So, for the record, this is what my star ratings mean:
5 stars = FREAKING EPIC, gigantic story, everything works well, my mind is blown that a human being thought this up.
4 stars = love this book, it's just not as humongous in scope as a 5. But it's totally awesome and everyone should read it, it's a keeper.
3 stars = mixed feelings (this is where the "I think others might like it, it's just not for me" reviews are likely to go). Not that bad, but has some issues, or it's an okay story but nothing really stands out to me as being memorable. It was a pleasant enough read for a few days, but I'll probably just end up giving the book away rather than rereading it again.
2 stars = generally pretty terrible, but not 100% so. There was at least one thing in this book that made it not totally horrible. This book isn't really recommended to all and sundry, but you might get some value out of the one thing if you try.
1 star (rarely seen here): It's a wallbanger. Nothing is redeemable about this book, it's utter crap, and I probably only finished reading it so I could do an awesome bitchrant about it and I can't justify doing that to books I didn't finish.
Note: folks interested in this subject matter might want to check this out.
Harry is back to arguing with Dumbledore about the ridiculousness of Gringotts and the financial system of the wizarding world and how he wants to be in charge of his own money. No dice. You only get 5 Galleons for present money.
It's Christmas at Diagon Alley. There should be a song about this. I would add it to my insane Christmas music collection. Just saying. Anyone in wizard rock done this yet? Not that I saw, but here's a few links toChristmas wizard rock music anyway.
Harry and Quirrell are out shopping. Harry wants present advice, Quirrell won't give it. He also doesn't do Christmas. But what about Newtonmas? "Isaac Newton actually was born on December 25th, unlike some other historical figures I could name."
Quirrell doesn't care. Harry is brain-dead on figuring out how to give gifts to the premier school pranksters. Quirrell suggests asking which family members they dislike and then hiring an assassin, who will give him a discount on multiple Weasleys.
"This Christmas," Harry said, dropping his voice into a lower register, "give your friends the gift... of death."
He follows that up with "at least you didn't suggest getting them a pet rat" and then is all "oops." But seriously now, he wants to make the twins his minions.
"Like the old saying goes: A friend isn't someone you use once and then throw away, a friend is someone you use over and over again. Fred and George are two of the most useful friends I have in Hogwarts, Professor Quirrell, and I plan to use them over and over again. So if you'd help me be Slytherin here, and suggest something they might be very grateful for..." Harry's voice trailed off invitingly.
You just had to pitch these things the right way."
Eventually Quirrell suggests new wands. Score! Oh, except they cost a lot more than Harry was allowed to get. Darn it. Oh, wait, can't you borrow from Draco? Well, you would have had to have done that if Quirrell hadn't turned away in boredom while Harry counted out his money....very slowly... in Knuts. Do you have any investment opportunities in mind, perhaps? Safe place to store those Knuts?
"And the two of them walked on, in their tiny sphere of silence and isolation, through the brilliant and bustling crowds; and if you looked carefully, you would see that where they went, leafy boughs faded, and flowers withered, and children's toys that played cheerful bells changed to lower and more ominous notes.
Harry did notice, but he didn't say anything, just smiled a little to himself.
Everyone had their own way of celebrating the holidays, and the Grinch was as much a part of Christmas as Santa."
Allrighty then. Sufficiently creepy, albeit short. Three stars so the Grinch can grow two more sizes or something.
Infamous Quote Corner:
"You are not yet ready to play the game, and it would be foolish to allow you thousands of Galleons with which to upset the gameboard."
McGonnigal is unhappy, again. Something has to be done, Albus! It's Christmas, but everyone's at war and glaring at each other over dinner, even the people who aren't first years or in the army. They all have insignia, too, and watch out in the halls. Even the generals can't get them to stop. McGonnigal wants it stopped before the final battle that determines the Christmas wish--she fears there will be an explosion that Quirrell will get the blame for and then get fired--she knows all of the ways they get fired by now. She's terrified of losing him before exam season. She asks Dumbledore to ban the armies, but Dumbledore doesn't sound terribly interested in doing so (he thinks that will trigger explosion too). Though he does remark that when he approved the idea, he thought there were going to be four rather than three. Hmmmm. Dumbledore decides to plot instead. "It's the new fashion in Hogwarts."
Recapping the battles: they've been described as messy, deranged, and going to be worse next time. Draco objects to Quirrell that one of his soldiers faked his own suicide, Hufflepuffs are trying to plot and they can't, and everything happens at random. "it doesn't have anything to do with who's cleverest, or which army fights best, it's..." He couldn't even describe it."
I think what this boils down to is, "it's not faaaaaaaaaaaair." But even Hermione agrees that allowing everyone to turn traitor isn't working. And that's why everyone's gone mad: it's hard to devise a battle strategy when everyone else already has their own. Harry, what's your opinion on this?
"All we'd need to do is shoot Franz Ferdinand and we could start World War One," said Harry. "It's gone to complete chaos. I'm all for it."
Much to their mutual horror, I'm sure, Draco and Hermione are all "Harry!" at the same time about that. Harry is betraying them both again! Ha ha! Of course, he's all for chaos. Meanwhile, Quirrell is enjoying that one soldier has managed to become a quadruple agent despite their only being three sides in the war. Bwahahahahahahah.
"I am not sure that there has ever in history been a quadruple agent, or any army with such a high fraction of real and pretended traitors. We are exploring new realms, Miss Granger, and we cannot turn back now."
They all leave the office, with Harry being smirky and having a "merry smile of evil" and the other two seriously pondering ganging up against him.
Colonel Zabini has been trying to keep track of who's a spy in Sunshine Army. Apparently it's literally everyone. Zabini assures her that most of them are still loyal to her--he's pretty sure--but nobody wants to be left out of the fun of plotting. He also points out that she has the most Quirrell points and as long as she doesn't lose completely, she can still win the wish since Quirrell's been forced to operate the last battle on a formal scoring system "to avoid recriminations afterward." Every shot gives you two points, a gong will be hit, calling out names of armies switches your allegiance to them. Just for the record: 24 soldiers per army, 244 points for Hermione, 219 for Draco, 221 for Harry. But Colonel Zabini has a plan to deal with both other armies....
"The awesome thing was how fast he'd been able to escalate the chaos once he started doing it deliberately. Harry sat in his office; he'd been given the authority to order furniture from the house elves, so he'd ordered a throne, and curtains in a black and crimson pattern. Scarlet light like blood, mixed with shadow, poured over the floor. Something in Harry felt like he'd finally come home. Before him stood the four Lieutenants of Chaos, his most trusted minions, one of whom was a traitor. This. This was what life should be like."
Oh, Future Dark Lord Harry.
"We are gathered," said Harry. "Let Chaos reign," chorused his four Lieutenants. "My hovercraft is full of eels," said Harry. "I will not buy this record, it is scratched," chorused his four Lieutenants. "All mimsy were the borogroves." "And the mome raths outgrabe!" That concluded the formalities."
Neville reports that five new plots have begun since yesterday evening, none of them have a chance of working. We can never have enough plots! Enter Draco to discuss a teamup. Of course, they'll both be tempted to betray each other, and... well, it's all Prisoner's Dilemma here, which Harry has already tutored Draco about. A timeout is taken to recap that special moment, but I'm too lazy to bother so I won't. Let's just skip down to....
"But I have to remind you, Draco, that I didn't say you should just automatically cooperate. Not on a true Prisoner's Dilemma like this one. What I said was that when you choose, you shouldn't think like you're choosing for just yourself, or like you're choosing for everyone. You should think like you're choosing for all the people who are similar enough to you that they'll probably do the same thing you do for the same reasons. And also choosing the predictions made by anyone who knows you well enough to predict you accurately, so that you never have to regret being rational because of the correct predictions that other people make about you - remind me to explain about Newcomb's Problem at some point. So the question you and I have to ask, Draco, is this: are we similar enough that we'll probably do the same thing whatever it is, making our decisions in mostly the same way? Or do we know each other well enough to predict each other, so that I can predict whether you'll cooperate or defect, and you can predict that I've decided to do the same thing I predict you'll do, because I know that you can predict me deciding that?" ...and Draco could not help but think that since he had to strain just to understand half of that, the answer was obviously 'No'. "Yes," said Draco. There was a pause. "I see," said Harry, sounding disappointed. "Oh, well. I guess we'll have to think of some other way, then." Draco hadn't thought that was going to work."
Oookay then. So, how is this going to work? If it can? Beats me, this is the chapter that must give everyone headaches except possibly the author.
Cut to Hermione bumping into Dumbledore, which freaks her out. He asks her what the three kids were thinking of asking for their wishes.... and scene.
Cut to Saturday's last battle, in the Hogwarts Lake. As in, UNDERWATER IN THE HOGWARTS LAKE. The creatures have been neutralized and everyone has been issued potions that allow them to breathe, see, talk, and swim in there. Boy, does this remind me of Catching Fire, somehow.
Draco's plan for his troops is to take out Sunshine and then go after Chaos, explaining the plan he and Harry came up with.
