Shared Text: Ragtime Hedwig, Smart Guy

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Early Reviews for Veronica Roth’s Chosen Ones Look Promising.

About a month ago, Publishers Weekly published a great interview with Veronica Roth, where she talks about a lot of the same topics I addressed in my first article on the book. All Roth readers and fellow Divergent junkies are invited to check it out and discuss.  Notably, she speaks about the hurt she felt when she read about herself described as a “one-note wonder.”  Unfortunately, the interview itself played into that theme a bit by never mentioning her Carve the Mark duology, or any of her other post-Divergent writings.

If the early reviews of Chosen Ones are accurate, though, this could be the series that rids her of that moniker once and for all.  The Publishers Weekly review says that Roth “puts the popular trope of the teenage ‘chosen one’ under the microscope and delves into both the societal impacts of young shoulders carrying the weight of saving the world and the psychological strains of such a responsibility,” and predicts “readers will be delighted by both the magical adventure and the diverse cast.”  Kirkus states, “There’s a lot of magic and action to make for a propulsive plot, but much more impressive are the character studies as Roth takes recognizable and beloved teen-hero types and explores what might happen to them as adults.”

Looking forward to April 7th!!

‘Beedle the Bard’ Celebrity Audiobook

In a World Full of Umbridge, Who Would You Be?

Like a lot of Potterphiles, I have Harry Potter merchandise popping up on my social media feeds on a near-daily basis. One of the more recent appearances was a T-shirt reading “In a world full of Umbridge, be a Fred and George.”  While the mischievous redheads were undoubtedly major nemeses of the Toad Lady, I found it hard to envision myself wearing one of these shirts. I guess I’m at the age where I identify more with the middle-aged ladies of the Wizarding World than the kids.

Which led me to think, who would I put on mine?  Two answers immediately sprung to mind.   First, the teacher who was the antithesis of Dolores: Minerva McGonagall. In our humor episode of Reading, Writing, Rowling, several McGonagall v. Umbridge moments made it into our “funniest scenes” lists. Certainly McGonagall is one of the finest teachers in the series, one with high standards of excellence and who daily earns the respect of her students. In other words, everything dear Dolores wanted to be. Harry’s regard for her is clear: when even his own godfather’s murder could not push him into performing a Cruciatus curse on the perp, Amycus Carrow’s spitting in McGonagall’s face did.

The second, of course, is the best (or, at least the best living) mom of the series, Molly Weasley. In addition to being a surrogate mom and regular source of comfort (as opposed to pain) for Harry, Molly is also a loving mother to the twins. Yes, she gets exasperated with them frequently, sometimes seeming as short-tempered as Umbridge, but her love never wavers and she is never cruel. In the end, she accepts that the twins are successful in their own right, even with their poor OWL results, aborted education and non-conventional career choice.

More on Minerva, Molly and T-shirts after the jump! [Read more…]

Three Thoughts about ‘Troubled Blood’

(1) The only purpose of releasing the title of a book and its release date is marketing, i.e., it creates buzz which generates pre-orders from booksellers. ‘Buzz’ from a book title alone these days means speculation and conversation about the book beyond, “Ooh, cant’wait.” I confess to being a little resistant to furthering marketers’ ends but, hey, we were already discussing the possibility that Strike5 would have Marilyn Manson title and epigraphs before we were given the title. I might as well continue along that line, no?

If you’ve been following the comment threads here at HogwartsProfessor since the announcement (here is a link to Louise Freeman’s handy collection of same in a post), you know that Marilyn Manson is still in the game because the words “troubled” and “blood” appear in his ‘Mind of a Lunatic‘ and similar tortured rock groups lyricists use the words (cf., Miss World’s album of that name and Love Me Destroyer’s ‘Add Vice’). Nick Jeffrey found ‘troubled blood’ in an Edmund Spencer poem and another reference in a George Chapman play, the latter of which ChrisC tied into previous speculation about Keats. I’ll be delighted if it’s Manson because of the clear parallel with Strike3’s Blue Oyster Cult epigraphs; I’ll be at least as relieved if Rowling departs from ring formula, though, and gives us another Silkworm journey down a neglected part of the Western Canon and English literature.

(2) I’ve been doing a re-read of all the Rowling novels this past month, Strike, Potter and Vacancy, and you’d have to blind and deaf not to be struck by all the references to blood and specifically the eugenic agonies of ‘pure blood.’ Not only is blood-status a recurrent back-drop to the core conflicts of the Hogwarts Saga, it plays out as well in the Wizarding World film franchise spin-off Fantastic Beasts. Harry’s victory over the Dark Lord in Hallows turns as much on Voldemort’s mistaken calculation about using Harry’s blood to reconstitute his body in Goblet as it does on the wand lore surprise.

And Strike? Well, Serious Striker Joanne Gray has already written about this. Strike’s parentage makes him a de facto mud-blood to Charlotte’s clan but the inbreeding of the aristocracy seems to have caused more than a touch of madness in Jago Ross and the Campbells as well. The observation by the old friend that Strike’s mysterious attractive power that works on the flighty women drawn to him is their hope for an infusion of “carthorse blood” is an echo of this blood-line back-drop. Troubled Blood, whatever the reference source turns out to be, is a natural for Rowling’s concerns as a writer.

(3) The publisher’s announcement promised a cover and a story blurb “very soon” which I expect will give us a much better idea about the origins of the Troubled Blood title. It also will provide a story outline of sorts, the central conflict, as a taste-teaser to create further buzz and bookstore orders in advance. So what? Well, if you want to take a guess about the plot line of Troubled Blood, you’d better make your guesses yesterday; you won’t get any credit for predictions made along the lines of the story the cover blurb or excerpt points us to. Please review Louise Freeman’s predictions for Strike5 as the baseline for last minute speculation!

And here is the helpful page you’ll want to keep at hand: Countdown to Troubled Blood