Ripperology: A Study Of The World’s First Serial Killer And A Literary Phenomenon by Robin Odell

Ripperology: A Study Of The World's First Serial Killer And A Literary Phenomenon

(Caidyn)

4/5

I’m going to start with this caveat first. If you have no prior knowledge on the Ripper murders, do not start here

Seriously.

This book is more of a historical literary analysis of books that have been written about Jack the Ripper and who he is. Literally, there is about pages of information about the murders. This doesn’t include the suspects. Odell is an established Ripperologist and this is written for those with a serious interest in the crimes. (But, if this whets your appetite, I’d be happy to direct you to some books I personally liked and gave me a grounding!)

Luckily, I have a huge interest and knowledge base about dear old Jack.

I’ve read quite a few books, read shows, watched movies, did some tours, etc. Basically, I’ve been interested in Jack since I was nine. Yeah. I was a weird kid. But, that’s for another time.

As I said, this book is more of a historical literary analysis, following the trends through the years and Ripperologists. Odell had more to say about people from the 1960s and on, but this book cuts off in the early 2000s so new evidence that has come to light wasn’t included.

I loved how thorough Odell was. He covered serious theories that I’ve heard many times, ones that are serious but I haven’t heard of too much because books I’ve read dismissed them, and the crack pot theories that I love. Such as, the Duke of Clarence (Queen Victoria’s grandson) was the cause of it — and the basis of From Hell, both graphic novel and movie — and that it wasn’t Jack the Ripper but Jill the Ripper.

Odell went through it all, combing the evidence that was available to him and all the books that made a mark on history. For good and for bad, too. He treats it all evenly, which I really like. While Odell is dismissive of the more ridiculous theories, he still examines all the evidence and then shows how it doesn’t quite work.

The only downside is that this doesn’t account for some recent advancements. Mainly, I’m referring to the book Naming Jack the Ripper. I read this back in 2016 and was impressed by it because it brought in DNA evidence that linked one of the prime suspects to the history. I would have loved to see Odell’s thoughts on it since it sounds like Cornwell’s book, Portrait of a Killer, which he examines in lots of detail. Aka, he tears it down.

While this book is for a very specialized group of people, it was very interesting. You just have to know your stuff already and have read some of the literature. Unless you want to do a bunch of Googling while reading.

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Down the TBR Hole

Down the TBR Hole is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

The Seance

Admittedly, this sounds super interesting. I love Victorian based novels. The atmosphere is great. And it plays off spiritualism. That movement is absolutely fascinating to me and I’d like to see a mystery kind of based on it.

Verdict: Keep

Nine Days a Queen: The Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey

Tbh, I’d rather read a nonfiction book about Jane Grey than a fiction one that might twist the facts even worse.

Verdict: Go!

The London Underworld in the Victorian Period: Authentic First-Person Accounts by Beggars, Thieves and Prostitutes

A primary source document that probably takes place around Whitechapel where Jack the Ripper operated?

Verdict: Keep

Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street: A Life of the World's First Consulting Detective

This is a biography of a fictional character by someone who really knew his shit about Sherlock Holmes. But, eh. I don’t think I need to read it. I tried reading something else by Baring-Gould and it was dreadfully boring.

Verdict: Go!

The Fort

I’m pretty sure I got this and tried reading a bit of it at one point, then put it down for whatever reason. The summary on GR still sounds interesting to me, though.

Verdict: Keep

The Automat

Okay the GR description sounds right up my alley. A lot like You by Caroline Kepnes or Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall.

Verdict: Keep

The Charioteer

This was the time of my life where I added all the gay novels to my TBR. Which is very different than now. Renault is a well-known author who basically got famous writing bestselling gay books. But I’d rather start with something a bit more well-known, like her Alexander the Great series.

Verdict: Go!

At Swim, Two Boys

This sounds nearly like Maurice by E.M. Forester. I’d rather reread that book first to see if I still really like it. Then I’d try this one if I came across it.

