Sunday, July 31, 2011

Our Best Bites Cookbook: Weekend Cooking Review

9 comments
One of my hobbies (along with reading, crocheting, computer gaming, and politicking) is cooking. Each week I participate in a local produce co-op called Bountiful Baskets. Each week on Monday, I sign up for a share, and on Saturday, I pick up a basket of random produce, 1/2 fruit 1/2 veggies. Then it's like a weird game to match up the produce I've received with what I'm actually going to make for dinner during the week.

As I plan my meals, one of my go-to spots is the Our Best Bites website. It's run by Kate and Sara, and I've been following their blog for several years now. I first ran into Kate and Sara on a forum, and have really enjoyed watching their blog progress. So, it was a natural progression to buy their cookbook as soon as it came out in February.

By: Sara Wells and Kate Jones
Let me tell you how much I love this cookbook. (Oh, and don't worry about the whole "mormon moms" thing. We eat food just like you do.)


Each recipe in the book has a beautiful full-color photograph to go with it.  I am a very visual cook, so I like to see what the end result is supposed to look like before I begin.

This book is chock full of my favorite recipes from the blog, as well as many new ones that are seriously all fail-proof.

It's also spiral-bound, so it actually lays flat when you are cooking.

And, it comes with a handy bookmark that fits into the spirals and has some helpful measurements on it.

All the recipes contain ingredients that are easily found in grocery stores. As I'm flipping through the cookbook I can almost always find things that I've already got in my pantry.

Another really awesome feature is the roll-over ingredients in the back that have a variety of recipes that you can use with some of the more obscure or perishable ingredients.

This is by far the most used cookbook in my house. This will also be what I'm giving people for Christmas, birthdays, weddings, etc. Everyone needs this cookbook. 

And a slice of this cake. Which I am making right now.

I'm linking up with Beth Fish Read's Weekend Cooking meme.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Blogger Confidential: What is Success?

11 comments

Have you ever been faced with an issue while reading or blogging and thought: I wonder what other bloggers think about this? No matter what genre or audience you blog for, we all face the same problems. Are you a publisher or author wondering what goes on in a blogger's (and by extension a reader's) head?

Blogger confidential is a series of 10 questions asked to 13 bloggers about the nitty gritty details of blogging. Everything from what prompts a blogger to pick up a book, to what happens when a book doesn't live up to its hype. This series was inspired by Wastepaper Prose's Author Insight series.

How do you define success with regards to your blog?

"I know my blog is successful based on how much joy it brings to me. I started blogging for myself, I continue to blog for myself. If I’m happy, then my blog is successful. Additionally, when I hear from my blog readers who discovered a book they loved on my blog that is another sign of success." Jenn from Jenn's Bookshelves

"I kind of view our success in two ways. In one way, I do look to the “numbers” – that is to say, the number of people who visit our site, subscribe, follow us on Twitter, etc. I like looking at where we started and seeing how we’ve steadily increased our following – and continue to do so. Those numbers definitely make me proud.

But in a less concrete sense, I also view our success in terms of our recognizability. For me, it’s really neat to go to a book signing, and have other readers approach me because of my blog. I occasionally get asked to take a photo with someone, and it seems strange to me, but also really cool. I love that people follow Novel Novice and seek us out for book recommendations and the other goodies we provide. I love that we have fans! Likewise, it’s great getting feedback from publishers and authors who’ve seen our work and want to get to know us. The same goes for authors & publishers who keep coming back to us because they enjoy working with us, and know that we’ll help them promote their work. That’s so exciting to me!" Sara from Novel Novice

"Success for us is being able to interact with our favorite authors (or should I say “literary rockstars”), and the comments, tweets and likes we get from our blog/twitter/facebook presence from those who are reading us!   

