Tag Archives: JK Rowling

Book Review: “Four: A Divergent Collection”

WARNING: POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

dystopian fiction

Before introducing us to the 16-year-old mind of Tobias Eaton in Four: A Divergent Collection, author Veronica Roth reveals that she first began writing the Divergent series from Tobias’s point of view. After finishing Allegiant, chronologically the final book in the Divergent series, it’s not unreasonable to wonder why she didn’t give us more from Four.

But instead, Roth chose to pursue her project through the eyes of Tris Prior.

Fortunately, less than a year after the release of the last book in the Divergent series, Veronica Roth gave us Four: A Divergent Collection. This book is comprised of four short stories and three snippets that precede and overlap Tobias’s time with Tris.

The Transformation of Tobias Eaton

Throughout the short stories in Four: A Divergent Collection, the reader witnesses the transformation of Tobias from his last days as a meek member of the Abnegation faction to his time as an instructor for new Dauntless initiates. In just 285 pages, Roth provides highlights spanning the course of two years of Tobias’s life.

Veronica Roth | Divergent SeriesLet’s face it, Tobias has always had people problems. Who wouldn’t, after spending 16 years trapped in the environment in which he was raised? But the reader watches him slowly crack out of his cocoon at the insistence of Amar.

His transfer to Dauntless sparks Tobias’s thirst for a new identity, which he manages to attach to the alias he earns from his instructor, Amar. Those who have read the Divergent series know of Amar and that he and Tobias had grown close during Tobias’s initiation, and in Four: A Divergent Collection we are granted the privilege of witnessing the growth of that friendship.

However, Tobias soon discovers being Dauntless isn’t what he expected and that the faction certainly doesn’t follow its manifesto, and learning his mother’s true fate only adds to his suspicions about the faction system and factionless alike.

Eric The Erudite

As is briefly mentioned in Divergent, Tobias was in the same initiation class as Eric, an Erudite transfer. In this book, readers get to watch firsthand as the tension between the two is born. The interactions between Tobias and Eric were the most enjoyable for me throughout this collection of short stories. I enjoyed the snarky remarks they toss at one another.

Readers discover the reason Tobias turned down the Dauntless leadership position he’d been offered, as well, through his interactions with Max and Eric. Thanks to Eric, readers also learn why Dauntless initiate training becomes more competitive throughout the Divergent series than the years before Dauntless introduced young blood into their leadership ranks.

With few friends and even fewer allies, Tobias is alone in exploring and uncovering the truth behind his suspicions of a corrupt faction system.

 

Would I reread this book? Absolutely. It’s still not enough. Perhaps I’m stingy, but I would like more Four, please. On a slightly related note, I’d also like more on Eric.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. But only to those who have already read the Divergent series. I would highly advise against reading Four: A Divergent Collection before starting Divergent. If you enjoy dystopian teen fiction, you’re sure to enjoy the Divergent series as a whole.

What’s next? I’m currently tackling Quidditch Through the Ages, which is quite a short read, by the ever lovely JK Rowling. Also, have you seen her Twitter account lately? She totally shot down the Westboro Baptist Church. I love her.

(I know, I know. I’m a week late. In my defense, I did write the majority of this last weekend. Just didn’t get the pictures together until today. Thanks for bearing with me!)

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New Year’s Resolution: Read, Read, READ

Hey, there! It’s been some time since I’ve posted. Actually, this is the first post of the new year. I’m totally slacking. Anyway, you may have noticed that the title of this post is singular–“Resolution.” That’s because I made multiple resolutions late last year for 2015 but it appears I’ll only be sticking with one of them.

This year, my resolution is to read at least 26 books. I’m a slow reader, so this is a more than reasonable, maybe even slightly stretched (like my favorite pair of jeans), goal [hopefully]. As you’ll see by the image below, my list doesn’t yet include a full 26 titles. That’s where you come in.

new years resolutions | reading list

2015 Reading List

 

Divergent

My latest kill is Insurgent, the second book in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. I read Divergent last year; it started off slow, but when the action finally kicked in, I couldn’t put it down. I had high hopes for the second book after that, of course.

Even though I have enjoyed both Divergent and Insurgent, it’s still irritating when Tris shows her age through her ridiculous thoughts on relationships and secrecy. I wanted so bad to slap some sense into that 16-year-old’s brain throughout Insurgent, but the enthralling suspense and plot twists made tolerating her stupidity well worth the read. This dystopian teen fiction series is quite addicting.

