Saturday, February 22, 2014

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J.K. Rowling, takes us into Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  And I think you know by now that Harry and his friends will never have a normal school year.  The book starts us off at the end of the summer, when Harry is invited to go with Ron's family to see the Quidditch World Cup, the biggest sporting event of the wizarding world.  I mean, he plays on one of the school teams, so he can't NOT go.  The game is very exciting, but nothing compared to the events occurring during the night after the game is over:  although rather than a joyful excitement, it is the kind of excitement which involves a lot of screaming in terror and running for your life.  It seems some of Lord Voldemort's old supporters have decided to use this mass gathering of witches and wizards as an opportunity to have their own kind of fun, which is the opposite of fun for everyone who is not a total asshole.

By the time the kids are all back at school, shit has already been on a slippery slope to getting Real, but no one seems too concerned about it yet because everyone is all kinds of busy with the resurrection of the Triwizard Tournament, an international competition between students of various schools of magic that unfortunately resulted in the deaths of many of its competitors.  And although the ministry has claimed to do its best to keep the mortal danger to a minimum for this one, it seems someone is hoping against that, because someone has put Harry's name into the Goblet of Fire, the magical item responsible for selecting the champion who will be representing each school in the tournament.  I don't know why the idea of someone actively wanting Harry dead should come as any kind of a surprise for him or his friends or anyone who knows him, really, since he has been the victim of conspiracy and attempted murder in all his previous years at this school, too.  But anyway, having your name come out of this goblet is a magical and binding contract, so Harry has no choice but to compete, and the professors and government officials have no choice but to allow it.  

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Cast of Stones

A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr is both his first novel and the first book in The Staff & The Sword trilogy.  It is an epic fantasy set in a world where the church is second only to the king, though seemingly not by much.  Errol Stone, the village drunkard, is paid handsomely by a church messenger to deliver a package to Pater Martin, a priest who lives outside the village, on the other side of some challenging terrain.  Errol knows the way like the back of his hand, but surefooted as he is, he runs into trouble when he realizes he is being followed by a man in black who apparently wants him dead.  He makes it to the cabin, but only just barely.  This would only be the first in a long string of instances where he likely wishes he had never volunteered to deliver that package, because he ends up becoming a reluctant member of a small party setting out for the city of Erinon - the seat of both the kingdom and the church - and his life is never truly his again.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Witch Hunters: Professional Prickers, Unwitchers & Witch Finders of the Renaissance

Witch Hunters, by P.G. Maxwell-Stuart, is a non-fiction account of a handful of people who were involved in the investigation of witchcraft during the Renaissance - specifically, people who identified witches as a profession by various means.  There are six chapters in this book, each one dedicated to one particular "witch hunter" or style of determining whether someone is a witch or has been touched by witchcraft:  Martín Del Rio, a Jesuit who researched and wrote extensively on the subject of magic and witchcraft; Pierre de Lancre, a lawyer who became famous for his involvement in the investigation of an "outbreak" of witchcraft in southwest France which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of suspected witches; Battista Codronchi, an Italian medical doctor who held that demonic spirits/witchcraft was at the root of many illnesses; Patrick Morton, an alleged victim of demonic possession after an encounter with suspected witches; John Kincaid, a witch-pricker; and Elizabeth Jameson, who titles the final chapter, which deals with the apparently common practice of accusing one's neighbors.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Well, Internet, it is another new year (and has been for a couple of weeks now).  I've been busy, busy, busy with work and school, and I just got back from a month-long holiday.  Work and classes have started back up, so the busy isn't quite over yet, but that doesn't mean the blog is dead!  Reviews will still be coming, they will just continue to be more few and far between for a little while, unless I end up with more free time than expected this semester.

I have so many books that I look very forward to sharing with you all, and I hope you find some of them interesting enough to check out for yourself!  

The reading challenges are a lot of fun, but I might lay off of them until my classes are over, unless a small one pops up that I can't resist.  

So this is 2014 - off to a good start, and I plan to keep it that way.