Category Archives: Valerie Anne

Final Thoughts

New Harry Potter

Note from Ashley: My post about the Epilogue is still to come next week, which is why I’ve abstained from writing final notes, myself. I get an entire post to wax poetic about the end of this series and the end of this project, so it’s only fair everyone else gets a space, too.

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JENNIE

I’ve had so much fun with this, not only writing my own posts, but getting to read what everyone else thinks about Harry Potter (SPOILER ALERT: you all love it). I’ve enjoyed all the insights everyone has had that I’ve never, ever had in all of my rereads, and the discussions that followed, but my very most favorite thing was getting to see new GIFs I’d never seen before. You guys are good at GIFs, is what I’m saying.

Also, I can’t believe it’s over. Again. Sads. Don’t mind me, I’m just going to be over here in the corner, rereading all the books and pretending Harry Potter is never going to end ever ever. Continue reading

The Tales of Beedle the Bard: These Tales Are for CHILDREN!?

Beedle and his "luxurious beard."

Beedle and his historically accurate “luxurious beard.”

As a kid, my favorite thing in the world was to read fairy-tales and fables. I couldn’t get enough of them. At one point, I think I had actually read every single book in my local library that contained anything remotely like a fairy-tale. So yeah I’m automatically going to like this, but add in that it’s an extension of the Harry Potter universe, and that each story is followed by pages of ‘commentary’ discovered after Dumbledore’s death means I’m going to LOVE it. They also come with Jo’s own hand-drawn illustrations, so bonus! (If I ever got my hands on one of Jo’s hand-inked leather-bound editions, I think my brain might explode.) I know this is technically a re-read, but if you’re like Jennie and haven’t read it before (see below), you should track down a copy and read it. It won’t even take you an hour.  –Ashley

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Product_The_Tales_of_Beedle_the_Bard_Harry_Potter_Series_J_K_Rowling_4_2115769286“The Wizard and the Hopping Pot” — Lindsay

A wizard is left a pot by his deceased father, and inside is a small, single slipper. The Muggles of the town come to the wizard in hopes that he would be as kind as his father, but he sends them all away. The Hopping Pot manifests each of the townspeople’s ailments that the wizard refuses to help. By the time the wizard has had enough, the pot does all sorts of nasty things: vomiting, spitting slugs, braying like a donkey, clacking around on its single brass foot, and it’s totally covered in warts. Finally, the wizard goes to the townspeople and offers his services, and the Hopping Pot offers up his slipper for his obnoxious foot.

Obviously, this is a story for young wizards about using magic for good. The interesting thing is that it was actually taken out of existence later because it was so pro-Muggle. It’s sort of depressing that a story that had such an important message was destroyed because of prejudices against Muggles. Perhaps JKR was making a censorship statement with this add-on.

While this is a wizard fairy tale, we Muggles can have our own moral of the story: use our lives for good. All too often we go through our days wrapped up in our own problems that we can’t see the suffering of others. I’m not even talking about the obvious stuff- homeless on the street corners, sick person in my hospital bed. Suffering is often much more abstract and not worn like a t-shirt. Just as the wizard can make a Muggles’ day better by easily curing warts, we can easily make someone’s day even just a little bit better. It doesn’t require money or a ton of work or a bleeding heart liberal view- it may just takes a simple smile or a sincere thank you. A little bit often goes a long way. We are all fragile beings. We should act more like a team, rather than every Muggle for himself.
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The Deathly Hallows, Chapters 24-25: Goodbye To You

