Harry Potter, after “The End”

ThePotterFamilyI’m a Harry Potter fan at heart. Always will be. I mean, that story was … epic! So, imagine my excitement when I stumbled across this post through a friend on Facebook (who has her own blog by the way, Zemfrika Blogs) who shared this from BuzzFeed (you see how that whole networking thing works?). And I do need to give a shout out to Ellie Hall for this wonderful post!

Some of these events I was aware of, but others were a pleasant surprise. It’s always good to “peek” at those characters we’ve fallen in love with to see what they’ve been up to after “The End.”



Top 10ish Book Series Favorites

Every time I pick up a book that’s part of a series, an internal battle starts. I think I can handle it, I mean, it is just one book, right? Next thing you know, I’m engaged and in a long-term commitment–because sometimes that’s what it turns out to be.

The longest book series I’ve ever been committed to, fully invested in (and I know I’m not the only one), is the Harry Potter series, brought to us by the famous Ms. J. K. Rowling. Seriously though, that was a ten-year commitment.

With all the new book series emerging, I thought back to all the series I’ve read. Here are my Top 10 Favorite Book Series of ALL Time. Please keep in mind that these are series that has reached its end (with the exception of a couple and I’ll explain that when I come across it).

  • Dark Visions, by LJ Smith ~ It’s on my list because of two reasons: 1) It deals with various paranormal powers e.g. telepathy, telekinesis, physic and 2) It pursues another theory on vampirism.
  • The Blood Moon Series, by Connie Laux ~ I loved this series because it was different from the stories that were out circling the YA genre at the time of this one. This one deals with a magician and a twinge of native indian magic.
  • The All Souls Trilogy, by Deborah Harkness (ongoing) ~ This series still has one more book that is a work in progress with no release date yet. This was the first adult series that really intrigued me. So much so that after reading the first book I immediately flipped back to start at the beginning again. Brilliantly written. Ms. Harkness is a wonderful storyteller and she mixes the fantastical with realism in a way where you just have to question it.
  • The Fever Series, by Karen Moning ~ This was the second adult series that sucked me in and boy did I. Get. Sucked. In. This was the first story of its kind that I read. Moning deals with the Fae and their folklore and legends. It’s the first time since I’ve read been reading paranormal fiction that the Fae takes the spotlight. They’re usually in the background or behind the scenes. I’ve never came across a book, let alone a series, where it’s all about them. I loved it!
  • Encyclopedia Brown, by Donald J. Sobol (read all the books up until The Case of the Disgusting Sneakers when I lost track of the series) ~ This series is on my list because this is where it all started; my love for reading. Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective was the first book I ever checked out of the library and as you can see, it was a series.
  • The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins ~ I admired this story on so many levels. It’s the first I’ve read of its kind; a dystopian society that’s not sci-fi-ish. And the ethics and morals that Collins brings into focus is just amazing.

Okay, so it’s actually a list of twelve series, but that’s because two of them are still in the works and . . . well, I seriously had a hard time choosing. I mean, I can think of at least two more series that should be added to my list of favorites.

You know what? I’m just going to add them.

  • Queen of Babble Series, by Meg Cabot ~ This was the first series Cabot did for adult readers and I loved this one too. She sticks to her same style of writing that I love and it’s hilarious. I’m a big fan of Lizzie’s grandma! She rocks!
  • The Mortal Instruments, by Cassandra Clare (ongoing) ~ The final book–The City of Heavenly Fire coming out Sept 2014–such a long wait, but I bet it’ll be worth it. Clary and Simon, best friends for life. LOVE IT!
  • The Wicked Series , by Janet Evanovich (ongoing) ~ Okay, so I’m pushing it. Sorry! But Evanovich’s Lizzie and Diesel novels have been good so far. I admit, the two books that are out so far are quick reads, but it’s a cute storyline and the fact that it deals with SALIGIA is kinda cool.

I’m sure there are many more series that could be added, but I’ll stop here. If you have any to suggest, please do. I’m always open to reading something new.

Coming Soon: Checklist for Reviews: Books

I promise I’ll return soon to provide you with my checklist for Books. I’m almost done with it, but I figured I’d do a little PSA because it’s late and I need to get to bed! Until then . . .