"- and if any of your plots get in the way of that," finished Draco, "after we are out of the water, I will set you on fire."
"And everyone with secret orders, make sure you carry them out to the letter," said Draco. Around half his soldiers openly nodded, and Draco marked them for death after he rose to power."
Oh, Draco. Of course, the private orders wer eall fake. Draco's secret real plan against Harry is one his father wouldn't like, but he wasn't able to think of anything better--it's just the only sort of thing that would only work against Harry. "In fact it had been Harry's plan originally, according to the traitor, though Draco had guessed that without being told. Draco and the traitor had just modified it a little..."
Oh, Draco. Meanwhile, Harry takes the opportunity to lecture his troops on no longer needing to keep a specific orientation in the water.
Hermione is splitting her troops again, on the advice of Blaise saying no army would move until they had a plan that would let them expect victory. They have to make both other armies think they would win, unitl it was too late. And people thought Blaise wouldn't make a good general? Come on. Anyhoo, the troops break out into arguments about secret plots and who was talking to Neville or not, and Hermione is all "All your plots were faked. Compare notes, you guys."
"But," said Ernie with shock on his face, "Neville is in Hufflepuff! You're saying he lied to us?" Daphne was laughing so hard and so helplessly that the exhalations had turned her upside down in the water. "I'm not sure what Longbottom is," said Ron darkly, "but I don't think he's a Hufflepuff any more. Not now that Harry Potter's got to him." "Do you know," said Susan, "I asked him that, and Neville told me he had become a Chaos Hufflepuff?"
I think I want a shirt with Chaos Hufflepuff on it now. Anyway, Hermione and Blaise have fertted out all the spies and Blaise took them with him, so Sunshine is all good. Except for the part where the remaining non-spies are shocked by the spies.
Hermione has a moment as both sides charge her own soldiers, which I'm just going to quote because trying to understand it made my head hurt again. "Every time a soldier originally from Sunshine got shot by someone crying the name of Sunshine, she would lose a Quirrell point. When two Sunshine Soldiers were shot by either army, both enemy armies would be two points closer to overtaking her, it was the same gain only shared. And if anyone shot another soldier not in the name of Sunshine, that gong wouldn't get lost in the confusion..." She tries to rally, and then gets shot by Daphne (on her own side). SO THAT'S GOING WELL.
Ron and Neville duel:
"Rainbows and unicorns! " roared the Sunshine Captain. "The Black Goat with a thousand young! " "Do your homework! "
I love this fanfic. Teh Crazy is great. Anyway, Neville wins by casting Wingardium Leviosa on Ron, which is SUPER fun in the water. "I don't fight fair," said Neville to the sleeping form, "I fight like Harry Potter."
Granger: 237 / Malfoy: 217 / Potter: 220
Harry feels bad about shooting Hermione, but he must. She's not dead. Really. People are losing points. Harry gives instructions to those still loyal to him that boil down to "don't bother to use code words." He's egged his soldiers on to plotting, but also told them in the future he might ask them to put a plot or two on hold. They agreed to that--something Harry is sure the other two couldn't pull off. Meanwhile, seven remaining Sunshine Soldiers suddenly joined up with the Dragon Army.
Granger: 237 / Malfoy: 220 / Potter: 226
Draco's not doing so well. "Somehow, despite their numerical superiority, the Dragons had scored three times against the Chaotics and the Chaotics had scored four times back, and he'd heard one Dragon spy get executed. Either Harry Potter had thought of a lot of very good ideas very fast, or for some unimaginable reason he'd already spent a lot of time working out how to fight underwater. This wasn't working, and Draco needed to rethink things."
My head is hurting trying to make sense of it all. This author is one devious bastard. Nobody trusts anyone. Draco wishes he could punish traitors. Chaos just executed a spy.
Granger: 253 / Malfoy: 252 / Potter: 252
Neville's been shot. A lot. Harry's in a sphere of protection. Chaos is outnumbered three to one, by the survivors of Dragon and the last remaining Sunny traitor--Zabini, of course. Draco and his second, Padma, are left to take down Harry. Draco points out that Zabini is a Muggle bigot, so how dare you think he was on your side. Draco shatters Harry's shield and...Padma yells out "Somnium!" Night-night, Draco.
Granger: 253 / Malfoy: 252 / Potter: 254
"You know," said Harry, "I was pretty worried there for a moment." Special Order Two: If a Sunny traitor doesn't seem to be really shooting at you, fake being hit occasionally. Prefer targeting Dragons to Sunnies but go ahead and shoot Sunnies if you can't shoot Dragons. Special Order Three: Merlin says do not shoot at Blaise Zabini or either Patil twin. With a wide grin, Parvati Patil stripped the Transfigured patch off her uniform's insignia, and let it float away in the water. "Gryffindors for Chaos," she said, and handed Zabini his wand back. "Thank you very much," Harry said, and bowed sweepingly to the Gryffindor girl. "And thank you as well," bowing to Zabini. "You know, when you came to me with that plan, I wondered if you were brilliant or crazy, and I've decided that you're both..."
And then Zabini somnium's Harry.
And now we're down to two?
Granger: 255 / Malfoy: 252 / Potter: 254
"On second thought," Parvati said cheerfully, "make that Gryffindors for Sunshine." She started to laugh, more exhiliarated than she'd ever been in her life, she'd finally gotten to assassinate and replace her twin sister and she'd wanted to do that since forever, and this had been perfect, it had all been perfect -
OH, NERDY TWINS. And then Zabini's pointing his wand at her too.
"Sorry," said Zabini, looking not-quite-sincerely apologetic, "but I can't be totally sure you're for Sunshine. So I order you to let me shoot you." "Hold on! " said Parvati. "We're only ahead of Chaos by one point! If you shoot me now -" "I'll shoot you in the name of Dragon, obviously," said Zabini, now sounding a little superior. "Just because we tricked them into doing it, doesn't mean it won't work for us."
Zabini whammos Parvati before she whammos him, and now it's all down to him.
Granger: 255 / Malfoy: 254 / Potter: 254
THIS IS A NAIL BITER.
"Blaise Zabini could shoot himself in the name of either Dragon or Chaos, or just leave things the way they were.
"You know," said Blaise Zabini's voice, in the tones of someone who'd been rehearsing the words for a while, "it's just a game, really. And games are supposed to be fun. So how about if I just do whatever I feel like?"
CLIFFHANGER. Okay, four and a half stars for DAMN, THIS IS GRIPPING. (One half star deducted for ah, confusion.)
Infamous Quote Corner:
"Harry laughed again, and this time it didn't even take an effort to sound evil. He really needed to borrow someone's pet Kneazle for his staff meetings, so he'd have a cat to stroke while he did this."
"Draco was beginning to feel a lot more confident that he'd done the right thing in deciding to overthrow Harry Potter before he could take over the world. Draco couldn't even imagine what it would be like to live under his rule."
"Parvati was totally a spy," said Daphne. "She shopped at the spy shoe store and wore spy lipstick, and someday she's going to marry a nice spy husband and have a lot of little spies."
"Traitors weren't allowed to kill generals, not after the disaster of the first battle in December when all three generals had been shot in the first minute. But with any luck..."
"I warned you, Headmaster. It is impossible to have rules without Mr. Potter exploiting them."
"Blood for the blood god! " shrieked Neville of Chaos, though since he was underwater it came out more like 'Blubbled for the blubbled glub!'
Er, first real friend we've ever had in our whole life? Hey, remember what happened to our pet rock? Would you SHUT UP about that worthless lump of rubble, it wasn't even alive let alone sentient, that is like the most pathetic childhood trauma ever -
"Draco had heard the word 'recursion' by this point, and he knew a Harry Potter plot when he saw one."
AND HERE FINALLY START THE BATTLES. Hope you went to the bathroom before reading so you don't suddenly pee yourselves or something!
"The day was Sunday, November 3rd, and soon the three great powers of their school year, Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, and Hermione Granger, would begin their struggle for supreme dominance. (Harry was slightly annoyed by the way the Boy-Who-Lived had been demoted from supreme dominance to one of three equal rivals just by entering the contest, but he expected to get it back soon.)"
Everyone's fighting in some non-Forbidden forest, in camo uniforms for everyone. Everyone has their own army insignia. Draco got dibs on Dragon Army, much to Harry's disappointment. His logo is just fire. Harry decides to go by the Chaos Legion, with the logo of a hand poised with fingers ready to snap. Hah. Harry suggested to Hermione that she pick something fierce, and she's gone with....Sunshine Regiment. With a smiley face. I am amused no end at this.
23 soldiers are assigned to Harry. 12 Gryffindors, 6 Slytherins, 4 Hufflepuffs, one Ravenclaw. Harry ponders the Robbers Cave experiment in social psychology, in which kids were divided into two teams at summer camp and then of course they went to war with each other. Which is pretty much the plot of every summer camp movie ever except for the ones with serial killers, I suppose. Anyway, Harry deduces that having three teams leads to a common enemy, especially if you mix the Houses among the teams, and the only Slytherins Draco got were his usual henchmen.
