Rereading The Goblet of Fire

It has long been known by those close to me that my least favorite book and movie of the Harry Potter series is The Goblet of Fire. The 4th year at Hogwarts just doesn't do it for me. I know a lot of people disagree and absolutely LOVE Goblet of Fire because of all the action, but for me, it just wasn't. The action is there for sure, but it just it too slow going for me. That probably sounds strange, since it isn't exactly a slow read.... I can't explain it any other way though. It just has always felt slow and muddled to me while reading. Granted, I still think it is a 4-star book... it is just a the 4 star in a series of 5 star, in my opinion.

After rereading it for the 10th time (literally), I still came away with the same feelings. I maybe enjoyed it a teensy tiny itty bit more than I have in the past - mainly because I was a bit more open to it. I went into it this time with as clean a slate as one can possibly have after reading it so many times. I think going in with the idea that this is not my least favorite and just reading it to read it, is what helped me see some of the pleasure it the book. The action is definitely there. It is an intense book and reading it without the filter of "I don't like this one" helped me acknowledge that it is a fun adventure from the get go. The Quidditch World Cup is really a fun adventure, I always seem to forget about it until I reread it. Detail and excitement are big as the troupe embarks on the event- not to mention the hysteria that follows. The romance is there too. I love the Ron - Hermione dynamic that unfolds with GoF.. but I could do without Lavender - although she does offer some comedic reprieve. I also really like that Hermione gets some outside attention as well - good for her! You can see a little confidence boost. The friendship squabbling is important too - I think it shows the reality of friendship more than we have seen in previous books. They're growing up, hormones flying, and together pretty much 24/7 - arguments are bound to happen and it is nice to see them act as foolish teenage friends every once in awhile. Brings it back to reality that they are just kids navigating a very adult problem.

Finally, the biggest thing I noticed after this reread was how drastically different the book is from the movie. I've always ranked GoF film as my least favorite for that reason, but rereading it again and then watching the movie almost immediately after really put the spotlight on the issue. I understand that it happens and is necessary is book to film adaptations, but damn does this one just piss me off. It is too far off the book for me.

So, fellow Potterheads... what are your thoughts on Harry's 4th year and the Triwizard Tournament? Do you love it or do you hate it? And how about that film adaptation - what do you think about the differences, both big and small?

Head over to Sheila's site to check out the other GoF reviews

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Those Who Remain (book 1) mini review

Those Who Remain by Priscila Santa Rose
August 2014
232 pgs
Won via Goodreads giveaway

About the book:
Hide your children, lock your doors, and load your guns because zombies are real and they are coming. Danny Terrence knows this better than anyone. He spent months preparing for the inevitable moment the disease would reach his small town. What he didn’t prepare for is the fact that nobody really believes him. Between a thirteen-year-old girl on a road trip from hell, a family of paranoid hunters having to deal with their feelings for the first time ever, a stubborn doctor butting-heads with a cold-hearted sergeant and an amoral British professor carrying the fate of humanity in his hands, Danny has it easy. Unless, of course, they all end up in his town, messing with his already messed up life. Follow these five people as their paths cross and their lives and hopes are challenged in this thrilling novel with brain-mushing humor and heart-breaking action.

My thoughts:
I won this book from the author on Goodreads and was very excited to start it. I really liked the design of the book - the way each character has a title and that is how the chapters are set up. I did struggle a bit with the dates, since they aren't sequential order, but got over it pretty quick. Three changing of the voices was more important than the dates and it all pieced together in the end. I also enjoyed how they all had a bit of a connection.
Those Who Remain is a fairly typical zombie story, but because of the style and design of the book it kept it interesting. I also really liked the government piece that plays out in the Geek and the Doctor chapters - definitely a good angle. 
Overall, satisfying and fun to read. Could end here as a stand alone, but I'm interested in reading further in the series to see how it all plays out.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Image and abbreviated book synopsis from Goodreads.


Mommy issues!

Broadway Books // July 2014
paperback, 400 pgs
ISBN: 978-0385347259
source: Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review

About the book:
Josephine Hurst has her family under control. With two beautiful daughters, a brilliantly intelligent son, a tech-guru of a husband, and a historical landmark home, her life is picture perfect. But living in this matriarch’s determinedly cheerful, yet subtly controlling domain hasn’t been easy for her family, and when her oldest daughter, Rose, runs off with a mysterious boyfriend, Josephine tightens her grip, gradually turning her flawless home into a darker sort of prison.

