and then cause the readers to look for similar titles, thus bringing attention to the newer writers. Not only are Sheperd’s arguments feeble, she judges Rowling’s works without ever having attempted to read any of her works. Basically the article comes across as another author being bitter and delusional. Worse it has probably done the opposite of what she wanted, she has angered many readers, who will most likely never give her books a fair chance (I know I feel rather personally insulted by the article and have no wish to read any of her work).

What did you guys think of the article about Rowling? Are you excited about Rice’s or McKinley’s news?

Until next time,

Random News: Love in Literature for Valentine’s Day part 2

Hello Lovely Readers,

As promised here are more of my love and literature finds for Valentine’s Day. The first find is a collection of 23 Epic Literary Love Tattoos. As I have shared before I love when people’s tattoos reflect their interests, and I love literary tattoos (maybe not enough to get one though!). For me, I really enjoy how many of these are from poetry, which I have been missing lately. I think there could have been a wider collection of sources for the text, but it might have something to do with what people actually get tattooed! While it was hard to pick a favorite, I was obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe when I was younger, and I have a soft spot for Annabel Lee (even if I think it is a bit sad for a paired love based tattoo).
The next two are specifically for Valentine’s Day. The first is a collection of Literary Valentines. These are based off of famous authors and their works, with an animation of the author. It was fun trying to identify everyone before reading who they were. I of course love the JRR Tolkien one!
The next set of Literary Valentines are for the Harry Potter Addict in Your Life. As a word of warning, these ones are a bit more naughty than the other ones, and would not be good for children to send to each other. Several of them I am familiar with, but some were new and made me laugh. It was hard to pick one that I felt comfortable sharing on this site and that I liked, but really anything for Draco (portrayed by Tom Felton) was going to be ok!
Lastly, is a list of 10 Shakespeare Boyfriends, ranking them from the best to the worst. I am not a huge fan of this list, and I am not really sure what the process was for picking them. Personally I think a while bunch of the males from the Comedies are missing, and they would be some of the better options. Ones like Benedick (Much Ado Abotu Nothing), Sebastian of Feste (from Twelfth Night), Prince Hal/King Henry V (from Henry IV parts 1 & 2, and King Henry V), or so many others, could easily have added to this list. While from the list I think Macduff is one of the better options, I would prefer Benedick!

Macduff being held captive by Macbeth

So how will you guys be spending the day tomorrow? For those of you who are not a fan of the day (like me) tune back in tomorrow for my favorite finds!

Until next time,

Random News: Hermione and Ron Debate

Hello Lovely Readers,

As you have not doubt seen by now, there has been quiet a ruckus raised over some comments that JK Rowling has said about the relationship of Hermione and Ron. Below are just a handful of examples of the story, just click to see each one.

I highly suggest you check a couple of these out, even though they almost all say the same thing. What is important is what is missing from these reports. While there are actual quotes from Rowling (being interviewed by Emma Watson who portrayed Hermione in the films) saying that she made a mistake with Hermione and Ron ending up together, there are no actual quotes saying that Hermione should have been with Harry instead (like so many of the articles are saying). While the full interview has not been released yet (it will be in Wonderland magazine where Watson is a guest editor), and there may be more that Rowling said, so far the evidence of this second sentiment hasn’t been proved.

Now this is a topic Frances and I have discussed on many occasions, and I know I have rather strong opinions on the ending of the Harry Potter Series. One of my biggest complaints was about the couples, and that everyone ended up with whoever was essentially their High School sweetheart. Now in bygone eras, this was certainly more the case, but honestly it is very rare now to see people in lasting relationships from high school, while marriages and kids happen, so to do divorces. So I have complaints about all the main couples. However, I have always had an issue with Hermione and Ron ending up together, and I am happy to hear Rowling’s explanation.

Rowling in the articles admits that she let a wish/vision from the beginning of the series cloud her judgment, and with time and space from the project she can see the mismatch. At the very least she admits they would need marriage counseling. I think that is rather brave of her to say that she made a mistake, and the reason behind it makes her even more human, at least to my eyes. As someone who would love to do more creative writing, I understand that sometimes time and space are needed, and those were in really short supply for Rowling by the end of the series, as publishers and fans demanded an ending.

One other thing that I think this whole brouhaha shows is the dangers of epilogues. Once an author has released their story out into the world, it is hopefully read by readers. Some of these people will love the story, but for very different reasons, and they will interpret it very different. After the story ends, the readers usually have opinions about what happens, or what should happen with the characters and plot after. The trouble with epilogues is that they confine this imagining. While Rowling wanted to leave us all with the knowledge that the great war had actually changed things, and that people were able to move on, she also severely restricted the fans. An epilogue that is close to the end of the story in time is easier, it adds fewer constraints to the characters lives after the main story. However, by setting the epilogue 19 years in the future, all readers (those who honor the epilogue, which I do not) then have a set point in 19 years where the characters end up. This is a lot harder for readers and fans, especially when they disagree with the author about things (especially romantic pairings). I think if Rowling had set the epilogue only a year or two later after the defeat of Voldemort, and Hermione and Ron were dating, that would have been fine, as there is no constraint for how long that relationship has to last (which is useful for those who dislike the pairing).