"It was things like this which reassured Harry that Professor Quirrell, despite his affected Dark atmosphere and his pretense of neutrality in the conflict between Good and Evil, was secretly backing Good, not that Harry would ever dare say that out loud." And Harry had decided to take full advantage of Professor Quirrell's plan to define a group identity his way."
Harry has been going on in his head about how the two teams in the experiment named themselves the Rattlers and the Eagles and acted accordingly--so Chaos Legion isn't doing any sort of formation.
"Harry had divided the army into 6 squads of 4 soldiers each, each squad commanded by a Squad Suggester. All troops were under strict orders to disobey any orders they were given if it seemed like a good idea at the time, including that one... unless Harry or the Squad Suggester prefixed the order with "Merlin says", in which case you were supposed to actually obey."
Interesting. They're supposed to basically run around and attack randomly and always try to distract or confuse the enemy, and think in the moment only. Harry doesn't quite think this is optimum military efficiency, but he's gonna try it out. He has all wings report in.
"Red Leader standing by," said Seamus Finnigan, who had no idea what it meant. "Red Five standing by," said Dean Thomas, who'd waited his entire life to say it."
Harry gives them flying orders without the Merlin says, but points out they do need any spying information they pick up. For Chaos! While Draco can be predicted (by Harry) to act in his own self-interest, Harry doesn't know what Hermione will do, and he can't move until he does.
Cut to General Malfoy, whose regiment sounds ah, pretty military typical for the moment.
"Draco had protested at first about not being assigned any Slytherins, and Professor Quirrell had told him that if he wanted to be the first Malfoy to gain complete political control of the country, he needed to learn how to govern the other three-quarters of the population. It was things like this which reassured Draco that Professor Quirrell had a great deal more sympathy for the good guys than Professor Quirrell was letting on."
Here's Draco's battle speech, which he composed and memorized.
"The battle is about to begin," Draco said. His voice was calm and precise. "Remember everything that I and Mr. Crabbe and Mr. Goyle showed you. An army wins because it is disciplined and deadly. General Potter and the Chaos Legion will not be disciplined. Granger and the Sunshine Regiment will not be deadly. We are disciplined, we are deadly, we are Dragons. The battle is about to begin, and we are about to win it."
And here's Harry's, pulled straight out of his ass:
"My troops, I'm not going to lie to you, our situation today is very grim. Dragon Army has never lost a single battle. And Hermione Granger... has a very good memory. The truth is, most of you are probably going to die. And the survivors will envy the dead. But we have to win this. We have to win this so that someday, our children can enjoy the taste of chocolate again. Everything is at stake here. Literally everything. If we lose, the whole universe just blinks out like a light bulb. And now I realize that most of you don't know what a light bulb is. Well, take it from me, it's bad. But if we have to go down, let's go down fighting, like heroes, so that as the darkness closes in, we can think to ourselves, at least we had fun. Are you afraid to die? I know I am. I can feel those cold shivers of fear like someone is pumping ice cream into my shirt. But I know... that history is watching us. It was watching us when we changed into our uniforms. It was probably taking pictures. And history, my troops, is written by the victors. If we win this, we can write our own history. A history in which Hogwarts was founded by four renegade house elves. We can make everyone study that history, even though it isn't true, and if they don't answer the right way on our tests... they'll fail the class. Isn't that worth dying for? No, don't answer that. Some things are better left unknown. None of us know why we're here. None of us know why we're fighting. We just woke up in these uniforms in this mysterious forest, knowing only that there was no way to get our names and memories back except victory. The students in those other armies out there... they're just like us. They don't want to die. They're fighting to protect each other, the only friends they have left. They're fighting because they know they have families who'll miss them, even if they can't remember now. They may even be fighting to save the world. But we have a better reason to fight than they do. We fight because we like it. We fight to amuse eldritch monstrosities from beyond Space and Time. We fight because we're Chaos. Soon the final battle will begin, so let me say now, because I won't get a chance later, that it was an honor to be your commander, however briefly. Thank you, thank you all. And remember, your goal isn't just to cut down the enemy, it's to make them afraid."
BUT WHAT'S HERMIONE GOING TO DO? WHAT'S HER BATTLE SPEECH?
And now we're going to run into some trouble on the recap because I have a horrible time following battles in well, any media at all. So...yeah.
Hermione has divided her army and is attacking both sides. Harry thinks this is bad battle strategy, until it occurs to him that she's being fair...."It was going to be a long year in Defense class." Draco thinks she's faking them out and one of her forces will switch and attack... someone.
Neville is in Chaos Legion at Harry's persuasion. He's feeling cheerful, so he starts singing the Song of Chaos....what we Muggles know as "Darth Vader's Theme." The lyrics Harry has written for it are
So far, the half of Sunshine that attacked Chaos hasn't done well--almost all of them have been sleep-spelled right off the bat and one of them managed to take out a Chaos before getting hit on round two. Three other Chaotics were taken down by Sunnies (this is so dorky to type out). Hermione wasn't in that round. Harry declares that their real fight today is gonna be Dragon Army and it'll be a lot more fun.
Meanwhile, Draco lost four Dragons in exchange for twelve Sunnies, which totally sounds even weirder money talk than Galleons and Sickles. Everyone thinks Hermione's a moron in battle at this point, so the true battle will, of course, be with Harry.
Dragons vs. Chaos, CHARGE! Neville chants what he's supposed to chant:
"Blood for the blood god! " screamed Neville. "Skulls for the skull throne! Ia! Shub-Niggurath! The enemy's gate is sideways! "
Neville manages to duck being hit by sleep spells and land between two groups of Dragons, who think they hit him. Neville sneakily casts a sleep spell while he's down there on a Dragon. Where'd it come from? He casts a second (ventriloquism) spell yelling out "For Cthulhu and glory!", leading the two Dragons into getting zapped. Neville takes a flying leap to go after Justin Finch-Fletchley, shooting at him from the air, y'know, just because.
"I am Neville, the last scion of Longbottom! " screamed Neville to the sky above, holding his wand pointed straight up as though to challenge the blazing blue heaven itself, knowing that nothing after this day would ever be the same again. "Neville of Chaos! Face me if you da-"
(When Neville woke up afterward, he was told that Dragon Army had taken this as their cue to counterattack.)"
So that went well.
Cut to Harry as one of his soldiers takes a shot meant for him. He's down to six soldiers, Dragon has two. But of those two, one of them is invincible (Goyle) and the other is using up three soldiers just to cover him inside his shield (guess who). Even Harry's stumped as to how to stop him. Well, other than killing him, but he's not supposed to go THAT far. Harry eventually hits the "screw this" point and casts Luminos on him. A lot. This apparently gets the sleep spell cast on him. Oops. But hey, at least Goyle's not dead, right? Harry notes that his Transfiguration of that giant rock Dumbledore gave him has failed. Darn it! Harry goes over to Draco in his shield and asks where the fifth soldier is. Apparently that one got hit by mistake after bouncing off the shield. Oops. Harry makes a crack that Draco should question what his role models are doing instead of just doing what they do blindly. Oh, and thanks for the slow-moving clustered targets! At this point, Draco is hoping for a draw between them. Hah.
Harry asks his soldiers about specialized shield-piercing spells, which nobody seems to know about. Anyone know anything about bouncing spells? Lightning? Nope. Draco smirks from inside his personal bubble.
"Harry sighed. He quite deliberately laid his wand on the ground. And Harry announced, with some weariness in his voice, that he would just go ahead and take down the shield himself, using some method that would remain mysterious; and everyone else was to fire on Draco as soon as his shield went down. The Chaos Legionnaires looked nervous."
Harry pulls out a blanket and pulls it over his head and while no one can see what he's doing (other than Draco), he also pulls out a car battery and a set of jumper cables from his pouch.
"...it wasn't like he'd been about to leave the Muggle world to start a new era of magical research, and not take along any way of generating electricity."
Fingers snap, crackling noise happens, the shield glows more....and kaboom! Harry hides all of his stuff and emerges. Wait, what, that wasn't Harry's plan? Hey, where is Hermione, anyway? This is the point where the other generals realize that the Sunshine Army went down too easily on the first round.... Harry and Draco declare allies, and someone bursts Draco's shield.
Hermione's still got nine soldiers left and she really wants to gloat.
"There has to be some trick. You can't just turn into a perfect general. Not on top of everything else. You're not that Slytherin! You don't write creepy poetry! No one's that good at everything! " General Granger glanced around at her Sunshine Soldiers, and then looked back at Harry. Everyone was probably watching this on the screens outside.
And General Granger said, "I can do anything if I study hard enough."
And yes, she can. She puts Harry to sleep and SUNSHINE WINS. "Niceness has triumphed!" The Sunshine Song is sung!
"And what's the moral of today's battle?" said General Granger. "We can do anything if we study hard enough! " And the survivors of the Sunshine Regiment marched off toward the victory field, singing their marching song as they went: Don't be frightened, don't be sad, We'll only hurt you if you're bad, And send you to a home that's true, With new friends to watch over you, Be sure to tell them you were sent By Granger's Sunshine Regiment!
