Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Deathly Hallows Discussion: Chapters 26-30

Harry, Ron and Heromine are finally on their way to Gringotts. Heromine takes the Polyjuice potion and changes to Bellatrix. The change is unsettling for her, but they embark on their journey with Harry and Griphook under the invisibility cloak, Ron looking physically different due to some spells and Heromine as the evil Bellatrix. They arrive in Diagon Alley, to find a Death Eater who insists on going with them to Gringotts.

They check Bellatrix's wand, thinking this is a new wand they allow her to enter. Some goblins raise objections due to the new regulations, Harry casts the imperious curse on the goblin leading them, so that he lets them through. Once they go deeper into Gringotts, Heromine's polyjuice potion stops working and Ron changes back to his usual self. They see the dragon guarding the bank. They soon enter the Lestrange vault, only to find many cups which replicate themselves if they're touched. They realize how serious the situation is, these cups burn and replicate once touched. They must be very careful, and fast since the goblins realized there's something going on there. They start going frantic, searching without avail. Heromine then casts a spell that gets Harry hung in the air to search for the Hufflepuff cup, he finds it and takes hold of it. Griphook takes the Gryffindor sword the first chance he can, and the trio realize that he didn't believe them when they promised it.

The vault opens, and Griphook runs to the goblins yelling 'Thieves'. Harry stuns the goblins, releases the dragon from its chains and tells Ron and Heromine to get on the dragon. The dragon's flames help making an opening for an escape, and Heromine helps with spells to enlarge it. They fly away, and for a long time wondering when will the dragon stop. After a while, the dragon starts descending and the trio jump into a lake.

Harry starts worrying about Voldemort and when he'll find out that the vault has been broken into and how they're looking for his horcruxes. Voldemort decides to check on his horcruxes and Harry learns that there's one in Hogwarts and that's where they should go.

They apparate into hogsmead at night, with all of them under the invisibility cloak. As soon as they're there, Death Eaters come out since they were clearly warned and they had charms at Hogsmead to detect any use of magic. They can't see them because they're under the cloak. They bring the dementors, and Harry produces a patronus and the Death Eaters know for sure that Harry is there. Suddenly, a man comes out of a shop and rescues the trio by convincing the Death Eaters that the patronus was his. He makes the trio enter his shop.

Harry realizes this is Dumbledore's brother, Aberforth. It was his eye he way seeing in the mirror, and it was him who sent Dobby to their rescue. They tell him that Dobby's dead, and he seems shaken by the news. Ron asks whether it was him who sent the doe, but Aberforth says no as his patrnous is a goat. He tells them to flee and hide, but Harry defends their quest saying Dumbledore left him with instructions he must follow. The argument heats up, and soon Aberforth is telling us their family story. They learn that Ariana, was attacked by muggle boys when they saw her practicing magic. She lost it, and became unable to control her use of magic. She accidently killed her mother, and so Dumbledore decided to go home and take care of his sister, though Aberforth volunteered to take care of his sister, Dumbledore wouldn't have it. He was doing fine, till his friend Gindelwald comes and they start planning their grand schemes. Aberforth warns Dumbledore, they get into a fight and soon the three of them are in a dual. She's there, and somebody's curse kills her.

The trio are astonished at what they learned. Harry tells Aberforth that Dumbledore feels guilty about that day, because he was hallucinating when he was with him saying "Don't hurt them, please... hurt me instead"

Then, they convince him that they must follow through with their plan. He says something to the portrait of his sister, and soon they see Neville Longbottom is coming towards them. He tells them how he was sure they were coming. He leads the way to Hogwarts and starts telling them about what the school has turned into. They arrive to the room of requirement. There, they find many of their old friends. They welcome them back, then they start discussing what could be the next horcrux, that's after their friends insist that they want to help. Harry asks about an object that belongs to Ravenclaw which might help them overthrow Voldemort. Cho tells them about diadem. Harry and Luna go to the Ravenclaw common room so that Harry can see what the diadem looks like because it appears in a portrait.

As soon as they enter, Alecto carrow touches her forearm and calls Voldemort. They're in serious danger as Harry feels Voldemort's happiness that Harry is found. Luna stuns her but it was very loud so it attracts attention. Professor McGonagall and professor Currow have an argument, and it leads to Currow spitting in her face. Harry gets seriously angry, removes the invisibility cloak and says 'crucio'. Harry explains to her how Voldemort knows he's here. McGonagall tells him that they'll protect the school and hold off Voldemort as long as they can. They decide that they should evacuate the school of students. Snape comes, and smells something suspicious. They fight, but other professors come to the rescue of McGonagall. Snape escapes and they all get to work. Harry returns to the room of requirements to find Lupin, Mr and Mrs Weasley and many others there. Everyone goes into action, Ginny wants to join them but her mother tells her that she's underage till they decide she'll wait at the room of requirements. Harry asks about Ron and Heromine, and they tell him they said something about a bathroom.

1. When Voldemort finds out that one horcrux is stolen, he assures himself that all the others are safe because he didn't feel them destroyed. He remembers not feeling it when the diary was destroyed but convinces himself it was because of the fact that he had no body. What do you think? How can he be so naive and sure of himself?

2. Meeting Alberforth was a turning point, they learned more about Dumbledore through him. Not all good things. Yet, Harry's conviction of Dumbledore's actions is stronger now. Now that you know the truth about Dumbledore's family, what do you think of him?

3. Harry doesn't want his friends to get involved in the fight, but in the end he has no choice but to agree. Why doesn't he want them to get involved when it's not his fight alone?

4. Percy coming back says a lot about loyalty to one's family. What did you think of it? They forgave him because he's their son, and the fact that he's back at such a crucial moment says a lot about him. How do you think this proves that one's true self shows in tough situations?

Review and questions by Noor.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

At Home | Bill Bryson

At Home ~ Bill Bryson

By: Fatma Makki

This is a non-fiction book, which Bill Bryson has dedicated to the history of the home, and all the unusual intricacies and major events of histories that have led to the modern home which we live in today. So, there is no real plot to the story, except that Bryson ingeniously ties the chapters together by dedicating one chapter to each room in the house: kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, etc. In this way, we learn some absolutely remarkable facts about some fascinating people who Bryson pays homage to with this great, great book.

Personal Opinion: No one other than Bryson can get me to read page upon page about manure (yes, manure – he spends a good three or four pages on the topic) and actually keep me turning the pages. This is my 4th Bill Bryson book, and he never lets me down in terms of the richness of the content of the book. I have to be critical though, so I will say that sometimes I felt as though certain bits of history that he recounted in the book were either out of place, or were too rambling (maybe because he just really wanted to tell the whole story, even thought it shouldn’t all go there), especially in the final two chapters. Nevertheless, to his credit, I don’t think anyone other than him could make the book flow as it did and keep it interesting.

Rating: 8/10 – It’s not his absolute best book, but it is still amazing. And for the summer, I can’t think of a more entertaining book to pick up!

