Misery by Stephen King

MiseryMisery by Stephen King
Published by Signet

From the publisher:

Paul Sheldon. He’s a bestselling novelist who has finally met his biggest fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes and she is more than a rabid reader—she is Paul’s nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident. But she is also his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house. Now Annie wants Paul to write his greatest work—just for her. She has a lot of ways to spur him on. One is a needle. Another is an ax. And if they don’t work, she can get really nasty…

I read this for the Misery Read-along (#MiseryRAL) because I was looking to read another King novel after being pleasantly surprised by how much I liked Mr. Mercedes. I’m thinking I’ll need to keep reading King, because I see how good he is at the creep factor, but I didn’t love this book anywhere near as much as my first experience with his work.

Paul Sheldon was not a character I liked. At all. Sure, I felt bad for the guy, and a part of me hoped he would end up okay after all of this, but for some reason I didn’t connect with his character so I couldn’t quite care about him at the level I probably should have. He just seemed like kind of an asshole before Annie came into his life – the snippets he told the reader about his life showed me that he wasn’t the kind of guy I’d want to befriend – so I don’t know, I didn’t quite get there with him.

Annie was batshit crazy and the best part of the book for me, by far. Her insanity was at a whole other level, and King definitely kept me on my toes with her behavior. I never knew what she would do next, but I was sure it would be more terrible than the last thing she did. Just the fact that I knew she was in the same house as Paul kept that ominous feeling going throughout the book and I loved feeling like maybe something crazy will happen, or maybe she’ll just give Paul some more medicine and go to sleep. It was an emotional roller coaster in the best way.

Some of the things that happened were a little much for me with the gross factor (tractor!) but I expected that and was able to handle it. Also, it took me quite a while to get into the book – I felt the first half was pretty slow, especially given the high expectation I had for King’s stuff to pull me in. Also, I wasn’t a huge fan of the story within the story thing (and based on what I read of that story I didn’t find Paul Sheldon to be all that talented of an author, which annoyed me).

But those things aside, I can see King’s talent and I appreciate what he did with Misery. The creep (oogy?) factor was totally there and the way he crafted this character of Annie was pretty incredible. Not my favorite King (of the only two I’ve read, haha), but I’ll keep reading more for sure.

Thoughts on Re-reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books

It was a sad, sad day when I closed this book and thus ended my re-read of the entire Harry Potter series. It has actually been kind of a while since I finished, but I’ve been having trouble articulating any kind of real thoughts about this final book so I’ve put off talking about it. Here are some brief thoughts that are running through my head at the current moment about the final book in the series.

I remember that the first time I read this book, it seemed that Harry, Ron and Hermione did a LOT of camping and worrying and talking and thinking but very little actually DOING something. I must have felt that way because I was so anxious for them to get to some real action, I wanted to hurry through the slower parts. This time around, I didn’t feel that way at all; instead, I relished the time spent on trying to figure out the Horcruxes and it didn’t seem like overkill to me at all. It felt perfect.

The first time I read this book, I furiously read through the battle scene at the end, and I’m sure I missed a lot, but this time I read slowly and relished every moment – which probably made me enjoy it more. And Neville. Oh, Neville, how I love to see an underdog succeed – and in such a big way here. Made my heart sing.

I remember thinking, the first time I read this book, that when Harry sacrificed himself he was really going to die, and being so pissed off at Rowling for that entire scene. This time, I had so much more peace in my heart because I knew how it all turned out so I was able to relax and enjoy the creativity in the scene, and enjoy how the love that Rowling has for these characters and this story flow through her writing.

A lot of people hate the epilogue but I really love it. In an ordinary book I might not have liked it so much, but in this case, I was SO invested in these characters for such a long time, if I hadn’t gotten some peace over where they ended up in their lives the end of the books would have been a lot more difficult for me to handle. Also, if that epilogue hadn’t been there, I would have hoped and prayed for YEARS that Rowling would keep writing more. So for me, the epilogue is pure perfection.