Verdict: Go!

The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton

Again, I’d rather start with something a bit better known by Wharton. Not that I think she’d be bad, just thatI’d rather start with something else.

Verdict: Go!

The True Memoirs of Little K

 

Eh, I don’t know. It sounds like historical fiction at its finest. In other words, a manipulation of the truth to the extreme. But then I did some Googling and, guess what, it’s true! At least some of it.

Verdict: Keep


Previous TBR #: 2089

Books Removed: 5

Books Kept: 5

TBR Total: 2085

 

First Lines Friday

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.


“Ten, nine, eight, seven…”

The voice inside Gillian’s helmet reverberated in her skull as the shuttle shook to life around her.

She braced herself, every muscle tense. Straining.

Overwhelming panic flooded her, thickened with regret. What the hell was she doing here? She wasn’t an astronaut. Wasn’t ready for this.


The opening few lines doesn’t do this book (as I’ve read it so far) justice. While it’s definitely intriguing — and if I had typed a little further even more intriguing — it doesn’t exactly capture the book’s essence. There are a lot of moving parts in this. And only a fraction involves that.

It is…

Obscura

First of all, that cover is gorgeous. I’m not a cover kind of guy. They’re nice, but they don’t make me read a book. But that cover looks amazing.

Second, the plot. It involves space and a take-off sequence as you all read. But then there’s a new form of dementia that doesn’t care about age. Finding a cure and the emotional reaction to losing that person is a huge part of the book. Then there’s a murder mystery going on. And then some other weird stuff. So, a launch sequence barely covers the interesting stuff to me.

I’m 40% into the book and I’m impressed by it, but not exactly wowed. I hope the punch will come soon because I really want to like this. It’s an intriguing book, one that really is different from anything else I’ve read.


Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down. All spring the gossip had been about little Mirabelle McCullough – or, depending which side you were on, May Ling Chow – and now, at last, there was something new and sensational to discuss. 


So, I picked this book on a whim but turns out those are excellent first lines. I actually want to keep reading this book but I don’t have time. I’ve got two books I need to finish by the end of the month and I’m concerned. Anyway, this is a book I heard A LOT about last year and I finally got my hands on a copy thanks to my favorite subscription box. 

This week I’ve chosen…

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng 

Little Fires Everywhere cover.jpg

The last time I read an adult book that everyone raved about, it ruined me. This book has been praised so many times and I only wonder if it will live up to the hype or disappointment. One thing is for sure, the first lines have me hooked. 

Mini Agatha Christie reviews

(Caidyn)

I’ve read a couple of Agatha Christie books recently, so I thought to myself: Instead of trying to write some drawn-out review of them where I make inane comments to keep the review longer, why don’t I do some mini-reviews like I did with some classics? (You can find the first one here, the second one here, and the third one here.)

Let’s just jump into it!


Postern of Fate (Tommy and Tuppence #5)

2.5/5

This was just okay. I read a Tommy & Tuppence mystery a while back (along with a short story that was in a collection) and thought that they were fun. But this was just okay. I loved the banter to it and how conversational it was, but it felt like the conversation got in the way of the mystery. And then when the mystery got back on track, it was completely ridiculous.

So, in other words, I wasn’t that impressed. For a woman who wrote so prolifically, there’s bound to be some duds, but I was disappointed in this since I thought it would be good. The mystery started out so promising, then it faded away and got away from me and, I think, Christie herself. The book was far too long and a lot of it could have been edited out.


Elephants Can Remember (Hercule Poirot, #37)

3/5

This was better, but not by much. That disappoints me since this is a Poirot mystery and I loved Poirot. And, I actually remember watching the episode of this one but I literally forgot all of the details besides loving the last name Ravenscroft. Thanks, brain for not letting me down on this one.

Anyways, this was okay. Just okay. It’s not memorable since there’s literally no action to the story, even if the mystery is engaging. Ariadne Oliver has a goddaughter. That goddaughter’s parents died. But they never figured out if the husband killed the wife or if the wife killed the husband. The only fingerprints on the gun were those two.

