frayadjacent: Connie Maheswaran in cosplay with a black cape. Text says, "fangirl". (!fangirl)
Last weekend I got to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!

non-spoilery thoughts:

Holy shit, the staging, the effects, the music, the choreography, the whole sound design, were all fantastic.

I am SO GLAD I resisted temptation to read the script. I'd heard that the play was good because of the staging, performances, and effects, not the writing. And it was really obviously true, even not having read the script. (Of course this sucks for the many, many people who will never be able to see the play.)

Witch Please (possibly my favourite podcast of all time?) recently released a fantastic episode about Hannah's experience seeing the play.

Spoilery thoughts. Very spoilery! )

frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (HP: Hermoine walking away)
I finished the Harry Potter audiobook series, read by Stephen Fry, about 30 minutes ago. I promptly watched the few HP vids I have on my HDD, including [ profile] milly's Landslide, [personal profile] trelkez's The Adventure, and [ profile] dualbunny's Snakes on a Plane. I still can't find a Hermione vid that satisfies my needs and I'm starting to wonder if I'll have to make one. Any recs are most welcome.

I haven't posted about the series since I was on book 5, because, well, I got busy. But I loved the last two books, more than I remembered. I don't think any of my opinions have changed drastically. I love Hermione and Luna even more than before, and Neville just as much. I find Draco Malfoy and Ron easier to forgive. But not enough that I'm chasing down the Draco and Draco/Harry vids and fic that fill many of the places I search.

Stephen Fry's reading was outstanding. Many characters I'd hardly noticed came to life with his performance. Even fairly minor charactersf, like Rufus Scrimgeour, that I'd previously had trouble keeping track of held more weight in my mind. I'm suprised by that, since I don't think of myself as a particularly auditory person. I hadn't listened to audiobooks before this because I thought I'd be unable to concentrate, and there were times when I found myself spacing out or distracted, but mostly not. I'd like to try more.

frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (HP: McGonnigal)
 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is so good. I have so many feels: Hermione feels, McGonnigal feels, Harry feels, Harry-and-Molly Weasley feels, even Sirius Black feels. 

But I have a specific question for my fellow fen. There's a scene in Dumbledore's office, after Harry's vision of Nagini attacking Arthur Weasley. Dumbledore is warned that Umbridge is on her way to his office, so he asks McGonnigal to go out and distract her. "Tell her anything you can think of!"

I would really like to see this interaction between McGonnigal and Umbridge. And I bet someone has written it. Any of you encountered this before? Self recs are most welcome!
frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (HP: Hermione thinking)
Following [personal profile] coffeeandink's format

What I recently finished

I finally finished the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire audiobook, read by Stephen Fry. Looking through my previous posts, it looks like I started it 1.5-2 months ago. I kept getting stuck, what with Ron and the Triwizard Tournament and S.P.E.W. and the dread of Cedric Diggory's impending death. That one is still the hardest for me, even though he isn't my favorite character to die. I think it's because a lot of the deaths in book 7 are glossed over. And even though Dumbledore's death is awful, he still got to live a long life and die more or less on his terms. The death of a kind young man with his whole life ahead of him, and which is given a lot of build-up and narrative attention, is much harder.

A few weeks ago [personal profile] umadoshi posted a link to an essay called The Harry Potter series is actually one long story about PTSD. Now, I haven't read it, mostly because I'm finding there's a lot I don't remember about the series and I want to rediscover those things as I listen, rather than through analysis, fanworks, etc. (I am such a spoiler phobe. Sometimes I even do this if I'm rewatching Buffy, despite having watched and vidded and discussed the show over and over. Just in case! You never know when you'll be delighted to rediscover something you'd forgotten. Or something.) Anyway, despite having not yet read the argument I imagine that I'd largely agree with it. And that is related to why I adore -- or at least previously adored -- book 5, because of the way it deals with Cedric's death and all the other trauma Harry has undergone. More on that in the next section.

Shadow Gate, by Kate Elliott. This series continues to hold my interest, and Shadow Gate was a lot more compelling than Spirit Gate. It introduced a lot more POV characters, including several women. One of my least favorite characters underwent a transformation that was hard to read at times but incredibly well-written, and thus was propelled to a favorite (along with all of the POV women).

