Tag Archives: J.K. Rowling

Characters I’d Invite to Thanksgiving Dinner

Happy Thanksgiving, Canadian readers! I’m enjoying a nice, quiet Thanksgiving this year while also wondering what it would be like to celebrate this holiday with characters from some of my favourite books.

If I could, I’d sure love to share this holiday with the following people:

1. Anne Shirley from the L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series.

She’d be welcomed to bring her legal guardians, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, along as well. As someone who is almost always quiet, I’d love to listen to her chatter about whatever it was that had happened to her recently.

It would also be interesting to get more details about her life before she was adopted if she was willing to share them.Some of my favourite scenes in this series were the ones that showed how they all enriched each other’s lives.

2. The entire Weasley family from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

Yes, I’d need a much bigger table to include all of them, but I’d love to see this huge, loving family in action. I’d bet their Thanksgiving dinners would be joyful (and quite noisy) every single year, especially once there were grandchildren in the picture.

3. Afsan from Robert J. Sawyer’s Far-Seer trilogy. 

Not only would it be cool to see what a Tyrannosaurs would want to eat for Thanksgiving, I’d love to talk to this character about his impressions of human customs in general. (His species was sentient and quite intelligent in this series). He’d almost certainly be as horrified and/or amused by some of the things we do as we would be by certain Tyrannosaurs customs.

4. Starr Carter from Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give.

Starr was such an easy character to love. My sympathy for her only grew stronger after she watched a police officer kill her best friend in one of the earliest scenes of her story. I’d want to fix her a big plate of food and offer her any comfort I could over the holidays.

5. Anna from Claire Cameron’s The Bear.

Anna was a six-year-old girl whose family went on a camping trip in a remote section of a national park. After her parents were killed by a bear, she had to figure out how to get her younger brother and herself to safety.

This was one of the most intense things I’ve ever read. I wish it were possible to catch up with characters years later to see how they’re doing. She was so young when the attack happened that she didn’t understand what was going on. While I would never ask about the deaths of her parents specifically, I’d love to know what her life was like after the events of the final scene.

6. Patricia Cowan from Jo Walton’s My Real Children

Patricia might have lived in one of two different timelines during the course of this book depending on which memories of hers you tend to believe are the genuine ones.

Not only did the course of her life take radically different turns in each timeline, the course of human history did as well. I can’t say much else without giving away spoilers, but I’d sure like to talk to this character so I could find out which version of the events she remembered actually took place.

7. Hattie Shepherd and her descendants from Ayana Mathis’ The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.

The first chapter of this tale showed Hattie desperately attempting to save her first two children, a set of twins who were dying from pneumonia in 1923 when such a disease was much harder to treat than it is today. The rest of the storyline showed what happened to this woman and the nine other children she had after the deaths of her first two babies.

Her extended family as a whole wasn’t a particularly emotionally healthy one. I believe that Hattie would have been diagnosable if she’d lived in a time and place where seeing the doctor for mental health concerns was socially acceptable. As it was, her undiagnosed illness damaged her relationships with all of her surviving children and their families.

Sometimes dysfunctional ways of interacting with the world can be passed down for generations when people either can’t recognize the harmful patterns in their family or aren’t willing to try to change them. I’ve seen it happen both in real life and in fiction. It’s as sad as it is fascinating. I’d love to invite different combinations of people from this family to various dinners to see if I could figure out how they’ve changed over the years.

Which character would you invite to your Thanksgiving dinner?

Characters Who Would Have Made Great Dads

After publishing a similar list for characters who would have made great moms in a Saturday Seven post last month, I simply had to repeat the idea for male characters now that Father’s Day is nearly here.  If the Saturday Seven meme was still around, this is what I would have written for it for this week.

Like I said last month, in no way do I think having kids is the right decision for every person, fictional or otherwise. I’m happily childfree myself, but I still wonder how the lives of these characters would have changed if they could have become fathers.

Some of the people on this list died before they were old enough to have children. Others simply never found the right time to become a dad. All of them would have been good at it if the circumstances in their lives had been different, though.