I’m sad that these are over but I can always read them again another time! I have so much love for this series it’s not even funny. If you are a Harry Potter virgin, please do yourself a favor and check out these books. You won’t be sorry.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – thoughts upon a reread

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6)Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Published by Scholastic

I am way far behind on the Harry Potter Readalong, but as of this writing I’ve already finished the last two books, just haven’t made the time to write about them. Well, here are some brief thoughts on the sixth book!

Love love love. I so overwhelmingly love this book and everything about it. I know I said the fifth book was my favorite, and maybe it still is, but this is a very close second. More than anything else about this book, what I truly love about it is just how much Harry learns about the truth of his life and what he has to do, and how much trust Dumbledore FINALLY places in Harry. After years of keeping him in the dark to “protect” him, Dumbledore finally gets that he needs to just be honest, Harry is not a kid anymore (well, I’d argue that a sixteen-year-old boy is most definitely a kid, but for wizarding purposes not so much), and he deserves to hear the whole story, nothing left out. So Dumbledore does a pretty decent job of that, and we readers are treated to the same information. Which is to say, lots and lots of information is thrown at Harry and the reader in this book. I’ve read this one a few times now, and I feel like each time I read it, I catch something that I must have glossed over the first few times. Every time there is something new to me – either I had forgotten a certain detail, or never paid enough attention in past readings to pick up on it.

This is also the book where I fully came to appreciate Rowling’s genius in writing this story. There are things that happen in this book that were foreshadowed several books back, only we as readers had no idea what was to come – but Rowling certainly did! Nothing proves to me more that she is immensely talented than every single word written in this book.

And Harry and Ginny! Cue trumpets and a parade because YAY! There are a lot of fans who thought Rowling got this wrong, who felt that Harry and Hermione should have ended up together, but I am not one of them. I love Harry and Ginny together and seeing it happen was oh so satisfying.

The end of this book is soul-crushingly devastating and I cry every single time I read it. It is terrible, awful, so unbelievably painful and every time I read it, I secretly hope that maybe they’ve changed it and IT doesn’t happen. Yet it always does. But it must be done to further the story and get Harry to the point of such anger and resolve that he knows with absolute certainty what he must do, what is his destiny, and that is exactly where the book ends. And I love it.

Obviously this is in no way a “review” of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. And it’s also not a comprehensive list of all of my thoughts (of which I have many more). But you get the general idea of my feelings for it, which is my goal.


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Reread for HP Read-along

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
Published by Scholastic

I have always considered this to be my favorite of the seven Harry Potter books, and after finishing the re-read this time around, I think that might still be the case. (I’ll tell you for sure after I finish the last two books.) I think what I love most about this book is just how meaty it is, how many different elements are in one book. Just the first two hundred pages (in a book that is more than eight hundred pages total) pack SO much of a punch. Harry first learns about the Order, gets to spend time with Sirius, and experiences the Ministry of Magic for the first time. In addition to all of that, there’s quidditch, serious issues at school (ugh, Umbridge), secret Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons, potential love interests for a few characters, serious and obvious issues among the teachers at Hogwarts (how can you NOT love McGonagall after this book?), studying for and taking the O.W.L. exams, and that’s not even considering the major action of the book, which happens in the last fifty pages or so. There’s just so much here and so much to further the story and the characters.

And let’s face it, that’s what is really great about these books. These characters are complex and interesting and have histories and pasts that get revealed slowly, over the course of seven books. This book gives the reader (and Harry) more insight into Snape’s character, insight that leaves a shadow of doubt over the fact that he is an evil, horrible person. Maybe he’s not as bad as Harry, Ron and Hermione think he is?

My absolute favorite part of the entire book is the very end when Dumbledore takes Harry into his office and starts explaining things to him, things that Dumbledore admits he should have told Harry years ago. There’s just so much vulnerability and emotion in this conversation, so much truth and regret and sadness and the overwhelming feeling is just that of love. The feeling of love that Harry’s parents had for him, that Sirius and Harry had for one another, and that Dumbledore has for Harry. The knowledge that Dumbledore would do absolutely anything necessary to protect Harry and to save him, but that even Dumbledore might not be able to heed the dangers that are coming Harry’s way is just heartbreaking. And as Rowling does best, this conversation leads perfectly into the sixth book, and prepares Harry and the reader to learn even more about the history between Voldemort, Dumbledore, and Harry’s family.