So I thought I would also add briefly why this pairing has always bothered me and my thoughts on Hermione and Harry. My main issue with the Harry Potter Series has always been that I haven’t ever really liked Ron. I know this is rather shocking to some, but I have never liked him, and I especially didn’t like how he treated his friends. In almost every book there is a point where Ron stops talking to one of his friends, usually Hermione (although notably Harry in the fifth book). Ron has trouble taking other people’s feelings into consideration, and is prone to extreme jealousy, and when that flares will say some really hurtful things. For me personally I also have trouble with his attitude towards school, but I am a bit like Hermione about learning. However, there is never anything that Ron really seems to become passionate about, except maybe the Chudley Cannons. But every other character seems to find something that they find interesting and seek to better themselves in that area and most of them try to find jobs in those areas (Harry with Defense Against the Dark Arts and Quidditch, Neville with herbology, Luna with mystical/made up creatures, the twins with their joke shop, etc.). He never seems to grow up.

So with Ron being my least favorite character and Hermione being one of my favorites (and the one I identified with most) I was never going to like them together. While I enjoy some opposites attract stories, it just doesn’t feel like it would last or work here. Hermione is one of the brightest witches and love learning for the sake of learning, and only passably knows quidditch. However, Ron seems allergic to book learning and seems only to come alive when talking about qudditch. Which combined leaves me wondering what they talk about. Hermione, I can imagine listening about qudditch, but nothing in Ron’s previous behaviors lends itself to being happy for Hermione for her future accolades and awards, nor can I see him pretending to be interested in what she is saying about something she recently read. Most of all I remember when Ron walked out on Harry and Hermione, and I can’t imagine that Hermione would be able to forget that. If he walked away when the whole world was at stake, what is to say he wouldn’t walk away again? How can a relationship last through the aftermath of a war, the burying of friends and loved ones, a young marriage, kids and separate careers, and yet these two have trouble even talking/being around each other for a full school year?

Now as for Harry and Hermione, I have always said that I think Hermione was a better friend to Harry in all the books than Ron was. There were times where Harry and Hermione were mad at each other, but in the end they both understood why the other one had done what they did, and they were willing to admit they were wrong. When things get tough, they band together (think fourth and seventh books). Harry will at least pretend to be interested in what Hermione is saying and try to follow her example for learning. Hermione also tries to follow Harry’s example and relax a bit. Most of all they give each other the emotional support they need, whether that is keeping Harry’s ego in check, or building up Hermione’s (honestly I loved the awkward dance in the second to last movie because it was just a nice friendship moment to get Hermione to smile again) . In the end when Harry tries to sacrifice himself, Hermione understands and tries to immediately offer what support she can. Does that mean I want them to end up together, not really. I don’t think any of them needs to end up with people we know. There are plenty of witches and wizards out there, and plenty of muggles as well. Buzzfeed has a great collection of reasons why they would be a better couple, but in the end I think this just proves they are just great friends.

What do you guys think about all of this? Do you agree with JK Rowling’s new statements? Who would you have liked to see be paired up at the end?

Until next time,

See the update on the Hermione and Ron relationship debate here.

Book Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling

Book Title: The Cuckoo’s Calling
Author: Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)

“He found Robin’s company satisfactory and restful, not only because she was hanging off his every word, and had not troubled to break his silences, but because that little sapphire ring on her third finger was like a neat full stop: this far, and no further. It suited him perfectly. He was free to show off, in a very mild way, which was one of the few pleasures remaining to him.”
The Cuckoo’s Calling
and Robert Galbraith

Final Verdict: A wonderfully written mystery that will keep you guessing until the final pages. Another reason to love JK Rowling!

For the full review, click the book title.

Book Review: The Casual Vacancy

Book Title: The Casual Vacancy
Author: JK Rowling

What do we do about Krystal Weedon?” JK Rowling

Final Verdict: I would only recommend if you like adult or contemporary books. It is well written but dense. If you love JK Rowling or the genre, definitely get it and make sure to read to the end. Otherwise take a pass.

For the full review, click the book title.

Frances and Lynne Adventure: Meeting JK Rowling

Event: Meeting JK Rowling
Place: The Times Cheltenam Literary Festival
Date: 6 October 2012

You have to know your characters from the inside out.
JK Rowling at the Times Literary Festival (Please note that Rowling most likely said this in a much more eloquent manner, but we are recalling her words from memory)

Final Verdict: A truly amazing woman who no matter what the critics say, loves and values her fans, and gives very eloquent interviews. Run and push small children out of the way to attend any event she does!

For the full adventure, click the event title.

Frances and Lynne Adventure: London Premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Event: London Premiere of Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Place: Trafalgar Square, London
Date: 7 July 2011

It all ends! 07.07.11

Final Verdict: I wouldn’t plan on attending a premiere unless you have tickets, or it is a small premiere where fewer fans will attend. You might well be disappointed.

For the full adventure, click the event title.