Resentful of her sister’s newfound freedom, Violet turns to eastern philosophy, hallucinogenic drugs, and extreme fasting, eventually landing herself in a psych ward. Meanwhile, her brother, Will, recently diagnosed with Asperger's, shrinks further into a world of self-doubt. Their father, Douglas, finds resolve in the bottom of a bottle—an addict craving his own chance to escape. Josephine struggles to maintain the family’s impeccable fa├žade, but when a violent incident leads to a visit from child protective services, the truth about the Hursts might finally be revealed.

My thoughts:
Wow! I am so glad I finally got around to taking this off my tbr pile and reading. Mother, Mother is a twisted tale that will suck you in, chew you up, and spit you back out. The concept of a horrible mother is one that most likely shocks - not so much for me. My line of work involves dealing with the fallout from lots of sociopathic and narcissistic parents. Even still, I was on the edge of my seat and did gasp in horror at Josephine. She's a horrible human being and watching her unfold on the pages from the dual perspectives of her children was intense. This book is phenomenal- the trauma induced within is so real it's scary. I almost feel like I've suffered secondary trauma as a result! (No, I haven't really, but damn does it feel a bit like it. Maybe emotional fatigue is a better descriptor. Look them up, you'll see what I mean.)
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I say it is a highly recommended book and will suggest that fans of psychological thrillers and psychology in general should definitely read this. Oh, and anyone with mommy issues or Psycho fans.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Book image and synopsis from Amazon.com


Bout of Books wrap up post

Another Bout of Books has come and gone. Hard to believe it has already been a week already - it flew by. It was fun and I am pretty pleased with my progress throughout.

I spent the day Sunday with Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles - start to finish it was an amazing book. I bawled like a baby too. Didn't do much with BoB aside from that, and I am totally okay with it because that book was awesome.

I had a great time this round of Bout of Books and even though I didn't get to spend as much time throughout the week reading, I feel like I made up for it yesterday. I'm glad I finished 3 books and pleased with myself for participating in 4 challenges. The challenges were fun, but my favorite was definitely the books in pictures.

So, how did you do with your Bout of Books readathon this time? If you didn't join in, did you see how much we had and decided you gotta join in next time? (pssst - it's May 11th - 17th) I know I can't wait for the next one!

Now, without further ado, let's recap....

Bout of Books 12 Totals:

Books completed: 3
     * Lovey by Mary MacCracken
     * Those Who Remain (book 1) by Priscila Santa Rose
     * Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Total pages: 667
Total time spent read: 11 hours 35 min

BoB challenges completed: 4
     * Book in Pictures challenge
     * Synopsis challenge (completed on Twitter)
     * New Years Resolution challenge
     * BoB Scavenger Hunt challenge (completed on Instagram)

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


BoB12 - day 6 update

Time to share my day 6 of Bob12!

Blogging Stats:


Reading Stats:

Book(s) read: Those Who Remain book 1 by Priscilla Santa Rosa, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
Pages read: 148
Time spent reading: 2hrs 35m

Bout of Books Totals:

Book(s) completed: Lovey by Mary MacCracken, Those Who Remain book 1 by Priscilla Santa Rosa
Pages: 355
Time: 5hr 45m
Blog posts: 11 (including this)
Challenges completed: 4

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Bout of Books 12 - day 5 wrap up

Whoa, time to wrap up day 5 of Bob12! Little late on my update post. 

Blogging Stats:
Completed the book in pictures challenge

Reading Stats:
Book(s) read: Those Who Remain book 1 by Priscilla Santa Rosa, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
Pages read: 39
Time spent reading: 30m

Bout of Books Totals:
Book(s) completed: Lovey by Mary MacCracken
Pages: 207
Time: 3hr 10m
Blog posts: 10 (including this)
Challenges completed: 4

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Book in Pictures: Goblet of Fire

Happy day 5, Bout of Book readathoners! The Book Monsters are hosting today's challenge and are encouraging BoB participants to take their current book (one they read during Bout of Books 12) and describe it using pictures. I love letting pictures tell a story - so this challenge is right up my alley!

I was originally going to do this challenge for Lovey by Mary MacCracken (which I finished this week and reviewed on the blog today), but then I decided I wanted to challenge myself more and do it with Goblet of Fire - without using movie stills! So, here goes.....

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Hahaha... I hope you enjoyed it!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Bout of Books 12 - day 4 wrap up

Hard to believe we've already wrapped up day 4 of Bob12!