Who can’t possibly love the scene at the very, very end when about five members of the Order meet the Dursley’s at the train station?! It is priceless and serves as a reminder that no matter how alone Harry might feel in his life, he has plenty of people who love him and are on his side, always.

Order of the Phoenix continues to impress me and I think it’s still my favorite of the series. I’m looking forward to re-reading the last two books!

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Reread for HP Read-along

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Published by Scholastic

If you didn’t know already, Sheila at Book Journey is hosting a Harry Potter read along, and I’m happy to participate. 🙂 Here are some brief thoughts on the fourth book.

  • I forgot how LONG this book is! Although it reads very quickly, it took me a lot longer than I anticipated to get through this one.
  • No quidditch? Sad! Although the competition was probably more exciting than quidditch matches, I did miss that element of the books in this one.
  • We finally see how evil and horrific the Death Eaters are in the very beginning of the book and it is really just some foreshadowing of what else is coming. Poor muggles!
  • I loved Hermione’s sass and ability to tell Ron how much of an idiot he was being throughout this book. I laughed out loud during the part when they were trying to figure out who to ask as dates to the ball and neither Harry nor Ron could believe that some other guy actually asked Hermione. It’s like, wake up and realize your best friend is a girl! And a pretty damn awesome one, too!
  • Over and over again while reading this book I just kept shaking my head in disbelief that the wizards and witches in charge actually allowed Harry to compete in the Triwizard Tournament. Yes I get that there are “rules” and I guess you can’t break magical rules but still … come on now!
  • On that note, I was also shocked that no one really questioned, at least in all seriousness, the fact that Harry’s name was put into the goblet under very suspicious circumstances. Who but a dark wizard would be able to circumnavigate all the hexes that Dumbledore put on the thing? Even though I have read this book before and therefore knew the ending, I was shocked by the fact that no one thought of the extremely obvious culprit behind Harry’s name getting into the tournament.
  • While the last book felt like a bridge between the simpler times of Harry being a preteen and the darker times that are to come in the last four books, Goblet of Fire felt like a perfect middle of the series to me. For most of the book, while Harry is dealing with trials and tribulations and competing in some extremely difficult challenges for the tournament, his life is relatively innocent. Until the end, and at that point it’s ON and bad things happen rather quickly – which is the perfect set-up for the final three books in the series.
  • I remembered the whole ending except for the fact that Moody was involved, and the details of that whole situation. That was a welcome surprise because I love when I forget things in these books so I get to experience it as if it were the first time in the re-read!
  • I love these books. And that is all.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling – Reread for HP Readalong

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)This is the point in Sheila’s Harry Potter Readalong that I was VERY excited to get to. For me, book three is where things really start to pick up and where the books move from being very children’s book-ish to more young adult, dealing with more difficult, adult themes and darker stuff. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban isn’t my favorite in the series, but it’s the gateway to what I really love about the Harry Potter world – the complexities of the relationships between these people, the history that took place before Harry was even born, and everything that led up to Voldemort’s coming back.

I don’t have a ton of new or exciting thoughts on this book, however. This book, to me, is more of a segue into the longer and more complicated last four books. It’s kind of in-between in my opinion. I know that I didn’t love Sirius Black when I read the book the first time, and now that I’ve read the series several times I can look back at this book as that innocent time in Harry’s life before he knew the truth of things and it’s just so CUTE how scared he (and everyone else) was of Sirius! I found the squabbling between Ron and Hermione just as annoying as I did the first several times I read this book, but I guess they’re baby teenagers (thirteen I think) so … hormones? I remember thinking the end of the book was so very complicated with the time-turner and the secrets the characters were keeping coming to light, but really it’s not all that complex once you get what’s going on.

