Tag Archives: J.K. Rowling

Characters I’d Never Invite to Thanksgiving Dinner

Pumpkin pie, forks, and a decorative gourd sitting on a Thanksgiving supper tableHappy Thanksgiving to all of my Canadian readers!

Last year I wrote about the characters I’d want to invite over for a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner.

Since then, I’ve gotten some hits on my site from people who are wondering which characters shouldn’t be included on a Thanksgiving dinner guest list.

Honestly, I could happily make small talk about how unpredictable the weather can be in October or why pumpkin pie is so delicious with 99.99% of the people and characters out there. There are plenty of ways to gently guide a conversation along to lighthearted topics if you don’t have much in common or know each other well.

It would take a lot for me to refuse to share such a hospitable and inclusive holiday with someone…especially if they don’t have anywhere else to go!

With that being said, even I have my limits. Here are the characters who would never be invited to my house for Thanksgiving dinner.

1. Dolores Umbridge from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. 

Why: She was a violent, cruel person who did a deceptively good job of hiding that part of her personality from authority figures and anyone else who might have stopped her.

2. The Borg from Star Trek

Why: As cool as it might be to have some body parts replaced by machines, I do not want them to assimilate me or the other guests against our will. Former members of The Borg like Seven of Nine who simply want to eat some food and discuss human culture would be welcomed in my home.

3. Heathcliff from Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights 

Why: Like Dolores, Heathcliffe was skilled at putting on the facade of being a good person while doing quietly terrible things to his victims behind the scenes. This is something I simply can’t sweep under the rug.

4. President Snow and President Coin from Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy 

Why: Does anyone actually want to spend Thanksgiving with ruthless dictators who have repeatedly sent innocent people to their deaths? If so, I’ve never met such a person.

This list was pretty short, but I felt that I’d be repeating myself if I added anyone else to it. Basically, the behaviours that would make me exclude someone on Thanksgiving are limited to things that would also be bright red flags the other 364 days of the year. The vast majority of people would never behave this way, so my list of folks who could join me for a special holiday meal will always be miles longer than the ones who will have to make other plans that day.

Which characters would you never invite over for Thanksgiving dinner?

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Books I Love That Became Films or TV Shows

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

I recently did a Top Ten Tuesday post on a similar topic, so it’s going to be interesting to see how many other shows I can come up with. My best guess is that the first two items on my list will be on everyone else’s lists, too!

Lord of the Rings

With all of the 1980s and 1990s remakes coming out these days, I hope that this trend ends before anyone decides to remake the early 2000s Lord of the Rings films. They’ve aged wonderfully in my opinion. I’d rather see studios take a chance on something new than remake these films even though I do love this story.

Harry Potter 

There are certain things that work beautifully in a novel but won’t feel the same in a film (and vice versa). Overall, I was quite pleased with how the Harry Potter films depicted the Potterverse. The first few movies in particular will always feel magical to me.

The Martian

This film did an excellent job of explaining how the main character used science creatively to get himself out of all sorts of life-threatening predicaments when he was accidentally stranded on Mars. My first experience with Andy Weir’s style of storytelling came from this movie, and I’ve been a fan of his ever since.

Room 

Emma Donoghue’s original version of this drama about a young boy who had lived his entire life in the same room because his mother had been kidnapped by a violent stranger a few years before the boy’s birth made me stay up very late at night to see how it would turn out.

The film version of it was just as intense. Even though I already knew how it ended, I still found myself holding my breathe at certain key scenes.

Still Alice

Lisa Genova’s book by the same name was about a woman named Alice who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I was so excited when it was turned into a film.Both versions followed Alice from shortly before she was diagnosed until well into the progression of this disease. They were tearjerkers and I’d reread/rewatch either of them in a heartbeat.

My great-grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease, so it was especially meaningful to see what this illness might be like for the person experiencing it. The gif above is from a scene where Alice forgets how to get home again early on in the course of her disease. It was the moment when I realized just how amazing this story is.

Hidden Figures

Where there were a few fictional tweaks to the film version of Hidden Figures that I wasn’t a big fan of, the true story that Margot Lee Shetterly wrote of how these women made the calculations that sent humankind to the moon is still something well worth checking out.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question. The image below is the list of upcoming prompts for this blog hop.

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters That Remind Me of Myself

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

My answers this week will be a mixed bag of books, TV shows, and films. This topic was a little challenging for me, but I enjoyed brainstorming for it. Let’s see if I can come up with the full ten answers!

1. Karana from Scott Odell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins

While we grew up in completely different environments, we were both pretty independent kids. When I was in the fourth grade, I randomly decided to try walking home from school on a different route one day so I could see some new houses. After I got lost,* I asked a friendly-looking stranger to walk me back to my elementary school, went home the proper way, and then didn’t tell my parents this story for 20+ years.