Mankind’s fate: Overpopulation?

*** SPOILER ALERT *** This post may contain a few spoilers for Dan Brown’s newest book, Inferno, which is the continuation of the Robert Langdon saga. Proceed at your own risk (unless of course you aren’t bothered by spoilers =) ).

I’ve had the wonderful chance to read Dan Brown’s latest and greatest Robert Langdon novel, Inferno. What a novel! Firstly, I’ve enjoyed all of the Robert Langdon adventures because on some scale, they’ve touched on issues or topics that I’ve never quite heard of and each one individually caters to the conspiracy theorist in me. I was super excited when I saw Brown was release another book and instant put my name on the waiting list for the novel at our local library.

Secondly, let me just say this, that Inferno wouldn’t be my favorite of the series, but it most certainly is a good read.

What I liked most about it, and what I’ll be jabbering about in this blog post, are two issue Dan Brown introduces–transhumanism and overpopulation. Confused? Well, it’s a great theory. Brown’s character, Robert Langdon, adventures throughout Italy chasing down a madman’s quest to solve the issue of overpopulation. Since this madman was a Dante fanatic, his challenge of finding this deadly answer to man’s most complex problem of overpopulation, he uses Dante’s Inferno as the foundation of his scavenger hunt. And this madman is a transhumanist.

I’ve never heard of “transhumanist” prior to this story, but I was somewhat familiar with the theory. After researching it a bit more on Wikipedia, the definition of transhumanist actually takes us to the word transhumanism, which means using current technology to enhance and fundamentally alter humans intellectually, physically, and psychologically. It pretty much means taking humans to the next evolution by genetically altering our DNA makeup.

Of course there were several things that popped into my head when I read this definition and throughout my reading of Inferno. I immediately thought of the Nazis. And maybe transhumansim doesn’t relate to the Nazis at all, but I couldn’t help but think that they were trying to create the perfect race and since Jews didn’t fit the bill, they started “purging” their race. After thinking of the Nazis, I immediately thought of X-Men. I know right? But it was one of my favorite cartoons growing up and I remember thinking, even at that young age, “what if mutation was the next step in evolution?”

But then, who are we to play Creator? And as it’s mentioned in Inferno, evolution takes time and for a good reason. You’re talking about messing with DNA here. The tinest mistake can have huge, negative consequences. I mean, have you ever watched the movie “Sound of Thunder,” where the hunters stepped on a butterfly and caused the world to devolve? That’s what I picture when I think of this theory. I understand that modern technology is more more advance and that a part of me can see the reasoning behind the transhumanist movement, but to what extent? When is enough enough and how do you know when you’ve crossed that invisible line?

One portion of the story really hit me and it’s the second issue that Brown brought up. The female protagonist, Sienna, explains to our hero, Robert Langdon, Zorbists’ theory about overpopulation and how humankind will overpopulate our environment unless something drastic happens.  The text is subtle during her dialog, but it does raise the question “what would you do?” If the math is indisputable, we are overpopulating our world, what would you do  to fix it? The ethics and morals Inferno forces us to consider is . . .well, unimaginable. Seriously, what would you do? I don’t have the book in front of me so I’m going by memory, but I think Sienna states that 1/3 of the population is the number that the Earth’s resources can safely provide for. It’s amazing, and at the same time, unsettling.

Quite honestly, I don’t think I play God, even if I know the numbers are indisputable and even if I did have a solution to “manage” the earth’s population. Who am I to decide the fate of the world? Who am I to decide whether you live or die? Don’t get me wrong, I understand it. As Sienna mentioned, if it were all logical and no heart, what Zorbist proposed is merciful, but is it right?

And here lies the conflicts of the Inferno and the reason why I love Dan Brown and his Robert Langdon stories. He always questions some sort of moral or ethics and makes you consider your position. I’ve read some reviews that called Inferno boring and that Brown should retire Langdon, but I tend to disagree. Sure, Brown sticks to the same Langdon M.O. but the issues he addresses and the way he presents them always fascinates me and I’ll continue to recommend them to everyone.