This is such an awesome chapter. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF THE SUNSHINE ARMY AND HERMIONE FUCKING GRANGER. FOUR STARS.
Infamous Quote Corner:
"Harry had said quite a lot of things to Neville in private, starting with "You know, Neville, if you want to become as awesome as the imaginary Neville who lives in your head but isn't allowed to do anything because you're scared, then you really should sign up for Professor Quirrell's armies."
"Discipline against Chaos. It shouldn't be much of a fight."
"There was no formal victory condition, Professor Quirrell had explained, because then Harry would figure out how to game the rules. Harry had to admit this was a fair cop."
Harry paces back and forth in his office, wondering how the hell Hermione won the first battle when she's not violent by nature. "automatically being a great military commander on top of everything else was too much even for her." Did she read military books? Did Quirrell help her? Even Harry just can't figure that out. Also, he's not allowed to use Muggle tech in battle any more, according to Quirrell. Harry sighs, gives up on trying to figure it out, and decides he needs to work on learning the Breaking Drill Hex and how to bring down Goyle.
Draco is staring into space in his room, pretty much thinking the same things as Harry. Hermione's not supposed to be that cunning! Is she being advised secretly? And then it finally occurs to Draco that he should be doing what Harry told him to. Notice that you're confused. Therefore, something you believe is fiction.
"Granger should not have been able to do all that. Therefore, she probably hadn't. I promise not to help General Granger in any way that the two of you don't know about.With sudden horrified realization, Draco swept papers out of the way, hunting through the mess on his desk, until he found it. And there it was. Right in the list of people and equipment assigned to each of the three armies.Curse Professor Quirrell! Draco had read it and he still hadn't seen it -"
And now we're off to the golden light of the Sunshine Regiment office, where General Granger and Colonel Zabini are debating how long it will take the boys to figure it out. What is it that they haven't figured out? Teamwork, of course. "It was kind of sad, actually. Harry had grown up very, very alone. It wasn't that he went around thinking in words that only geniuses had a right to exist. It just wouldn't occur to him that anyone in Hermione's army besides Hermione could have any good ideas."
Score for Hermione.
"Anyhow," Hermione said. "Captains Goldstein and Weasley, you're on duty for thinking up strategic ideas for our next battle. Captains Macmillan and Susan - sorry, I mean Macmillan and Bones - try to come up with some tactics we can use, also any training you think we should try. Oh, and congratulations on your marching song, Captain Goldstein, I think it was a big plus for esprit de corps."
"What're you doing?" said Susan. "And Colonel Zabini?"
Hermione stood up out of her chair, stretching. "I'll try to figure out what Harry Potter is thinking and Colonel Zabini will try to figure out what Draco Malfoy might do, and both of us will join you again after we come up with something."
As well as pondering that, Hermione needs to figure out what to do with that Christmas Wish when she gets it.
Three stars. Didn't blow my mind, but gets the point across.
Disclaimer: I attempted to add this to my library on Kobo, but Kobo claims it's added it and yet I cannot view it in the library or download it for crap. Smashwords would only show me a few sentences at a time trying to read it online. I ended up reading it via Scribd.
This novella came out for the following reason: "This project began because I have a rule: I’m not allowed to complain about the same thing twice. If I do, I have to either shut up, or do some- thing about it. This was my way of doing something about the lack of holiday fiction that featured Hanukkah." All right! Let's go with it!
Jeremy and Genevieve are summer camp counselors at Camp Meira, and romance has been quietly budding between them for quite some time. Then there was a bit of a derailment when Jeremy left camp early to go to mortuary school (family business), and Gen later took off for a fellowship in Iceland. So it's been awhile since they've been at camp together again. And there's a bit of awkwardness going on because Gen's parents died in a car crash a couple of years ago and Jeremy's family business was the one that took care of things--Jeremy figures that the whole idea of a mortuary might very well wig Gen out after that. Now they're reuniting at a special Winter Camp event during Hanukkah, which they figure out is because the camp is about to go under. They get the idea to make camp awesome with a color war.
I would like to point out that this book starts out with discussion of this: “A moment of silence for the shit-sucker, if you please.” Followed by other lines such as “You must aid me in pursuit of the shit-sucker’s Jiffy sign!” “The Jiffy Latrine shall be mine! It will be epic!” “You dare attack the latrine pirate? You shall pay!” Jeremy is freaking hilarious, though Gen isn't a slouch herself.
“This is going to be great, Gen. Instead of sneaking out with bug spray, we can stay in and plot world domination.”
I was expecting some ah, jokes to come from the fact that Gen picked a room to sleep in based on its warmth rather than its containing a bed, and that the first sleeping bag she finds reeks of pot...but no, it doesn't quite go there, even though at one point they're warned not to!
Gen does seem somewhat wigged out at times by Jeremy's job--especially his thesis topic--but overall it seems like she's adjusted a bit to her parents' deaths, gotten more used to it, something. His job is not driving her off of her interest in Jeremy in the way that he thought it might. And his telling her about his experience of sitting up with her parents was interesting and not exactly something I expected to see in a romance. She even has some snark about it after he mentions doing a stint as a bouncer: “It’s your destiny. One way or an- other, you’re showing people the door.”
In short, it's a snarky, sweet little romance. I may have missed some things here and there because I never went to summer camp, but I suspect those who have gone will especially love it. If anything's not 100% to love for me, there's not a whole lot of conflict/plot here beyond "maybe she'll be freaked out by my job because her parents are dead." I dunno, that was a bit weak for me when they've previously had years of building chemistry to go on and I found it pretty hard to believe that might trump this romance. But then again, it's a novella, they're short, and maybe I should just relax.
So, three and a half stars. I enjoyed it. Happy Hanukkah, y'all.
I'm a big fan of Lani Diane Rich, but I pretty much missed reading this book of hers, somehow. I don't think I even noticed it was out for like, years. Ouch. After reading it... I can kind of see why it got overlooked. It's...just okay to me.
Freya Daly, sister to Flynn from Crazy in Love, thinks of herself as a professional hardass. Except lately she's developed this "rare condition" in which she spontaneously tears up at random. It's not making her look so good at work, especially around her hardass dad/boss Richard. She is definitely being Looked Down Upon there. Which is why it's so important that she make the deal her father sent her to make with a guy who's recently inherited a ratty campground in Idaho. Her dad's offering two million for the property, which seems kinda ridiculously inflated to Freya, but dad is making a Big Deal about it and threatening to give a promotion to someone else if she doesn't get it.
New campground owner Nate Brody is taking a leave of absence from his job as a chef to figure out what the hell to do with his dead dad's property. His daugher Piper loves the place and her new honorary grandma Ruby (the longtime girlfriend of Nate's dead dad) and doesn't want to leave. Nate is refusing to sell because his father's last wish was that he find some kind of....thing.... hidden on the property. He's not terribly clear on what that is, but Ruby knows and is keeping it hidden so that nobody will leave.
Turns out the MacGuffin is evidence from a long-ago crime committed by Nate's dad and uncle (and ah, apparently Richard Daly), and Uncle Malcolm is bound and determined to get that MacGuffin back. He even recruits Nate's long-gone ex-wife Nikkie to try to go in there and find it, leading to some awkwardness because lord knows Nikkie isn't the mom material that Piper's been dreaming of.
Beyond that...I pretty much feel like I could quote this review about the issues I had with it.
"There's a quick sexual attraction between Nate and Freya. While I completely believe that Freya falls in love with Piper, I just didn't see enough interaction between Freya and Nate to believe that they were deeply in love with each other. In fact, it seemed as if there were far more interactions between Freya and Piper than between Freya and Nate.
My favorite character, hands down, is Nate's daughter Piper, but I really don't read romances for the children. Nate had the potential to be a good hero, but he wasn't featured enough to carry it off.
I couldn't figure out what the author wanted the book to be. At first it seemed to be a light, romantic comedy. Then, almost out of the blue, a really nasty villain appeared and began making threats against Piper and Freya. This just didn't seem to fit. From that point on, too much of the book focused on the villain and his accomplices, and not enough on the romance between Freya and Nate."
Um....yeah. Freya and Piper seem to hit it off more on an emotional level that she and Nate do. I can't really name any reasons in my head why Freya and Nate should be together or why they are supposed to be such a good match for each other beyond being lonely and the only single adults in the vicinity, and clearly this is the sort of book in which a girl needs to find a replacement mommy and a woman needs to get in touch with her feelings. Piper is probably more distinctive than anyone else and Nate kind of comes off as a generic nice guy. I didn't feel as attached to Ruby as everyone else did--she seems nice enough, I guess, but I wasn't super thrilled at some of her life choices. Nikkie is pretty much drawn as shallow and then suddenly develops interest in her kid at the end--which seemed a little "where did THAT come from?" to me.