**One of the things we love hearing the most is that someone is reading a book because we liked it. Talk about exciting!" Stacy, Shannan, Nancy, and Sarah from Girls in the Stacks

"There are many ways of measuring success. We have places we want to see our blog go – daily reviews, promoting more contemporary books and so on. But as far as success goes, getting responses from our readers and having them find their next favorite book I think is the biggest judge of success, but in general, you just know it when it happens – I do have to admit, it was cool, when people knew who we were at BEA." Stacey and Pixie from Page Turners Blog

"I think, for me, when it comes to success on my blog, I need two things. The first is the most important and that's making sure that I'm having fun doing what I'm doing. Once the fun is gone, what's the point? But if I still feel excited about posting entries, even now after four years of it, I'd qualify that as success. The second thing is comments- we all want them, and the substantial ones show that people are out there reading our posts and are interested in them. I don't need like 25 comments or something, but a couple makes doing this worthwhile." James from Book Chic

"Improvement & Change. You may be surprised I didn’t say blog followers or some other stat. Of course I love followers and looking at my stats on occasion, but I love change and growth. I’m the happiest with my blog when I learn something new and I’m able to apply it to my own blog. It could be in my blog design, a feature I decide to add, or a group project with another blog. If I never change anything and learn new things to make my own blog a better blog, then it isn’t a success to me." Jacinda and Jasmine from The Reading Housewives of Indiana

"Success is such a hard thing to define! At this point I do think that my blog is successful. What I initially wanted to do, and what I still want to do, is to promote reading, and share my love of reading with others. Getting a comment or an email saying, "I found this book because of your review, and I loved it too!" is how I define my blogging success!" Kristi from The Story Siren

"If people are reading it and interacting with me about what I've written, that feels successful to me." Wallace from Unputdownables

"I have to say that I don’t really measure success because my blog is not a business, it’s something I like to do because I enjoy it. I started a blog because I wanted to share my thoughts and feelings about books and that is as true today as it was a year and a half ago when I first started. What I *really* love though is when someone has been motivated to go out and buy a book based on my review. I also love getting comments on blog posts full stop which lets me know that people are reading and sharing my enthusiasm for books and reading." Lynsey from Narratively Speaking

"My definition of success has changed as my blog has developed. When it first started “success” was directly linked to how many free books I got. I was a very material blogger. Then it changed to how many followers I have. Now “success” is how much I enjoy blogging, and I find I enjoy it much more when I just relax. Now that I don’t expect 100 comments on every post, I get very excited when I get just 1 or 2. If my blog makes me happy, then it is a success." Enna Isilee from Squeaky Books

"What I believe makes a blog successful is the connection you have with your readers. They are the key to letting you know if you are doing something right or wrong." Yara from Once Upon a Twilight

"If I am having fun with Reading Vacation, then my blog is a success! Sure, all the stats are interesting to look at and keep track of, but that’s not success. In the end, all that really matters is whether or not I am having fun with my blog. And to be clear, I am having way too much fun!" Melina from Reading Vacation

"I define success with regards to my blog by my readers. I don’t count followers as success. I count comments, page views, emails from readers, emails from authors, things like that as success. When someone lets me know that my blog has somehow changed how they feel about reading, I consider myself successful." Katie from Katie's Book Blog

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine: Audio Review

5 comments
A Tale of Two Castles
By: Gail Carson Levine
Read by: Sarah Coomes

Format: Audio
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Source: Received copy from Brilliance Audio for review
Challenges: 2011 Once Upon a Time Challenge

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Mysteries abound, especially in Two Castles.

A handsome cat trainer, black-and-white cats, thieves on four legs and two, suspicious townsfolk, a greedy king, a giddy princess, a shape-shifting ogre, a brilliant dragon. Which is the villainous whited sepulcher?

Elodie journeys to the town of Two Castles to become a mansioner—an actress—but luck is against her. She is saved from starvation by the dragon Meenore, who sends her on a dangerous mission inside the ogre's castle. There, disguised as a kitchen maid at an ogre's feast, she finds herself cast in the role of a lifetime and pitted against a foe intent on murder.

Audio Review: Sarah Coomes is a delightful narrator that has makes this story really come to life with a diverse set of voices for each character. I appreciated that Elodie's voice was feminine but not high and squeaky as some narrators are wont to do with younger characters. There are things about this book that I think can not be fully appreciated without listening to the audio, like Meenore's laugh, for instance, or Princess Ren's small, weak voice. This audio is absolutely captivating, and will be especially thrilling for younger readers.

