Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey

Why hello Internet! Welcome to my bad idea. For whatever reason (okay, probably Ghost Files) I have been obsessed with spooky this season. From binge listening to true crime and campfire story podcasts to binge watching true crime and ghost hunting videos, I have been Team Spoopy this year. I’m going into this box as I normally do with OUABC boxes, however I know that this is their spooky box for 2022, meaning it is their scary version. As I was opening up the box, I read the letter on the back of the print and just the writing was enough to get my heart racing, so this is going to be an adventure. I’m starting this at 10:30 pm because I love bad ideas, please pray for my soul. Look, let’s just jump into this, and if you are reading this, just know that I at least survived until the morning. I’ll see you soon at the first gift!

Page 26

“While her eyes were shut tight, the fingers of her right hand twitched around the screwdrivers.”

Just Like Home, page 26

Vera returns home to her childhood home because her mother is dying. Her father was obviously a bad dude because everyone knows his name (and not in the Cheers way), but we don’t know what he did yet. We know the house is creepy, but don’t know why yet.

Firstly, thank you to the OUABC team for breaking up this moment. This particular gift is both the most practical and the most me gift I could have gotten. I have the most wonderful nephew whose love I am desperately trying to buy, so the amount of tiny little screws I need to remove is crazy. I definitely will be using it every day of the week.

In regards of the book, I had a solid hour and a half of falling down the video rabbithole, so I’m a little on edge but not totally invested. Had I not opened this gift, I probably would be hooked because the lead up to this figure on the bed had me spooked.

Anyway my friends, I am going to finish this chapter, crash, then see you all tomorrow morning with the next gift!

Page 45

“She let out a sob of relief as the long gray rope fell to the floor…”

Just Like Home, page 45

Vera goes to sleep, bringing us to a memory from her childhood. In that memory, she is talking with her father about something underneath her bed. Her dad tells her there is nothing there, and they also have a conversation about how she can’t go down into the basement, that is her father’s place. Which knowing that he eventually gets arrested is a bit of a red flag. As Vera awakes, she is 1) in a closet which is weird and 2) cold which she then goes into a hole in her gut to pull out the thing that is making her cold. Yes, I recognize that is a weird sentence, but that is where we are.

I haven’t pulled this completely out yet, but I do appreciate that it isn’t the white stringy mess you normally get in a CVS. I’m hoping that it is a little cartoony spider web that I can hang on my fireplace during the season.

In terms of the story: I have had a rough go getting into this one. I want to be very clear, it has nothing to do with the wriiting, I think the writing is incredible. But with other responsibilities in front of me, I’ve lost track of trying to keep up with the story. I have about 3 hours to focus in on this book, so hopefully I can really get into this. Anyway friends, I will see you all in about 20 pages!

Page 67

“She held the thermos over the countertop and shook it hard from side to side until the little cylinder of paper stopped catching on the inside of the lip.”

Just Like Home, page 67

Alrighty friends, so Vera makes it through the night and the next day goes into town to get storage bins. While in town, she runs into her childhood best friend’s mom which does not go well. Vera meets James Duvall who is the artist staying at the Crowder House. Once she returns home, Vera begins working on the kitchen where she finds her father’s old thermos.

Friends, there are not a lot of things that get me super hyped, but water bottles and candles are my jam. This is such a cute water bottle that I 1000% am going to take to work with me. I was disappointed when the thermos was introduced in the previous pages and we didn’t get to the gift, but this guy blew me away. I’ve been getting OUABC gifts for a few years and I have received water bottles from them that were really small for my liking, but this is a full sized one that is also metal which is another plus in my heart. I cannot express how genuinely happy I am to be getting this. Okay, let’s move on.

Does it surprise anyone that I am now almost 8 hours after the last gift. I truly am so easily distracted. Anyway, I will say that I am starting to really get into this book (I promise) because my heart was hammering when Vera looked into the thermos. I was fully expecting a jump scare. But I am going to put my computer and phone away from me and see what that does, hopefully I will see you all soon!

Page 190

“…she couldn’t tell herself that she was imagining the sensation of the quilt stretching out.”

Just Like Home, page 190

Vera has continued to find more notes from her father’s journal about her. She is hoping to learn more about her father’s love since she isn’t getting it from her mother. We begin to unravel Vera’s history with her father including the time she was kissed by her male best friend and her parents’ different reactions. We also learn that Francis, Vera’s father, would kill men that he felt had a grease in them, which I am assuming is based around the adjective “slimy”. When we open this gift, we had our first real taste of something strong under Vera’s bed.

I know I said in the last gift that water bottles and candles get me hyped, but I didn’t even have blankets in my mind when I said that. Give me comfort items and you best believe I am happy. Now I know I didn’t open it up completely, but this is a woven ouija board blanket. I grew up believing that ouija boards are no joke, so I am a little hesitant around the blanket (can take the girl out of the church but can’t take the church out of the girl, am I right?) but I am surprised by the quality. It feels really soft for a woven blanket, so I am curious to see how it holds up!