And the whole thing happened a good decade ago. Which means that there’s nothing going on. No interesting action or drama between the players. A whole bunch of armchair detectives.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course. I thought that Christie did a good job with it, even if I wish there had been more action. It wasn’t too long and it didn’t get lost in the process of the story. But it still wasn’t particularly the most riveting Poirot mystery.

Podcast review: The Fall of Rome

Image result for the fall of rome podcast

(Caidyn)

4/5

Technically, I’m still listening to this so this is a little premature, but I think that my opinion is going to stay the same for the rest of the podcast.

After I got done with all the true crime and horror that I’ve been listening to, I decided to find something different. I wanted something historical. I have some podcasts I’m subscribed to about Tudor history, but I wasn’t really feeling that one. What caught me was that graphic, so I decided to do this one.

What really sets it apart is that Patrick Wyman, the host of the podcast, has a PhD in history. His dissertation was about ancient Rome and its fall. I mean, he knows his shit. He’s been entrenched in the data. Having written, basically, a thesis for my BA, I know exactly what he had to do and then he did ten times more of it. Basically, he’s a source I trust. (You can find this info on his LinkedIn page if anyone cares about my source.)

Each episode tackles a certain topic. The one I just finished was about the Huns. But, he also talks about Gaul (present day France), Britain, Africa and the Vandals, the Goths, the army, etc. He also wrote an article about gladiators and then read it on the podcast as a special edition. He also has interviews with different people on some more specialized topics. It’s a very in-depth look at his academic specialty.

Even better than that, he does this concisely. I’ve known professors who could ramble on for hours about those topics, but he takes the research he finds most pertinent and presents it in under an hour. Seriously. The longest these episodes run is 55 minutes.

The presentation is amazing as well. He’s honest about biases of his colleagues, shows where he stands, and also presents the other side to show why he doesn’t agree with it. He usually makes up a prototype character to follow throughout an episode as well. So, when he was talking about the Goths or Vandals, he made up someone based on the research and would do his best to show how they would have lived by using the research. It’s an informative and compelling way to tell a complex story.

I think the only real downside to this is that it can get a bit confusing if you’re not familiar with the topic and it can get dry if the topic he’s covering doesn’t interest you. That’s not a real downside, just a personal observation from someone who prefers spending time in the 1500-1600s.

Podcast review: Casefile

Image result for casefiles podcast

(Caidyn)

4.5/5

This is an amazing podcast. It takes cases that you may or may not have heard of and tells them. Each episode has a bibliography that you can access free of charge through their website (which you can access by clicking the picture).

So, let me get into this. I found this after coming down from the horrible disappointment that was Serial Killers by Parcast. I was craving true crime, true crime that came without a bias to it and just presented the facts to me.

This hit the spot.

The host is anonymous (literally if you look it up, that’s what it says, and he is definitely Australian. So, you get that lovely accent reading these cases to you. Then, the cases aren’t ones that you’ve heard of. Many of them are foreign, usually Australian or from around Australia. It was refreshing to not hear so many American-centric crimes for once in my life. It was nice to hear about other parts of the world.

For me, the level of research that goes into every single episode is very apparent. I could tell that they knew the ins and outs of the case that they were presenting. Everything was presented well in every episode. Of course, there are stand out episodes that I have to mention.

Their three-part series about the Silk Road was absolutely fascinating. I had never heard of it and I was left wanting more, even though they covered every detail that they could. Another series of episodes, this time five parts, was the East Area Rapist/Original Nightstalker. Five parts, each over an hour long. The Moors Murders (three parts) was also an amazing series. There was an episode on the Catholic Mafia, as well.

Literally, as I scroll through the episode list, more and more stand out to me that I remember being amazing. That’s how good they are. Every episode is stunning and eye-opening in its own way. Before every episode, there’s a disclaimer to state that this deals with mature content (sometimes briefly saying what the content is if it’s a common trigger) and then directs you to the show notes if you need to talk to a crisis center.