Book Review: Readers who have been waiting for another enchanting fairy tale from Gail Carson Levine will be very pleased with A Tale of Two Castles. Elodie's adventures begin on the boat from her home town where she is set to depart to Two Castles to be apprenticed to a weaver. But, Elodie secretly plans to apprentice for the mansioners and live her dreams of drama and acting. She learns, however, that the guilds have done away with the 10-year apprenticeships for free, and one must pay for an apprenticeship, but they are very expensive.

Hired as an apprentice to Meenore, the local dragon detective, Elodie gets thrown smack dab in the middle of court intrigue. Elodie's out-spoken nature will endear herself to many readers, as it did to me. She wants to work hard, and her heart is in mansioning, or acting. I loved listening to the ways that she was able to incorporate her talent for acting into solving the mystery. Meenore is a kind-hearted, quirky dragon that abhors filth and is extremely sensitive. All its quirks and oddities combined with its sense of pride, made Meenore a character that I loved just as much as Elodie.

This book is more suited for a middle grade audience. There is very little romance to speak of, and while there are murder attempts, there is no violence. If you love Gail Caron Levine's previous work, you'll enjoy this one. At the very least, it will make you a little more wary of cats.

My Rating:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blogger Confidential: Introducing the Bloggers

14 comments

Have you ever been faced with an issue while reading or blogging and thought: I wonder what other bloggers think about this?  No matter what genre or audience you blog for, we all face the same problems.  Are you a publisher or author wondering what goes on in a blogger's (and by extension a reader's) head?

Blogger confidential is a series of 12 questions asked to 11 bloggers about the nitty gritty details of blogging. Everything from what prompts a blogger to pick up a book, to what happens when a book doesn't live up to its hype.  This series was inspired by Wastepaper Prose's Author Insight series.

This week we introduce this round's bloggers!

Melina from Reading Vacation

Melina is the tween girl behind the Reading Vacation blog. She loves reading middle grade and young adult books for review. Melina lives in Texas and is about to enter seventh grade.



Jenn has been blogging for three years now at Jenn's Bookshelves, but has been reviewing books for over ten years. Her passions include providing underprivileged children with access of books and fostering a love of reading in children.


Sara from Novel Novice

Sara has a Bachelor of Arts in English, and works in TV news. She started Novel Novice as a way to share her life-long love of reading with others and help promote literacy. She can often be found getting lost in a good book.


Jacinda and Jasmine from The Reading Housewives of Indiana

Jacinda and Jasmine are sisters who both share their love of reading young adult (and occasionally adult) books and blogging. Visiting their blog and reading their reviews, you can get two readers thoughts on the same book.



Lynsey is a UK book blogger and a registered nurse. Lynsey had been reading YA books for some time and had no one to share her thoughts with so she decided to set up a blog to give honest reviews about the books she read and so in January, 2010, Narratively Speaking was born.


Stacey and Pixie from Page Turner's Blog

Stacey Canova is a 29 year-old bookseller and lives in Illinois. Stacey loves to travel when she's not reading. She enjoys a wide verity of books, but has a special place for paranormal and dystopian.

Pixie (Amber) is an avid reader with a great love of books who has always enjoys spreading her love of a good read with those around her. She supports and encourages her children to have strong literacy values. As always she stands ready for a good debate over books and the characters within the pages, whether you want to debate or not.


James from Book Chic

James is a 25 year old who has been blogging at Book Chic for a little over 4 years, having started in June 2007. He graduated from Lynchburg College with a degree in English as well as minors in theatre and religious studies. He is an aspiring author, currently working on a novel he calls his Funny Gay Paranormal.


Stacy, Shannan, Nancy, and Sara from Girls in the Stacks

Stacy has a droll sense of humor, and one should never take her serious unless she is sporting her “serious” magnum face. She also has a bad habit of confusing her family with literary characters.

Shannan is a giggling sarcastic kind of gal who brings the life to the party. She likes sushi, the color pink and making silly videos. Plus she likes to talk. A lot. It’s her favorite.

Nancy’s “me” time is reading. It’s her escape. Plus it helps her fend off the doldrums of PTA meetings and cooking endless meals for her family.

Sarah is an English teacher who loves to match students with books that speak to them. To make the magic happen she listens to books on the go.