1. Fred Weasley from the Harry Potter series.

Fred and his twin brother George provided a lot of the comic relief in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter stories. They were intelligent, mischievous and energetic teens who embraced the playful side of life.

While their antics irritated Professor McGonagall and many of the other adults in their lives at times, I think a grown-up version of Fred would have made an excellent father. He spent his entire lifetime soaking up every bit of joy he could find in the world.

Any child would have been lucky to grow up with such a positive role model in life, especially if they inherited his rambunctious and needed to be shown how to use that energy without annoying the more proper members of wizarding society too much.

2. Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series.

Wizards in the Potterverse generally live much longer than humans do. Dumbledore seemed to spend most of his adulthood focusing on his career. I completely understand why someone would want to do that, but a small part of me does wonder what his life would have been like if he’d found a nice man to settle down with and raise a few children.

If he could protect and help to educate hundreds of teenagers at work for all of the years he was at Hogwarts, I’d like to think he’d be just as patient with a few baby wizards at home.

3. Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.

One of the things I occasionally like to do when my spouse is in a quiet mood is ask him questions about parts of classic science fiction and fantasy novels that were never really explained by the original authors.

For example, I spent lost of time talking to him about the Ents in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series this past spring and winter. Where did the Entwives go? Will the Ents ever find them again? How did Ents reproduce? When did or will the last Ent die? The more I thought about this species, the more questions I had about all of the parts of their lives that weren’t revealed by the plot.

My newest obsession with this series these days has to do with the wizards. There were so few of them that I never got a strong sense of how their society worked when they weren’t fighting against Sauron. The legends about them made them seem bigger than life. I’m not even entirely sure that a wizard could have a child if he wanted one, but I do think Gandalf would have had the patience and love needed to be a good dad if he could.

I mean, he did come to care about the hobbits quite a bit, and they were about as un-wizard-like as a mortal creature could be.

4. Bilbo Baggins from Lord of the Rings.

Unlike the wizards in this series, I do know for sure that hobbits could reproduce. They didn’t seem to do it as often as humans do on average, but I think Bilbo would have made a good dad if he’d been one of the members of his people who decided to go down that route.

He loved food, music, and dancing. Storytelling was important to him, too. I’ve never met a child who didn’t find happiness in at least one of those activities, especially if their parents raise them to enjoy the simple things in life.

Also, just think of all of the stories he could tell his children about his adventures traveling to and back from the Lonely Mountain.

5. Shepherd Book from the Firefly television show and graphic novels.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Firefly, it followed the motley crew of a space ship whose members included a sex worker, fugitives, former soldiers from a failed revolution, and other folks who lived on the margins of society.  The cargo they shipped was often stolen or illegal.

Yet they also had a Shepherd – or what we’d call a pastor – travelling with them. He lived with people whose values were radically different from his own, and he loved them all the same.

If every father had the same sort of unconditional love and acceptance for his children, our world would be a far better place.

6. Jonas from Lois Lowry’s The Giver.

The concept of parenthood – and marriage, for that matter –  in this universe wasn’t the same as you or I think of it. Jonas was born into a highly regimented society where your spouse would be selected for you based on your personalities and interests. When a couple felt ready to become parents, they applied to a committee for a baby.

The members of this society who created the children were never the same ones who raised them. Once a year, all of the healthy babies born over the last twelve months would be given to families who had been waiting for an infant. It was a cold, efficient process that I only wish had been explained in greater detail.

Due to all of this, it came as a surprise to me to see just how paternal Jonas was as a 12-year-old boy. His family was temporarily assigned to care an infant whose fate was still up in the air, and Jonas bonded with that baby quickly.

7. Captain Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

(Some of the Star Trek novels were about this character. I say that’s enough to count him on this list).

When I first started watching TNG, I wondered if Captain Picard was childfree as opposed to childless. He wasn’t the sort of person who would coo over a baby, for example, and he seemed to relish sticking to the same routine each day. His demanding but rewarding job was the focus of his life. There was precious little time for anything else.

There were a few subtle hints about this character’s regrets in life later on in the series, though. “The Inner Light” showed him experiencing 40 years of life on a planet that was about to be destroyed by a nova. His four decades of experiences there included him becoming a father and grandfather.