*This happened before cellphones were something the average family owned, so it’s not like I could call home or my parents could see where I was through GPS tracking.

2.Amélie from the French film Amélie.

The protagonist of this movie was a shy, young woman who decided to perform random acts of kindness for the people around her for the sheer joy of it. I see a lot of myself in her.

3. Willow Rosenberg from the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Willow was the nerdy, bookish best friend of the Buffy, the main character in this series. I identified so strongly with Willow’s love of learning and occasionally awkward moments. The fact that we both came out of the closet after high school only made me adore her more.

4. Luna Lovegood from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series

Luna was such a creative free-thinker. I wish she’d gotten more of a chance to shine in this series! I sure thought she was delightful, and many of the fanciful things she said reminded me of stuff I’ve thought and sometimes said out loud myself.

5. Alice from Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love

Alice’s love of the library is what originally drew me to her. I dreamed about working at a library for a long time, and I see so many similarities between us when it comes to how we like to temporarily lose ourselves in a world of books (in a good way).

6. The Hsu, Jong, St Claire, and Woo families from Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club

Being an immigrant is such an interesting experience. You transition from “belonging” to one culture to feeling equally part of two (or more) of them and switching between the mindsets you develop for each one. It can be tricky to explain how this can change your perspective on life to people who haven’t been through it, but I found so many similarities between these characters and my own life.

7.  Joanna from Jaye Robin Brown’s Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit

This is a book I’m currently reading about the queer daughter of a pastor. Not only do Joanna and I have those two things in common, we both seem to have quirky personalties as well. She seems like she’d be a great person to hang out with.

8. Jane Eyre from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre

Jane and I are honest, dignified people who love learning practical and impractical things. She also struck me as someone who was quite skilled at avoiding gossip, and I truly respect that about her. I try to act just like her when a conversation begins to turn in that direction.

9. Lily from Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Lily had such a sweet, gentle personality. She reminded me a lot of how I behave when I’m trying to make a good impression on people. Her strong creative streak also reminded me of myself.

10. Shasta from C.S. Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy

Fair warning: this book contains some language and descriptions that modern audiences would rightfully describe as xenophobic. I believe you can love a story while also acknowledging its flaws, and I’d like to think that C.S. Lewis would have written it very differently if he’d lived in our era.

With that caveat out of the way, I’ve always enjoyed the way Shasta reacted to the thought that talking horses might really exist. He was skeptical at first, of course, but he accepted it a bit faster than other people might have. I think I would have done the same thing at his age! His wary sense of adventure also reminded me of myself.

We enjoy them…but we also would be perfectly content to sit at home and eat dinner instead. Ha!

My 4 Favourite Fantasy Tropes

Last year, I had a blast blogging about my favourite science fiction tropes. It occurred to me recently that I’ve never given the fantasy genre the same treatment, so that’ what I’ll be talking about today.

Reluctant Heroes

Photo credit: Jackie lck.

Example: Bilbo Baggins in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”

If someone were to knock on my front door and tell me that I needed to go with them on a quest to save the world, I would not be particularly excited about that experience.

Yes, we’d probably see some incredible things along the way, but I really enjoy sleeping in my warm, soft bed at night and not being eaten by giant spiders named Shelob.

The fact that Bilbo was so hesitant to go on this quest made me like him even more. I totally understand the desire to stay home and avoid danger.

Magical Forests, Swamps, and Other Places

Example: The creepy Fire Swamp in William Goldman’s “The Princess Bride”

Nothing gets my heart racing faster than realizing that the hero of a tale is about to wander into a forest, swamp, or other wild place not usually inhabited by humans that everyone knows  is filled with dangerous creatures, unpredictable magic, or both.

I love seeing how characters react to the creatures and potential traps they find in these places, especially once they’ve wandered far enough into them that finding their way home again is going to be tricky at best.

Since I’d be perfectly happy to stay home and not wander around in these unpredictable spots, it’s nice to know that there are folks out there who are willing to see who or what might be lurking in them.

 

Quests That Go Terribly Wrong

Aslan, the creator and protector of all things Narnian.

Example: C.S. Lewis’ “The Silver Chair”

In the beginning of The Silver Chair, Jill and Eustace, the main characters, were given a specific list of four signs by Aslan to keep an eye out for in order to help them find Prince Caspian and return him to his rightful place as the future king of Narnia.

The world they were visiting could be a tricky one, and there were many characters who would stop at nothing to prevent these kids from fulfilling their mission.

Why Aslan didn’t simply do this stuff himself is a question for another blog post, but I was intrigued as soon as I realized that Jill and Eustace had quite the journey ahead of them.