We are now on night 3 and the scariest night because it is Halloween night. I as a grown adult am actively deciding to read in the dark hoping that will cause me to have less distractions. I am really starting to get into this one to the point I read past the post-it note just so I would know how the scene ended. I am so excited to keep reading, and I am hoping that since there are no more gifts that I will really fall down the rabbit-hole tonight!

Final Thoughts

We really go down memory lane to understand who Francis was and what he had done. We also learn about how he was caught. As we go, we start to really build in conflict with James, even so far as he claims that he is the rightful owner of the house. The intensity continues to build until we eventually find out what is under the bed and how we can finally reach a resolution to this situation.

Listen friends, I got really into this. I ended up finishing around 1 AM, and I wanted to end still feeling the aftereffects of a haunting. Unfortunately, the ending just didn’t do it for me. It felt to me like we were trying really hard to tie everything up in a few pages and I almost wish we didn’t. I think the story would have been so much better if we never knew what lived under the bed. Like it felt like we found out too much at the end, but I think it would have been better to have something still up in the air. Something about having so much resolve left me feeling like “oh… okay I guess” which is really disappointing for how amazing the writing was.

For someone who is looking for a spooky tale, this one’s for you. There were a few times where I was mentally preparing myself for the jump scare coming at me. The jump scares were a little obvious, I was ready a page or so ahead of them, but it hit the spooky bells for me. I don’t recommend it for my friends who have a hard time reading scary novels (no shame in the book game, I only recently started getting into scary novels), I don’t recommend this one. It is just a little too much for general audiences. Ultimately, I am going to give this a 4.5 star rating for the writing, but a 3.75 for the book as a whole.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Horror Hotel by Victoria Fulton and Faith McClaren

Trigger Warning: This book is centered around ghosts and psychic/mediums. This book also includes a murder with a description of gore. There is some minor drug use and mentions of the occult. If these are triggers for you, read at your own discretion.

Hello friends! When I originally saw the cover for this book, it reminded me of The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James. As I got farther in, it reminded me of Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz. If you enjoyed either of these books, this one should be right up your alley.

When Chase discovers that Chrissy is a psychic, he creates a YouTube channel called the Ghost Gang. Comprised of Chrissy, Chase, Kiki, and Emmaline, the group decides to go to the Hearst Hotel to do an investigation. Pretty quickly into their investigation, Chrissy meets Bram, a fellow psychic. She begins to gravitate to him because he has the ability to quiet the spirits that surround them, a skill Chrissy has not mastered.

When investigating, the gang finds a dead body. When they try to find help in the hotel, the body magically seems to disappear. But when they discover another one, they need to figure out what is going on before they are next.

Okay, for anyone who is interested, this book is heavily inspired by Elisa Lam and the Cecil Hotel. I am not going to go into a lot of detail into the case (there is a Netflix docuseries called Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel or a personal favorite, Buzzfeed Unsolved that could do that for you), but here is the Cliffnotes version. Elisa Lam traveled to the Cecil Hotel where she stayed in the hostel within the hotel. While there, she stopped taking her medications, causing her bipolar disorder to go unchecked. She ended up disappearing, only for her body to show up in a water tank weeks later. While conspiracy theorists believe that paranormal activity was the reason for her death, the official cause of death was accidental drowning caused by untreated bipolar disorder.

In this book, we focus on the paranormal conspiracy theory instead of the mental health disorder. Which is fine, I get it. It’s an interesting idea. But I’m unbelievably disappointed that it follows so much of the Elisa Lam story. I understand that there is some original story, and I think that the writing is so well done, but the entire time I was reading through it, I kept saying to myself “Oh, so like Elisa Lam” which I shouldn’t be able to say multiple times. I want to be left with the overall feeling like it is like the story, not specific details. And can I just say, it kills me that this book is so unoriginal. But the cover though. That cover artist deserves a raise.

While I enjoyed this novel, I feel like I can’t give this one a high rating. I think I would give this a 3.5 rating, while I would give the cover art a 10,000 rating.

Let’s Talk… Spells and Death

Over the past few years, J.K. Rowling has made statements that are TERF, or against the trans community (especially towards male-to-female). These statements are completely against the thoughts and ideas of the creator of this blog. I have been and always will be an ally for any member of the LGBTQIA+ community. You exist, and you are valid. If you are struggling and need to talk to a counselor, there are many resources available at thetrevorproject.org.

When we first see spells after death, we are introduced to Sirius’ family. His mother, and I believe other ancestors as well, used a permanent binding spell that attaches a picture frame to a wall so that you can never remove it. Maybe this spell is different considering there is a “permanent” aspect, but shouldn’t the spell have not been binding following her death?