This was a side of Captain Picard I’d never seen before. As confused as he was by how he’d managed to slip away from his current life as the captain of the Enterprise, he genuinely loved his family. Their safety and happiness meant the world to him. It was in those scenes that I realized just how much this character would have loved to have the chance to raise a child or two of his own if he could meet the right woman who was also willing to let his career take precedence over where they lived and how often they moved.

That’s a lot to ask of someone. I understand why no one ever took him up on that offer, but I also think he would have been a doting dad if his circumstances had been different.

Which of your favourite male characters do you wish could have had the chance to be someone’s father?

Saturday Seven: Books with Green Covers

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I was originally planning to make this post about Irish books that I’ve read and loved, but it turned out that I couldn’t think of enough of them to fill out a Saturday Seven list on this topic. My goal for next year is to change that, so do speak up if you know of any good reads from that country.

In the meantime, let’s talk about books that all happen to have green covers. If I ever become wealthy enough to buy a big house and fill one room of it with nothing but books, I’m going to be terribly tempted to sort those books out by colour. Don’t you think it would be magical to walk into a room that looked like a rainbow?

I also think that arranging stories like this would be an interesting way to stumble across something you might have never otherwise picked up.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, some of my aunts and uncles were still kids when I was born. It was a little like growing up with older siblings except that we never lived in the same house and therefore didn’t have to share toys or bedrooms with each other. I remember my youngest aunt reading this story to me when I was very young. At the time, I loved it. Now I wish I could talk to Mr. Silverstein and find out whether he thought it was a virtuous thing for the tree to sacrifice every single part of itself for the boy or whether he was warning his young fans about the dangers of giving so much of yourself that you have nothing left for your own needs.

The Magicians Nephew by C.S. Lewis

This is my favourite story in the Chronicles of Narnia series in large part because of how C.S. Lewis came up with the idea of writing about a young boy whose mother was dying from a disease that had no cure. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but knowing the context of those scenes made them even more poignant.

 

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

As much as I liked them, the last few Harry Potter books were so dark that I don’t reread them as often as I do the earlier ones.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire struck a nice balance between the sillier themes of the first few books and the very serious themes of the last ones. I also appreciated the way Ms. Rowling fleshed out wizard society. The audience was able to see just how well wizards and witches could live their entire lives cocooned away from muggle society without feeling like they were missing out on anything at all.

Also, the Triwizard Tournament was a thrill. I remember feeling afraid for Harry when he dove into the lake and began searching for the merpeople. Even magical humans can only survive for a few minutes without oxygen, and I wasn’t sure that his solution to breathing underwater was going to work.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

As fun as the movie adaptations are, the original Oz series was a million times more creative and sometimes even downright bizarre than anything that made it onto the big screen. I have no idea where the author came up with half of his stuff, but they sure did make for an attention-grabbing plot.  Don’t read this to young kids, but do go read it.

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor.

I adore O’Connor’s writing style, although I will admit to not understanding a lot of her stories when I first started reading them. It took some rereads and a few more years of maturing before I began to see what she was saying about ethics and morality. She’s yet another author I wish I could take out for a cup of coffee and have a long conversation with.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare.

When I was a teenager, my mom took me to see a production of this play that had been put on by a local college. I loved every single bawdy minute of it, and I’ve been a fan of it ever since.

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

I had no idea what to expect what one of my college professors assigned a few of these tales to us. “The Wife of Bath’s Tale” was my favourite one because of how much it revealed about what it was like to be a woman in England during this time period. For example, women were defined by their relationship to men back then. They could be a maiden, a wife, or a widow. Their options outside of these roles were all but nonexistent. If only Chaucer had been able to finish this series.

What books that have green covers have you read recently? Do you sort out your books this way in general, or am I part of a small minority of readers on this issue?

Saturday Seven: Funny Quotes from Books

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

If a book contains a funny line, conversation, or passage, the chances of me becoming a huge fan of it are large. Sometimes I will reread a story I’ve already read many times before for the sheer joy of eventually finding my way to that witty scene again.