I can’t wait until Insurgent is released in theaters on March 20, 2015. I plan to attend one of the showings that Sunday, so hopefully I’ll be able to post a review of the book-to-movie transition shortly thereafter. I think they did nice work with Divergent, and the trailer for the upcoming release looks pretty awesome, so I’m willing to bet it’ll be worth the money to see in 3D. Here’s hoping!

I’ve often found myself comparing how I’d react in their situations to how each of the factions handle what they’re going through, and after considering my potential reactions, I have decided that I too am Divergent.

Have you read the books? What faction do you feel you fit in, if any?

Cheating with The Silkworm

So, I’m not sure if this constitutes cheating, so to speak, but I started The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a. JK Rowling) last year and finished earlier this year and I’ve decided to count it as my first book tackled in 2015. It took forever mostly because I had a lot going on last year and I actually lost interest in reading for a bit. It has come back, thank goodness, as has my desire to write.

The Silkworm is well written, but this mystery is somewhat hard to follow. Maybe it’s just me, because it took me months to read it; but there are so many characters that at times I felt it difficult to discern which character was which. The author does take the reader for a wild goose chase, for lack of a better comparison, throwing him/her bits of evidence that point to various characters throughout the book, which makes for a crazy ending. I can’t wait to see what Galbraith throws at us next.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

I spent too much time away from my bookshelves due to personal reasons lately. I wasn’t home for two weeks, so when I finished Insurgent, I was going stir crazy. I was snowed in a good hour away from home (crazy weather!), so I didn’t have access to Allegiant, the third book in the Divergent series. My craving for words was at a level unlike any other, so I finally let myself go. I can’t believe I did it, but it’s official. I own two ebooks, courtesy of the iBooks app on my iPod.

In the wild struggle for existence, we want to have something that endures, and so we fill our minds with rubbish and facts, in the silly hope of keeping our place. -Lord Henry, The Picture of Dorian Gray

The app has a section of free books, and I found The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I’ve been wanting to read that book for a few years now; and since I didn’t own a hard copy, I figured I’d search the iBooks app and there it was! I’m in chapter two at the moment, and I’m so glad I downloaded it. It’s so good! Quote-worthy, even. (But ebooks are still a last resort for me, a display of my desperation.)

So, back to you. Take a second look at my list, and feel free to leave a comment with a suggestion or two!

 

(PS: Trello is an excellent web tool to keep track of lists and assignments and such. Hence, the image of my reading list.)

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To Read or not to Read: That is the Question!

I never understood how people could claim to not like reading. I understood not being interested in certain topics, but having no interest in reading or even disliking the idea of reading had always puzzled me.

hobbiesI did (and still do) understand that being forced to read certain things in school can put a damper on a person’s desire to pick up a book, though. However, I always believed that all people need to do is just open the right books. The books that suck them in, that cause them to lose track of time, to get them lost in alternate realities.

For the longest time, I lived to breathe in the scent of freshly printed pages and even pages neglected, sitting shoved on dusty school library bookshelves. From elementary school to years after I graduated from college, reading was a source of pleasure and a sort of escape for me.

This year, however, something changed.

The first half of the year continued to bring that joy of escaping reality through pages put together by amazingly talented writers. However, the second half became particularly difficult for me to handle and then suddenly all interest in opening any book was lost. My mind wanted to make itself want to read, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Part of me felt guilty because I had other priorities, and another part of me didn’t even want to look at a book. It was an incredibly new and painful struggle.

Robert GalbraithI’ve been trying to push through The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith since July. It’s not that the book is bad, because it’s not. I will admit I’ve read better ones, but my mind has been struggling with the ability to focus on anything for an extended period of time over the last six months.

Though the desire to read is slowly seeping back into my veins, I feel as if the excitement I should have for reading will never again be as strong as it once was. Here’s to hoping I’m wrong.

 

Has this or something similar ever happened to you? How did you get back into the swing of things?

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Happy Birthday to the Great Alan Rickman

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Today is the day we celebrate the one and only man perfect for the portrayal of Severus Snape in all eight Harry Potter films. Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman turns 68 years old today. Born in London, England, Rickman is actually a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, a theater company based in Stratford-upon-Avon, the land Shakespeare once called home. The company puts on a number of plays a year, traveling across the UK. Rickman has done several stage performances in addition to his on-screen roles.

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape

From the very beginning until the end, Rickman held the role of Severus Snape. His performance as the Potions Master is absolutely remarkable. It is my personal belief that no other actor could ever portray the character more accurately. Not once did this man step out of character. The emotion and dedication to his role he shows on screen just blow viewers away.