And yes, the mystery does take over the later end of the book. Which to some degree is fine because hey, it's a plot and I like plot and having this kick in helped me like the book more, but on the other hand, it was quite a tone change to have Malcolm getting so nasty. And by the time we get to the inevitable third act breakup...it just felt weak and like an excuse to drag out the romance a bit longer. You're just kinda like "oh, come on girl" about that.
Overall, I'm giving it three stars. I generally like the author's writing style, but this one felt a little half baked.
"She was starting to think that getting involved in a rivalry with Harry Potter had been a terrible mistake. If she'd just stayed away from Harry Potter, she could have been Hermione Granger, the brightest academic star of Hogwarts, who was earning more points for Ravenclaw than anyone. She wouldn't have been as famous as the Boy-Who-Lived, but she would have been famous for herself. Instead the Boy-Who-Lived had an academic rival, and her name happened to be Hermione Granger. And worse, she had gone on a date with him. The idea of getting into a Romance with Harry had seemed like an appealing idea at first. She'd read books like that, and if there was anyone in Hogwarts who was a candidate for the heroine's love interest it was obviously Harry Potter. Bright, funny, famous, sometimes scary... So she'd forced Harry into going on a date with her. And now she was his love interest. Or worse, one of the options on his dinner menu."
Well, Hermione, I really don't know what to tell you there. You pretty much nailed in on the head.
"If you got too close to the Boy-Who-Lived, you became part of his story. You didn't get your own."
Also a good point.
"She wanted to be a separate person again instead of Harry Potter's third leg, was that too much to ask?"
There's a dirty joke in there somewhere.
This reminds me of the thought that Harry Potter would never have been such a hit if it was about "Hermione Granger and the Philosopher's Stone," written by Joanne Rowling. Which is probably true, but horrifyingly sad to think about.
Anyway, what all of this leads to is Hermione deciding that her way out of this trap is to do something that "wouldn't be seen as pushing up on the opposite end of Harry Potter's seesaw." However, it means she has to go against her nature and fight someone evil, and get help from someone else even more evil.... Oh, and lose a Quirrell point for bothering him.
Cut to Harry and Hermione hanging out in the library reading.
"I just found out why you never ask the Weasleys about the family rat," Harry said. "It's really awful and I shouldn't be laughing and I'm a terrible person."
Anyway, this part recaps how Sirius Black went to Azkaban and...
"Well, to make a long story short, Bill Weasley decided that his little brother Percy's pet rat was Pettigrew's Animagus form -" Hermione's jaw dropped. "Yes," Harry said, "you wouldn't exactly expect Evil Pettigrew to be living a sad and furtive life as the pet rat of an enemy wizarding family, he'd either be with the Malfoys or, more likely, off in the Carribean after a bit of plastic surgery. Anyway, Bill knocks out his little brother Percy, stuns and grabs the rat, sends out all these emergency owl messages -" "Oh, no! " Hermione said, the words torn out of her. "- and somehow manages to gather Dumbledore, the Minister of Magic, and the Head Auror -" "He didn't! " said Hermione. "And of course when they get there they think he's crazy, but they use Veritas Oculum on the rat anyway, just to be sure, and what do they discover?" She would've died. "A rat." "You win a cookie! So they dragged poor Bill Weasley off to St. Mungo's and it turned out to be a pretty standard schizophrenic break, it just happens to some people, especially young men around what we'd consider college age. Guy was convinced he was ninety-seven years old and had died and gone back in time to his younger self via train station. And he responded perfectly well to antipsychotics and is back to normal and everything's fine now, except people don't talk as much anymore about Sirius Black conspiracy theories, and you don't ever ask the Weasleys about the family rat."
Hermione goes to broomstick riding class, which she hates. Then off to study hall to help a bunch of Hufflepuffs with Charms homework. Then Harry meets her again and reminds her that tomorrow is the last day to sign up for Quirrell's armies. Hermione sounds a little ticked when he brings it up and Harry doesn't know why. Oh, right, because she didn't like being called up in front of the class and being told to shoot someone. Even if she admits in her heart that was probably something she needed to know, none of the other professors would have done that to her, so Quirrell is eeeeeevil. Harry points out this may be the one time they EVER have a competent DADA instructor, so they'd better study up. Also, they're gonna learn the Patronus charm in January--like, five years ahead of schedule.
Hermione said she's already signed up. Harry is enthusiastic and wants to add her to his army, but....you're not in Draco's, are you? FIGURE IT OUT, HARRY.
Cut to Draco objecting to Hermione being the third general. Harry has come along as well, saying that her personality is not suited to military command. Quirrell is basically all "duh" and Harry is all "Is this some sort of plot?
"Must everything I do be some sort of plot?" said Professor Quirrell. "Can't I ever create chaos just for the sake of chaos?"
Harry says not in class, essentially, and Quirrell is all "who else would I appoint then?" Draco is all "Blaise Zabini" and thinks of a few others but manages to keep his mouth shut about them. Quirrell points out that nobody else can keep up with these two bros except Ms. Granger. Harry gets it, Draco has secret rage. Harry is all, "well, I think she'll be unhappy about it, and as her friend, this isn't good for her." Not like Quirrell cares about that, though he is amazed that Harry can be friends with Hermione and Draco at the same time. Yeah, me too. Anyway, Quirrell says she asked for it and he thinks she'll do better than the boys expect--and will adviser her a bit too. Much to the boys' outrage. But she turned him down. He promises not to help General Granger in any way the other two don't know about.
After the boys are kicked out/leave, Draco talks about ganging up on Hermione and getting her out of the way first, but Harry doesn't think that's fair. Draco is all, "You don't LIKE her for real, do you?" and Harry is all "She'll probably attack you first." Harry and Draco basically have some kind of verbal pissing match at this point.
Cut to a meeting between Generals Malfoy and Granger, a few days before the first battle. "If it had been a play, there would have been dramatic music." The generals somehow all have private offices, oddly enough. Draco tells her that Harry suggested teaming up with him to wipe her out entirely, and Hermione is all, so you're offering to help me against him, then? Of course, Draco weasels. Hermione says they should be friends and can she call him Drakey. No, really, she said that. He's all "of course, if I can call you Hermy." Uh-HUH. So, how's about we team up, then? Hermione says that Draco must think she's pretty stupid, and he said no, but he thought he'd at least check. Then he offers her a bribe and they haggle over the price. Somehow Draco leaves not having gotten what he wanted. Ahem.
October 31 is Harry Potter Day in magical Britain. Harry thinks of it as The Dark Lord Killed My Parents Day. He turns down some offers and spends the day hiding in his trunk.
Three stars. This one kinda feels like it's introducing an idea and then hedging about a bit. Which it is, because I can say as someone who's read ahead, it does get intense.
Infamous Quote Corner:
"It was like they didn't understand that GIRLS had options on their dinner menu and BOYS fought over them."
"Professor Quirrell says the Ministry schedules were made up by talking Flobberworms"
"Hermione Granger has around as much intent to kill as a bowl of wet grapes."
"Having a name like 'Malfoy' is just asking for it, you know."
Chapter 28: Reductionism Hermione and Harry are trying to transfigure a pill that would cure Alzheimer's. It doesn't work. Sigh. Next up to try is a "real" lab-made uh, thing. "try to Transfigure this into a set of aligned buckytube fibers embedded in two solid diamond rings. She comes up with something. It seems to involve "Buckytubes," but I am officially too dumb to get what is going on here. I give up, let's skip ahead to....
"Harry, I don't think this is working out." "You mean our relationship?" Harry said. "Great! Let's break up." That got a slight grin out of her. "I mean our research." "Oh, Hermione, how could you?" "You're sweet when you're mean,"
I swooned! Hah. Anyway, what she's trying to say is that at ages 11-12, she doesn't think they're smart enough yet to discover something that nobody else has discovered before, that's something that only happens in books. Guess how Harry feels about that. But at the same time, he has to admit that nobody's done anything super smart at 11. He resolves to prove that wrong.
"Step One had been to make a list of every magical constraint Harry could remember, all the things you supposedly couldn't do. Step Two, mark the constraints that seemed to make the least sense from a scientific perspective. Step Three, prioritize constraints that a wizard would be unlikely to question if they didn't know science. Step Four, come up with avenues for attacking them."
Hermione has fled to leave Harry to it, and is feeling wigged out and starts feeling guilty about trying to Transfigure a pill when they're not supposed to.
Harry keeps on experimenting with an eraser. I'm still too stupid to comprehend what's going on, but I have the impression that it's not going well.
Hermione runs to stop Harry and barely manages to get him to leave the classroom before something explodes. Hermione points out that they weren't supposed to experiment with Transfiguration and says they have to stop this, they're too young. Harry is all, "I Transfigured PART of the eraser." She still insists that if they keep this up they will end up dead. Harry agrees to compromise and ask a professor if need be.
Cut to poor McGonnigal, Dumbledore, and Harry discussing his results. She doesn't get it either. Anyway, they all start working on setting up the experiment. Harry succeeds in a partial Transfiguration, which pleases Dumbledore. They're both impressed, really, and Harry's set a record for his age. Harry is told to swear Hermione to secrecy and not to tell anyone else.