One of the reasons I ask is because at the end of the Half-Blood Prince, Harry knows that Dumbledore is dead by the fact that the spell he was under breaks. So is it just because it was a temporary spell or is it because it is against a living human? Does that mean any Imperius or Confund curses would break upon the spellcaster’s death? These are late night thoughts with Elizabeth, I hope you enjoyed.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Over the past few years, J.K. Rowling has made statements that are TERF, or against the trans community (especially towards male-to-female). These statements are completely against the thoughts and ideas of the creator of this blog. I have been and always will be an ally for any member of the LGBTQIA+ community. You exist, and you are valid. If you are struggling and need to talk to a counselor, there are many resources available at thetrevorproject.org.

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

As Harry approaches his 17th birthday, the protection the Dursleys provided is reaching its end. The Dursleys are forced to move away to protect themselves, and Harry is moved by the Order to the Burrow until he loses “the Trace”: how the Ministry can track underage witches and wizards. Once there, Harry learns that both Ron and Hermione have every intention of helping Harry find and destroy the horcruxes. While celebrating his 17th birthday, meaning that he is now of-age, Minister Scrimgeour shows up to dispense with Dumbledore’s will. Hermione received a copy of The Tales of Beedle Bard, Ron received the Deluminator, and Harry received the snitch he caught in his first quidditch match. Harry was also supposed to receive the Sword of Gryffindor, but the Minister said it was not Dumbledore’s to give.

While attending Bill and Fleur’s wedding, the Ministry fell. Harry, Ron, and Hermione (for sake of typing, I am going to be referring to them as HRH) fled to London to try and escape the Death Eaters. They end up meeting a pair, which they were able to attack and obliviate. When those Death Eaters returned to Voldemort without Potter, they were tortured. HRH go and stay in Grimmauld Place with the hope that they are safe since they are secret keepers. There, they discover the identity of RAB, Sirius’ brother. Hoping that the real horcrux would be in the house, they ask Kreacher if he has seen it. Kreacher tells them that Mundungus Fletcher had been through the house and taken things to sell. Fletcher tells them that the necklace horcrux was taken by Dolores Umbridge, giving them a plan for their next steps.

HRH use polyjuice potion to change their appearance to Ministry workers. As they go to the Ministry with the intention of finding Dolores. They find her in the court chambers where she is interrogating Mudbloods, believing that anyone muggle-born is incapable of being a witch or wizard. They recognize that the necklace she is wearing is the horcrux they are looking for, so they attack her. Once they gain control of the necklace, they make a run for it, but a Ministry official was able to grab on. The official apparated with them to Grimmauld Place, so HRH had to give it up as a safehouse. They then choose to trek in the wilderness in order to stay hidden from Voldemort.

As they try to destroy the horcrux, they learn that the horcruxes cannot be destroyed using regular magic. They realize that was why Dumbledore wanted HRH to have the sword. Until they can figure out where the sword is, they trade-off wearing the necklace so it never gets misplaced, but wearing it means that they tend to be angry than usual. Eventually the stagnation and horcrux becomes too much and he leaves Harry and Hermione.

Harry and Hermione decide that they need to go to Godric’s Hollow, thinking that Dumbledore may have hidden the sword in Gryffindor’s birthplace. There they meet Bathilda Bagshot, who is Nagini in disguise. Once she gets Harry alone, she calls for Voldemort, but Harry and Hermione are able to escape seconds before he could arrive. They go back into hiding. While they were in Godric’s Hollow, Hermione was able to pick up an exposé of Dumbledore, where she finds the same weird design in a letter he sent to Grindelwald.

While on watch, Harry spots a doe patronus. When he followed it, he finds the sword of Gryffindor at the bottom of a lake. While trying to get it, the necklace horcrux tries to drown him instead of letting him get the sword. Thankfully, Ron returns in the nick of time and is able to save Harry. Harry lets Ron destroy the horcrux, but sees that Ron’s biggest fear is that Harry and Hermione are together. Harry reassures Ron that he loves Hermione as a sister and that she was very upset when Ron left. When Ron returns to camp to let Hermione know that he is back, she begrudgingly accepts back in their group.

Believing that it is not a coincidence that the weird design has showed up in multiple places, HRH head to Xeno Lovegood to learn about the mark. This mark is the sign of the Deathly Hallows, based on a story from Tales of Beedle Bard. In this story, there is an elder wand, a resurrection stone, and an invisibility cloak that together can make you invincible to death. Believing that he has the invisibility cloak, Harry is sure that he will need the other two hallows for his fight with Dumbledore. As they discuss this, Xeno Lovegood calls for the Death Eaters to come, hoping that he could exchange Harry for his daughter, Luna.