I love this book! Even though I don’t have a lot to say about it, it’s a hugely important book in the series and it really advances the story. I’ve already started Goblet of Fire and WOW that book is longer than I remembered it being. But yay Harry Potter! 🙂

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling – Reread for HP Readalong

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2)When I began my re-read of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets for Sheila’s Harry Potter Re-read I wasn’t super excited. I’ve always felt that this is my least favorite book in the series, and even though I love all the books, this is the one I felt I could probably skip and feel okay about it.

I didn’t skip it, and I’m glad I didn’t, but I still think it’s my least favorite of all seven novels. Here are some of my thoughts about this one – with spoilers!

Gilderoy Lockhart is SO ANNOYING. Seriously. I strongly dislike that guy and I wanted to skip every single scene of the book that he was in.

I remembered a LOT more foreshadowing about Ginny being involved with the Chamber of Secrets than there actually was in the book. In my memory, she was stressed, obviously dealing with some kind of major issue, and avoiding Harry, Ron and Hermione like the plague. Well, that’s not really what happened. She only showed up after more than halfway through the book, and there was maybe one conversation between she and someone else (Percy I think) when Harry and Ron thought something might be up with her. Before long, Harry himself found the diary and then we don’t see Ginny again until she ends up in the Chamber.

Harry and Ron were really stupid to drive that car to school. Why, oh why, couldn’t they just take the car and drive back to The Burrow and have the Weasleys get them to school? Or send an owl to the school informing them the barrier closed? Ugh, pre-teen boys and their rebelliousness (aka stupidity).

As always, I continue to love Hermione. She stepped up her game in this book, coming up with the potion the way she did and then in the end solving the whole thing (of course).

I watched the movie right after finishing the book and I liked this movie better than the first movie. I used to think I didn’t like any of the Harry Potter movies, but upon watching them so far I’m enjoying them a lot more than I thought. It’s fun to watch them right after reading the book and finding the things that were changed or left out entirely.

Anyway – while this is still my least favorite of all seven books, I did enjoy the re-read! Thanks again Sheila for putting this together. Now it’s on to Prisoner of Azkaban!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone re-read/Readalong

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Published by Scholastic

I have no idea how many times I’ve read this book. Lots. I’ve definitely read it the most of the entire series, because when the last three books came out I read the rest of the series from the beginning in anticipation of the newest book (each time). But even though I practically have the book memorized, it’s still a great reading experience every single time.

Every time I pick up this book I am amazed at J.K. Rowling and the sheer brilliance of what she created. I heard that she didn’t know she would be writing seven books as she wrote this one, but that’s incredibly difficult to believe because there are SO MANY things throughout this book that indicate where the rest of the series is headed.

My favorite scene in the book is the one in which Harry, Ron and Hermione beat the troll in the girls’ bathroom and from that point on, the three of them are best friends. Anyone who’s read this series has fallen in love with the three of them and their true friendship, and to read where it all began … I love that scene.

I am privileged to live near Orlando, Florida and also to have season passes to the Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure theme parks where Harry Potter world is located. Upon finishing The Sorcerer’s Stone I happened to be at Universal with my husband, and for the first time since visiting the second half of Harry Potter world (the new half, Diagon Alley), I took the time to go into all the stores and allowed myself to imagine I was going to be a new student at Hogwarts. I went to the wand shop and looked through all the wands, the robe store, the owlery, everything. I’ve done all of this before, but never so quickly after reading one of the books, and it was just that much more fun. Also, if you ever have the opportunity to travel to Orlando, you MUST visit these amazing theme parks. The attention to detail is incredible – you truly feel like you are in Harry Potter’s world.

I’m having so much fun reading these books! Thanks again to Sheila of Book Journey for hosting the readalong. Next up – Chamber of Secrets!

Re-reading Harry Potter

G2bI’m doing it! By “it” I mean joining Sheila’s Harry Potter Re-read that began on November 1. I started reading The Sorcerer’s Stone earlier this week and am REALLY looking forward to digging into these books for what will be, I think, the fourth time.