Kristi from The Story Siren

The Story Siren was founded in late 2007. I didn't really know what "blogging" was, but as an avid reader I thought it would be a great way to keep track of the books I was reading and share what I thought with other people... which I assumed would probably only be my mom.

The Story Siren features mainly Young Adult literature. Reviews, interviews, giveaways, book news, and anything else that strikes my fancy.


Enna Isilee from Squeaky Books

Enna Isilee has been blogging at Squeaky Books for over four years. When she isn't reading she's probably sleeping, or working so she can buy more books. She does everything online under her pseudonym, because it makes her feel like a superhero with a secret identity. Her primary focus is YA fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopia, but she believes that a dose of randomness is always heathly.


Wallace from Unputdownables

I’ve loved reading all of my life (literally). When I was too young to read I still carried books with me most everywhere I went (I have pictures to prove it), and taught myself to read (with the help of my mom) before I went to school… I just couldn’t wait. After realizing that not all of my friends felt the same way I became the book recommender, always trying to find a book to fit a personality. Two years ago I decided to take that online and started my first blog. A year ago, I started Unputdownables.

Yara from Once Upon a Twilight

Yara began blogging in March 2010 when a few of her TwilightMOMs friend ask her too. They wanted to know what books and adventures she was experiencing. So Once Upon a Twilight was born. Yara is a work at home mom that runs a trucking company which gives her freedom to blog. She invented the saying "What the Bus!" and loves meeting fellow bloggers everywhere she goes.





Katie from Katie's Book Blog

Katie is a nineteen-year-old college student in Colorado. She has been blogging young adult books at Katie's Book Blog since 2009. She might be almost out of her teens but young adults books will always be her favorites!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Video Interview with Scott Westerfeld

4 comments
This interview is possibly one of the most exciting things that I've done since I've become a blogger. I have enjoyed many of Scott's books, especially Leviathan and Behemoth.  So, when Scott came to the Provo Library in October 2010, I was beyond thrilled that he agreed to do a taped interview with me about the series and a few other topics.

So, like I said, that was back in October. I didn't immediately get the interview up because of a few personal things going on in my life, and I decided that a better time to post it was around the time of the paperback release for Behemoth.

Well, the paperback of Behemoth comes out on August 4, and you can pre-order Goliath now. (I suggest you purchase both, trust me). So, without further adieu, here is the interview.



While you are here, you can check out my reviews of Scott Westerfeld's novels:

Leviathan
Behemoth (audio)

Uglies
Pretties

Also check out the videos on the Provo Library's website. They have the video of Scott Westerfeld's presentation.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Nerds Heart YA: Round 2

6 comments



I was so pleased to be a second round judge this year for Nerds Heart YA. This is my second year participating, and I love this tournament for expanding the kinds of books that I read. So, here are the mini-reviews of the two titles that I judged. Decision is at the bottom.

How I Made It To Eighteen: A Mostly True Story
By: Tracy White

This book is the first graphic novel that I've ever read. In my life. I never thought I liked them. But, even given the subject matter of this book, I was absolutely sucked in. The illustrations added to the story in a way that could not have been described purely with words. Frankly, it is likely that I wouldn't have liked this book at all were it not written in graphic novel format. Tracy's struggle with depression and her life in a treatment facility were shown from through her thoughts and interviews with friends, both old and new alike.

One thing that I loved about this book is that it dealt with some very serious issues in a way that made it very easy to read. Often when I read about this subject matter, I'm cringing through the whole book. It's gruesome, gritty, real, and hard for me to stomach. How I Made It To Eighteen is much easier to handle, and it is definitely a book that I'd be comfortable giving a teenager, especially if I suspected that they were dealing with these types of issues. I was really pleased with the tasteful way it was handled.

The Kid Table
By: Andrea Seigel

Coming from a large extended family, there was a lot that I loved about The Kid Table. There is an interesting dynamic that comes with being seated at family gatherings away from the adults. I liked the interaction between the cousins, a lot which struck home with me as I reminisced on the times that I sat at the kid table.

This book was really quirky, with some funny and witty dialogue that kept me interested in the story line. It was written much like some adult books that I've read, but with younger main characters. However, I felt like a lot of the characters were there just to fill roles. The cousin with an eating disorder (who I actually liked the most out of all the characters), aunt and uncle with infidelity issues, divorced aunts and uncles, gay cousin waiting for the right moment to come out to his parents, the incredibly nosy cousin that thinks they can diagnose and treat you over thanksgiving dinner.