Through the Keyhole with Kym Grosso

As I stumble along this path to develop, and hopefully achieve some structure and contentment with writing publicly, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to connect with Kym Grosso through a mutual friend.
BLog_ThroughTheKeyhole-KymGrossoKym is the author of the erotic paranormal romance series, The Immortals of New Orleans. The series includes Kade’s Dark Embrace (Immortals of New Orleans, Book 1), Luca’s Magic Embrace (Immortals of New Orleans, Book 2) and Tristan’s Lyceum Wolves (Immortals of New Orleans, Book 3).
In addition to romance, Kym has written and published several articles about autism, and is passionate about autism advocacy. She writes autism articles on Psychology Today and Autism In Real Life. She also is a contributing essay author in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Raising Kids on the Spectrum.
It was an honored privilege of seeking an insider’s view to writing.
Through the Keyhole: Kym Grosso
411Junkie:  It seems that most authors didn’t know they wanted to be a writer growing up. It’s something they sort of tell into.  Have you always wanted to be an author or is it a profession you sort of fell into?

Kym: I had always wanted to write a book, but I don’t think that is the same thing as considering yourself a writer.  I didn’t consider myself a writer until a few years ago when I started submitting autism articles and was published in a magazine.  Then, I was like, “Hmm…maybe I can write.”  But even then, I was focused on writing non-fiction articles not romance novels.

411Junkie: I’ve always wondered how an author choose the story they want to tell.  What made you decide to write a story and what made you decide to tell the story of the Immortals of New Orleans?

Kym: As far as writing romance, I actually started to write a book about autism, but I seemed to have a block on where to go with it.  I love, love, love reading paranormal romances.  So I just decided one day that I wanted to write a romance instead.  In March 2012, I published Kade’s Dark Embrace, the first book in the Immortals of New Orleans series.

411Junkie: How did you pick this genre? Was it something you always wanted to write about or was it an idea that sort of went in that direction?

Kym: As an author, there is something creatively freeing when you write about vampires, werewolves, witches, etc. In a paranormal romance, characters are open to all kinds of experiences that are only limited by the author’s imagination. They have supernatural gifts and talents, and the rules of game can be anything you want them to be. And of course, there is nothing sexier than a hot alpha male vampire…well, except for, perhaps, a hot alpha male wolf.

411Junkie: And the supernatural. What made you decide to focus on the supernatural?

Kym: I’ve always liked the supernatural genre.  Give me a scary movie or TV show any day of the week.  As far as books, I love reading paranormal romance, contemporary romance, mystery and even a good non-fiction book every now and then.  It is great to sit down and literally escape into another world for a few hours.  I wanted to write something that I would love to read, so I wrote paranormal romance.

411Junkie: I’ve always been fascinated by the supernatural and I love the world you created with this story: where the supernatural lives amongst the “normal.” How did you come to that decision?  I’ve never considered or read a story where the author brings the supernatural to the “normal” plane where there’s a police force type unit for the supernatural. I’ve been trying to think of one and I can’t.

Kym: I think in most paranormal romances there has to be a decision made about whether or not humans know and/or accept the supernatural beings.  That is the fun part about writing, though.  As the author, you get to make up your world as you see it.  My stories focus on romance and action, so I made a decision integrate the two worlds.  But that’s not to say it always works out for the humans or supernaturals.  So far, it has been the evil supernaturals preying on humans and other supes, but there could be a role reversal at some point.

411Junkie: How did you decide on New Orleans as the main back drop?

Kym: I live in Pennsylvania, so my books are sometimes set in the Philadelphia area as well.  For example, Tristan’s book is actually set in Pennsylvania, but he’s from New Orleans.  The Big Easy Orleans is one of my favorite places and makes a great setting for romance novels.  From its beignets to its rich history, we enjoy spending time there.  We’ve done the haunted history/Voodoo tours, eaten lots of Cajun and Creole seafood dishes, drank a hurricane (or two) and walked the French Quarter for hours.  On one of our many visits, we attended a vampire ball on Halloween, and I wore an exquisite party mask.  It was an amazing experience.

411Junkie: What is your favorite supernatural element, monster, or the like and why?

Kym: Up until Luca’s book, I would have said vampires.  So mysterious, dark and sexy.  But after writing Tristan’s book, I simply love wolves.  It’s great to read and write about strong, alpha males who ooze sex appeal, making you want to howl into the night with them.