While they are running away, Harry accidentally says Voldemort’s name which is being tracked by the Ministry. This calls the Snatchers to HRH believing that only members of the Order would be willing to say Voldemort’s name. Hermione disfigures Harry’s face so they cannot tell it is him, but the Snatchers still believe that it is him. They take HRH (and Dean Thomas who was previously captured by the Snatchers) to Malfoy Manor, but as they are about to call the Dark Lord, Bellatrix catches her eye on the sword of Gryffindor. Since it is supposed to be in her vault at Gringotts, she decides to torture Hermione to see if she took anything else. Harry and Ron are taken into the cellar where they find Mr. Ollivander, Luna, and Griphook, a Gringotts goblin. Realizing that they are going to need help getting out of there, Harry uses the mirror Sirius gave him to ask for help. In return, the person behind the mirror gave them Dobby. Dobby is able to help them escape, but he ends up dying from Bellatrix’s knife. They go to Bill and Fleur’s cottage and bury Dobby there.

Since Bellatrix responded so badly to her vault being broken into, Harry is sure that there is a horcrux inside. With that gut feeling, HRH make a deal with Griphook that if he can get them into the vault, they will give him the sword. They go in using polyjuice potion, but do not plan for the waterfall that exposes any magical enchantments. Once they get to the vault, Harry recognizes Hufflepuff’s Cup, believing it is a horcrux. As they enter the vault, they learn that there is an enchantment that causes anything you touch to multiply as a form of anti-theft. They are able to get the cup, but just, losing the sword to Griphook in the process. He leaves them to figure out how to get out of the bank by themselves, so they take the dragon that is guarding the lower vaults and fly him out of the bank. They land in a lake as the dragon takes a drink.

When Voldemort finds out that the cup was stolen, Harry was able to access his mind and learn where the other horcruxes are. He learned that the final two horcruxes are Ravenclaw’s diadem, which is at Hogwarts, and the snake, Nagini. Knowing they would not be able to apparate into Hogwarts, they apparate into the neighboring village of Hogsmeade. There they meet Dumbledore’s brother who is willing to help them into the castle. Once in the castle, Harry goes off to find the diadem while Ron and Hermione go to the Chamber of Secrets to obtain a basilisk fang. Once the two horcruxes are destroyed, Harry heads to the Shrieking Shack where he believes Voldemort is. There they see Snape killed by Nagini. When Harry goes too him, Snape cries memories for Harry to use in the Pensieve. After using the Pensieve, Harry learns what he must do next in order to end this once and for all.

Oof… I think I essentially wrote another novel. I tried to read this before, probably around 2009, but I gave up around the Gringotts scene. It always felt like so much happened while at the same time nothing. Unfortunately, now that I have read it, I gave up right when the action was starting to happen. For a very long time in the novel, it felt a lot like “I have no idea what I am doing but you have to just stick around”, which makes the book more believable, but less entertaining. I think the reason why I was so willing to keep reading this time is 1) for the blog, but 2) because I had seen the movies. I had an idea of what was going to happen which drove me forward. It should not be like that, but that is where we are.

I think part of the reason it is hard to read is because we have read A LOT of pages to get to this point. Even to get to Gringotts, you have to read over 500 pages in this book alone. Though there is only 200 pages left after that, it is hard to keep pushing to finish. For that reason, I think I am going to give this book a 2.75 out of 5 stars.

Compared to the Movie

This book is the only one to receive 2 movies. The first movie tracks until Dobby’s death, while the second movie really focuses on the Battle at Hogwarts. There is little that is not included in the movies, although some things are changed or moved around. Actually, I think the first movie especially has add-ins to try and emphasize the emotions when they were hidden in the woods. I personally like the adaptations, although there were clearly moments that were added for comedic or dramatic effect. More or less, they are pretty spot on.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

Over the past few years, J.K. Rowling has made statements that are TERF, or against the trans community (especially towards male-to-female). These statements are completely against the thoughts and ideas of the creator of this blog. I have been and always will be an ally for any member of the LGBTQIA+ community. You exist, and you are valid. If you are struggling and need to talk to a counselor, there are many resources available at thetrevorproject.org.

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

Now that the Ministry is aware that Voldemort has returned, Minister Fudge is removed and Minister Scrimgeour is his replacement. His first task is to deal with the headlines that begin to reach muggle ears, including deaths and a bridge collapse.

Harry receives a note from Dumbledore stating that he will collect him from the Dursleys. They head to a village where Harry convinces Professor Slughorn to join Hogwarts. Pleased with Harry, Dumbledore takes Harry to the Burrow (the Weasley house) to stay for the rest of the summer. Before he lets him go, however, Dumbledore explains that he wants to have private lessons with Harry this year. In the Burrow, Harry learns that Bill, Ron’s older brother, is engaged to former Beauxbaton champion, Fleur Delacour, much to the chagrin of the other Weasleys. The family heads to Diagon Alley to get everything they need for the upcoming year, but Harry, Ron, and Hermione catch Malfoy heading to Borgin and Burkes in neighboring Knockturn Alley.

As they head to Hogwarts, Harry and Neville are invited to attend a lunch in Slughorn’s train car. These meals become known as the Slug Club, a collection of students that Slughorn sees as potentially beneficial for him to know. On the way back, Harry uses his invisibility cloak to sneak into Draco’s car to see if he gives any information about what he was doing in Borgin and Burkes. Malfoy catches him and attacks Harry, intending for Harry to never make it to the castle. When he finally does thanks to discovery from an Order member, Harry and his fellow students learn that Professor Slughorn will be taking over Potions, while Snape will become the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor.