All in all, a very good podcast that I would recommend to anyone interested in true crime.

First Lines Friday (Oops, I mean Saturday)

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.


The Palazzo Falconieri stands on a promontory on one of the smaller Italian lakes. It’s late June, and a faint breeze touches the pines and the cypresses that cluster like sentinels around the rocky headland. The gardens are imposing, and perhaps even beautiful, but the deep shadows lend the place a forbidding air, which is echoed by the severe lines of the Palazzo itself.


Image result for bored gif

But, seriously. That opener was boring, wasn’t it? Wayyyy too much description. If I was judging the book off of that opening paragraph, I’d be super wary.

However, I already know what’s going on and what the book’s about.

The book is…

Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings

Codename Villanelle

On Sunday, I totally watched Killing Eve and was super impressed. It was funny, it was dark, it was violent, it was fun. It was just right up my alley in every single way. So, of course, I have to read the book that inspired it.

While I’m not sure that I’ll like the book, I’m sure I’ll love the show.


Death-Cast is calling with the warning of a lifetime – I’m going to die today. Forget that, “warning” is too strong a word since warnings suggest something can be avoided, like a car honking at someone who’s crossing the street when it isn’t their light, giving them the chance to step back; this is more of a heads-up. 


Like most books I’ve been talking about in First Line Fridays, this is a book I want to read but haven’t yet. I’ve got a long list and if I’m talking about the books I want to read, I’ll have material for a while. 

Anyway, I’ve DNF-ed a book by this author but that doesn’t mean I won’t revisit that book or refuse to read the author’s work. I think I would really enjoy his work even if it is notorious for making people ugly cry. 

I’ve chosen…

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die At the End cover.jpg

I love this cover. I love the concept of this book. What I like about Adam Silvera’s work (other than him featuring queer POCs) is how there is a slightly futuristic aspect to a few of his works. In More Happy Than Not, it was technology which could erase memories a la Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In this book, it’s a technology that tells you the day you will die. 

I do look forward to reading this book and go on the journey of these two boys last day on Earth. While it’s a depressing thought, I’m sure it’s going to be a great story. 

Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

Our Kind of Cruelty

(Caidyn)

4.5/5

Thanks to Netgalley and Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for a copy! This did not affect my rating.

When I finished this, my first thought was: “Wow. What a book.”

These days, I don’t read as much mystery as I’d like because of Gone Girl. All the books seem to be around the same thing. Unfaithful (or supposedly unfaithful) spouse, an unreliable narrator, and some sort of drama. All of the books bleed together.

This one, however, was more like You. Everyone has heard of that book by now, but I’ll do a quick recap. The main character of You is deranged but you love him… despite all that he does. You root for him. And that’s how it was in this book. Despite everything, you rooted for something good to happen for Mike, even though you knew that shit had gone down already.

Mike is a good guy who did a bad thing, who had a bad childhood, and who had mental disorders that prevented him from completely realizing what he was doing. He wasn’t a nice guy, yet he was at the same time because of his portrayal. Yet, he was a guy you could understand and like, even if you didn’t support what he was doing. And, he did a lot of bad shit. He did a whole lot of bad shit. Murder is the big one in this story (which isn’t a spoiler because it’s in the description).

Most of this book takes place after everything happened. It’s setting the stage, making us fully understand the situation. It goes to the storyline that pertains the aforementioned murder and also before that so you get to know Verity, Mike’s ex-girlfriend and, in some ways, the catalyst for all of this.

And, I have to say, it was a compelling read. I typically make ARCs my at work lunch read because I always have them on my phone. No bringing hulking books to work with me and keep track of it all. I didn’t want to read it just on the days I work, but I wanted to read it every day. I found myself reading it most days, too.

I really loved the way the story was told. Not all books can handle the constant back and forth in time, going back and then further back, all to finally reach the future. It impressed me.