"Because you can do something that no one else will believe you can do," Dumbledore said. "Something completely unexpected. It may prove to be your critical advantage, Harry, and we must preserve it. Please, trust me in this."
On his way out, Harry asks if anyone's noticed anything weird about Snape really. Nope, nobody has. Keep an eye out, will you?
"Albus," Minerva said after the boy had gone, "how did you know to take Harry seriously? I would have thought his idea merely impossible!" The old wizard's face turned grave. "The same reason it must be kept secret, Minerva. The same reason I told you to come to me, if Harry made any such claim. Because it is a power that Voldemort knows not." The words took a few seconds to sink in. And then the cold shiver went down her spine, as it always did when she remembered. It had started out as an ordinary job interview, Sybill Trelawney applying for the position of Professor of Divination."
I have to say, that would be a lot cooler power that Voldemort does not have than the original.
The chapter ends with Harry owing Hermione a really big apology, and some random girl staring at Snape a lot and he tells her to back off. Um, what?
I have to give this two stars because well, I think I'm too dumb to comprehend most of it, and beats me about Aftermath 2 with the random girl.
Infamous Quote Corner:
"Sometimes Harry hated having a dark side, even when he was inside it."
"All right, screw this nineteenth-century garbage."
"But Harry is the hero, so he may be able to do things that are logically impossible." Minerva would have rolled her eyes, if she hadn't gone numb a long time ago."
"Half an hour later, Minerva was feeling equally bewildered, but considerably reassured about the safety issues. It was the same, aside from being logically impossible."
Harry is being driven nutters wondering how the heck Fred and George pulled it off. The twins' response is to say "If you ever do figure it out, be sure to let us know." Harry thinks they're being cute, but they're actually serious about that answer. They don't know either! They don't remember! They must have agreed to be Oblivated after doing whatever it was....
"But meanwhile it was awful, they'd pulled their greatest prank ever, maybe the greatest prank in the history of pranking, and they couldn't remember how. It was crazy, they'd been able to think of a way the first time, so why couldn't they see it now after knowing everything they'd done?"
Harry's been questioned under Veritaserum by Aurors and he's innocent. So now what? Rita Skeeter and her editor have vanished by now. "They would've liked to be able to tell their family about that part. Dad would have congratulated them, they thought, after Mum had finished killing them and Ginny had burned the remains." Meanwhile, Dumbledore seems to have secretly provided them with a little present of wardbreaker's monocles.
Cutting back to Occulmency lessons for Harry. The first step is to imagine yourself as a different person. The second step is to imagine being a very simple sort of person (or a rock) to be obviously shallow. Or if you're really good at it, race ahead of the probes answering the questions. A month into study, Harry is trying to make himself coldly angry (that again) and then try it. His dark side is very good at pretending to be other people. Like Kimball Kinninson, from the Lensman series, which I have not read so pardon my ignorance. His tutor is all, "The Boy-Who-Lived has a mysterious dark side?"
On the next go-round, Harry's imagining Mr. Bester the telepath, hah. I know that one. The tutor finds out things he probably didn't want to know (see quote corner).
" It seems the Sorting Hat thinks you'll be the next Dark Lord." "And you know I'm trying pretty hard not to be, and you saw that we already had a long discussion about whether you were willing to teach me Occlumency, and in the end you decided to do it, so can we just get this over with?"
In other news, the Ravenclaws are all hyped about winning the latest Quidditch match, which Harry is getting tired of hearing about. And when I say tired, I mean "homicidally tired" and he suggests to Hermione that the team be killed. "You do know that killing people is wrong, Harry?" Snape overhears this and wants a private conversation with Harry. Harry is still feeling bitchy about Quidditch being a school priority, and Snape points out that without the game scores counting for House Cup, then who would care about house points at all, and it would only be an obscure contest for the extreme nerds. Harry is not only impressed by this answer, it clues him in on how successful Snape is as a Legilmens.
Snape makes him promise to claim that this conversation is only about Potions homework if anyone asks. How much do you resemble your father, Harry, since you say you don't tolerate bullying or abuse? Harry is all, beats me about James Potter. Snape asks him to look into the problems of a 5th-year Slytherin named Lesath Lestrange, who's being bullied by Gryffindors. Harry wants to know why the guy is a target (did he do anything to deserve it, basically) and Snape says it's because he's the son of Bellatrix and Rabastan Lestrange. Snape tells him when the Gryffindors are next planning on harassing the kid.
So Neville (yeah, you read that right) invades the bullying, making himself a target. Neville cites his friendship with Harry Potter and, as per a previous arrangement with Harry, snaps his fingers and calls Harry's name three times and summons him to appear. Hah. Everyone thinks it doesn't work, and then Harry shows up. Hah. Harry uses the same logic as Neville to defend Lesath: orphan (ish), didn't do anything evil, leave him alone. And then when one bully gripes that Lesath must have tattled, Harry mentions seeing one of them make out with some girl. That kid smartly runs for it. Harry threatens to snap his fingers again and then invites the gang to bully him instead. They all run away and Harry and Neville enjoy the coolness of each other and the situation. Lesath, however, isn't grateful. He goes on about how his parents are in Azkaban and asks Harry to get them out. WHAT. He doesn't take "I can't" for an answer well and starts screaming. And spitting.
Harry feels guilty about not being smart enough to think of "some incredibly clever solution that makes it possible to save everyone and let them all live happily ever after, and if only I was smart enough I would have thought of it by now." Neville is all "You have problems." Yup, Harry says, "Every time someone cries out in prayer and I can't answer, I feel guilty about not being God." "Of course Harry hadn't said what the solution was. The solution, obviously, was to hurry up and become God."
Snape was lurking around watching the scene and figured out Harry's invisibility cloak and exactly which one that was. Snape is stunned that Harry didn't go all ballistic at the word "mudblood" and Harry is a forgiving sort, under the circumstances. Harry blames his generous nature on science fiction telling him that the good guys forgive, and offers to lend Snape a few books.
Snape brings up (obliquely) the case of "another fifth-year Slytherin who was being bullied by Gryffindors," and how he called Lily a mudblood and that was it no matter how much he apologized. What does Harry think that kid could have done to apologize? Harry's answer is not to date someone that incapable of forgiveness. "Suppose they'd gotten married, can you imagine life in that household?" Snape is all, "She forgave and ended up with the bully, why would she do that?" Harry is all, was the bully rich and/or handsome? Ahem. Yes. "She was shallow, in other words. Tell whoever it was that she wasn't worthy of him and he needs to get over it and move on and next time date girls who are deep instead of pretty." Hah.
Awkwardness and silence ensues.
Did Harry pass the test? Who knows, but Snape never wants to talk about this again and says Harry offended him and he no longer trusts Harry's cunning. But since Harry meant well with his advice... "You almost died today, Potter. In the future, never share your wisdom with anyone unless you know exactly what you are both talking about." And that's when the clue bat hits Harry on the head about who the Slytherin was. He incorrectly guesses that his dad was trying to protect Snape from bullies....which makes Snape walk away while dropping the truth bomb on him.
Three and a half stars. I can't really explain why, but three and a half stars.
"The Dark Lord is alive? " he choked. His eyes were suddenly wild. "Dumbledore turns himself invisible and sneaks into girls' dorm rooms? "
"I don't suppose you could explain," Harry said dryly, "in your capacity as an official of the Hogwarts school system, why catching a golden mosquito is deemed an academic accomplishment worthy of a hundred and fifty House points?"
"If watching people scream always felt this good, Neville could sort of understand why people became bullies."
The Linyaari have headed off to their old destroyed homeworld of Vhiliinyar to attempt to fix it up again, with the help of rich old Uncle Hafiz. However, they run into a whopping problem when people just start disappearing out of nowhere. Which is no big loss when the world's biggest pain in the ass Liriili disappears (more like a blessing), but becomes much more affecting when pretty much all of Acorna's friends (except for Thariinye) and relatives and boyfriend disappear. Acorna of course is determined to get to the bottom of this and fetch everyone back. She attempts to get some historical research done on the planet, which doesn't go terribly well.
However, they eventually discover a hidden underground city where the Hosts (one of the ancestral ancestor species of the Linyaari, along with the Ancestors/unicorns) lived, and a time travel machine. Meanwhile, the disappeared Aari is unfortunate enough to slip through some kinda time hole or something and ends up meeting the Ancestral Hosts personally--and hoo boy, does it not go well when they find him quite weird and decide they want to experiment on him, Khleevi-style. He makes a break for it--and poofs again. Meanwhile, Acorna eventually figures out how to time travel herself and find other folks and use bodies of water to do it, and has her own run-in with the Hosts.