Snape’s History

Any bit of Severus Snape’s history is hidden from the series until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth book in the series. In Chapter 28, “Snape’s Worst Memory,” readers are pulled into the reflection of the professor’s not-so-pleasureable time as a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Unfortunately, the movie does not include the majority of Snape’s memory.

The Unbreakable Vow

The Unbreakable Vow

In the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, readers are presented with a rather frustrating conflict. Is Severus Snape good or bad? That is the question. He is finally granted his long-anticipated wish to become the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts, allowing Horace Slughorn to accept the open position for Potions Master. But the question remains, does Snape still remain a loyal follower of he-who-must-not-be-named?

“I’ve played my part well,” Snape tells Bellatrix and Narcissa in Half-Blood Prince. “So well that I have deceived the greatest wizard of all time. Dumbledore is a great wizard; only a fool would question it.” Alan Rickman does a great job confusing viewers throughout the whole series; fans across the globe were puzzled until the final book was released in July 2007.

The Secretly Shared Fate of Severus Snape

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

To avoid any spoilers (although I would think nearly the entire universe knows the truth by now), I will not reveal any specifics. But I will tell you this: There is a reason, a reason for every word he says, every breath he takes. And it is beyond anything any fan could have pegged from the start. It has been said that while filming the series, Rowling herself revealed Snape’s fate strictly to Rickman himself, instructing him to refrain from spilling the beans, so to speak. Their own Unbreakable Vow. Alan Rickman kept the fate of his fantastically-played character a secret through to the very end. I believe Rickman was the only person to know the fate of his character from early on, as JK Rowling was not certain on many other characters’ fates in the beginning.

Alan Rickman in Other Roles

A Shakespearean Experience

Naturally, Alan Rickman is a widely known actor and was such even before the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001. As mentioned above, he was once a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He also took part in BBC Television’s Shakespeare series as Tybalt in the most well-known Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet. This episode aired in Europe in December 1978, and first aired in the United States in March of the following year.

In addition, Rickman also played Colonel Brandon in the 1995 production of Shakespeare’s Sense and Sensibility.

Other Popular Roles

Rickman also took on many other roles in movies across the decades, including but not limited to Hans Gruber in the first Die Hard film(1988), Sheriff George of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), Harry in Love Actually (2003), Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street (in which he SINGS!) (2007), and he even voiced the character of the Blue Caterpillar in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland film (2010).

Despite turning 68 years of age today, Rickman remains as strong as ever, continuing his roles on screen with the upcoming movies A Promise (the trailer for which can be found here) and A Little Chaos. Hats off to the player of the Potions Master and the greatest Secret Keeper of today, Mr. Alan Rickman.

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J.K. Rowling and the Plot Twist of the Century

Ron-and-Hermione

Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) & Hermione Granger (Emma Watson)

Holy hippogriff, Batman! What is this news I wake up to today? Hermione and Ron having marital issues?? I don’t know if I can handle this. I don’t know if the Harry Potter fandom can handle this. Thanks to Britain’s Sunday Times, we now have excerpts from an exclusive interview with Rowling hosted by none other than the original Hermione Granger herself, Emma Watson. Of course, I saw the article written by Andrew Simms on Hypable.com via Facebook and then did a bit of research for myself to find this piece on CNN’s Entertainment webpage.

Comments are raging on the CNN article, swinging both ways. Some even suggest the possibility of a new storyline, featuring Ron turning to the Dark Arts. Is it wise for Rowling to attempt such a task? Could this be the end for the Golden Trio? Why didn’t Rowling just put Harry and Hermione together from the get-go?

As many of us know, a few years back Rowling admitted debating whether to kill Ron halfway through the series (via Deathly Hallows DVD extra). Fortunately, however, the fandom was blessed with his presence throughout the rest of Harry’s journey as a teenager and into his mid-30s, to the last of our knowledge. What would we have done without Ron’s comic relief? What if he’d never saved Harry in Deathly Hallows? So many “what-ifs,” we could go on forever, speculating what could have happened.

As a writer, it’s difficult at times to decide what should become of your characters. I love that Rowling is able to share with us now what could have been, how she might have created a different ending. That’s the beauty of being given the power to work with words. Your creativity provides you with multiple opportunities for your characters, and it is your responsibility to choose what happens next, what’s for the best for your characters. Rowling possesses a talent many people dream of having, and hearing her thoughts is a blessing.

And look out, world of Harry Potter fanfic! It’s gonna blow up with all sorts of “I told you so’s.” That world is gonna be totally upside-down.

The full interview is set for publication in Wonderland, a magazine distributed across the UK, this coming Friday, February 7.

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