What impressed me even more was the way Hall made me get attached to all of the characters involved and see where they were at fault, as well as see where they were in the right. I loved how Hall was able to do that without feeling as if my emotions were being manipulated, like I was being forced to sympathize with them.

Sure, this book might be like other books that have come out, but it felt very unique to me and that it was a story well-told. I’d highly suggest it to all mystery lovers.

Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets review

Before getting into this, there will be spoilers!!! We have read the series before and we plan on discussing it as thoroughly as possible. Therefore, spoilers for future books and the book itself will be included!


harry potter and the sorcerer's stone cover

Chantel’s rating – 4.5/5
Caidyn’s rating – 5/5

My first instinct when rating Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was three stars. It didn’t stand out to me at the time and I remember the later books being so much better. This was before we started the re-read and let me tell you, I can’t believe I rated it so low. Especially considering the fact that I have five copies of this book because I’m extra like that. The first Harry Potter book, for me, has the reputation of being meh. That wasn’t the case when I actually sat down and read it. I have a newfound appreciation for the first book and movie because they introduce us to the world we love so much. We are Harry throughout his first year of Hogwarts discovering all of the magic of this world and I love it so much.

There were definitely a few plot holes for me, or a few questions that weren’t answered, but they are hardly relevant because they aren’t a part of the larger plot. While they bother me, I’m sure that other people never even noticed them.

A few things stood out to me during my re-read. Mainly, it has to do with characters.

  1. Ron is a bit of an asshole.
  2. Hermione was probably one of my first crushes ever.
  3. I look forward to seeing more of Harry’s growth throughout the series.
  4. Movie Snape > Book Snape.
  5. Ginny acts more like a six or seven year old than a ten year old.
  6. The Weasleys are the best. (Except Ron).
  7. I hate Malfoy.
  8. A lot of negative characters are portrayed as fat. This continues on in Chamber of Secrets and later books.
  9. Hagrid is the best. Ever.
  10. McGonagall is the best teacher at Hogwarts. Period.

When it comes to being the first book in the series that introduces the audience into a new world, I don’t think anyone does it better than J.K. Rowling in Sorcerer’s Stone (Sorry, yo, I’m American).

However, I want to make a note about J.K. Rowling because for a long time she was my fucking hero. Yet she has done a lot of things that piss me off. I don’t know if we should get into it now, but the shit she’s pulled recently doesn’t take away from what she did with Harry Potter.

My rating has never changed. I think it’s a five star book because it’s an amazing read and I love it. But, there are some issues with it, of course. Even books I give five stars to have some issues. But, I do agree with you on most things. Minus hating Malfoy, but that’s a conversation for a later book. It doesn’t seem fair to judge him just yet.

Ron is a character I always have conflicted feelings over, too. I like him and I don’t like him. He’s a very real character, one who you root for yet he has bad traits. He’s not perfect. And that’s something I like about these books. Even our heroes — and they are heros, not anti-heroes — have bad traits that you wish they could find a way to change.

But, I think we can save our JK conversation until later. Like the last book since it sums it all up yet she decided to continue in the universe.

I couldn’t give it five stars simply due to the plot holes and I don’t think the books peak at the first one. I wanted to give myself some wiggle room for the books to come because I don’t think they should all be rated the same simply based on nostalgia. I do think later down the road we can have a conversation about Malfoy because I think there is more to him, but I still don’t like him. I don’t know how much that will change. Throughout the first and second book, he’s a prick, but we start to see that his father Lucius is a prick too.

Ron is a hot head in the books. I’ve heard more and more than book Ron is different from movie Ron, but I found book Ron annoying. Again, I don’t think he’s nice to Hermione, especially in this book. Which is normal for younger kids, but this is also the girl he ends up marrying which is a whole other issue for me. I think it’s too early to start that discussion as well. However, I agree that all of these characters are flawed in one way or another and I think (for the most part) they are well written and complex.