411Junkie: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors/writers?

Kym: I would tell them that if they want to write a book or articles, they need to write, but also publish their stories/blogs/books.  It gets you in the habit of writing, editing, receiving feedback, etc.  The more you write, the more comfortable you are in your own skin, so to speak.  If you are writing non-fiction, like I do with autism, write what you know and write from the heart. There is no doubt that it can be a little scary putting yourself out there.  

Keep writing.  Have faith.  I’m a newbie, but I know this much, writing books is a journey not a lap around the track.   So as Dory from Finding Nemo said, “Just keep swimming.”


Kym lives with her husband, two children, dog, cat and guinea pig. Her hobbies include autism advocacy, reading, tennis, zumba, traveling and spending time with her husband and children. New Orleans, with its rich culture, history and unique cuisine, is one of her favorite places to visit. Also, she loves traveling just about anywhere that has a beach or snow-covered mountains. On any given night, when not writing her own books, Kym can be found reading her Kindle, which is filled with hundreds of romances.

Author web links: (web, blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads, etc)
·    Website: www.KymGrosso.com
·    Email: Kym.Grosso@AutismInRealLife.com
·    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KymGrossoBooks
·    Twitter: @KymGrosso
·    Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5785692.Kym_Grosso

[411 Toolbox:] GoodReads, A Booklovers Best Friend

“Can you print out a log of everything I borrowed in the past month?,” is a question that I am asked at least once a day by library patrons.  I am a booklover–plain and simple. As a booklover, I love to keep track of what I’ve read or what I’d like to read so I can reference it in the future. I’ve always done this, more or less, but I never realized the value of this until I started working at the library. Regrettably, our system doesn’t keep a running log of everything a patron has read, which makes me grateful for my membership at GoodReads. GoodReads is a must-have membership for all booklovers and I highly recommend getting it if you don’t already have it.

GoodReads is basically a all-in-one for all booklovers. Membership is free and at no cost you can look up books, look up authors, keep track of books you’ve read, keep track of books you’d like to read, and so much more! I mean, it’s everything a booklover could hope for!

Here are a few reasons I use GoodReads:

1) It helps me keep a reading log.
There are two shelves I use often: Currently Reading and To-Read
With the “currently reading” shelf, I can keep track of books that I’m reading as well as my progress. Yes, you can update your progress on the book by page or location or percentage for Kindle users. You can comment on your progress and share it through Twitter or Facebook. I really love this feature and use it often to share my progress with friends on Facebook and Twitter. It’s helped me meet many new people.
With the To-Read shelf, it does exactly as it says: keeps a log of books I want to read. And what’s really neat is I use this feature with the scanning feature–more on this later.
GoodReads does have a “Read” shelf that keeps a  log of all the books you’ve read and it does track dates. So when you’re finished with a book, from your “Currently Reading” shelf you can update it’s status to “Finish reading” and it will automatically move your book from Currently Reading to Read and tag it with the date you finished.

2) It helps me meet new people.
Social Media is the biggest thing on the internet today and GoodReads fits right into this community. It has a Facebook feel where you can meet other people and “friend” them on GoodReads. This allows me to view other people’s profiles, bookshelves, and updates. I find this very beneficial. The fact that you can meet cool people, and many authors, appeals to me. I’ve made some really cool friends through this community of booklovers–including authors.

3) It’s an app!
Because apps are a big things with smartphones, I am happy to report that GoodReads has an app. From my iPhone I can use all the features of GoodReads as well as a few more things. The app has a feature that I’ve found so useful, especially since I work in a library, and has made my membership with GoodReads even more valuable. It allows me to scan books. With my iPhone app, I can tap on “Scan” and scan the barcode on the back of the book to search for it on GoodReads. When found, I can pull up the book summary, what my peers have rated it (5-star rating system), and even add it to any of my shelves instantly.

There are so many other features that GoodReads offers, but to list them all would make a rather lengthy blog entry. The reasons I mentioned are the main reasons I’ve used GoodReads for over a year and have not been disappointed at all. I can’t really think of any negatives about it, honestly. It exceeds all of my expectations and fits my needs perfectly. I’d recommend this free service to all booklovers and fellow fans of reading.

Edited: 03 April 2015