Today I’ll be sharing some of my all-time favourite humorous quotes from various books that I’ve read over the years. I hope you’ll share your favourite quotes in the comment section, too!

This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

“No sight so sad as that of a naughty child,” he began, “especially a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after death?”

“They go to hell,” was my ready and orthodox answer.

“And what is hell? Can you tell me that?”

“A pit full of fire.”

“And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there for ever?”

“No, sir.”

“What must you do to avoid it?”

I deliberated a moment: my answer, when it did come was objectionable: “I must keep in good health and not die.”

― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

 

There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.

— J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

 

“He’s stuck out there. He thinks he’s totally alone and that we all gave up on him. What kind of effect does that have on a man’s psychology?” He turned back to Venkat. “I wonder what he’s thinking right now.”

LOG ENTRY: SOL 61 How come Aquaman can control whales? They’re mammals! Makes no sense.”

―Andy Weir, The Martian

Mr. Wonka: “Don’t forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted.”
Charlie Bucket: “What happened?”
Mr. Wonka: “He lived happily ever after.”

― Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

“We’ll never survive!”
“Nonsense. You’re only saying that because no one ever has.”

― William Goldman, The Princess Bride

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

4 Movies I’m Looking Forward to Watching in 2018

So far, 2018 doesn’t seem to be offering quite as many movies that I’m looking forward to watching as the end of 2017 did. This is a good thing, though, since my to-watch list of movies in general is still quite long and I haven’t actually managed to catch any of the movies in that previous post.

It will be nice to have the chance to watch them and some of the other films on my to-watch list over the next few months.

With that being said, there are still a few 2018 movies that I can’t wait to see. Now that we’re quickly moving to the end of this year, this is the perfect time to look forward to some of the exciting stories that will soon be told.

Black Panther 

Release Date: February 9

I’m generally not a huge fan of superhero movies, but Wonder Woman was an exception to that rule earlier this year.

Black Panther will be my 2018 exception to the rule, too. The trailer looked incredible, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about the storyline so far. I can’t wait to see if it will live up to the hype, and I fully expect it  to do just that.

A Wrinkle in Time

Release Date: March 9.

Who else loved this book when they were a kid? I’m planning to reread it before watching the movie because I’ve honestly forgotten a lot of the plot. All that remains is a sense of wonder and excitement about the characters’ adventures, and I can’t wait to see how that translates to the big screen.

From what I’ve seen so far, it’s going to be quite the adventure.

The Little Stranger.

Release Date: August 31.

The poster for this film doesn’t seem to be available yet, but that doesn’t make me any less excited to watch it. Sarah Waters is a talented storyteller in general, and this tale of hers is especially thought-provoking because it can be interpreted in so many different ways.

The main character was a doctor who is hired to look after the members of a formerly-wealthy family who live in a crumbling mansion. While tending to the old war wounds of one of the family members, the doctor slowly begins to wonder if the once-grande estate is haunted.

This isn’t your typical ghost story, though. At least in the book, you can find evidence to support nearly any explanation you wish to believe for why that family’s house was so eerie or how they lost their wealth so quickly. I’m hoping the film will capture the grief and decay of that strange house without pushing the audience to any one particular conclusion about why it was such a sad place to live.

 

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Release Date: November 16.
It will be almost a year before anyone gets to see the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I’ve already begun to count down the days until the next instalment in this series is released.
I’m thrilled that J.K. Rowling is continuing to expand the Potterverse. While I’ll continue hoping that she’ll someday write a prequel to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that explores his parents’ lives in more depth, I’m happy to learn about other parts of that universe in the meantime.
Fantastic Beasts was an energetic and playful movie. I expect the exact same experience from the sequel.
What 2018 films are you most looking forward to watching?

10 Fantasy Books I’d Recommend to New Readers of This Genre

Last August I blogged about science fiction and fantasy books I’d recommend for elementary, middle school, and high school students.  Last week I blogged about science fiction books I’d recommend to adults who are unfamiliar with that genre. Today let’s talk about books that are a wonderful introduction to fantasy in general for anyone who… Read More