I think that’s a good idea as well. I just wanted to put a brief disclaimer that I have issues with her decisions and will not be supporting her in anything beyond the original seven books.

See, when I read it, I didn’t catch any plot holes. But my mind doesn’t always work like that. I don’t necessarily read and see those things unless I’m looking for them. For me, it’s not five stars out of nostalgia, it’s because I think they’re amazing books that deserve five stars because of how intricate they are and how even the earlier books compliment the later ones rather than losing sight.

If anything, Ron was nicer to Hermione in the movies. In the books, JKR really showed that they fought a lot, yet that they also worked together a lot when they needed to. For Harry’s sake, mainly. Again, I think we might be getting ahead ourselves with topics. We can talk about the budding relationships in books six and seven, along with our coda on JKR (who I won’t support beyond the first seven either) and, I’m sure, the horrible thing that was called Cursed Child.

As I said before, they are mostly irrelevant but they were there in my eyes. I think we’ll probably disagree with ratings as we go on because there is one book I can’t stand and one that Caidyn loves, so we’ll see how that goes. It’s very possible that we will have very differing opinions on the books moving forward especially because I do think some are flawed.

Ron was a lot nicer in the movies but I think the books are more true to his character. I know, I need to not get ahead of myself but there’s so many things to talk about I have to keep myself contained.

But if there isn’t any more to be said, I think we should move on to Chamber of Secrets where I believe we have more to talk about.

Oh, I’m sure there will be gif wars a few times about things when we don’t agree, then we get over because, hey, it’s a valid opinion and criticism. And I do agree with you on some parts since I know the book you’re talking about.

I’d hope that the books are more true to his character! Yes, contain yourself, Chantel. We have, like, five more reviews to write beside this.

Yes, we can move on. I think you can kick it off since I have a proper review of this floating around somewhere on Goodreads!

It’s all pretty tame now, but just you wait.


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2)

Chantel’s rating: 3.5/5
Caidyn’s rating: 5/5

After riding the high that was the Sorcerer’s Stone, I went into Chamber of Secrets pretty optimistic. In a lot of ways, the first two books are pretty similar to me. They have a similar tone and I think it fits that after the second movie, it switched directors and had a completely different tone. From here on out, things are going to get a lot darker and quick.

About half of this I read on my physical copy, but I wasn’t reading fast enough for my liking so I listened to the second half on audiobook and finished it in two days. I just want to shout out Jim Dale here for his narration of all seven books. He is the narrator for the U.S. versions and he’s amazing. His Lockhart made me giggle so many times, it was spot on. His Moaning Myrtle, perfection. The fact that he changed his voice for the characters was what I found so enjoyable when I listened to the book on tape (yes, on tape) when I was younger.

I will say that I didn’t enjoy Chamber of Secrets as much as Sorcerer’s Stone. I really take issue with the way Voldemort materializes in this book because it’s not really him. It’s the memory of his teenage self, but I wasn’t a fan. It seemed very complicated and it wasn’t even a good plan. That’s just what I feel, but Caidyn did help me realize that there is a lot of importance in later books. However, on it’s own, it doesn’t work for me and I felt the climax with Tom Riddle and the Basilisk was the least interesting part of the book.

I want to talk about the Dursleys real quick. I have a real issue with them getting any kind of redemption because of how they treat Harry, specifically in this book. There is a moment early on where Aunt Petunia attempts to hit Harry with a frying pan. A fucking frying pan. That’s straight up abuse and I think for that they are unforgivable. I know there is a popular fan theory circulating and we can talk about that later on, but it doesn’t work for me. They are awful people and while I’m usually not black and white, for this I am.

I look forward to seeing how things change as the books go on. I look forward to seeing more of Ginny as I thought she was better written in this book than in Sorcerer’s Stone and I have a lot of thoughts about where she ends up. As of right now, I wouldn’t put this in the top half of the seven, but that may change as we go on.