These were the signs they were to look for:

  • “As soon as the boy Eustace sets foot in Narnia, he will meet an old and dear friend. He must greet that friend at once. If he does, you will both have good help.
  • “You must journey out of Narnia to the north until you come to the city of the ancient giants.
  • You shall find the writing on a stone in that ruined city, and you must do what the writing tells you.
  • You will know the lost prince, if you find him, by this: that he will be the first person you have met in your travels who will ask you to do something in my name, in the name of Aslan.”

If you haven’ read this book yet, I’ll leave it up to you to find out which of these signs these characters actually listened to. All I can say is that I loved seeing how these kids interpreted the signs and what happened when things didn’t go exactly as planned. It felt quite realistic to me that Eustace and Jill wouldn’t necessarily do everything they were meant to do when they were supposed to do it.

Magical Schools

Examples: Lev Grossman’s “The Magicians,” or, obviously, Hogwarts

The Great Hall at Hogwarts

What could possibly be cooler than going to school to learn how to be a magician, witch, or wizard? It’s even more interesting when one or more of the characters weren’t aware they had any magical powers at all until that fateful letter or invitation arrived one day.

I could read a thousand books with this sort of setting and still want more examples of it.

The only thing I’d change about this trope is adding more examples of magical schools for adults. I think that even the strongest magician would eventually need to take a course or two to freshen up their skills or learn some new spells as such things were invented.

What are your favourite fantasy tropes?

 

3 Fictional Families I’d Want to Spend Family Day With

Today is Family Day for those of us who live in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, or Saskatchewan. Family Day was first observed in 2007 in New Brunswick, and it was created in order to give people a paid day off in February to rest and spend time with their families.

Ontario first began observing it in 2008, and I’m hoping that all of the non-participating provinces will join in with the rest of us soon.

I should note that, at least here in Toronto, Family Day is not only marketed to parents and their young children. I’ve seen ads for everything from pet-friendly venues to hiking opportunities for adults in our beautiful national parks. While there’s certainly a lot of stuff for kids to do today, there are plenty of other activities for many other types of families as well. I love the diversity of that.

If it were possible to spend today with fictional families, these are the folks I’d text to see if they wanted to go ice skating, play board games, go on a hike, or listen to live music with me today.

The Weasley Family from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. 

Yes, I know I talk about the Potterverse a lot on this blog. There’s something about the characters in it that keep me coming back for more year after year, and this is especially true for the boisterous Weasley clan.

Some of the best scenes in this series happened in the Weasley’s home. They were so quick to share what they had with anyone who needed it even though they were definitely not a wealthy family by any stretch of the imagination. There’s something so endearing about that.

I also feel like they’d make for wonderful, friendly competition for a snowball fight. Well, as long as nobody knew what spell to use to make snowballs do something more mischievous than usual…

The Addams Family

When I was a kid, my family wavered between having a TV and taking breaks from living with one. When we did have a TV, it was common for us to only be able to watch the channels that could be seen for free if you had an antenna and the wind was blowing the right way. (This is only a partial joke. The weather really could influence what channels we could get on stormy days from what I recall!)

Due to this, I spent far more time watching shows that stopped airing decades before my birth than I did anything contemporary until I was in middle school.

The Addams Family was my first introduction to the scarier side of the sci-fi/fantasy genre, and I adored it. The term scary should be in parentheses there, though. I was fascinated by the monsters on this show, not frightened of them.

And the bonds between all of the members of the Addams family were so tight and loving that I was nothing but amused by their dark jokes and carnivorous pet plants. They really did have good hearts beneath their sometimes-gruff exteriors.

This isn’t even to mention the fact that it would be really cool to meet Cousin It in person! If you don’t know who that is, consider it encouragement to watch an episode or two.

The Simpson Family

Once my family got a television, (temporarily) signed up for cable service, and began watching more contemporary programs, I quickly learned which show I enjoyed the most: The Simpsons!

I loved the tongue-in-cheek humour in this cartoon. No matter what happened to any of the Simpsons, you knew they’d always be back to their old selves by the following week. The continuity of that was just as delightful as the jokes that occasionally pushed the envelope.

There was also something fascinating about the thought of a community that didn’t age and rarely changed. Bart, Lisa, and Maggie should be well into adulthood by now, but somehow they’re all still the same ages they were when we first met them.

I know there have been some changes to this universe over the years – for example, the death of one of the secondary characters, and another episode in which a different character adopted a baby from China – but it’s remained remarkably consistent outside of those moments from what I can recall.

It sure would be interesting to meet the Simpsons in person if such a thing were possible and see if they realize just how long they’ve remained more-or-less the same!

Which fictional families would you want to spend Family Day with?

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Books That Need a Prequel

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Welcome to the very first Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge! Today’s topic is books that need a prequel. I hope my readers will click the link above and see how everyone else responded to this prompt, too. Lately, I’ve been discovering prequels to all sorts of books that I spent… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More

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… Read More