(CN: discussion of fictional sexual violence in this paragraph) There is a lot of sexual violence in these stories. I am not used to it. I think I can handle it better than I would have thought because it is a) generally not explicit, though there have been moments where small details were enough to be a little sickening. b) the surviovor's POV is prominent, and there has not been any sexual violence directly from the POV of the perpetrator, which is something I seriously can't handle. c) It presents sexual violence as a product of power relations, not sexual desire. d) It presents sexual violence as survivable. I keep recalling that, in Spirit Gate, one of the characters says to another that a woman can survive rape and go on to great power and accomplishments. And one of the characters who was indirectly referenced in that moment has done just that. Not in a "rape drove me to a vengeful rampage" -- which I actually thought it was going to do, briefly, but simply that this was one (significant) element of the character's life. It didn't define her, and it didn't ruin her.

What I'm reading now

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, audiobook read by Stephen Fry. As I mentioned, this used to be my favorite HP. I've learned in the last few years that it is many people's least favorite, and I think I read somewhere that even J.K. Rowling says she rushed it and it could have used another round of editing. I recall liking this book because it feels like the first book to take Harry's trauma seriously. I am not one to revel in the anger of a teenage boy, but at the same time I hate when people dismiss Harry's anger as just that. It is the anger of someone who's been through some serious trauma. Like Buffy Season 6, I like that, when Rowling decided to make the story more exciting by having worse things happen, she also followed though on the emotional consequences for the characters. (Or at least for Harry.)

That's not the only reason I loved this book though. It also finally gave some time and attention to Neville. I loved the way it subverted the idea of Harry as a Chosen One, through Neville's story. It introduces Luna! We get Dumbledore's Army! Etc.

Also, all sorts of things are happening that I thought were in later books: Harry discovering that Mrs. Figg is a member of the magical community, the introduction of Tonks (one of my faves!), and Harry's occlumency lessons with Snape (and what he learns about his father from that).

Traitors' Gate, by Kate Elliott. OMG, I've realised now that the Crossroads series and Black Wolves are much more closely linked than I'd previously thought. Knowing, in broad strokes, how things will end, has got me *dying* to see how they get there. I'm reading this as fast as I can, given that I don't have a ton of free time right now.

Free book-shaped space

I will probably read N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season next. I want to read as many likely Hugo nominees as possible because I finally signed up this year. That means I also plan to read Uprooted, even though a few of the things I heard about it turned me off it.

Speaking of Hugos, I got an email saying that I needed to enter my PIN in order to nominate, and that if I had signed up for electronic communication I'd have an email with my PIN. Well, apparently I didn't sign up for electronic communication, because I have no such email, and there is no other information about how to get the PIN. Assuming this PIN thing also applies to voting, I need to figure this out before...whenever it is that voting happens. Maybe they sent me a letter? I've been so disorganized lately, I could have missed it or forgotten it.

frayadjacent: Connie Maheswaran on a beach reading excitedly (!reading)
What I just finished reading

Spirit Gate, by Kate Elliot. It was pretty good but I might have given up on it had I not liked Black Wolves (the first in a trilogy set in the same world) and had I not re-read [personal profile] coffeeandink's review (which is what first put the books on my radar, but I didn't get around to it until much later). It has a lot more violence, including sexual violence, than Black Wolves, although the sexual violence isn't graphically described and the survivors' points-of-view are generally prominent.

What I'm reading now

Shadow Gate, by Kate Elliot. It's going much better than Spirit Gate (which I didn't dislike, but I also didn't love) thanks to having a much-expanded set of points-of-view and relationships. It's also introducing some exciting storylines that are sucking me in nicely. There is still a lot of violence and possibly more sexual violence than the last book. I have a few specific qualms but on the whole I'm fascinated by the story and can't wait to see how things get to where they end up at the beginning of Black Wolves.

I'm also still listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In fact I've made very little progress since my last reading meme post. I'm about 3/4 of the way through. I just need to get through, but the torment Harry undergoes at the end of this book is one of the most upsetting sections in the series for me. Add that to my general meh feeling about The Goblet of Fire, plus the fact that I haven't been running which is one of the main times I listen, and, well. I'll finish eventually.

What I'll read next

Traitor's Gate, by Kate Elliot. But I also purchased these books recently and I think the NK Jemisin will be the first one I read.

photo of four books
[photo of four books: Spin State by Chris Moriarty; The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin; The Thinking Person's Guide to Climate Change by Robert Henson; and The Very Best of Kate Elliot]

frayadjacent: Connie Maheswaran on a beach reading excitedly (!reading)
I haven't done one of these in a while! Also it's Tuesday evening here, close enough.

What I just finished reading

Black Wolves
, by Kate Elliott. It took me a while to get into it. Not that I disliked it, but I was content to read it on the bus and right before bed and leave it at that for a good long while. But then it sucked me in properly and I liked it a lot. The story is exciting and the characters are compelling. It's mostly women's POV! And their points-of-view contradict in some really cool and interesting ways. I kind of fell in love with the setting, too, at least as much as any of the characters. And now I have to *wait* for the next one. It usually takes me so long to find out about and read something that waiting for the second installment is kinda a new experience.