I joined Pottermore when it first came out and played around on the site for about half a second back then, but lost interest rather quickly. So for the re-read, I went back and got Sorted and I’m Ravenclaw! Which should come as a shock to exactly no one.

Have you read these books before? Care to join me to revisit the fun all over again? Or perhaps immerse yourself in Harry Potter’s world for the first time? You won’t be sorry. 🙂

The Sparrow Readalong Wrap-Up

sparrow readalong

Well, September is over which means The Sparrow Readalong, hosted by Trish, is officially over too. Most of you know that this is my favorite book ever, so I will spare you a review – the whole thing would say READ IT READ IT READ IT – and just give some of my thoughts upon finishing this marvelous novel for the third time.

Warning – I’m answering some of Trish’s questions so there will be definite spoilers. Please skip this part if you plan to read the book yourself.

As far as Emilio’s confession goes, I too felt that he was unfairly judged by the priests. Reading it a third time illuminated for me how they assumed, without a shadow of a doubt and before even asking Emilio what happened, that he was guilty of the crimes they believed were committed. Not one time did one of those guys say “hmm, prostitution, that seems a little out of character for our guy Emilio here. Maybe this wasn’t exactly a choice he made, perhaps there was some force involved?” Not ONCE. I remembered that, vaguely, from the first time I read the book but this time it shocked and disgusted me how they were so convinced that he had asked for this – WHO in his right mind would ask for what happened to Emilio? I am not sure if, after confessing, he felt absolved of the choices he made and of the horrible things that were done to him, but I do think it was cathartic for him to finally tell the priests what really happened on Rakhat. He carried so much grief, sorrow, shame, and mostly guilt for what happened to his friends and himself, he needed everything out in the open. I’ve only read Children of God, the sequel, once, but I do plan to read it again because I believe some of Emilio’s emotions become a little more clear and he begins to forgive himself in the second book (if I remember correctly).

Supaari. I don’t know. On one hand, I don’t think he thought of the humans, even Anne, on the same level as himself. It is clear that the Runa are a lesser species, and definitely Supaari thought of the humans on a similar level – yes they were obviously more intelligent than Runa, but they weren’t the *same* as Supaari, if that makes sense. So I don’t know that what he did to them was SO awful, according to the standards of his culture, and I think knowing the ending made me suspicious of him all along. I could definitely see, from early on in their relationship, that it couldn’t possibly end well for Supaari and the humans – they weren’t going to live in a castle together happily ever after, that was evident from the start. But, ultimately, I would say I felt betrayed by him too. He could have made different choices and he chose to hurt people for his own good. But again, in his culture, he was raised to believe that’s the only way to get ahead – at the expense of others. So I don’t know – I’m almost mad at the humans for putting so much faith and trust in him, without really understanding his background and culture before doing so.

Askama. I have no words. That scene has me bawling every time.

I loved the religious aspects of the book. The first time I read it, I was a non-believer, and every single thing Anne said was like gold to me. I still deeply love everything she said and find so many of her quotes moving – for a non-believer, she’s pretty darn spiritual and does believe, in her own way. But I am Christian now, and I do connect deeply with Emilio. I cannot even consider the idea of what he went through – he gave and gave and gave, and in return he received, from his God, the ultimate betrayal. Words cannot express what that must feel like, but Russell did a pretty damn good job doing just that. When I think of Emilio, I just get all the feels and I can’t even talk about it. I just … how do you even keep believing when that happens to you? How do you reconcile the God you love and trust with the same God who would put you in that position? These are questions that have plagued Christians for centuries, and will continue to do so forever, I’m sure. Which is one reason I love that Russell gives no easy answers – only individually can we come up with the answers for ourselves in our own lives.

Spoilers over.

Anyway, I’m so happy I read The Sparrow a third time and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Children of God, at some point before the end of the year. Thanks Trish for hosting! I had fun. 🙂