Since Professor Slughorn’s standards for his N.E.W.T. classes is less than Snape’s, Harry is able to take Potions. Since he didn’t think he would be able to take the class, he did not have a textbook yet, so he borrowed an old copy from the school. The book was originally owned by the “Half-Blood Prince”, though there is no information as to who that witch or wizard could be. Using the book, Harry has instructions that improve the potion making process, causing him to quickly excel in the class. Much to Hermione’s frustration, Harry was able to win a bottle of Felix Felicis, also known as liquid luck.

When Harry attends his first lesson with Dumbledore, he learns that they are going to be going back through memories to get a better understanding of Tom Riddle and how he eventually became Lord Voldemort. Through these memories, Dumbledore gives Harry an idea of the air of pain and anguish that Voldemort experienced as a child and eventual adult. It also gave them an idea of what Voldemort found important. However, they were missing one huge memory, a memory that Harry would have to recover himself from Professor Slughorn.

As the Quidditch captain, Harry had to choose who would be on the team this year. Both Ginny and Ron made the team, which caused a lot of people to believe that Harry was only giving the team spots to his friends. With that pressure, Ron started to lose faith that he could be good enough for the team and his performance began to slip. Harry, trying to think how he could help his friend, pretended to slip Felix Felicis into Ron’s drink, letting him think that he would be able to make lucky saves. Following the match, Ron was kissed by Lavender Brown in front of the entire common room. Hermione was hurt that Ron would kiss someone blatantly in front of her, and they stopped talking to each other after that.

Returning from a Hogsmeade trip, fellow Gryffindor Katie Bell is cursed by a necklace. Believing that Malfoy was behind it, Harry tried to explain to McGonagall, but she believed Harry just held a grudge against him. When Draco crashes Slughorn’s Christmas party, Harry overhears Snape say that he took an Unbreakable Vow with Draco’s mother to help him this year. This information just cements in Harry’s mind that Draco is up to something very bad.

When Ron accidentally eats love-potioned chocolates that were for Harry, Harry takes him to Professor Slughorn. After receiving an antidote, Slughorn offers Ron and Harry a drink of mead. However, the mead was poisoned, causing Harry to save Ron’s life. They learn that the mead was supposed to be a gift for Professor Dumbledore, leading Harry to believe that Malfoy was behind the attack once again.

As he tries to figure out how he could get the memory from Slughorn, he realizes that he needs some luck. He takes the liquid luck and is able to finally get the final piece of the puzzle: Voldemort created 7 horcruxes in order to prevent him from dying. In order to kill Voldemort, he would have to eliminate all of the horcruxes first. He also learns that he destroyed one in his second year: the diary from the Chamber of Secrets. He also learns that Dumbledore had destroyed another one: the ring from Slytherin. He also learns that the other Horcruxes are more than likely a locket that Voldemort’s mother used to own, a cup from Hufflepuff, an item from Ravenclaw, and Voldemort’s snake, Nagini. When Dumbledore believes he knows how to get another horcrux, he takes Harry. There they try to decipher the tricks and spells placed by Voldemort in the hopes of destroying yet another horcrux.

I think that this book was probably the coolest in the sense that we finally started to understand who Voldemort was and why he became the Dark Lord. Since this is the last time Harry will be able to get help from Dumbledore, it provides this big crescendo of now that we know what brought us here, let’s start the war. It is very well written, although there were a few times where you wanted to just scream at the book to give us all the information instead of making us work for it. It does drag sometimes since Dumbledore continues to only give us information in short spurts. Overall, I would give this one a 3.75 out of 5 stars.

Compared to the Movie

Once again, the movie got the broad strokes, but it missed a lot of really cool things. For example, the movie only showed the memory of Tom in the orphanage, but missed all of the memories of his mother before his birth. I think that out of all the longer books, this movie was probably the best. It covered what it needed to cover, but we can’t forget that the book obviously filled in holes that the movie just didn’t have time to cover.

One of the weird things they changed was the Christmas at the Burrow. In the book, Harry is visited by Scrimgeour and Percy as they try to convince him to be the face of the ministry. However, in the movie, the Burrow is visited by a bunch of Death Eaters that end up blowing the Burrow apart. The Burrow is still standing in the 7th book. This scene is a very weird addition to the series.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Let’s Talk… Lost in Memories

Over the past few years, J.K. Rowling has made statements that are TERF, or against the trans community (especially towards male-to-female). These statements are completely against the thoughts and ideas of the creator of this blog. I have been and always will be an ally for any member of the LGBTQIA+ community. You exist, and you are valid. If you are struggling and need to talk to a counselor, there are many resources available at thetrevorproject.org.