I have a confession to make. This is only my second time ever reading this book cover to cover. I was born in the golden year to be an American Harry Potter fan: 1987. When the first book came out, I was eleven years old. I was Harry Potter. Or I could have been, if my stupid letter hadn’t gotten lost in the mail. The first three books came out annually and I waited for them eagerly, I grew up with the Trio, I worshipped Hermione. The thrice-as-long wait for the fourth book nearly killed me, but I gobbled that one right up, too. It was like coming home to old friends. But by the time the fifth book came out, I was older. More importantly, my peers were older. And meaner. Dumbledore’s death was spoiled for me and I wanted no part in it. I decided to let the series live on with only my happy memories. By the time the last book came out, I was in college, and over my stubborn refusal. I vowed to go back and read the whole series, start to finish like it’s meant to be read, but college and grad school and boring Muggle stuff got in the way, and I just never got around to it. I still quoted it and referenced it and loved it with all my heart, I just didn’t know it in its totality. Since I wanted to do it right, I never watched any of the movies past the fourth, not wanting it to spoil the reading experience I was still determined to have. So when my friend invited me to go to the midnight premiere of Deathly Hallows: Part Two, the summer after I finished grad school, I knew the timing was right. I read all of the books and watched all of the movies in less than two months, and made it to the midnight showing with the Deathly Hallows symbol inked (temporarily) on my arm.

But, as I said, this is only my second time reading this book cover to cover. I’ve read snippets here and there. Picked up the book to move it and engulfed a chapter or two on the walk from a shelf to a box. Read quotes and theories and discussions. But never really re-read it. And goodness gracious it is SAD. Sadder than the first time around, because you know their fate, even though they don’t. “When I get married,” said Fred… that’s all it took. My heart shattered. SHATTERED. And it just kept shattering over and over and over.

Anyway, as I believe I mentioned in one of my first posts here, before Harry Potter, I never really understood why people would reread books (there are so many NEW books to read!) but these…these I totally understand. And I can’t wait for next year’s reread.

Enough blabbering. We’ve got things to discuss. Sad things and complicated things and happy things and scary things. The end of one life and the beginning of another.

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The Half-Blood Prince, Chapters 29-30: “It’s mortal and stupid.”

You guys, I did so great on this reread. I didn’t even cry at all while I was reading Chapter 29. I got a little misty, but that’s it! I mentally prepared myself for the moment and stayed strong throughout.

It was these last two chapters that got me. Because the thing is, death isn’t sad. Death is natural, death is inevitable. It’s the loss that’s sad. The knowledge that you’ll never create new experiences with this person. One of the most real, most accurate portrayals of grief I’ve ever seen was in the Buffy episode “The Body” when Anya says, “I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.”

One personal story before we jump into the reason we’re all here: When I was five, my Grammie died. Her and my Papa lived around the corner, so we went there every weekend, I was very close to her. I remember hours and hours of playing with her while my parents and grandfather had “grown-up time” in the kitchen. She was more interested (or pretended to be) in playing doctor to stuffed animals, and it meant the world to me. My mom says that when my parents sat me down to tell me Grammie died, I asked two questions: “Why are your eyes leaking?” and “Can I go play now?” I didn’t understand what death meant, the word “dead” was just another word. I must have had a general understanding of the definition, because they say that the next time we went over to visit my Papa, I calmly wandered around the house, checked every room, then came up to them, shrugged, and said, “You’re right, Grammie must be dead, I can’t find her anywhere.” It wasn’t until a few weeks later that it hit me. My mom said we were walking up the front stairs, and I stopped and looked at the flowers Grammie had planted in the front yard and just lost it. I was crying hysterically. I was inconsolable. I guess it had finally hit me that she would never get to see those flowers again, and that “dead” didn’t mean “not here right now,” but “gone forever.”

And that’s sort of what these chapters are for Harry. He’s coming to terms with the fact that Dumbledore, one of the only constants in his life so far, is gone. Forever.

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The Half-Blood Prince, Chapters 7-8: A Trail of Slime

Harry is on his way to Hogwarts again, but to get there, he follows a trail of slime. From someone who voluntarily nicknames his favorite students the Slug Club to Draco “Eat Slugs” Malfoy to the slimiest teacher in all the land (according to Harry), our hero is in for an unpleasant run. 

CHAPTER 7: SLUG CLUB

Harry Potter, for once in his life, is the most right out of anyone in his immediate surroundings. His only problem is, not a one believes him. Not Hermione, not Ron. Harry knows that Draco is up to no good, but he can’t even convince Mr. Weasley that it’s something worth looking into.

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