I’m skipping over your whole intro thing to get to the heart of the matter. I totally agree the audiobooks are good, but I also love audiobooks.

See, I agree with you in the end. I agree that this book isn’t as strong but I can never exactly separate it from the series as a whole. Yes, it might not be as strong, but it’s crazy to see how she had it all mapped out from the beginning. Still, I loved this book because I thought the mystery and the climax was interesting, which is quite unlike you. I thought it worked, but, again, I think that comes down to personal taste.

Wow, jumping ahead again. I think that this might be a topic more fit for the seventh book. Along with all the heavy hitting topics we’ve kind of mentioned so far without being able to talk about. We’re going to have to make a list at this rate.

But, I agree. The Dursleys are horrible people. They were horrible before Harry and they just ramped up the hate after he came into their lives. Then he was there for eons and that made it worse. I really wish that JKR had talked more about the abuse Harry suffered. Because, in the first book, Dudley was encouraged to beat him up when he got that stick from his secondary school. Before that, he was already beating Harry up. That means he had to be shown how to do it by his parents to know that was okay to do. I know this statement jumps ahead a bit in the series, but I don’t blame Harry for not being sure if he would save the Dursleys from Voldemort if he came for them. And this is the boy who tried to save Wormtail and even tried to save Voldemort himself in the end.

And I don’t love audiobooks but Harry Potter is A+ all the way.

I think in the context of it standing alone in the series, yes I think it’s weaker. I do agree with your argument that she has set up in book two for what happens later. That’s really great, but I don’t see it as part of that whole right now. I may not ever, but I won’t know until we finish it up. I think everything leading up to the moment they go into the chamber is interesting. In the end, you said it best with it’s about personal taste. The meh I originally felt for Sorcerer’s Stone is how I felt about Chamber of Secrets.

It’s really hard to not talk about the series as a whole, but again I’ll try to refrain.

I was actually surprised to see evidence of physical abuse on the page because I don’t remember that before. I know in the movies Uncle Vernon pulls on his hair and they deprive him of food, lock him in the closet, etc. However, I did not recall throwing a frying pan. I do wish that JKR had been more explicit in the abuse because it’s there and it’s disgusting. I didn’t think about Dudley even. He’s the only one really explicitly portrayed as beating up Harry, but I do think that it’s clear he wasn’t the only one who was physically abusive. I really struggle to see the redemption of the Dursleys. I don’t see it frankly and I don’t believe they should be excused for their actions. Throughout the series, there are human characters who are worse than Voldemort and I think the Dursleys are part of that group.

See, that’s why it’s hard to write these reviews. Because I can’t exactly separate the book from a the whole. Because I can’t forget the plot and trajectory and end point. I simply can’t. I can in some instances — such as to see your perspective on something — but other than that I can’t. It kind of sucks, but then it’s a good series so that’s okay.

Yeah, the abuse is context. But you also can’t forget that these books are meant for children. Or, the first few are. In one of the library systems around here, the first three are shelved as juvenile but the last four are shelved as young adult. Still, this is a series for children. Huge descriptions of abuse wouldn’t have worked well, even if I think it would have been more realistic to show that more on the page.

I do agree that the first two books read more like middle grade. I think that goes away in the later books, but I understand the lack of explicit abuse. However, I’m not a fan of it being something you only realize when you’re older. It might be too heavy for most people, but I think it would be good for children to have an idea of what it’s like or have a character to relate to if they are going through similar struggles.

Overall, I’m not denying the series is great. I just think Chamber of Secrets compared to the rest is weaker on it’s own.

A general update from Caidyn

I just realized that I never really gave any updates and I’ve been gone for ages. I mean, it’s crazy, right? I’ve been a presence on the blog, but I haven’t been as good at responding or filling everyone in.

Let’s see if I can do this properly.


3/6

Let me tell you, shit went down this day. Terrible things happened.