Why hello, and welcome back to Harry Potter week! In the Goblet of Fire, we are introduced to the Pensieve, a basin where you can re-enter memories, both your own or someone else’s. By going into someone’s memories, you have access to information that you may have never obtained. While it is cool, I have questions (what else is new?).

Question #1: Can you get stuck in someone’s memories? Since you get sucked into the memory when you look in, can an enemy trap you in there? And more importantly, can you tell that someone is in a memory if you didn’t go in there with them? When Dumbledore caught him, Harry was supposed to be in the office and when he wasn’t, I assume that Dumbledore saw that the door for the Pensieve was open. The more interesting instance was when Snape caught him. Snape gets called away leaving Harry in the office while there was a memory still in the Pensieve. Harry gets intrigued and looks in, which is where Snape finds him. Did Snape look in because he had an inkling that something was amiss, or was there an obvious mark that there was someone in the memory?

Question #2: If you can store memories, can you also store fantasies? Can you store dreams? And if so, can you replicate them over and over and over again? Can you create a business of creating moments, moments that exist in your mind, and then sell them to the general public? And if you can do that, can you turn that into a wizarding version of movies? Or even short-form entertainment like Tik Tok or YouTube?

Question #3: Do you keep the memory if you bottle it? If a memory is created, wouldn’t it make sense that it can only be destroyed? But let’s say you can keep the memory, is there a cap on how many times you can bottle the memory before it starts to fall apart?

Anyway, welcome to my brain, hope you enjoyed!

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Over the past few years, J.K. Rowling has made statements that are TERF, or against the trans community (especially towards male-to-female). These statements are completely against the thoughts and ideas of the creator of this blog. I have been and always will be an ally for any member of the LGBTQIA+ community. You exist, and you are valid. If you are struggling and need to talk to a counselor, there are many resources available at thetrevorproject.org.

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

While with the Dursleys, Harry and Dudley are attacked by 2 dementors. The Ministry accused Harry of using magic inappropriately, which caused him to be expelled. However, Dumbledore was able to convince the Ministry that they should schedule a hearing rather than expel him outright. Trying to increase his protection, Harry is moved to Sirius’ house, home of the Order of the Phoenix, the anti-Voldemort movement. The Order takes Harry to his hearing where he is acquitted of the charges.

As they head back to school, the students learn that the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is Dolores Umbridge, a Ministry official. She believes that the best way to teach the students defense is by giving them a theoretical education rather than one based on practice. When Harry defends his position that Voldemort has returned, Umbridge punishes him by making him write lines stating that “I must tell lies” using his own blood.

As the students become frustrated with the Defense Against the Dark Arts class, Hermione asks Harry if he would be willing to teach a group of students the defensive magic he has learned over the past years. This group of students becomes known as Dumbledore’s Army, a play on the Ministry’s biggest fear.

Throughout the year, Harry has dreams about a room in the Ministry called the Department of Mysteries. He believes that these dreams are connected to Voldemort, but does not want to ask Dumbledore for help since he has barely seen him. However, when Mr. Weasley is attacked right before Christmas, he immediately seeks help from the Order to get him to safety. Having confirmed that he has a direct connection to Voldemort, Dumbledore sends Harry to Professor Snape for Occlumency lessons in the hope of protecting Harry’s mind. Harry found the process difficult and rarely practiced, leaving his mind vulnerable.

Since Umbridge has shut down Harry every time he speaks about Voldemort and the papers refused to discuss his return, Hermione gets Harry to do an interview with Rita Skeeter for The Quibbler, a anti-Voldemort paper. Umbridge continued to place more and more restrictions on the students in the hopes of maintaining order, but faced backlash everytime. Two of the biggest rule breakers were the Weasley twins, who had created a line of joke products called Weasley Wheezes. These products would become a huge problem to Umbridge, one that would cause her great stress.

Having spent the summer trying to create a pact with the giants to fight against Voldemort, Hagrid returns to Hogwarts. However, he did not return alone; he also brought home his half-brother Grawp. Fearing that Umbridge was going to have him fired, Hagrid asks Harry, Hermione, and Ron to look after him.

When a member of Dumbledore’s Army rats on the group to Umbridge, Dumbledore is forced to explain a group he had no part of. He covers for the students, causing him to be removed as Headmaster. He avoids request, but is forced to be on the run.

In his final Occlumency lesson, Snape is asked to leave the room, but accidentally leaves a memory he avoided Harry seeing in the Pensieve. Harry, intrigued, looked in and saw that his father was a bully towards Snape, concerning him. He contacts Sirius to ask about it, with the Weasley twins creating a large distraction resulting in them leaving the school for good.

Harry sees a vision of Sirius being tortured in the Department of Mysteries. Concerned, he tries to contact him but is unable to. He is caught in the process by Umbridge who believes that he was trying to get orders from Dumbledore. With help from some members of Dumbledore’s Army, he escapes Umbridge’s grasp and begins the journey to save the only family he knows.