One of the biggest faults I have about this book is that I could not keep track of all the characters. I used the family tree at the beginning of the book a lot, and I found myself going back and re-reading parts because I couldn't figure out what was going on.

Ultimately, I think that an adult would enjoy this book much more than a teenager. It's much easier to appreciate the nuances of a kid table once that time in your life has passed.

Decision:

Moving on to the next round is How I Made It To Eighteen by Tracy White. I read this book first, and after I read it, I knew that The Kid Table would have a really hard time competing. And, while the Kid Table was a fun read, I really think that How I Made It To Eighteen was the clear winner.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Jennifer Ziegler Guest Post

4 comments
I'd like to welcome Jennifer Ziegler to Emily's Reading Room to talk about her new novel, Sass and Serendipity, and her favorite sister relationships. My review of Sass & Serendipity will be available tomorrow.


Sisterhood Is Not for Sissies

My new novel, Sass & Serendipity, was inspired by the sister characters in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Being a sister, I could relate to the complexities of their relationship. Being an author, I saw how the topic of sisterhood lent itself to vivid storytelling.

As tales from all eras and cultures have made clear, sisters are a force to be reckoned with. The Ancient Greeks knew it. Look at the Fates, the Muses, the Pleiades, the Gorgons, the Sirens, and the Harpies – it seems as if bands of sisters roamed the old country like urban gangs, manipulating and motivating the masses. The Wicked Witch of the West might have been wicked, but the main reason she went after Dorothy is because the girl flattened her sister with a farmhouse. Even Klickitat Street would have been much more peaceful, and far less fun, if the Quimby girls didn’t live on it.

Literature and legend attest to the power of sisterhood, but plain language does, too. We call a female friend “sister” when we want to convey a higher level of closeness. The word itself denotes intimacy and unbreakable bonds.

And real life is full of fascinating sister relationships. Some of my favorites include…

1.) The Bronte sisters. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne – all from the same family and all brilliant writers. I can’t help but wonder what their upbringing must have been like. I imagine it was a heady mix of encouragement and competition, with lots of intellectual discourse.

2.) Delia and Nora Ephron. I remember reading How to Eat Like a Child when I was in fifth grade and laughing uproariously. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that one of my novels, How Not to be Popular, also took the form of a zany how-to book. And When Harry Met Sally is probably my favorite romantic comedy of all time – smart, hilarious, and oh-so-true.

3.) Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra. Judging by the surviving letters Jane wrote to her older sister, it’s clear the two had an incredibly close relationship. It was probably this bond that inspired Jane to create such convincing stories of love and family – including the tale of the two Dashwood sisters that, in turn, inspired me.

4.) My sister Amanda and I. To be completely honest (and to avoid making my sibling angry), I have to count my own sisterhood as a favorite. In fact, it is my favorite. Amanda has always been there to bolster me, guide me – and often mock me. We share jokes, secrets, and even a special vocabulary. I would not be who I am if it weren’t for her.

Are you a sister? If so, you probably understand that the relationship is at once sweet and sour, simple and complicated, uplifting and exhausting. You don’t know whether you’re more upset that she borrowed your dress without asking, or that she looked better in it than you do. You don’t know whether you should be mad that she criticized your boyfriend, or grateful that she pointed out a few truths.

And that, the sass and serendipity of sisterhood, is what my book is all about.


A Sassy Giveaway! Three lucky winners will each receive one copy of Jennifer Ziegler's SASS & SERENDIPITY along with Jane Austen's classic, SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. To enter, send an e-mail to SassandSerendipity@gmail.com. In the body of the e-mail, include your name, mailing address, and e-mail address (if you're under 13, submit a parent's name and e-mail address). One entry per person; prizes will only be shipped to US or Canadian addresses. Entries must be received by midnight (PDT) on 8/5/11. Winners will be selected in a random drawing on 8/6/11 and notified via email.