I recommend this book only if you really like non-fiction, and are interested in history. Any age group would enjoy it, male or female.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Deathly Hallows Discussion: Chapters 21-25

Harry, Ron, and Hermione are all baffled as none of them have ever heard of the Dealthy Hallows. Xenophilius continues to explain the Deathly Hallows have nothing to do with Dark Magic, and the symbol is merely a way to show other wizards that they believe in a particular legend and they engage in the quest for the objects. To explain further Xenophilus asks Hermione to read out loud the familiar fairy tale from The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

The story goes – Three brothers were walking along a road, they came across a very dangerous river. However because they were well trained in magic, they simply made a bridge using their wands. Death then spoke to them; although he was angry that he was unable to cheat them and take their lives, he congratulated them and offered each a prize of his choosing. The oldest brother asked for a wand that would always win duels, and Death fashioned one out of an elder tree branch. The second asked for the power to bring people back from the dead, and Death gave him a stone with that power. The youngest brother asked for something that would let him leave that place without being followed by Death, and Death reluctantly handed over his own Invisibility Cloak. The three brothers departed. The first brother was killed in his sleep by a thief after he boasted about his wand. The second brother summoned the spirit of a girl he had once loved, but she couldn’t truly be with him in life, so he killed himself to join her. The youngest brother lived for many years, then handed the cloak off to his own son and welcomed Death like an old friend.

Xenophilius continues to explain the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, and the Cloak of Invisibility are the Deathly Hallows. Initiates into the legend behind the fairy tale believe that the possessor of all three objects will be the master of Death. The discussion continues on the Deathy Hallows as Xenophilius excuses himself to get dinner. The three friends debate the relative merits and possible existence of the three artifacts, then Harry wanders upstairs into Luna’s room, seeing paintings of himself and Luna’s other friends, as well as a photograph of Luna and her mother. Harry is startled to realize that the photographs are dusty and the room clearly has not been inhabited for months. He confronts Xenophilius with his lie, and Xenophilius admits that the Ministry has kidnapped Luna because of the pro-Potter articles Xenophilius had been printing. When Xenophilius had gone outside earlier, he had actually dispatched an owl to the Ministry.

Death Eaters arrive, and Xenophilius attempts to hold back Harry and his friends with a spell, but the spell hits an explosive Erumpent horn hanging on his wall, which detonates and blows up half the tower, leaving the trio upstairs and Xenophilius below, separated by rubble. The Death Eaters beat Xenophilius and berate him for constantly summoning them on false pretexts, but one of them uses a spell to determine that someone is indeed upstairs. Ron, Harry, and Hermione Disapparate, but not before Hermione hits Xenophilius with a Forgetting spell to erase his memory and allows the Death Eaters to catch a glimpse of Harry, so they’ll know Xenophilius wasn’t lying.

Having transported themselves safely to an empty field, Ron, Harry, and Hermione discuss what they’ve learned and debate whether the Deathly Hallows could possibly exist. Hermione steadfastly maintains that it is all nonsense, but Harry starts to put together the information they’ve just gathered into a coherent picture, until he becomes almost obsessed with the Hallows.

Harry then remembers that during the previous year, when he saw the old memories in Dumbledore's Pensieve of Marvolo Gaunt (Voldemort's Grandfather). Gaunt claimed he had been a descendant of the Perveralls brother and claimed that the symbol was on his ring. Harry puts the pieces together and concludes that Gaunt must be a descendent of one of the three brothers in the tale, and that the Resurrection Stone is the stone on the ring, finally he comes to the conclusion that Dumbledore must have hid the Resurrection Stone in the Snitch he had given Harry. The realization hits harry that Voldemort was tracking Ollivander, Gregorovitch, and now Grindelwald because he wants the Elder Wand—not because he wants answers about how to defeat Harry’s wand.

Finally, Harry decides that his Invisibility Cloak—the cloak that he inherited from his father—must be the cloak in the story, and that he himself must be descended from the third brother in the story, living as he did in the same town as the Peverells. He remembers that in the letter fragment from his mother that he found in Sirius’s house, she mentions that Dumbledore had borrowed the Cloak. Harry believes that Dumbledore must have known that it was one of the Hallows and must have wanted to assemble them all. Harry is seized by the idea that if he gathers the Hallows himself, he will finally be powerful enough to defeat Voldemort, whose Horcruxes will be no match for the Hallows.

It occurs to Harry that Voldemort must not know about the Hallows, having been raised in a Muggle orphanage without being read wizard fairy tales. He must be searching for the wand thinking only that it is a powerful wand, not one of three artifacts. If Voldemort had known, he would have pursued the Hallows rather than making the Horcruxes, and he wouldn’t have made a Hallow into a Horcrux (the ring with the Resurrection Stone in it).

This new passion Harry has from his discovery of the Hallows starts an issue between him and his friends. Hermione resists, stating that there is no reason for Dumbledore not to inform Harry of the Hallows if they truly existed. She also reminded him that Dumbledore had left them with clear instructions to find and destroy the Horcruxes. Ron supports Hermione, so the matter seems to be closed, but Harry lies awake that night obsessing about what he could do with the Resurrection Stone and the Elder Wand—for example, using the Stone to question Dumbledore and the Wand to free Luna from Azkaban, where she is most likely being kept. Over the next few days, the sense of division between Harry and Ron and Hermione deepens.

One night, Ron manages to tune into the underground radio program “Potterwatch,” produced by members of the Order of the Phoenix. Harry, Hermione, and Ron listen eagerly as wizards they know and recognize give out news of the outside world and the people they know and love. Ted Tonks and Dirk Cresswell have been murdered, along with a goblin; Xenophilius is in prison; Hagrid was almost arrested but escaped; Muggles are being murdered by Death Eaters in great numbers. Rumors have circulated that Voldemort has been sighted outside of England. As the program ends, Harry seizes on this last piece of information to insist that Voldemort must be searching in Europe for the Elder Wand. Unfortunately, he slips and says Voldemort’s name, breaking the Trace and leading the Ministry’s agents to their hiding place. A voice announces that a dozen wizards are outside the tent, and orders them to come out with their hands up.

Just before the three friends are seized by the snatchers, Hermione quickly points her wand to Harry's face, causing it to swell so he's unrecognizable. Although Harry is unable to see, he recognized the voices of those threatening Hermione as Fenrir Greyback, the werewolf. Each of them are questioned of their names, Harry claims to be Vernon Dubdly, Ron claims he is Barny Weasly (after he is caught in the lie that he was Stan Shunpike) and Hermione claims she is Penelope Clearwater.

As the Snatchers go to check their names against lists of wanted persons, leaving the prisoners bound together, Harry and his friends discover that Dean Thomas, their fellow Gryffindor, is bound with them. Dean tells them that these Snatchers are merely looking for truant Hogwarts students to sell to the Ministry for gold.

Harry is able to lie convincingly that he is a Slytherin and that his father works in the Ministry, but the Snatchers realize who they’ve actually caught when they match Hermione to a picture of her in the newspaper, which states that Hermione is known to be traveling with Harry Potter, then discover the Sword of Gryffindor and Harry’s glasses. Throughout this ordeal, Harry has trouble staying in the present moment, as he keeps having visions through Voldemort’s eyes of Voldemort flying to the top of a black fortress—Nurmengard. The Snatchers decide to take the prisoners to Malfoy Manor, Voldemort’s base of operations, and as they go there, Harry has visions of Voldemort interrogating Grindelwald in his cell at Nurmengard.

At the manor, Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy try to get Draco to positively identify Harry, whose face is still unrecognizably swollen, but Draco, fearful and reluctant, won’t commit. Narcissa and Lucius think it is Harry, because they can identify Hermione and Ron, but they don’t want to contact Voldemort without being sure. Bellatrix Lestrange enters the room, and though at first she seems ready to contact Voldemort herself and end the dispute, when she discovers the Sword of Gryffindor, which she had thought safe in her own vault at Gringotts, she tells Narcissa and Lucius that they are all in mortal danger, and she has Harry and Ron thrown into the dark basement so she can interrogate Hermione and plan her next move.