I don't know...On the one hand, I wasn't really feeling the book for the first half of it, and then the plot started to heat up once they found the underground city. So the time travel-y aspects of were pretty dang cool. On the other hand, I know at some point I decided to read the rest of the series and now I can't recall why. I put this down for a couple of weeks (during the interesting part, which I probably shouldn't have done) and once I came back to finish it I just lost the momentum. This might be a "me" issue rather than the book's issue, though. I think I'm eye-rollingly tired of the endless "no, you're schmoopy!" sort of dialogue between Karina and Hafiz, who at one point are caught banging on his desk when someone important comes to see him. And even though Liriili isn't in this much, she's as "pleasant" as ever. I dunno...I'm giving this three and a half stars, and it's better in some ways than other books in the series, but at the same time I think a lot of it is getting old for me.
"Whereas Roadkill meant 'Randomly Squashed Formerly Living Being Now Refuse Lying Disregarded on a Thoroughfare,' Riddkii was the Linyaari term meaning 'Noble Protector."
"Ah, yes, he understood your message. He is lifting his leg to cleanse his rump."
"Even the most favored of the Linyaari people do not share the most intimate confidences of our Ancestors. Good thing for them it is too. Most of them concern the state of the Ancestral digestion system."
"I doubt that you would find anything that has been in that water sexually appealing, Thariinye."
Mac the android decides to put his own unicorn horn (screw) into his forehead so that he can become more Linyaari--plus he can use the horn to bore into things. "Oh Lord, his horn has handy dandy attachments!"
"Take me to your leader."--Aari, who's paid attention to Becker's vids.
Previous book here. I would also like to mention that the author is podcasting chapters of the entire book for free up until July when the book finishes. While listening to it spoils details for the first book immediately, the author also does an excellent job of reading aloud--and sampling the book may sell you on reading it like it did me. (Okay, so I'd bought the first book awhile back and hadn't gotten around to it yet, but it was listening to the podcast that made me go start the series and I'm glad I did.)
After all of that, I think I need to put the review below the spoiler cut, given the personal revelation for Zoe that went on there, because it's a major part of book two. I'll say for those who don't read farther on after this that I give the book 4.5 stars for near-epic "this is good"-ness. There's a few things that are a bit "wtf" for me, but overall they didn't detract from the enjoyment of the world-building and Zoe's personal development and the fun of the interesting characters I met in this book. I dearly hope the author is allowed a third book by her publisher.
Previous book here. I think I need to reasonably move the review (or most of it) below a spoiler cut at this point.
This book...I'll be honest, I don't quite think it's as good as previous books I've read of the author's. It's a little weak in places and kind of a slow start. I did end up finding myself gripped by the story, but it took awhile--maybe about a third of the book-- to get there. It's primarily an action book in which the main character and/or her allies are running here and there while everything gets worse--yes, the series has become a trilogy. I don't know if the book needed to be a trilogy quite yet (we'll see how book three pans out), but sometimes things just felt like a lot of chase and run from zombies and bad guys scenes, and the major plot developments kinda seemed like they are a short part of the book. (Interestingly enough, I saw a remark on a review on Amazon where someone had read the manuscript for the third book before reading book two and " I don't know how what is in these two books was envisioned to be put into one." So....I dunno.)
Overall I think it's about a three and a half stars.
I heard of this novella over at Dear Author, and was impressed enough to do a quickie read in time for Thanksgiving.
Tom Jenkins is older, widowered, and cranky as all hell. He's rude, VERY crude, and cusses up a storm. He has a nicely kept back yard and a horribly kept front yard to keep the neighbors away, and the last thing he wants is to deal with more jerkass people. He's obviously unthrilled when he finds out that (a) the family Thanksgiving with his son and daughter-in-law is going to be at his house this year because he's the only one not having house drama, and (b) his daughter-in-law's mother needs a place to stay for the three days before Thanksgiving. Bev is a Martha Stewart wannabe with perfect pearls and perfect nails and is always trying to keep everything as perfect as possible. She's a wido who's well rid of her dead cheating husband, but for now has still been doing things as she was before.
Naturally, clashing occurs, but the two rapidly end up finding out that they have more in common than they think. She gets him to spiff up the place and be more friendly to the neighbors (albeit even too friendly at one point), he gets her to dress down, get dirty, and get horny. And it's adorable and works. Even though the immediate romance is fast, it helps that the two have known each other for years (their kids have been married for five) and Tom knew enough about Bev's husband to totally think he's a dick, and say so. Essentially, it's a bad-boy-meets-good-girl relationship, except the bad boy is 62 and the good girl is 59. He gets her to start rebelling, and he supports her, and a guy who starts out as a jerk turns out to be very sweet when you get to know him. Go figure! And wow, does the author ever write crude dudes well. She's right up there with Rob Thurman books, I think. And Bev manages to give as good as she gets as well.
Note: I enjoyed it very much, but I feel obligated to offer a disclaimer: not only is there a lot of swearing and talk of raccoon death, morning dumps and blow jobs (Tom's son is going on about them on like, pages three and four of the ebook--John is a rare man that passes up a game to get laid) that might be considered "too crude" for those of delicate sensibilities, Tom uses the word "retard." As was pointed out in the comments in the review, a lot of people won't read it for that alone. I do think that the author of the review has a point in her last comment when she says, "The question of language–how far do you go, if you’re writing an insensitive (or racist, or homophobic) character and you want to be authentic?–is an important and tricky one." I think it's fair to say that a older fellow along the lines of Tom in real life would say that word and it might not seem authentic to water that down. But at the same time, there's probably enough people out there who will see red at seeing it mentioned at all whatsoever, and won't buy the book specifically because of its use, that I suspect it would have been better to be inauthentic than to use a word that makes people foam at the mouth. Oh well, too late now, eh? Tom does develop more sensitivity in general as the book goes on, so maybe that helps--or not.
Overall, I recommend the book and think it's a sweet, fun, linguistically-filthy read. It's probably not for everyone, but it's definitely a different sort of romance, and fun to read around this time of the season. So, four stars from me, but delicate folks should read the preview and see if they can deal first.
Zoe Norris is a guidebook writer in need of a job. Her previous job blew up when she was dating her boss and it turned out he was married--and hoo boy, was his wife scary. Now she's moved to NYC and when she spots an ad with everything she wants in it, she pursues it--even if she found it in a suspiciously divey bookstore AND the boss and everyone around her tell her she can't have the job because "she doesn't fit in." Zoe doesn't get where that's going, but is by god determined to get the job enough that she impresses Phil, owner of the publishing company, who admits that while most of his employees meet his requirements, they don't actually like, have guidebook experience. And Zoe claims she can work with anybody... So he interviews her, and then takes her to dinner at a place called "Italy's Entrails," where another patron is served Hedgehog Delight for dinner. At which point Zoe faints because .... yup, monsters exist. All the weird supposedly fictional supernatural creatures are living in or visiting NYC and they could use a guidebook.
This is about the point where Zoe might have some reservations about the job, but now Phil kinda doesn't want to take no for an answer. Plus he just has a feeling about Zoe somehow fitting in with the supernatural folks--who call themselves "coterie." So Zoe goes to work at a place where most of the employees feed off of humans in one way or another. She hits it off with Gwen the death goddess and Morgen the water sprite, she can deal with the vampires, and the zombies are okay as long as they're fed otherwise (but more on that later). It's the incubus and the construct she's got issues with though--the incubus for NOT taking no for an answer when he's hungry and the construct because he's got the head of her college ex-boyfriend and acts like a dick to her. Wait, what? Her coworkers really don't think that's a coincidence, thankfully. But it's when someone steals the zombies' brains for dinner--and they start losing their shit and eating people they're not supposed to eat--that indicates that things are gonna get nasty. One of the few human coterie species are "zoetists" (think more like resurrectionists--they make golems, zombies, Frankenstein-esque constructs), and the one that presumably offed Zoe's ex doesn't like her. Plus she has a more evil plan than just fucking with Zoe.
I also haven't mentioned Zoe's weird new mentor, Granny Good Mae (no explanation for that name), a homeless Japanese woman who scares the shit out of the coterie. Her mom was a zombie, but Granny Good Mae grew up to work for the US government at one point and she does some freelance assassin work periodically for coterie that violante the negotiated balance and kill too many folks. (The NYC Public Works department, in addition to cleaning the sewers or whatever, is essentially the coterie police.) Anyway, Granny Good Mae makes darned sure that Zoe works out and learns how to kill various members of the coterie, just in case. GGM also is mysteriously able to rescue Zoe when she gets into situations and is constantly referring to some "she" who likes Zoe. Whoever that is, Zoe has no idea--she's dealing with a crazy woman, right?
I generally liked this book. There's a few flaws here and there that bugged me a bit that will go under the spoiler cut, and one story choice that, well, I dunno if I was so into. I'm going to mention it because it comes up halfway into the book. Each chapter features an excerpt from the guidebook, some of which are quite shocking (oh, Lady Liberty!) or sonding awesome (pigeons!). But about halfway through the book, the author lets you know that something bad's going to happen in the book's future, and the guidebook excerpts are written from after that time, and oh, btw, someone important dies. I normally like foreshadowing stuff, but frankly, I would have rather been surprised to find that stuff out in good time. I guess the author did it because she REALLY wanted to put that into the fictional guidebook and there wouldn't have been time/space to wait until the book's end to put it in, but...I dunno, it wasn't my favorite aspect of the plot.
I do appreciate that Zoe's a plucky girl who's determined to learn all she can about coterie and stick it out, and by god start stabbing zombies and shit if she has to. She does a good job at being a "bridge" between the worlds, even if people think she's either a thrall or a spy. I very much enjoyed her office bestie Morgen, and Zoe's relationship with her boss Phil, who always backs her up--frequently literally. There's a bit of foreshadowed romance between Zoe and her neighbor Arthur, but it doesn't quite get off the ground here yet because well, they're busy dealing with zombies and golems and demons and shit. And the creations of human coterie are definitely interesting, especially one particular reveal that happens late in the book.
I think this one is the best of the series so far, because yay, it finally gets down to some business!
Sophronia is 16 now, and is debating marriage vs. finding a patron to fund her future intelligencer work. (Lord Akeldama, perhaps?) She's interested in two boys and they're interested right back, but she's not ready to marry yet, and both of them have certain issues that make them at least somewhat unsuitable. Lord Felix Mersey is cute and charming and titled...but he's got a Pickleman for a dad, and Sophronia just can't approve of those politics, especially when Felix is kind of on that side himself. Soap the sootie is mostly exactly what she wants in a guy... well, except for the part where he's African and society ain't even gonna be down with that in the 1850's, so how would it even work?
After a brief interlude at school in which the vampire professor is clearly um, losing his shit, the plot kicks off when Sidheag gets a pigeon of bad news alerting her to the Kingair pack's disgrace that was the big backstory of Changeless. Sidheag runs off with Captain Niall for awhile in an attempt to mitigate the situation, which is scandalous enough on its own. But when Sophronia, Dimity and her brother, Felix, and Soap (who sneaks along) head off to her brother's engagement/masquerade ball, it's interrupted by several things: (a) Sidheag showing up accompanied with werewolves, saying that she just wants to go home to Scotland and try to help, and (b) every mechanical in the house suddenly stops, breaks into "Rule Britannia," and then breaks altogether. The group takes advantage of the last bit to flee in an airdinghy and, of course, hijack the nearest train heading in the right direction. And of course, something seems to be up with that train, especially when an old nemesis is on it.
I was getting kinda wanky in the previous book review for ah, various reasons. I am pleased to report that I think everyone's growing up in this one (and not just in the hormonal boys sort of way, though hoo boy, there is a lot of that), and the plot is definitely moving on to bigger things with the mechanicals. Bridging is finally happening! The mechanicals plot doesn't finish off in this book, but the implications of where that's going on is great and ahem, will explain a lot in the future of the world. The train chase is full of adventure and action, and who doesn't love a runaway train?
As for the boys: in the end, that might be the biggest plotline of all. One fellow is eventually reasonably ruled out, but the other...well, circumstances change and the ending was quite a surprise to me on this one, and makes me wonder about the implications of Sophronia's future. I'll comment a bit about it below the cut, but it was quite a gutwrencher for a series that usually seems kinda fluffy. I'm down with the depth, and yeah, I'd like to find out how it's all going to work in the end.
Practicing flirting. Hubba hubba.
"The boys ignored her, squaring off rather like two hounds after the same smelly old carcass. "Oh, really," said Sophronia, annoyed at being ignored. "I'm not really important in this situation, am I? You two simply wish to bicker." HAHAHAHAH. Sophronia's such a romantic...or ah, not.
"Well, I don't know who you are, sir, although I respect the courage of a man who wears satin breeches that tight..." --Pillover to Soap.
Sophronia suggesting stealing the train--and NOBODY is even a tiny bit fazed by her saying that. And Sophronia's a little disappointed that even Dimity thinks it's reasonable. Bwah.
Sophronia comparing a boy to a dress that she tried to make over. Hard to argue with that.
"Can't base a marriage on annihilation...." (Tell that to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, though?)
This is the sequel to Coming In From The Cold. I am posting this review at a very awkward time--the book was available only in a pack with several Harlequin e-books that I bought last month, but said pack is no longer available to buy online and I can't find you a link to buy it at the moment. (Seriously, Internet?) According to Goodreads, the book's coming out again (as a solo, presumably) on December 1. So hopefully, you will be able to purchase it in the future.
This book starts about a year later, as Willow's best friend Callie joins Willow, Dean and the baby at a sporting event. She's briefly introduced to hot punk-looking Olympic silver medalist snowboarder Hank "Hazardous" Lazarus.* He kinda skims over her and Callie thinks about how hot he is, but he'd never go for a boring good girl doctor like her.
* Which is um, totally fun to say over and over again. HAZARDOUS LAZARUS!
And then Hank takes a career-ending fall that leaves him partially paralyzed. Eventually Callie ends up dealing with him at the hospital, and at one point she essentially tells his rich parents to back off in a way that they take well and that Hank is super impressed with. Almost a year later, Hank's parents are bugging him to try a new technique, which Hank isn't feeling super motivated about doing. They agree to fund a scientific study on how well the method works at Callie's hospital, and Hank agrees to do it if Callie is hired to run the project. Mutual crushing ensues, though Callie has a fair amount of "why would an awesome guy like that go for boring old nerd me?" and Hank has the ol' "what if my willy won't work?" fears going on. (Which is addressed in a locker room scene that is pretty dang charming.) And that's most of the plot, with the occasional dash of "what's going on with Hank's sister Stella**" and Callie debating whether or not to just move to California.
** In other news, this series is a trilogy and the third book is mentioned on the author's website. It promises the story of Hank's best friend and sister--but there's heavy duty spoiler warning regarding this book on the mention. Like hoooooo boy.
The plot's pretty simple, but enjoyable. I did get a little bit burned out on Callie being all "I'm not cool enough for this guy, except maybe now he's settling now that he's handicapped or something"--and I say that as someone who is also a freaking NERD and gets that, albeit I am not up to med school "must follow the rules" levels. But it seems pretty clear to the reader that Hank would appreciate Callie regardless, and he may be punk, but he's not a scary badass. And a darned good cook and violin player. This book does feel a wee bit like the flipside of The Year We Fell Down, Guy Version, but I like that about it. And the ending is very sweet and adventurous-- I'll leave a bit of commentary below the spoiler cut, but damn, dude! Damn!
Disclaimer: this review pretty much spoils everything after the cut. While I enjoyed the book, there are definitely some aspects of it that might bother readers, so I highly recommend checking the cut to see if that sort of thing bothers you.
Willow Reade is a girl with no luck. She grew up in foster care, her boyfriend ditched her with a farm in Vermont she can't get rid of, she can't finish her schooling in psychology while she's stuck in the middle of nowhere in Vermont, and there's nobody there but her and the chickens. It's the chickens that get her into trouble when she realizes right before a bad snowstorm is about to hit that she's out of feed. She has a little run-in with another car in the road and ends up with her ratty truck in the ditch, a snowstorm hitting, and no hope of rescue any time soon.
The other guy in the little run-in is Dane "Danger" Hollister (I'm not gonna make a smartass comment about the nickname, really!), a professional alpine skier who's training in Vermont while he waits for his beloved brother to die. One of the world's nastier diseases runs in Dane's family and he's reasonably assuming he'll get it too. For the record, he's too afraid to test, and I'm sure there have to be some kind of career-ruining implications if that news was found out anyway, so I'm not gonna give him too much crap on that. Until that day happens, he's going to live for the day, ski his ass off in the Olympics, and have nothing but one-night stands that use condoms.
This plan also runs off the road like his car did, as he and Willow end up snuggling together for ah, body heat reasons. And they hit it off and like each other...and y'know, more body heat happens...and there's about 24 hours of snuggling and bonding while this whole car/snowstorm situation is worked out. It's whopping temptation for Dane, but he sticks to his usual plan of love 'em and leave 'em. Which is slightly awkward when his coach later rents a room at Willow's, but he can deal, right? Until well, something accidental happens that totally throws Dane off as a human being, to say the least. It brings out his mondo jerky side and causes him to have a whopping freakout. I really hate trying to talk about this without spoiling, but let's just say that Dane does some things that may turn the reader off. I wasn't turned from it because the book makes it clear why he's acting like he does, but I could see a good chunk of readers possibly not getting over the stuff he does while he's in a bad mental place. I highly recommend going below the spoiler cut for more followup.
Overall, I think I'm going to give it three and a half stars, but this is definitely a "your mileage may vary" sort of book for folks. I do like the main characters--Willow may be a fuckup but she keeps plugging along and Dane is very sweet when he's not in a bad mood. But some things happen that are unpleasant to read, and whether or not you can forgive this stuff is up to you. I found that I could, and overall I wasn't terribly angered. And the budding relationship before and after all the drama is quite sweet and works well and yup, there's hot sex scenes. So I enjoyed it for the most part and it's a quick, angsty drama read...but it's also somewhat questionable in the middle.