Jennifer Ziegler will continue her blog tour on July 25 with a stop at The Story Siren.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Love Story by Jennifer Echols: Review and Giveaway

10 comments
Love Story
By: Jennifer Echols

Format: Paperback, 256 pages
Published: July 19, 2011; MTV Books
Source: ARC from publisher

author website | author twitter | author blog


Summary: She’s writing about him. He’s writing about her. And everybody is reading between the lines.

For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions—it's her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family's racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin's college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a local coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter . . . so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?

Then, on the day she's sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He's joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin's heart with longing. Now she's not just imagining what might have been. She's writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter . . . except this story could come true.

My Review: Love Story is a cute, fun twist on the classic romance plot, and is precisely the kind of book I would have loved in high school.

Erin is a girl after my own heart. She has aspirations to be a writer, and is going to follow those dreams no matter what her grandmother thinks. And, I also found myself very much liking the grandmother. I know. I should think that she's awful for trying to force Erin into business and take over the family farm. But, I think that the best possible thing for Erin is to have someone in her life that forces her to make hard decisions. She has to work in a coffee shop and really care about her grades in order to get what she really wants. Had Erin decided to major in business and been given everything on a silver platter, would she really have appreciated everything that she was given? As we learn more about Erin through her stories, I got the impression that her previous life wasn't very satisfying. And even though her life now isn't glamorous, it's what she loves. (I really loved that she wanted to do all these fun things in NYC and never could find time to do them. I remember when I lived in Hawaii, I made it to the beach like 5 times, even though it was across the street from my house).

Hunter is like the country boy that I still have yet to meet in real life. I grew up in a rural community (okay I still live in a pretty rural community), and I am telling you that not all cowboys are swoon-worthy. In fact, most of them aren't. So, while I liked the idea of Hunter, I had a hard time really latching on and believing in him since he was just so... unrealistic. But, his good looks and charming ways were enough to keep me interested at least.

With all that said, however, this book is more suited for older teens. Both Erin and Hunter's stories are, shall we say, steamy? There is a fair amount of sexual content and drinking. Also, with the age of the characters (college), I wouldn't be comfortable giving this book to my 14-year-old sister.

My Rating:


Giveaway

Thanks to Big Honcho Media I have two copies of Love Story by Jennifer Echols to give away. Giveaway open to US/Canada residents only. End July 25 at 11 am EST.

FORM HERE


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thanks to you, Harry

14 comments
Warning: this post is sappy and nostalgic. I just can't help it. And, it will contain spoilers about the entire Harry Potter series. If you haven't read the books, then read at your own risk.

In 2000 I got my first Harry Potter book. I was in 7th grade. I was in a very small school with very few friends. I was nerdy, liked to read, and wore huge glasses. My hair was out of control and I didn't have nice clothes. In many ways I felt very alone.

My dad bought me Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone because he saw good reviews on Amazon.

I loved the book, because the characters were just like me. Harry had glasses. Hermoine was nerdy and smart. They weren't always popular, and in a lot of ways, life was very real for them. They didn't get along with all their teachers. Sometimes they got horrible grades or detention. And other students could be vicious and cruel.

This was the first series that I loved so much that I read it over and over again. My original paperback copy is tattered. The binding broke after years of lending it out. Pages are missing. But it is my most beloved book of all time.

As I got older I moved on to Jr. High school. Me and a good friend passed notes (back before cell phones) and pretended we were characters in Harry Potter. She was Hermoine Granger, and I was Lavender Brown. She liked a boy that we dubbed Harry, and I liked a boy we dubbed Ron. We gave our Jr. High school teachers names of professors from Hogwarts and created our own little world based on the novels. Never before and never since have I so fully loved a book that I made its pages my reality. I cried when Sirius died and Harry lost the only semblance of family that he had left. I loved Dumbledore and his wisdom, and hated Snape for killing him. I made amends with Snape later, of course.

I got every book since The Prisoner of Azkaban the day it was released, culminating with the final book when I was in college.


I'm married now and have a family (just like Harry!). But, every time I re-read these books, my memories are brought back to a time when I was very young and awkward. Harry, Hermoine, and Ron were my friends, and Hogwarts was my home.

No matter what lies ahead for the Harry Potter universe, I will be a forever fan, and I will be forever grateful to JK Rowling for creating a series that grew up with me.