Blogging Stats:
Completed the synopsis challenge

Reading Stats:
Book(s) read: Those Who Remain book 1 by Priscilla Santa Rosa
Pages read: 82
Time spent reading: 1hr 20m

Bout of Books Totals:
Book(s) completed: Lovey by Mary MacCracken
Pages: 168
Time: 2hr 40m
Blog posts: 8 (including this)
Challenges completed: 3

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Harper Element // April 2014 (original pub. 1978)
paperback, 256 pgs
ISBN: 978-0007555147

 About the book
This deeply moving memoir tells the story of Hannah: a child who has been beaten and abused; a girl full of loneliness and rage; a student no one but learning disabilities teacher Mary MacCracken could reach.
Mary had reservations about eight-year-old Hannah joining her class. The three emotionally disturbed boys she was currently looking after had been making steady progress, and Hannah, who had a reputation for being a withdrawn and incredibly troubled child, would only be a disruptive influence.
For the first fortnight Hannah retired to a cupboard and refused to come out. Howling almost non-stop she was displaying the worst symptoms that Mary had ever seen.
How could Mary help a child who had been shut up in closets and treated like an animal? What could she say to a child who had been locked out of her own home, and beaten by both her brother and her father? How could she reach this lost girl?
This is the remarkable story of Hannah and Mary’s journey together. Deep within Hannah, Mary recognises an amazing strength. And with love, skill and patience, she gradually starts to make a difference. It’s a long road to recovery, but Mary never gives up.
As this moving true story unfolds, we feel Mary’s joy, we share her hope and, in time, her faith that Hannah will be okay.

My thoughts:
As a veteran 6:1:1 middle school teacher of students at a residential treatment center (think: "at-risk", emotionally disturbed, mental health diagnosis, behavior issues, juvenile delinquent, etc etc... give me an acronym or diagnosis, I've probably experienced it), this book was put into my hands. I found it in our library as books for staff and upon cracking the spine, I realized why. That first moment where Mary realizes her class is changing?- yea, that happened to me the week prior. This book hits home for me. I have been immersed in this field for so long that sometimes I lose perspective and find myself drained of all hope. Winter break seemed like the best time to recharge my batteries and read this book to remind myself why it is that I teach the kids I do.
Lovey is a heartbreaking and heartwarming story of a woman dedicated not to her job, but to her students. Mary is a first class teacher. I've read some backlash and hard judgment she has gotten and I can tell you that until you've been in shoes like hers, you have no clue. It is a whole other world. Maty does a superb job!
While reading, I kept finding bits of my kids in her students... I found ideas to modify and put into practice... I found drive, love, and hope. Lovey is a perfect representation of why I do what I do. It changes lives and it changes you.
Highly recommended.

About the author:
Mary MacCracken is a learning disabilities specialist and the author of four bestselling memoirs. She was first published in the 1970s/80s. Mary is now retired and lives in New Jersey, but she is still passionate about sharing her amazing stories and experiences.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Imagine, book synopsis, and author information from Amazon.com


Bout of Books 12 - day 3 wrap up

Another day gone by! Wednesday was busy and I predicted that I wouldn't have much BoB time... and I was right. We had a meeting at work which ran late, then I went home and tackled the sad task of taking down the tree and all our holiday decor. I ended the night with friends at wing night. Fun day, but unsuccessful BoB day!

Blogging Stats:
I did zip, zilch, nada, nothing! (well, except my day 2 wrap up post)

Reading Stats:
Book(s) read: Those Who Remain by Priscila Santa Rosa
Pages read: 13
Time spent reading: 10 minutes in bed

Bout of Books Totals:
Book(s) completed: Lovey by Mary MacCracken
Pages: 86
Time: 1hr 20m
Blog posts: 6 (including this)
Challenges completed: 2

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Bout of Books 12 - day 2 wrap up

Day 2 of Bout of Books is a wrap!

Blogging Stats:
- wrote 1 scheduled post

Reading Stats:
Book(s) read: Lovey by Mary MacCracken
Book(s) finished: Lovey by Mary MacCracken
Pages read: 31
Time spent reading: 25 mins

Another exhausted night... I finished Lovey but was way too tired to both starting another book. We will be busy today (day 3) too, so I doubt I'll read a book cover to cover, but I am hopeful to get more reading in as the rest of the week moves on.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


Bout of Books 12 - day 1 wrap up

Yesterday was Day 1 of Bout of Books 12... it flew by!

Blogging Stats:
- 2014 wrap up post (finally got to check that of my to-do list!)
- sign up post (because I was late to the party this year!)
- New Years resolution challenge (had to put on my thinking hat!)
- Bout of Books scavenger hunt challenge (see my picture below)

Reading Stats:
Book(s) read: Lovey by Mary MacCracken
Pages read: 42
Time spent reading: around 45 minutes

I would have liked to have spent more time reading, but being as it was my first day back to teaching, I came home and was exhausted. Middle school after a 12 day holiday break is wild. Haha... so, I completed my blogging things during the day and when I got home, then tried to read in bed and promptly fell asleep with the book on my face. Oh well! There's always day 2!