I think this book is when we really start to see Harry as resentful. So many of the adults in the Order want to protect him because they see him as too young to handle everything, but he feels like he has fought Voldemort multiple times already, so why shouldn’t he know what he is up against. Also, once he learns about the prophecy that began everything, he feels some resentment that Voldemort chose him and not the other potential victim, and I think that feeling also carries over. All-in-all, this is a very angry book, but I think this is the first book where we really feel the build-up towards the war. I think that this book is beautifully written, although it does take a toll. For anyone who finds the emotions in this book to be too much, it only gets worse in the next book, so pick up Half-Blood Prince at your own discretion. That being said, I think that this book would be a 3.75 out of 5 from me.

Compared to the Movie

There are so many things that the movie did right and did wrong. Probably one of the most heart wrenching moments that they changed for the movie was Sirius’ last words. In the book, he taunts his future killer (spoiler), but in the movie, he says “nice one, James” to Harry. While it was always implied in the book that Sirius would sometimes confuse Harry with his father, the pain of referring to him as James is ROUGH. The movie also completely ignored the prefects and the frustration from Harry for not becoming one. Also, can we talk about how the movie should 100% have had Umbridge’s hand come out of the fire when she tried to catch Sirius? That would have been sick!

The movie did also try and make humor about things like the Room of Requirement and Umbridge’s decrees, but by doing so, created a different atmosphere relating to the anger and frustration and fear that the students were feeling. I think a large part of that is the book is so heavy that they wanted to bring some light to the movie. Which, I get, but it feels a lot different in the book. They also really emphasized the anger that Harry was feeling was due to his connection to Voldemort. I think that is partly true, but I think it does minimize the anger that Harry was feeling from his own emotions. I think that the movie did a pretty good job of the general plot, although I feel like they could have made Umbridge so much worse.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling

Over the past few years, J.K. Rowling has made statements that are TERF, or against the trans community (especially towards male-to-female). These statements are completely against the thoughts and ideas of the creator of this blog. I have been and always will be an ally for any member of the LGBTQIA+ community. You exist, and you are valid. If you are struggling and need to talk to a counselor, there are many resources available at thetrevorproject.org.

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

We open on a scene in the Riddle House (for those of you that might have forgotten, Lord Voldemort’s (aka the bad guy) family name is Riddle), where we find a conversation between Lord Voldemort and his follower, Wormtail. As the conversation continues, the former gardener comes to investigate the light. That investigation ends in his death. In another part of the country, Harry Potter awakes with pain in his scar. Believing that the murder he just witnessed was a dream, he chooses to ignore the incident.

Harry’s best friend’s, Ron’s, father was able to secure tickets to the Quidditch World Cup final for the children in the family. They head to see the Bulgaria vs. Ireland match where they sit in the top box, aka the Ministry box. There they see a house elf that is sitting by itself and seems uncomfortable. Following the match (where Ireland won), the camps begin to celebrate the win. However, things start to take a turn at night when the Dark Mark appears.

After that delightful experience, the students return to Hogwarts. They learn that Hogwarts is going to be the host for the Triwizard Tournament, where a champion from each of the schools (Hogwarts, Durmstrang, and Beauxbatons) will compete for a cash prize and glory. The students also learn that the new Defense Against the Dark Arts is famous auror, “Mad-Eye” Moody. Even though the rules claim that the champion has to be a student from the school and 17, somehow Harry’s name gets entered into the Goblet of Fire. Viktor Krum becomes the Durmstrang champion, Fleur Delacour from Beauxbatons, and Cedric Diggory becomes the Hogwarts champion. When Harry becomes an unexpected 4th champion, he is forced to compete.

In the first task, the champions had to collect an egg from a nesting dragon mother. Once they are able to collect the egg, they can use the egg to prepare for the next task. Following the task, the students are invited to attend the Yule Ball, a dance intended to include all students from all the schools to increase intercommunication. The Ball is the first time we see Hermione with Viktor Krum.

Since Harry warned him of the first task, Cedric gives Harry a hint that helps him prepare for the second task in the lake. Following the task, Harry and Cedric are even in the scores. As they prepare for the final task, the champions face the greatest threat of all, they just don’t know it yet.

Can I just say, my synopsis is so glossed over. There is so much more to the book that I am skipping over because I don’t want to be here forever, but man, is it good. This book is when the novels in the series begin to become slightly ridiculous in size. In fact, this book is almost double each of the 3 books before it. While so fun, it does get tedious at times. There were a lot of times where I would play the scenes as I remembered it from the movie in my head, and that was how I was able to get through the scene. While the details and the extra scenes that never made the movie cut are great, it doesn’t change the fact that this is a hefty book. I think overall I would give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

Compared to the Movie

Let’s be real, the movie adaption sucked. Well, not the movie, I think that the movie for what it is worth is entertaining, but as an adaption, it sucked. Firstly, they for some reason decided that the Beauxbaton Academy is all-girls, which is not the case in the book. One of the reasons that people are upset by this change is that Fleur Delacour was chosen as the victor above even the male students, but by making the academy all-female, they make it that she was just the best of the female students. While that isn’t a huge distinction, it does change the way that we look at Fleur as a character.