What I'm reading now

Spirit Gate
, by Kate Elliott, whose books I really wanted to get into and finally have! I read A Passage of Stars a few months ago, and I liked it enough that I finished it but never got invested in it. It moved too fast: I never had time to get really interested in a place or situation before something new was happening, and I didn't connect with the POV character. I also strongly disliked one of the secondary characters. After I finished it I read the excerpt from the second book in the trilogy, and it was from this detested character's POV. So I gave up on that series, cool as it sounded (revolutionary uprising! in space. Except I was mostly annoyed by her depiction of said uprising in book 1.). 

Spirit Gate was my second attempt at reading Elliott. I liked it well enough but Spoiler for an event early in Spirit Gate (like 30 pages in) ) I was not interested and, after having not much liked A Passage of Stars, I wasn't feeling super charitable. So I gave up.

So, after having read Black Wolves, I'm much more trusting in Elliott, and, as I mentioned before, I fell for the setting of Black Wolves as much as for the characters. Well, Spirit Gate is set in the same world. And I quickly realized that this could maybe be a very vague minor spoiler for Black Wolves and/or the Crossroads books, mainly if you've read one but not the other. ). So now I'm reading Spirit Gate and it's going much better this time.

Monsoons, edited by Jay Fein and Pamela Stephens. This is work related but I kinda like it! It was published in 1987 and it covers not just the physics of monsoons (mainly the South Asian monsoon) but also talks about its study by South Asian and European scientists, its cultural significance, and it describes the development of the Indian Meteorological Service. It also covers the material at a broad level for someone with my scientific background, which I really enjoy.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I'm listening to the Stephen Fry audiobook. I think this might be my least favorite HP. I would have thought Book 1 was my least favorite but I actually loved listening to that and cried like three times. This one has some great moments but also a lot of plot developments I find irritating or boring: Ron not talking to Harry, the whole Triwizard Tournament, S.P.E.W. I can't put my finger on why I don't like the Triwizard Tournament but it just annoys me.

What I plan to read next

Shadow Gate by Kate Elliott, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Anything else book related

I signed up for supporting membership at Worldcon! So I guess I can nominate and vote for the Hugos this year. I doubt I'll be nominating as I've read so few books, but I hope to read as many of the nominees as I can and am already planning to read some presumed nominees. Because apparently I've decided to become a reader again.

frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (HP: Hermione thinking)
I've been failing to find new music for my runs and workouts so, taking a page from [personal profile] isis's book, I finally tried out some audio books. I've been vaguely intending to re-read Harry Potter for a few years now, so that seemed like a good place to start: easy to follow, and a story I know I'll enjoy.

Except I distinctly remember *not* enjoying the first book the one and only time I read it, circa 2004. Unless you count the time I tried to read it in 2001 and gave up on the whole series about 50 pages in because I really didn't like it. I gave the books another shot only after seeing the third film, which I'd liked. So I held my nose through the first book, tolerated the second, and got really into the series starting with The Prisoner of Azkaban. When I re-read the series six or seven years ago, I skipped the first book entirely. And all this was a few years before I got into fandom.

But when I downloaded the audio books last week, I started with The Philosopher's Stone without thinking about it.

And I'm enjoying it. A lot. I'd completely forgotten about the first scene, when Dumbledore, McGonnigal, and Hagrid bring baby Harry to the Dursleys. I can see why I disliked it at first, especially with the fat-phobia around the Dursleys but also with an overall tone that is, well, childish.  And not just in the fun, imaginative, silly, or innocent way, though there are elements of all that: in a way that views the world very simply. Way too simply. Though I was more bothered by all that at 19 than I am at 34. :p

But it's also quite charming. The narrator might help; he probably makes it sound more fun and magical than my internal voice would. And I get a little thrill to think of what's coming. I came to really care for Harry as a character and I like having this glimpse of him before he's ever gone to Hogwarts. (I'm currently at the part where he and Hagrid go to Diagon Ally.) I like how we see his rebellious, even foolhardy spirit right from the start in his interactions with Dudley and Mr. Dursley.

It's slow going because I'm saving it for workouts. But I have a lot to look forward to. I might even find myself needing to find more HP icons. :D

(And aside: wow, I really *did* miss this fandom -- this is my first post tagged with harry potter!)


frayadjacent: Buffy smirking over Giles with quarterstaff (Default)

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