First, the toilet overflowed and there was flooding in the house. I wish I was joking. They had to tear out carpet in my room, the whole bathroom floor was done, some carpet was torn out of the other room next to the bathroom, the whole basement ceiling over the bathroom was torn out. Some furniture got ruined.

I wish I was joking.

Second, my mom really hurt her back because of the water damage. She was the only one home (of course) when it happened and it was really bad. So she was running around, trying to haul things around, and she twisted her back.

Third, my car fucked up and I had to spend a lot of money on it. Again.

It was a big day and a week before my surgery.


3/12

I have to go by date for this whole thing. On this day, I found out that I got into my MSW program! The one that I’ve been stressing out about for ages. I got in!

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I wasn’t supposed to find out until sometime in April, so I was shocked to see an email telling me that I needed to see about vaccines for going to the campus. So I checked my email a bit more and boom! There it was. The decision to allow me in.

Now, I would have gone out drinking or celebrated in some way… but my grandmother was there. And I also had my surgery the next day.


3/13

Not to hard to guess, right? The surgery. I won’t go into the drama of it because it was just an experience. Insurance decided to be shitty. There was a question about paying. The hospital decided to do it anyway and absorb the cost themselves. (Yes, the hospital decided to pay. They chose to.) It’s all been ironed out by now, though.

The surgery itself wasn’t too bad. I woke up pretty cognizant. I was hand fed water and applesauce. My mom and grandma came in to see me. Really, it wasn’t bad. The only bad thing was that I woke up around 2AM and couldn’t go back to sleep so I was up the whole night. Not in pain or anything, just awake.


3/15

For those who talked to me, you all know this date or have heard the story. This was the day that I took shower post-surgery. Let me tell you how much it sucked.

We had to take off the ACE bandage around my chest and, guess what, some of the bandages under it had stuck to the paper stitches on my nipple. We had to cut the bandages off since tugging it was not working.

My mom had to be in the room with me because I had drains attached to me. Someone had to hold them and make sure that I was okay. I couldn’t exactly do it on my own.

After that, we had to get stuff off that was on the drains. Aka, tegaderms. Tip from me to you: If you have a surgery and need something stuck to you, say no to tegaderms. Just say no.

Because it took an hour to peel them off of me. They had stuck to the drains, so we had to peel them off. They stuck to my skin and they had to be peeled off. And then they got stuck to the stitches holding the drains in and omg it sucked. It was terrible.

My first shower took an hour and a half to get done. I wish I was joking.

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There was much napping.


3/19

I got those stupid drains removed!!!!! That was probably the best day tbh. They sucked coming out but then I was freeee!

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Sorry, Chantel, but I was him in that moment.


3/21

My surgeon gave me a clean bill of health!


4/1

Nothing interesting happened, so I’m jumping right to here.

We got puppies.

Eli is in the dapper plaid vest while Ava has the red one. (The red one is now destroyed because he decided to eat it while they were in their kennel.) They’re slow to warm up, but they’re finally getting used to us. While I write this, they’re sitting beside me and willingly letting me pet them without running away.

That’s a whole lot of progress, trust me.


4/3

I turned 22! That was great in itself, tbh. A present my parents had all planned out since last year — and I knew about it — was taking me to see my favorite musical. Sweeney Todd. UMKC was putting it on as a show and it was fantastic. They were selling meat pies before the show and during intermission. They were absolutely delicious and locally made.

Also, puppies. Ava used me as her throne because she’s a fucking queen sometimes.

One of my friends got me a couple of books.

I got myself some presents, too.

Chantel and my parents got me things as well.

She got me a BB-8 Funko, which is hilarious because I hate BB-8. She also got me River Song’s Funko and a book. My parents got me books and a statue of Saint Jerome, the patron saint of librarians and scholars.

And, that was basically my day in a nutshell.


Other than that, nothing interesting has happened. At all. School, back to work, home. Reading.

Now that I’ve given my life update, how are you all? Doing well? Doing a lot of reading? Not doing a lot of reading? If you’re in school, how are your classes going?