One of the other changes is that the house elves are completely taken out of the story. While ghosts are removed from the movies, anything involving Hermione’s work for the house elves. Admittedly, both things were probably removed because they provided little to no addition to the relative plot. As a movie director (as I have zero qualifications, I am 100% going to be talking out of my butt on this one), you have to make decisions on what can go into the movie and what you can throw away in order to make the general time crunch of 2-3 hours. Beyond that time, the general audience will probably lose interest, so you adapt. You pick what you need in order to tell the generalized story.

As a reader, I get it, but also… that sucks. As I think about it, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire are drastically different in page length. In fact, Goblet of Fire is two times as long as Sorcerer’s Stone, but the movies are the same length time-wise. Clearly things had to be shifted, tossed, or combined in order to get the screen time. But this is why kids we say read the book, because if you don’t, you are missing out on quite an adventure.
If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Let’s Talk… The Harry Potter Illustrated Versions

Over the past few years, J.K. Rowling has made statements that are TERF, or against the trans community (especially towards male-to-female). These statements are completely against the thoughts and ideas of the creator of this blog. I have been and always will be an ally for any member of the LGBTQIA+ community. You exist, and you are valid. If you are struggling and need to talk to a counselor, there are many resources available at thetrevorproject.org.

Starting in 2015, the Harry Potter books were converted into illustrated versions. At the point of this post, the first 4 books have been made into illustrated versions, and the 5th book has been slated for a 2022 release. These versions are unabridged, and are not illustrated on every page, but there are some full page illustrations as well.

I personally did not find the books too hard to read from, although they are a little cumbersome to carry around. They are a little uncomfortable to hold, mainly because they are rather large. Every page is glossy and each book has a ribbon bookmark. For anyone who reads with a book light, it is a little difficult to be able to see the entire page, especially when you get to the middle of the book without having to move it. Each page is written into two columns, with a page break for each new chapter.

Personally, I think that the illustrations are kinda creepy at times. For example, Dobby in the illustrated version looks a lot grimier and wrinkled, while the movie version makes him look more palatable. All-in-all, it is a really cool collector’s item for someone who enjoys the series, but I think that it will become a popular way of reading the series as we head into a graphic novel-heavy society.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Over the past few years, J.K. Rowling has made statements that are TERF, or against the trans community (especially towards male-to-female). These statements are completely against the thoughts and ideas of the creator of this blog. I have been and always will be an ally for any member of the LGBTQIA+ community. You exist, and you are valid. If you are struggling and need to talk to a counselor, there are many resources available at thetrevorproject.org.

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

When Harry loses control, he ends up blowing his aunt up like a balloon. Not wanting to deal with the repercussions, Harry leaves the house and takes the Knight Bus to the Leaky Cauldron, the entrance to Diagon Alley. There, Harry learns that a prisoner escaped Azkaban, the wizard prison. The prisoner is Sirius Black, the man who shared the location of the Potters to Voldemort, thus resulting in their death.

As Harry, Ron, and Hermione make their way back to Hogwarts, the train is stopped by Dementors, the guards of Azkaban. Luckily, they were in a train car with the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Lupin. He then returns to Hogwarts to start his year, where one of he begins his least favorite class, Divination taught by Professor Trelawney. Trelawny has a habit of predicting that Harry will confront the “grim”, the omen of death. Harry also began Care of Magical Creatures Class with Hagrid. During the first class, Malfoy provokes the hippogriff, Buckbeak, causing him to be injured.

Since the Dursleys would not give him permission to join the rest of the students into the neighboring village of Hogsmeade, causing him to earn the Marauder’s Map from the Weasley twins, a map that shows him where people are within the castle grounds. Using the map, Harry learns that the reason Sirius ended up in Azkaban was because he killed his friend, Peter Pettigrew.

When dementors attack Harry during a quidditch match, Professor Lupin begins to teach him how to protect himself using a Patronus charm. While Harry gets better, it never becomes a full Patronus. Months later, Buckbeak is sentenced to death. On the way back from says goodbye, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are attacked by a dog which drags Ron beneath the Whomping Willow. As Harry and Hermione race after them, they race to the truth of what happened 12 years prior.

I would say that out of all the books, this one is probably my favorite. I don’t know if it is because of the content or the character development, but this one has always been my favorite. For that reason, I am going to give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Compared to the Movie

There are a lot of things the movie does right. Firstly, other than some order of things as well as the Quidditch matches, I think everything more or less is in the movie. I think out of all the movies, this one is my favorite. However, one of the things that the books take time to do that the movies do not is reenforce the fact that this is a school. We rarely see the students in class, and the times that we do are not about character development, but plot development. We learn a lot as the students grow up from their classes in un-plot moments. Movies are focused on motion not the person.