Harry and Ron discover that the basement also holds Luna, Ollivander the wandmaker, Dean Thomas, and Griphook, a Gringotts goblin. Luna has a nail that she uses to untie them, and Ron uses his Deluminator to light the basement. As they hear Hermione screaming in pain, Harry desperately looks for a way to escape. Finding none, he empties his pouch, looking for something that might aid him, and he finds the shard of Sirius’s magic mirror. Dumbledore’s eye is looking out of it at Harry. Harry asks the eye for help, and it disappears.The prisoners hear Hermione claiming that the sword is only a fake, and then Bellatrix stating her intention to question the Gringotts goblin. Harry asks Griphook to lie and say the sword they were carrying is a fake, then they turn out the lights, just as Malfoy comes down to bring Griphook to Bellatrix.

There is a loud crack, and they relight the Deluminator to discover that Dobby the house-elf, has appeared in their midst, ready to rescue them. Dobby, with his special house-elf magic, can Disapparate in and out of the house, taking humans with him, so Harry tells him to take Luna, Ollivander, and Dean to Bill Weasley’s house, and then return for the rest of them. The people upstairs hear the crack of the elf disappearing, so they send Wormtail to investigate. Ron and Harry struggle to subdue Wormtail, but Wormtail’s silver hand clamps around Harry’s throat and chokes him. Harry reminds Wormtail that Harry once saved his life and says that Wormtail shouldn’t kill him, and Wormtail actually loosens his grip. But then Wormtail’s silver hand, which had been given to him by Voldemort, turns on Wormtail and strangles him, a punishment for his moment of hesitation.

In the main room, Griphook, tells Bellatrix the sword is fake and she quickly summons Voldemort. Harry then has a vision from Voldemort's point of view, Voldemort is enraged at being summoned, and in his impatience he killed Grindelwald. Bellatrix announces that she’s finished with Hermione and offers Hermione to Greyback to eat. Ron and Harry rush in, disarming Bellatrix of her wand and incapacitating Lucius, but Bellatrix holds a knife to Hermione’s throat and forces Harry and Ron to drop the wands they have taken which Draco picks up. Harry senses that Voldemort is very near.

With a grinding sound, the chandelier above them starts to fall. Bellatrix leaps out of the way, and the chandelier falls on Hermione and Griphook, who is holding the Sword of Gryffindor. Harry jumps up and wrestles Draco’s wand from his hands, as well as the two wands Draco had picked up. Narcissa sees Dobby and realizes that her former house-elf is the one who helped Harry and his friends. Dobby seizes her wand as Bellatrix screams for Dobby’s death. At this time, Harry, Ron, Griphook and Dobby all Disapprate to Bill's cottage, however, Dobby arrives wounded. Bellatrix's had thrown her silve knife into his body before diapperaing. Harry pleads with the house elf not to die, however, Dobby passes on after calling out Harry Potter's name.

As the others enter the house, Harry covers Dobby's body with his own jacket. In his mind, he is aware that Voldemort is enraged, however, in his moment of grief, for Dobby, he is able to close the connection between himself and Voldemort. Harry then digs Dobby's grave by himself without using any magic. Then Harry uses the wand he seized to inscribe a stone with the inscripition "Here Lies Dobby, A Free Elf."

After having much time to think and after digging the grave, Harry decides to stop looking for the Hallows and pursue his quest of the Horcruxes as Dumbledore instructed. He speculates that Dumbledore didn't tell him about the Hallows, knowing that Harry would struggle with himself not to pursue them, and Harry would need all his time and efforts into finding the horcuxes.

Harry takes Ron and Hermione with him to question Griphook. Harry asks the goblin to help him break into the Lestrange vault at Gringotts, and Griphook, who is impressed by the kindness and respect Harry shows to elves and goblins, says he’ll consider it. Outside of Griphook’s room, Harry tells Ron and Hermione that he thinks the vault may house a Horcrux, since Voldemort trusted Bellatrix and tended to find grandiose homes for his Horcruxes, and also because Bellatrix seemed so worried to hear that her vault might have been broken into.

After questioning and speaking with Griphook, the three of them speak to Ollivander. Harry is saddened to hear that his broken wand is past repair. He informs them that the wands which they had taken are Bellatrix's and Draco's. Ollivander tells them that when a wand has been captured, it generally shifts its allegiance to the new owner; regardless of whether the previous owner is still alive. Ollivander confirms that Voldemort had taken him prisoner and tortured him to find out how to overcome the problem of not being able to beat Harry with the wand that shared the same phoenix-feather core as Harry’s. Ollivander first told Voldemort to simply borrow a wand, but Harry’s wand destroyed the borrowed wand. Then, Voldemort decided to try to find an even more powerful wand, and that is how Voldemort began to seek the Elder Wand. Ollivander confesses that he told Voldemort to look to Gregorovitch for the wand, because Gregorovitch was rumored to possess it. However, though Ollivander knows about the history of the Elder Wand and its powers, he doesn’t know about the Deathly Hallows or the wand’s connection to the other artifacts.

Harry makes the assumption, that Gregorovtich had the wand and it was stolen from him by Grindelwald, then Dumbledore defeated him in their famous duel, which meant that Dumbledore was the last owner of the Elder Wand. Harry then realizes that Voldemort must have already figured this out and was on his way to Dumbledore's grave to take it from him.

Griphook agrees to help break into Bellatrix's vault; however the Sword of Gryffindor must be given as a payment. This left Harry and his friends in the bind, if they were to refuse they'll never get into the vault to find the Horcrux, but if they were to give up the sword they wouldn’t have a way to destroy the Horcrux. Harry decides to trick the goblin, telling him he can have the sword after they break into the vault, but not specifying how long after. Feeling somewhat guilty, Harry gives his promise to Griphook, and for several weeks they plan the break-in.

Lupin arrives at the cottage with the news that Tonks has had her baby. He asks Harry to be the godfather, and Harry agrees.

Before Harry and the others embark on their mission, Bill takes Harry aside. Although Bill has no idea what Harry is up to nor does he know how Griphook is involved, but Bill warns Harry to be careful with Goblins. He says that goblins are deeply distrustful of wizards, it is their belief that wizards do not respect agreements involving treasure and tend to trample on goblin rights. He explains that goblins believe manufactured items belong to the maker, and that ownership of goblin-made goods should not pass from wizard to wizard but should revert to the goblins after the first owner’s death. He warns Harry of the dangers of reneging on a deal with a goblin.

1)What are your thoughts on the Hallows? Could they be real?

2)Horcruxes or Hallows? Which one will win in the end? If harry potter is to find all Hallows will he truly be the master of death?

3)Did Harry potter make the right decision on focusing on the Horcruxes and forgetting the Hallows?

4)Seeing as Bill has worked with Goblins in the past and he understands their way, should Harry be more careful? Will Harry be able to really trick the Goblin?

Review and questions by Nina.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Pillars of the Earth | Ken Follett‏

The Pillars of the Earth ~ Ken Follett‏

By: Jinan Al Harthy

A story of a man who travels halfway across medieval England in the dead of the winter, chasing his dream of building a cathedral, sacrificing his own fortune and well-being, and that of his family. As the story unfolds, generations are born, alliances are built and broken, and people are killed for lust, power and food.

Personal opinion: It’s been a while since I read such an intriguing book. The plot was great and the characters very credible. Don’t be intimidated by the size of the book (a whopping 973 pages!); it was a smooth read and a page-turner, although I think it could’ve been half as big and still just as good. There was some repetition at times and I personally skipped the parts where the architecture was being described. The ending was rather predictable and unimpressive, but that’s ok since I found myself holding my breath quite so often throughout the book. Definitely THE book to read.

My Rating: 9/10

I recommend it to anyone looking for a good read, particularly fans of romance, thrillers and historical fiction aged 16+

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Deathly Hallows Discussion: Chapters 16-20

The chapters from Godric's Hollow open at the shock, of Ron leaving, still lingering in the atmosphere. Did he really leave? Or is he coming back? They had to accept that he's gone and go on in their quest without him. Heromine was devastated, she often cried. She and Harry barely spoke and avoided each other. Harry didn't know how to console her when he was so mad at Ron.

Both Harry and Hermione agree to go to Godric's Hollow; a village where Bathilda Bagshot lives and where both Harry's parents' graves lay. It seemed the right thing to do, they need to do something, and even though this plan was very risky they couldn't leave it and had to pursue it. They went there thinking that Dumbledore might have entrusted Bathilda with the sword of Gryffindor. They arrive at the village, take off their invisibilty cloak and go to the graveyard. They find the graves of Dumbledore's mother and sister. Then, the eye sign pops up again at one of the graves. Harry isn't interested, he wants to see his parents' graves. Heromine finds them, and uses magic to place a planet on their graves.

They then go walking in the village, find the Potter residence at a wretched state. They then realize that it was a sort of monument, and people had written things for Harry magically there. They gave Harry a surge of hope. Then they saw an old lady looking their way. They realize it must be Bathilda, she gestures that they follow her and they do. They get into their house, try talking to her but she doesn't respond. She points at him meaning she wants a word with him upstairs. Harry doesn't let Heromine come.

She points at something while they're upstairs and then all hell breaks loose. Harry feels Voldemort's joy at finding Harry, the snake comes out of Bathilda's neck and attacks him. Heromine comes to his aid, and after some trouble they both disapparate. Harry remains unconcious for a few hours, wakes up to find out that his wand was broken into two pieces and would never be the same again. Heromine got a copy of Rita Skeeter's book, they learn more about Grinelwald and his relationship with Dumbledore. This angers Harry as he learns more about Dumbledore's wishes of ruling over the muggles. Heromine tries to explain that he was young and that people changed. Harry says they're 17 and they're trying to stand again the death eaters.

He's angry, yet doesn't blame Heromine as it wasn't her fault and they got out safe. One day he's keeping watch when a silver light appears in front of Harry, it was moving silently in the trees. He held Hermione's wand and raised it in preparation of what happened. The bright silver light shaped into a doe. The creature moved in front of Harry, and he stood there watching it and gazing at it, then after a few moments, the creature walked away from him. Harry called for him to come back and then he started following it. It stopped for a moment and then vanished. This made Harry afraid, he thought of the creature's presence as a sign of safety.

Harry had the lumos potion to lighten up the place, suddenly something gleamed in the wand's light, he turned to find the lake with its ice gleaming in the dark, he looked closer, then he noticed that at the bottom of the lake lay the sword of Gryffindor.

He tried to summon the sword with Hermione's wand, but it didn't move. So he knew there was only one way to get the sword, he started taking off his clothes. The water was freezing but he forced himself to dive, the water kept pulling him downwards, he felt suffocating and drowning. Suddenly someone pulled him out. It was Ron!

Ron has just saved Harry's life, with all the confusion Harry was in, he still felt grateful to Ron. Ron started explaining how he's been trying to find them for some time, and only managed to find them now. He went back home but he couldn't stay there knowing Harry and Hermione were on their own.

Harry is happy Ron is back, and realizes Ron must be the one who destroys the locket because he was the one who got the sword out. This was something he learned from Dumbledore. Harry opens the locket, and Ron is facing a Riddle-Harry and a Riddle-Heromine trying to make him lose confidence in everything. Ron remains standing for quite sometime, baffled. However, he reacts and stabs the locket. Harry and Ron go back to the tent. They wake up Heromine, who would have attacked Ron if Harry hadn't intervened. She blames him, and is very angry. They explain to her what happened, how they destroyed the locket. They wonder whose patronus was it.

Heromine doesn't forgive Ron, even though he tells them he hasn't gone home, was attacked, and has been trying to get back to them ever since he left. He explains how the deluminator helped him, how he heard Heromine say his name then a light got into him and he knew where he had to go. Harry is ecstatic that Ron is back, they talk to each other both explaining what they went through.

Heromine tells them they need to visit Lovegood to get to the bottom of the eye sign. Ron agrees with Heromine because he wants to be in her good graces again, but Harry isn't so sure. Yet he is overruled and they leave. They easily find the Lovegood residence. Mr. lovegood opens, he's surprised they're there asking for help. The trio think him a hypocrite since the Quibbler supports Harry openly and he's not so willing to help them. They ask about Luna and he goes to find her, and when he comes back he tells them he's ready to help.

1- At Godric's Hollow, Heromine takes a copy of Skeeter's book about Dumbledore revealing the relationship he had with Grindelwald. Did this change your thoughts about him? Do you agree with Harry who thinks Dumbledore's young age at that time doesn't justify his ideas? Or do you agree with Heromine, that people change?

2- Harry lost his wand at Godric's Hollow. He felt upset, his wand was special. How do you think this will affect where the story is going? Was Harry's wand special, or was it as powerful as its master?

3- Whose patronus was it, the doe? Do you think Dumbledore was behind it?

4- Why was Lovegood hesistant in helping Harry Potter though he was supporting him in his magazine?

Review and questions by Huda.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

News: Pottermore

For one whole week, Harry Potter fans couldn't keep their eyes away from the mysteriously signed site by JK Rowling herself with the title of Pottermore, Coming Soon. When you clicked on one of the owls, it directed you to a YouTube page that was brilliantly done:

(If you moved the cursor towards the owls, they'll shake their little heads, as if saying "I'm not telling!". The daunting owls with the caption of "The owls are gathering...Find out why soon" alongside a countdown was one amazing idea of getting us all hyped up)

Many speculations were going on about this. What I, and many others have hoped for was an encyclopaedia. One that has all the related info we need about the magical world Rowling created. Today however, at 3:00 PM local time, the video played of Rowling making her long-awaited announcement.

Pottermore, as it turned out, is an online experience to read, interact with and share the Harry Potter stories. More from The Leaky Cauldron website:

  • Pottermore is an interactive new Web site and reading experience with more than 18,000 new words from J.K. Rowling: Much more to come.
  • JKR behind the scenes filming the video picture.
  • An online experience to read, interact with and share the Harry Potter stories. Exclusive writing from J.K. Rowling and more.
  • Pottermore will feature infromation J.K. Rowling has been "hoarding" for years about Harry Potter.
  • Pottermore will be the exclusive place to purchase the digital audio books and, at last, eBooks of the Harry Potter series.
  • One million fans will get access to a beta on July 31, Harry's birthday. It will be open for all in October 2011.
  • The launch of Pottermore will have more than 18,000 words from J.K. Rowling, but that is only a third of what she has written so far.
  • J.K. Rowling said this morning that there is a lot more content to come for the Pottermore site, and she will develop it as it grows.

I understand how good of a news this is, to keep the Harry Potter name alive in the digital era and all that but I don't get why we would have to wait this long. The dates are July 31 and October, why not just announce it once?

So, what do you think of this? Did it live up to your expectations? And what were your previous guesses? Is there any hope for Potterheads to get an encyclopedia after all?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Something Borrowed | Emily Giffin‏

Something Borrowed ~ Emily Giffin‏

By: Varsha Naik
Blogs: /

Rachel, diligent and hard-working lawyer, finds her world turned upside down when wakes up in the arms of Dex, charming and handsome, also a lawyer, a friend from law school, and fiancé to her childhood chum Darcy, the happy-go-lucky PR princess, who always gets things her way

As the story progresses and characters develop, Rachel has to make a decision, does she want to hold on to Darcy, who has always sidelined Rachel and made herself more important, that she must let go of the man she’s come to love. Or, does she want Dex for herself, the only man she can imagine being with, enough to risk losing Darcy’s lifetime of friendship.

At some point in our lives, we have all wanted something that didn’t belong to us. Sometimes they are things that belonged to our best friend, our soul mate, the one person we couldn’t live without. The question is how far is far enough to get what you want.

Personal Opinion: While reading the book, I found myself identifying with certain incidents, nuances of characters and situations. The story is told in a very simple manner, mostly with Rachel as the narrator as she takes you through the daily grind and events as they happen.

A great read to just kick back and enjoy, and for a change, say out loud, “I’m glad I’m not in her shoes.” While the book works as a great stress-buster with a feel-good factor, it helps bring to surface a very basic question. Should you always do the clichéd ‘right thing’, or is it worth, sometimes, to risk crossing the line to fight for something you truly believe in.

Pull out of the melodrama of our own life as you dive into the rough seas of Rachel’s emotions as she tries to make sense of it all - friendship, love and destiny.

My rating: 8/10

I recommend this book to anyone who’s been in love, who’s lost in love, and who’s looking for love. It will warm your heart and make you want to keep trying.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Deathly Hallows Discussion: Chapters 11-15

While waiting for Kreacher to return with Mundungus Fletcher, the trio wiled away time about Number Twelve Grimmauld Place. The first sign of strains begin to show as little bouts of bickering bursts amongst them, but not turning into anything serious. They finally get a visit from someone in the Wizardingworld: Remus Lupin. Aided with a current copy of The Daily Prophet, Lupin lets them know how the world around them is slowly delving deeper into Lord Voldemort’s shroud of darkness. He lets them know that, though everyone is fine after the ambush on Bill and Fleur’s wedding, the Burrow was searched from top to bottom in addition to several houses connected with the Order of the Phoenix. One amusing thing to note here is that Ron’s ghoul trick actually worked as the Ministry officials stayed well clear of it.

The Ministry’s actions are not done without reason, as Lupin shows Harry a large picture of him in the Daily Prophet with the headline: “Wanted For Questioning About The Death Of Albus Dumbeldore”. He notes that this is a successful ploy to cause confusion, mistrust and fear in the Wizarding world, as people will not know who to trust anymore. The Daily Prophet holds more bad news, as Harry and Co. find out about the Muggle-Born Register. Witches and Wizards with Muggles as parents and no proof of magical ancestry will be assumed to have stolen the magic they possess and thus punished. Lupin offers to join the trio on their journey, but Harry is not quick to accept his offer. He questions Lupin about leaving behind his new bride, Tonks, which leads to Lupin letting them in a voice full of dismay that she is pregnant. Lupin goes on to admit that he regrets marrying Tonks, as he has now caused both her and their unborn child to be outcasts seeing as he is a werewolf and shunned in the community. Harry holds no sympathy for Lupin and tells him flat out that he is bailing out on his family and is a coward for doing so. The makes Lupin blast Harry away in rage and walk out on them all. The Daily Prophet holds more unpleasant news as Harry comes across an extract from Rita Skeeter’s Biography of Dumbledore that revolves around his mother Kendra, and the mysterious way in which she hid awayher daughter, Dumberdore’s sister, Ariana from the world.

Kreacher finally returns from his Mundungus hunt successfully, and the trio find out the Mundungus had indeed seized the locket in the hope of selling it for some profit. Instead, they were horrified to find out that Dolores Umbridge got it off him as a bribe for not reporting him as an illegal merchant. Harry hands over Regulus’ fake locket as a sign of goodwill to Kreacher. This small act of kindness changed the house elf’s disposition to them all, as he became warm-hearted, caring and friendly. After several weeks of planning, the trio finally decide to infiltrate the Ministry to grab a hold of the locket. They disguise themselves as three Ministry workers, by means of Polyjuice potion.

Once within the Ministry, they are sicknedby a statue in the middle of the Ministry’s Atrium that is composed of a handsome pair of witch and wizard sitting upon a throne of Muggle bodies. They find out that Umbridge is the head of the Muggle-born registration commission and the three get separated, with Hermione following Umbridge to the courtroom to question Muggle-born wizards, Ron trying to get rid of a rain curse in an office of a wizard, and Harry looking for Umbridge’s office. After making sure that the locket is not in Umbridge’s office, Harry makes his way down to the courtroom where Umbridge is questioning Muggle-borns, Hermione by her side. Harry sees the locket around Umbridge’s neck, and acting in impulse, blasts her with a stunning spell. They grab the Horcrux and make their way out of the Ministry, but not all in one piece as Ron ended up being splinched when they disapparated, a piece of his arm missing. The trio are unable to return to Grimmauld Place, their refuge of several months, due to the Ministry finding its location.

This brings us to a new section of the story, when Harry and Co., not having a safe place anymore, are forced to move from area to area, setting up camp and surrounding themselves with protective enchantments every time. The three examine the locket, and can all feel a heartbeat within it as though there is a living being inside. Knowing that the Horcrux can have a dark effect upon anyone who comes in direct contact with it, they decide to take turns to wear it. Harry is the first, and while he keeping watch outside the tent, his scar begins to prickle and he sleeps off into a day dream. Harry is Voldemort looking at the wizard Gregorovitch suspended upside down. He demands an item from the suspended wizard, but the wizard shows Harry that the item has been stolen by a golden haired thief. Harry demands the identity of the thief, and with Gregorovitch not knowing, kills him with a flash of green light. Harry wakes up, sprawled on the floor. Wondering who the thief was, where the other Horcruxes are, where they should off to, what they should do next, the trio while the time away Disapprating and Apparating in different areas of England. The strain, stress and bickering increases as they go on their days repeating the same things that have been said before not discovering anything new or useful, with Horcrux casting a darkness upon its bearer.

One evening, while arguing about the state of the food they are forced to eat, the trio hear voices outside their tent. Protected by the enchantments around their tent, they are delighted to discover a company of wizards and goblins on the run as well. Harry and Co. eavesdrop on their conversation, learning of the even worse state the wizarding world has fallen into. They learn that Ginny, Neville and Luna had attempted to snatch the Gryffindor sword from Snape’s headmaster office, but were caught and punished. This incident lead to the sword being transferred to a vault in Gringotts for safekeeping. One of the Goblin’s delightfully reveals that the sword that is in the vault is in fact a fake wizard-made one and that the original goblin-made one is still somewhere to be found. Delighted by this news, Harry and Hermione are quick to begin brainstorming why Dumbeldore switched the swords and where the real one might be. Ron however, does not share in their delight.

With the locket around his neck, he attacks Harry, telling him that the sword is just another thing they have to find in addition the Horcruxes, and that Harry has no idea what he is doing at all. Ron tells Harry that both he and Hermione are disappointed in him. Stung, Harry yells at Ron to go home if thats how he felt. Ron demands of Hermione her decision of staying or leaving. Hermione lets him know that she is sticking with Harry, and with that Ron walks out on his two best friends leaving them both shocked at the sudden turn of events.


1- What do you think of Lupin’s new found feelings for his wife and unborn child? Do you agree with Harry on branding him a “coward”?

2- How much do you loath Umbridge and what is your main reason for doing so?
(Sorry, the question's a bit biased because I seriously hate this woman)

3- Do you see any connection’s with the story’s “pure blood, mud blood” statuses and our own real world?

4- What do you think of Ron walking out on his friends? Do you understand why he did it?

Review and questions by Sara.

Princess | Jean Sasson

Princess ~ Jean Sasson

By: Buthaina Al Hinai
Online Articles

The Princess trilogy is an exposé that revels the cruel lavish and scandalous life of Al Sau’d- the royal family of Saudi Arabia. Princess Sultana, the narrator of the story, is a mischievous royal child that grows up to be a feminist. She tells the story of the women of her family who are constantly beaten, tortured, jailed to death for the smallest misconduct by their fathers, brothers and husbands, while the male members of the royal family get away and are, more or less, free to do whatever they please by engaging themselves in taboo subjects. Because of the unjust double standard in her society, Princess Sultana strives to change the way the women in her country are treated and dares to stand up against her cruel and unloving father and brother.

Princess is one of three books of ‘the Princess trilogy’. It is followed by Daughters of Arabia, which focuses on the lives of Princess Sultana’s daughters, Maha and Amani, and Desert Royal, which continues telling the story of an older Sultana.

Personal opinion: This heart-warming story broke me in a fist of laughter many times, but realizing how cruel our Arab society can get has shattered my heart. It makes you laugh but it also makes you gasp in terror and cry. And cry some more for the girls and young women of our Arabian Gulf. Personally, I believe that any book that moves the reader is a good book.

Rating: 9/10 – it’s full of emotions, engaging and moves at a quick pace.

I’d recommend this book to those of you who are interested in stories that we, as Arabs, can relate to and to those of you who seek a very juicy insider’s look at the lavish and scandalous life of Al Sau’d and Arab families. I do not recommend this book to young readers as it includes some explicit adult material.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Handful of Dust | Evelyn Waugh

A Handful of Dust ~ Evelyn Waugh

By: Fatma Makki

This book doesn’t revolve particularly on any one or two characters. The best way to describe it would be that it centers around the lives and dramas of the social elite of England. It starts off by introducing the cast of characters slowly, and includes a whole host of different personalities: the intense social-climbing boy toy, the bored aristocrat’s wife tucked away in a large, decaying and formerly beautiful country manor, the stiff old school English gentleman, the flamboyant and daring women who married a Moor. The characters have nothing to do with their time but create trouble for themselves and each other, but they do it with such impeccable style!

Personal Opinion: If this book were a desert, it would be a macaroon: light but extremely indulgent and decadent, with the perfect blend of dryness and unbelievable sweetness. It’s amazing how nearly all the characters come across as being primarily self-absorbed and generally behave very badly, but I’ve come to love them in a way that you can really love brutally honest characters. This book made fun of all the crazy social conventions of the time, with a sense of humour that is dry and quintessentially English. It’s beautiful to see Waugh weave magic out of a bunch of bored rich people laying about with too much time on their hands; somehow great adventures form out of thin air! I realize this may be a bit vague, but I really don’t want to give anything away at all. Let’s just say it ends up with a surreal journey through a tropical rainforest that is one of the best scenes I’ve ever read in my entire life.

Rating: 10/10 – I didn’t want to give a full mark for my first Omani Book Mania review, but this book thoroughly deserves it; especially since the book was published with an alternative ending, which was just brilliant and a great way of showcasing the author’s highly creative mind.

I’d recommend this book for anyone 18+ men and women. Only because I feel that the pace of the book is too slowly for a younger reader to appreciate. But I loved this book so much I can’t imagine anyone reading it and not liking it! As I said before, there is a very dry sense of humour that some people don’t like. If you liked the movie or book Brideshead Revisited, you will definitely love this (same author)!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Deathly Hallows Discussion: Chapters 6-10

With Moody's death dawning on Harry, he sets his mind to go looking for the Horcurxes without wasting any minute for Voldemort is surely going to get stronger. He goes into a conversation with Ron and Hermione in which they insist on accompanying him through his journey. He feels that they don't understand the dangerous choice they're making but Ron shows him the measures he took. He leads him upto the attic where a ghoul is residing there in pajamas. Ron says that Fred & George have transformed it so that when they're off to their hunt he'll be in Ron's bed and if anyone comes looking for him, they'll be afraid to get near as the Spattergroit's really contagious. On the other hand, Hermione have used the Obliviate spell (Memory Charm) on her parents and now they have no idea of her existence and they're off on a holiday in Australia. If this shows anything, it only tells Harry how keen his friends are to help him find these Horcruxes and destroy them. Meanwhile, Harry's been staying at the Burrow in preparation of Bill & Fleur's wedding. Mrs. Weasley knows so little of their plan of not attending Hogwarts next year and planning to do something else, hence she tries her best to give them separate chores 'in the hopes of delaying their departure', as Ginny said.

Then comes Harry's birthday which Mrs. Weasely have taken the trouble to celebrate given that the next day happens to be the day of the wedding. Harry's cake flies to him in the shape of a snitch and while they're at it, Mr. Weasley's patronus announces the arrival of Scrigmour, Minister of Magic. He asks to have a private talk with Harry, Ron and Hermione and that's when they first hear of Albus Dumbledore’s will. He left Ron a Deluminator, Hermione’s a book of The Tales of Beedle The Bard. Harry gets his snitch, the one he caught at his first Quidditch match and the Sword of Godric Gryfindor which the Minister says it's gone missing. The fact that it had taken these possessions a month to be passed on after Dumbledore's death sparks the curiosity of the trio. Hermione asks the Minister if they've searched the objects, if they think Dumbledore might have passed Dark objects but Scrigmour replies by saying that they should all be working together. Harry though furiously states that he doesn't agree with his methods.

They gather around that night to discuss what Dumbledore left them. What could a Deluminator be used for other than switching and bringing back the lights? And how could this help them? What about the Tales of Beedle The Bard? Most importantly, how can Dumbledore pass the snitch to Harry when it wont even open?

We're then brought to the wedding where the tents have been set up and the Weasley's relatives fill in the place. Fleur enters and silence falls over the crowd. It was so magical that I liked it when Rowling described it: "And once Fleur reached him, Bill did not look as though he had ever met Fenrir Greyback".

However, a curious Auntie Muriel stirs up a burning feeling in Harry while he is chatting with Doge, Dumbledore’s old friend. She talks of her admiration towards Rita Skeeter and that she can't wait to read what she have dug of Albus' past. Harry finds himself half-believing what she's saying: that Dumbledore did not care about his Squib of a sister and preferred to show his talents and skills at Hogwarts, that his mother locked up Ariana for the fear of being a disgrace to the family, which, alternatively lead to her death. On the day of her funeral, Aberforth hit Dumbledore and broke his nose..

With all these new information to digest, let alone grasp the truth or the false accusations, a Patronus announces the death of the Minister and the fall of Ministry of Magic. Immediately, Harry and Ron Disapparate with the help of Hermione to Tottenham Court Road. Then they go to Grimmauld Place, Sirius’ house. That day, Harry’s scar hurts him. It blinds his eyes and as Rowling put it “the rage that didn’t belong to him posses his soul”

Wandering around through the house early the next morning alone, Harry enters his Godfathers’ room for the first time, it’s plastered with large Gryffindor banners and the faded colours of scarlet and gold, “just to underline his difference from all the rest of the Slytherin family”. He finds a letter and reads it. It is a letter his mother Lily had sent to Sirius on Harry’s first birthday. There is also a picture attached to it: Harry zooming in and out of the picture on a tiny broom. You could see the rush of emotions going on inside of Harry after reading Lily’s letter, it feels good knowing that his mother was talking about him. Him, Harry, her son..

Harry stops in his tracks the moment his eyes set on Regulus' Black bedroom door. He finally knows what R.A.B stands for. Regulus Arcturus Black so in the hopes of finding the real locket, they search the room but only later do they realise that indeed there was a Locket two years back that Kreacher took away. Heading towards Kreacher's cupboard, Harry summons the house-elf and demands to know the full story. Kreacher explains: Voldemort wanted a house-elf and Regulus kindly volunteered to give him his. Voldemort and Kreacher went to a cave near a lake.. Harry remembers this so well for he had been there with Dumbledore. Kreacher recollects what's it like being in that dark cave with all the Inferi. He says that Voldemort made him drink the potion in the basin and hid the real locket inside, the real Hocrux. One day, Regulus commands Kreacher to show him the same place and he drank the potion and Kreacher replaced the lockets. Kreacher brought the locket home but couldn't destroy it. Mundungus Fletcher comes into Grimmauld place and steals it.

Now Harry orders Kreacher to go and find Fletcher. He, Ron and Hermione are determined to find all the Horcurxes and destroy them, can they, when the clues they have are so little?


1-Ron and Heromine planned for their journey with Harry thoroughly. When they told Harry this, it hit him how much they're sacrificing for him. How do you think he felt? And given the chance, would he have gone without them?

2-Dumbledore's Will baffled Harry, Ron and Heromine equally. How necessary do you think it is that he didn't give them any hints as to how they're useful? And concerning the sword, was Dumbledore justified in leaving it to Harry though it's as the Minister of Magic says, not Dumbledore's to give?

3- Why wouldn't Elphias Doge tell them the truth, do you think he had a good reason or he simply couldn't stand his closest friend being thus talked about?

4-How do you think the Death Eaters found out where our friends were in
the Muggles world?

Questions by Noor.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Can You Keep a Secret? | Sophie Kinsella

Can You Keep a Secret? ~ Sophie Kinsella

By: Lulu
Blog: El's View

The story begins when 25 year-old big-hearted Emma Corrigan spills all her secrets to a stranger who sat beside her on a plane ride, and then this man happens to be the founder of the company she works with, and he knows every single humiliating detail about her, her love life, her family, her flat-mates, and also the fact that she faked an A on her CV…

Personal Opinion: I honestly, genuinely loved it! It was light and extremely hilarious and it easily improves your mood, especially when this CEO (named Jack Harper) teases her in a funny way about her secrets. It's definitely a page-turner and actually finished it over night and day. It has a nicely structured plot, I love the mixture of the characters; you've basically got all sorts of people. I only stopped reading it because my head started throbbing and I had to sleep, but I actually woke up earlier to just keep reading.

Rating: 9/10 (only because I felt like 2 of the flat-mates were acting weirdly to another, like in a hate which isn't really understandable)

This'd be I guess females of the ages 16+ only because there are some mature content, and it's pretty girlish.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Deathly Hallows Discussion: Chapters 1-5

Everything happens so quickly. First chapter starting with Voldemort, which is as unsettling as ever with evil pouring out of his words, and the fifth describing their encounter with the Death Eaters. It is different as it doesn't begin with Harry staying with the Dursleys and the amount of pain he must endure.

Voldemort has a meeting with the Death Eaters discussing Harry Potter, of course. Snape seems to be sure of the information he's conveying about the plans of the Order though another wizard says otherwise. Voldemort trusts Snape. At that meeting, he kills a professor at Hogwarts because she sympathizes with mudbloods. Then, we get to see how Harry is doing. He reads the Daily Prophet which only fills him with more anger and frustration. Rita Skeeter has written the biography of Dumbledore, and there's an interview with her. It's full of lies, even mentioning the relationship between Harry and Dumbledore. No doubt, this upsets Harry and makes him wish he had more time with him.

Plans have been made to move the Dursleys to a safer place. As they leave, rather reluctantly, something very surprising takes place. Duddley is worried about Harry and declares that he doesn't think him 'a waste of space.' This was probably the nicest thing he's ever said to Harry, so it takes you off your guard. There's actually some sense in him.

When the Order comes to move Harry to a safer place, you feel his relief at seeing his bestfriends Ron and Heromine. He must leave because the house is no longer safe for him and as he turns 17, the protective charm bestowed on him by his mother will wear off and he'll be vulnerable to Voldemort. As he begins to understand the plan, it dawns on him how they're risking their lives for his sake. He tries to argue, but it all goes against his will. Six others will drink a polyjuice potion to look exactly like Harry so they can move him safely with the least danger to his life. Death Eaters know of their plan to move Harry that night, yet they are baffled when they see 7 of him flying. The fight kills Hedwig and Mad-Eye. As they get back to the burrow, their spirits are down knowing someone betrayed them and they have no idea who. Harry feels as guilty as he's ever felt in his life.

I thought this was far darker than the other parts, understandably so, of course. There's so much going on in only 5 chapters. You feel sorry for Harry, facing what he has to face, and knowing that people are sacrificing their lives for him. J. K. Rowling is excellent with making you feel you're a part of the Harry Potter world, recognizing so many characters, keeping up with what's going on and feeling the intensity of some moments can only make you enjoy Harry Potter more. I loved how she put a somewhat proper closure for Harry's relationship with the Dursley's. I loved it when Dudley showed some gratitude to Harry, who needed something like this at the hard time he's been going through. All of the seriousness is so wonderfully lifted for a moment, when George having just lost an ear says "Saint-like.... you see, I'm holy. Holey, Fred, geddit?" Don't you simply think their humor is the best?!

When Ron said "Always the tone of surprise." to Heromine, because she was surprised when Tonks told her what he did in the fight, weren't you sad for him knowing that she didn't mean it that way?! I love the relationship they have, and it's been wonderful being able to follow through with it.

1. Did you feel sorry for Draco? He's been awful to Harry, true. But did he deserve to be in the middle of the Death Eaters like this?

2. Harry thought he saw Dumbledore's eye in the mirror. Do you think he actually did? Or did he imagine it, having just read the awful interview in the Daily Prophet about the new biography about Dumbledore?

3. Aunt Petunia wanted to say something to Harry, what could it have been? What could she possibly say to him, after all the treatment he got from them? Why didn't she say anything?

4. Was Lupin justified in being rather disappointed that Harry wouldn't kill Stan, instead made it easier for the Death Eaters able to recognize him thus putting him in even more danger? Or was Harry justified with what he did?

Review and questions by Noor.


Update: (9.50 PM) Our first discussion was great, thanks to all of you who made it and contributed with us. For those who missed it, you could answer the questions or add your own comments whenever you want. This post will be up here and we'll be checking it back to answer your questions.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Our First Book Club Starts Today!

Reading our chosen book for this month ''Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows" starts now. Pick up your copy and let's all start reading from today! On Wednesday, the 15th, a post will be up reviewing the 5 chapters and our first live discussion starts at 8 PM. Don't miss it!

While reading, write down a few notes: they could be questions you'd like to discuss here or your own thoughts on some characters.. Or anything else you've observed and would like to share with us. One thing to keep in mind though is to not share any spoilers of the upcoming chapters, just the 5 that we're assigned to read in these 3 days.

Happy reading! See you again on Wednesday at 8 PM.

P.S You could save this calendar on your phone/desktop to keep up with the schedule and don't forget to check the blog everyday for updates or news.

Update: Here's a PDF version of the The Deathly Hallows book for those who've lost their copy or don't have one. (Thanks to @Squinty1989 for taking the time to upload it)

Here are the current reviewers next to their assigned chapters.

* 1-5:
The Dark Lord Ascending -> Fallen Warrior (Noor)

The Ghoul in Pajamas -> Kreacher's Tale (Kitten)

The Bribe -> The Goblin's Revenge(Sara)

Godric's Hallow -> Xenophilius Lovegood (Huda)

The Tale of the Three Brothers -> Shell Cottage (Ms. Nina)

Gringotts -> The Sacking of Severus Snape (G-chan)

The Battle of Hogwarts -> The Flaw in the Plan + The Epilogue (Kitten)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blog Appearances

It makes us happy here at the Omani Book Mania to be mentioned on the blogsphere so here's a shout-out to those who did:

And of course on mine as well, check it out here.

In the meantime our team is trying its best to spread the word about the blog and hopefully by the 13th we'd have a reasonable number of members to start our book club. Are you excited? We're all are. Go wipe the dust off your Deathly Hallows book and wait for our starting post first thing Monday morning.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Deathly Hallows Chapters Division

Based on the same Calendar, you could choose which chapters you'd like to review. Keeping in mind to finish reading your chosen chapters on the third day and to send in your post at 7:30 PM. Live discussion begins at 8 PM.

How to do this?

Just pick a colour and tell me which one you've chosen. Hurry up! Others might take your favourite chapters.

* 1-5:
The Dark Lord Ascending -> Fallen Warrior (Noor)

The Ghoul in Pajamas -> Kreacher's Tale (Kitten)

The Bribe -> The Goblin's Revenge(Sara)

Godric's Hallow -> Xenophilius Lovegood (Huda)

The Tale of the Three Brothers -> Shell Cottage (Ms. Nina)

Gringotts -> The Sacking of Severus Snape (G-chan)

The Battle of Hogwarts -> The Flaw in the Plan + The Epilogue (Kitten)

Leave a comment and come again to see your name put up against your assigned chapters.

First Book Club Read: The Deathly Hallows

With the Harry Potter movies coming to an end in July 15th I thought it’d be fun to read (or re-read in the majority’s case) The Deathly Hallows book together. For those of you who are as excited as I am, you’ll enjoy re-reading again, only this time with your favourite peeps online.

So how does this work?

We’ll start reading on the 13th of June, an opening post will be put up to announce the beginning of the challenge. I’ve divided the 35 chapters in 3 weeks. Meaning: 5 chapters in 3 days. On the third day, a post by one of us will be put up reviewing what he/she thought of the chapters, asking questions for you all to interact and comment on what you’ve discovered/learned or liked in these 5 chapters. To make it easier for all of us and in order to understand the arrangement of the days and chapters, I made this calendar (Which, I hope, is clear)

How is this different?

Well for one, we’re all reading together at the same. Second, we’ll be reading and sharing our comments on the go.

This is my first time arranging a book club and without you guys, your willingness and contribution, this thing would not work. This is just an idea, I can’t go on about it without your support and input. Thus I’d really appreciate if you would tell me beforehand if you’re willing to step in and be consistent with the group. If you’ve read The Deathly Hallows before and do not intend on reading it again, do come in to add your comments, discuss and let us know your thoughts. If you’ve not read the book, then hey, it’s a fun activity during your summer!

Leave a comment if you want to participate and if you have any suggestions or ideas, don’t hesitate to e-mail me on:

Please spread this message around, re-post, share the link, tweet it, email it, for all those bookworms out there who haven’t read the book or want to re-read it again. We want to make this happen and you can help us.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Million Little Pieces | James Frey

A Million Little Pieces ~ James Frey

By: Buthaina Al Hinai
Online Articles

A million little pieces tells a true heart-wrenching story of a hardcore addict that struggles through rehab, a forbidden love story and his relationship with his parents. James Frey, who started doing drugs at the age of ten, tells his story that begins with an accident that he could barely remember due to him being intoxicated. Frey’s parents, who are the main drive behind his recovery, convinced him to go to rehab to try and put together the million little pieces that his life shattered to. The rehab’s policy clearly states that men and women are not allowed to speak or communicate in any way. Despite that, James fell in love with Lilly- a girl who was in the same rehab. Their love story progresses until a certain point, where it all collapses. A million little pieces has stirred up a controversy in the U.S. and worldwide. Although it is thought to be a memoir, some details have been found to be untrue. James Frey has admitted altering and exaggerating some events.

Personal Opinion: Frey’s writing voice and his way of telling the tiniest details of an event is very impressive and made this book a masterpiece. Thanks to his writing style, living the story and visualizing events comes effortlessly to the reader. However, at a certain point in the book, I found that James Frey was too repetitive and was going into too many details, and thus making the book somewhat boring.

My Rating: 7/10

I recommend this book to those who seek a truly inspirational and emotional memoir.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Help | Kathryn Stockett

The Help ~ Kathryn Stocket

By: Noor
Blog: Spreading My Wings

The Help is about maids in Jackson, Mississippi back in the 1960s, but it's beyond that. It is narrated by three characters; two maids and a white young lady. They're trying to tell their story to the world so we hear them and understand what it is like for them. It's about how much maids such a role nobody ever acknowledges.

Aibileen, one of the maids, works because of the kids. Raising them, and being there for them when their mothers are too busy with their social lives. She cares too much which is why she doesn't stay long on one job. She's very wise because of what she's gone through in her life, and always knows the right thing to say.

Minny is a hot tempered maid who says exactly what is on her mind. Her skills ensure her her job, yet do not stop her from getting into trouble. However, she's blessed with a good soul which helps her through the hard times.

Miss Skeeter, a white young woman who's just finished college, is different. All her life she tries to please her mother, fit in with people she doesn't see eye-to-eye with. Once she tries to break free from all the rules she's supposed to live by, she starts truly living for something bigger than herself.

Personal Opinion: I loved it. I didn't know what it was about when I picked it up, so with no expectations whatsoever I found myself thrilled with the book. The author is so brilliant with telling the story, knowing just when to switch from one narrator to another. Just when you're absolutely hooked. You find yourself even more so with every chapter. It gets so deep, you hear stories you never even imaged. You feel their anger, their disgust, their submission. You wish it was different for them, you wish you could slap that character who couldn't be more annoying or insensitive, you wish you could tell them things get better. They don't need that though. They've learned how to coop. I couldn't get my hands off the book when I was halfway through, things got even more interesting.

The stories were compelling. The characters even more so. The ladies some of the maids worked for were ruthless, yet some had a lot of compassion. How Skeeter fought for what she believed in, how she found herself in the process being freed from the worries of what might people think. The book took me to a whole new place, I've never read about this before. You get to know only a glimpse of how racism is, how maids are treated back then, and it's heartbreaking to say the least. I was actually crying over the bad and the good things happening to them at the end. It's that good.

It teaches you that if you do something you believe in, you stop caring about the people who might be disappointed in you, and though you constantly doubt yourself, there's a sense of righteousness in you that makes it all worth while.

I recommend it to everyone who's looking for a perfect summer read that will teach you so much about life. Every reader needs to read The Help.

My rating: 10/10