Bout of Books Scavenger Hunt! - originally posted on Instagram

1. JH (cheated and used my soon-to-be initial H because I didn't have anything JP)
2. Yellow books
3. Stephen King
4. Female protagonist (Bell Jar)
5. Longest book I own (Under the Dome)
6. Book with a map (LoTR)
7. Face (Speak)
8. Non-book item on shelf

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow


New Years Resolution Challenge

I'm not a resolution maker, never really have been. Sometimes I set a few random goals, but that is about all. This year, I found this gorgeous and inspiring picture on Pinterest and am using that as a guideline for this challenge.
The idea is to pick books that represent your 2015 goals... here goes:

1. The Time Machine by HG Wells
2. Wonder by RJ Palacio
3. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
4. The Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn
5. Walking the Amazon by Ed Stafford
6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
7. Eat, Pray, Love by Liz Gilbert
8. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Hop on over to The Book That.. and join in the fun and complete your own New Years Resolution challenge

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

Bout of Books 12 - everyone sign up!!

I cannot believe it is that time again - time for another Bout of Books! I've participated in both sessions for years, and always look forward to joining in. Too bad BoB12 doesn't sync up with my holiday break (we went back today) so my participation will be after work and grading student assignments.

So, what exactly is Bout of Books you ask?

Here's the official blurb on BoB12:
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 5th and runs through Sunday, January 11th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 12 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

My thoughts?... it is a super fun and very relaxed week long readathon event! The event has lots of fun mini challenges, giveaways, twitter chats, and blogging fun!  NEW this session is the lack of a goal post. I am thrilled about this. I've started to release myself from goal posts and BoB being goal free is awesome... it means no pity party when I inevitably "fail" at some of my goals. I'm excited for another fun Bout of Books event...

Hope to see you around!
You can catch Little Bird Reads all over social media - let's chat!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

2014 wrap up

Wow. Where did 2014 go? It seems like every year the time flies by faster and faster and before I know it, it is on to the next. I can't believe it is already January 5th and I am back to work and into the swing of things. I tend to lose time when on break - I've always been this way... I pay no mind to the date or the hours and just listen to my body and hang out. I am exceptionally lazy and pretty much read or craft all day. This past holiday break was no different. Hence, why here it is, the 5th day of the new year and I'm just now getting around to blogging. It doesn't help that I only have a mini laptop at home and struggle with blogging on my phone. I swear, one of these days, someone is going to update blogger and make blogging on android systems easy.

So anyways...
In 2014, I read 83 books (of my goal of 80) on the Goodreads Challenge. 3 of those books were not listed on my GR account because I read them twice in one year (Harry Potter years 1-3).

Out of all the books I read in 2014, without a doubt, my favorite of the year was Pandemic by Scott Sigler - I waited years for this release and  was thrilled to finally read it. If you haven't read the Infected series by Scott, I suggest you run to the store and get all three right now. They're terrifying. Scott Sigler is a master of terror. His novels are horrifying and I've always been impressed. Infected was the first book I read of his, followed quickly by it's sequel, Contagious... it was then that I had to wait years for Pandemic to release. As I waited, I read Ancestor and really enjoyed it. He has other novels I have yet to pick up, but will definitely be doing so in 2015.

Now, as for the other stand out books of 2014:
click the caption to redirect to my original reviews of each book

so amazing I used it to teach my middle school students about bullying
5 stars went to this debut
I loved this one and gave it 5 stars as well 
check my 4-star mini review here
read my 4-star review here

no review -  I will post more about this in 2015

So, for the year 2014, I am happy with my reading. I enjoyed most of the books I read - lots of  4 star reviews. Of course, I read some that just didn't do it for me... but, it is what it is. I've also gotten a lot of pleasure out of rereading Harry Potter- twice! I reread it early on in the year, then joined in the Harry Potter rereadathon hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. I reread the first 3 in 2014 and am going to start out 2015 reading Goblet of Fire.

Quick stats for 2014:
Books read - 83
Pages read - 26,499
First book of 2014: Jenny Rat by Martin Simons
Last book of 2014: The Treatment by Suzanne Young
Books purchased: 6
Books received from publisher: 46
Books off my TBR pile: 11
Books borrowed (library): 5
Books that were rereads: 15 (Harry Potter 1-7, Infected 1-2, The Hunger Games 1-3, Harry Potter 1-3)
Books reviewed on blog: 47
Did not finish: 2

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow