If You Liked Harry Potter Read . . . Percy Jackson

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I was sad when I read the last Harry Potter book, but luckily there are plenty of other books out there set in amazing fantasy worlds. This series will let you know about some of my favorites. It was originally going to be one post, but it was so long I thought I’d do one post per series instead.


Today I want to talk about the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. I actually read this series at the recommendation of my 12-year-old cousin, but I think it’s entertaining no matter what your age. For the record, my mom likes the series as well.

I think that this is a great series of books for someone who likes Harry Potter and should appeal to many of the same readers.

Even if Percy Jackson is about Greek gods and goddesses and Harry Potter is about witchcraft and wizardry . . . they are quite similar. To start with, Percy Jackson didn’t know that he was a demigod until the books began and Harry Potter didn’t know that he’s a wizard.

Here’s a quick little comparison:

Percy Jackson Harry Potter
Appearance Black hair, green eyes Black hair, green eyes
Age range 12-16 11-17
Number of books 5 7
Female Friend Annabeth—smart, bookish Hermione—smart, bookish
Male friend Grover—goofy, comic relief Ron—goofy, comic relief
Main setting Camp Half-Blood Hogwarts
Prophecy Yes Yes

The characters have a similar since of wonder at discovering a new world, and are thrown into ordeals that they can only survive with the help of their friends. Furthermore, both children might be the subject of a prophecy.

I’m not trying to imply that Percy Jackson copied Harry Potter—I think that it’s inevitable that books will resemble each other to an extent. I honestly enjoyed this series.

Overall, I say try it. It’s a fun and entertaining read.

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Have you read the Percy Jackson series? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

If You Liked Harry Potter, Read . . . the Young Wizards Series

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It was sad when I read the last Harry Potter book, but luckily there are plenty of other books out there set in amazing fantasy worlds. This series will let you know about some of my favorites. It was originally going to be one post, but it was so long I thought I’d do one post per series instead.

Today I want to talk about the Young Wizards series by Diane Duane (@dduane on Twitter). In my opinion, this is probably the best young adult fantasy series that no one’s heard about. I actually started this series when I was ten years old—over a year before I started the Harry Potter series—and these are still some of my favorite fantasy books of all time.

At the moment, there are nine books in the series, and there area likely more to come. The first book was published in 1983, and the ninth published in 2010 (I have yet to read it, I’m afraid).

The first book of the series is called So You Want to be a Wizard. In it, thirteen-year-old Nita discovers a book called So You Want to Be a Wizard when she is in the library hiding from bullies. She takes it home and learns that she can become a wizard if she takes an oath and undergoes an ordeal. Amazingly, this turns out to be true. She meets twelve-year-old Kit, a fellow wizard, and together they are thrown into the world of wizardry as they struggle to pass their ordeal and keep the Lone Power at bay.

This series is about Kit and Nita’s adventures, and later books include Nita’s younger sister Dairine as well. Most of the books are action-packed and exciting, plus Kit, Nita, and Dairine are interesting and relatable characters.

You can read the first chapter of So You Want to be a Wizard here if you want to give it a try.

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Have you read this series? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Why I Love Harry Potter

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So I was going to do a whole Harry Potter series this week in honor of Deathly Hallows Part 1, but I don’t think I’ll have time for that. Instead, I’ll do a couple of posts this week, and perhaps do the series when Part 2 comes out in July 2011. I’m actually hoping to review the movie on Friday (in addition to Facebook Friday), but we’ll see how that goes.

This post assumes that you have read all of the books, so I’m giving you a SPOILER ALERT.

Today I wanted to talk about why I found Harry Potter books so appealing. I grew up with Harry Potter and I’ve pretty much been obsessed with it for over a decade. If I were sorted, I’d probably be a Ravenclaw. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m quite the nerd/ bookworm.

What draws me into the series is that it’s so magical. No, not necessarily the literal magic, but the universe it takes place in. I’ve always been a huge fan of fantasy because it takes me to another world, one that I can’t experience in your everyday life.

I can read the books and picture myself at Hogwarts. There’s something about the series that draws me in and makes me care about the characters. My friends and I spent a lot of time discussing whether Snape was good or evil (I totally called it) or whether Harry Potter would die (I knew he wouldn’t, but thought he should).

No, J.K. Rowling is not the best writer out there. But she’s an amazing at building worlds and the world she created captured the hearts of millions.

No, the Harry Potter series did not spark my love of reading, but that’s because I’ve always loved reading. But the series made me beg my mom to go to the bookstore at  midnight so I could be among the first to pick up a copy. And then spend the entire day reading it.

Perhaps my biggest adventures with Harry Potter came when I studied abroad in Italy. My roommates and I found an English movie theater and bookstore in Florence so we could see the fifth movie and read the seventh book. Then of course, we called and bragged to all of our friends back home that we saw the movie/read the book 6-8 hours ahead of everyone back home. And they were jealous. Obviously.

I’m thrilled for the last two movies, but kind of sad at the same time too. It’s the end of an era.

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What does Harry Potter mean to you? Are you excited for the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 movie? Let me know in the comments below.

Vampirism and Sex in Twilight

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I expect I will get some flak about this series from Twilight fans, but let me make it clear that I have read the book series and seen the movies. I have also researched this topic for several of my college courses.

This is the last post in my Halloween Twilight series. This one is less of a criticism in some ways and more of an interesting point of view.

Throughout literature, sex is an underlying theme when it comes to vampires. In (Un)Safe Sex: Romancing the Vampire, Backstein explores this concept in modern vampire literature, including Twilight. In Twilight, the temptation that Edward feels when he desires Bella’s blood can be equated to sex. If he has the smallest taste, he would not be able to stop drinking it, which is comparable to rape. He desires Bella, but if he bites her (takes her virginity) then she will be a vampire (impure). This is reinforced when Edward refuses to turn Bella into a vampire or have sex with her until they are married. He feels the need to protect Bella’s virtue because she is weak and irrational, thus cannot know what she desires. Edward, as the strong, rational man always knows better. And because Bella is preprogrammed to respond to Edward, she never stood a chance.

Source:

Backstein, Karen. “(Un)Safe Sex: Romancing the Vampire.” Cineaste Winter 2009: 38-41. Print.

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What are your thoughts on vampirism and sex in Twilight? Let me know in the comments below.

Werewolves and Male Dominance in the Twilight Saga

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I expect I will get some flak about this series from Twilight fans, but let me make it clear that I have read the book series and seen the movies. I have also researched this topic for several of my college courses.


This is one of the worst things about the Twilight Saga. I could probably argue that I like werewolf Jacob Black better than vampire Edward Cullen, but that doesn’t make up for all of the things wrong with the werewolves in Twilight.

The first thing I want to point out is all of the werewolves in Twilight except for one are men. The werewolves are strong, supernatural creatures. If someone makes them angry, they are liable to shift into werewolves and hurt someone (probably a weak, powerless female).

Now the werewolves do an interesting thing where they imprint on a person. Imprinting is kind of like love-at-first-sight thing for werewolves. Once they see their soulmate for the first time, the person becomes the “center of their universe.” Although it is said that the woman has a choice, it’s contradictory because it is also said that it is apparently “impossible to resist that kind of love and devotion.” It’s also important to note that only the male werewolves have imprinted, and that some of the werewolves theorize that they imprint on the person that their genes are most compatible with, so they can create more werewolf babies (I guess this also means that all of the werewolves that imprint are heterosexual and werewolves don’t imprint on infertile women). Also disturbing is the fact that one werewolf imprinted on a two-year-old, and Jacob Black imprinted on a newborn.

This story truly bothers me: One werewolf (Sam) was in a relationship with a girl (Leah, who eventually turned into the female werewolf). Sam imprinted on Leah’s cousin, Emily. One day he got mad at Emily, transformed, and left her permanently disfigured. This is viewed as okay in the Twilight universe, and as a cautionary tale of what happens when you get a werewolf angry. This story is similar to instances where Edward physically hurt Bella—he threw her into a table in New Moon and at one point in Breaking Dawn she wakes up covered in bruises after they have sex. In both circumstances, violence towards a female is portrayed as okay as long as the male loves her and it is implied that women should not fight back when a male is violent towards her because women are weak and powerless. This is a dangerous message to send to the young girls who read Twilight.

 

 

Source:

http://www.alternet.org/sex/140132/vampires,_werewolves,_and_

 

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What do you think about the male dominance theme in the Twilight series? Let me know in the comments below.

The Twilight Saga: The Psychology Behind the Romance



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I expect I will get some flak about this series from Twilight fans, but let me make it clear that I have read the book series and seen the movies. I have also researched this topic for several of my college courses.

This series is a summary on my research, but I will be glad to share the full extent to anyone interested, including some of the articles I read on this theme.

Today’s topic gives a (very) brief overview on the psychology behind the Edward/ Bella and vampire/human romance.

Bella Swan is often criticized because she appears to have no life, thoughts, or interests outside of her love interest, Edward. Part of the reason why this may appeal to women is because there is nothing halfway about Bella’s love of Edward and his love for her. They have found complete meaning and fulfillment in each other. For adolescent girls who feel undesirable, the fantasy of such a love would be appealing.

A vampire would appeal to many women because modern vampires are portrayed as handsome, powerful, and wealthy. These characteristics send a signal to women that there is a high chance of a successful reproduction with the male. Because women are preprogrammed to respond to this, these vampires would be irresistible. There is also the underlying theme that “behind every jerk is a twisted, vulnerable guy.”

Sources:

Chen, Sophie. “Bloodlust.” Psychology Today Nov. & Dec. 2009: 18. Print.

Evans, Elrena. “There’s Power in the Blood.” Christianity Today (2010): 36-38. Print.

The Twilight Saga Enforces Gender Roles

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I expect I will get some flak about this series from Twilight fans, but let me make it clear that I have read the book series and seen the movies. I have also researched this topic for several of my college courses. This series is a summary on my research, but I will be glad to share the full extent to anyone interested, including some of the articles I read on this theme.

Today, I want to talk about traditional gender roles and how they relate to the main characters in the series: Edward and Bella.

Traditional gender roles cast men as strong, rational, protective, and decisive. Women are the opposite side of the coin—weak, irrational, nurturing, and submissive. In a patriarchal society, we have internalized these values and norms as important.

Another aspect of a patriarchal society is the “good girl” and the “bad girl” stereotype. The “good girls” are virginal, angelic, submissive, and gentle. The “bad girls” are violent, aggressive, worldly and monstrous. Our culture reinforces these stereotypes through media, gender roles, and even fairy tales.

Let’s talk about Edward. The characteristics strong and protective are a major part of his personality. As a vampire he is strong—physically and in personality. He is protective of Bella, going as far as to leave her “for her own good.” He is portrayed as rational because he does not let his hormones get the better of him, and he feels as if he knows what is best for Bella.

Bella is the stereotypical good girl. She is weak physically compared to Edward and Jacob. She is submissive— Edward holds his superiority as a vampire and her infatuation over her and she lets him. He tells Bella when they can kiss, what she can do while they kiss, when he will have sex with her, and when he will turn her into a vampire. Edward believes that Bella is completely irrational and doesn’t understand danger because she wants to be with him no matter what (she lets her love blind her) and she wants to have sex with him even though it could kill her. Bella is “nurturing,” and domestic. She is constantly seen cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping for her father. Also, she cannot become a vampire in the series until she marries Edward and has a child, thus taking her place in patriarchal society. Bella is also a virgin until she marries Edward. It wouldn’t be a stretch to believe that Edward and Jacob see her as angelic.

I invite you to think about this and keep reading for more articles about Twilight.

My source on gender roles:

Tyson, Lois. “Feminist Criticism.” Critical Theory Today: a User-friendly Guide. New

York: Routledge, 2006. 83-134. Print.

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What do you think about the Twilight Saga? Do you think it enforces gender roles? Let me know in the comments below.

The Twilight Phenomenon: An Introduction

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Happy Halloween! I thought I’d celebrate the holiday by posting a series on the Twilight Saga. After all, vampires and werewolves are Halloween-esque, right? Since it’s me, I’m going the intellectual route and talking about problems I see with the series.

When I posted about the Twilight Saga during banned book week, I told you why I don’t think the series should be banned and said that I would do a more in-depth post about issues I see with this series someday. I stand by what I said and here’s the promised series of posts.

I expect I will get some flak about this series from Twilight fans, but let me make it clear that I have read the book series and seen the movies. I have also researched this topic for several of my college courses.

This series is a summary on my research, but I will be glad to share the full extent to anyone interested, including some of the articles I read on this theme. Most of my sources were found through the University of Oregon libraries, so it may be difficult to find. I will link what I can though.

Today, I will give you some background information and a sneak peak on what is coming up this week.

The Twilight Saga is a cultural phenomenon. It has sold more than 85 million novels and the four books have spent a total of 235 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. The series has reached a wide, primarily female audience. This begs the question: Is it a good thing? What are these vampire romances teaching young girls, who are already at their most vulnerable?

Although women of all ages read the series, the biggest impact occurs in young girls around 10-16 years old. However, this information is important and a solid understanding of it can help adults and mentors explain why these are not healthy relationships.

Besides this post, the series will include:

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What do you think of Twilight? Let me know in the comments below.

Amy’s Bookshelf (Literally)

Since my blog is called “Amy’s Bookshelf,” I thought I’d give you a peak at my actual bookshelf.

Mind you, I have many bookshelves and books spread out on bookshelves all over the house. This is just the bookshelf that I have my unread books on (and some others).

Amy's Bookshelf

The books that I haven’t read are The Time Traveler’s Wife, Cosmopolis, A Wolf at the Table, Neverwhere, Shutter Island, Anna Karenina, The Vampire Diaries, and Scarlett. I’ve read the others: Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince, City of Glass, The Lost Symbol, Are Those my Basoomas I See Before Me (Oops, forgot that one was on there . . .  I was hoping to come across as an adult and not a 12-year-old. It’s the last book in the Confessions of Georgia Nicholson series that I started when I was 11), Meatless Meals for Working People, my book journal, Ordinary People, Gringa, and Skinny Bitch.

I’m currently reading Stephen King’s Under the Dome, so it has the place of honor on my nightstand.

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What’s on your bookshelf? Let me know in the comments below.

Banned Books: Conclusions & Food for Thought

Banned book week is over, and I want to leave you with some questions.

How many challenged books have you read (on either list)? Do you think that they should be banned from schools? Why or why not?

Another interesting thing to think about: What do you think of using Twitter hashtags to challenge banned books? It was done for Speak (another great novel).

Click here for my introduction to Banned Book Week.

Click here for my Twilight post.

Click here for my The Perks of Being a Wallflower post.

Click here for my To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye post.