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Lion Hearted Girl

Media professional, shameless nerd, strident feminist. Rekindling my childhood passion for reading and loving every minute!

The stories we love best do live in us forever.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone  - J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets  - J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban  - J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire  - J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix  - J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince  - J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling

To say I am a part of the Harry Potter generation would be a bit of an understatement, however accurate. This series - released from when I was 7 until I was 17 - shaped a big part of my life and without wanting to sound too dramatic; I do feel that in part it has made me who I am today.

My Year 3 teacher began reading Philosopher's Stone to us in class. We would average maybe a chapter and a half a week if we were lucky. Eventually I got impatient and by the time Harry was at Hogwarts I had asked my parents to buy me the first two books. If I remember right we were actually at the Science Museum when we bought them. I wasted no time and in the café I found where we had gotten up to in class and began from there. I don’t remember how long it took me but I know that by the time we finished it in class I was most of the way through Chamber of Secrets.

I was big on books about witches and magic as a kid. I adored The Worst Witch books and wanted to be like Mildred Hubble. Many times in winter I would march around with my hair in plaits and my boot laces deliberately untied to echo my heroine. I wanted a broomstick more than you could imagine and seriously considered asking Santa for one (because I figured if anyone could get me a flying broomstick he could). For the moment I was content on the ones I made myself out of wrapping paper tubes, shredded paper, and more scellotape than was strictly necessary.

Prisoner of Azkaban came out in 1999 and I remember being at a friend’s house after school when mum came to collect me and had a copy each for us. I started reading as soon as I got home and I mostly remember reading it in a makeshift tent in our garden. I still recall the summer heat, lying on an old sleeping bag and discovering that Sirius was in fact on Harry's side. By this time we had moved to year 4 and we pestered our new teacher to carry on the tradition of reading it to us. We all cheered when Gryffindor won the house cup (although the fact that my teacher couldn't pronounce Quidditch correctly irritated younger me greatly).

That book character day I went as Hermione complete with stop watch time turner and a Garfield plush standing in for Crookshanks. It was still a huge novelty to me to have a main female character in a book that wasn’t blonde and immaculate. The description of Hermione with her long bushy hair and slightly too large front teeth fitted me pretty much to a t.

Goblet of Fire was released and while I couldn’t attend the midnight launches I sure as hell would be there for the shop opening at 9am. The book was the largest I’d seen but I carried it religiously to school, sitting it under my pencil case, sneaking a page or two when I could, and then reading it at home. I remember perching on top of my climbing frame, balancing the huge thing on my knees and ploughing my way through it. I wasn’t one of the ones to try to read it in less than a day because I valued sleeping and my parents wouldn’t let me. I wanted to savour it anyway. We got our year 4 teacher to start reading it to us as well but I don’t think we made it past the Quidditch World Cup, and after that we were too old to be read to. Cedric's death was a shock to me, I don’t recall reading books where characters had been murdered like that before and I knew things were getting serious.

With Order of the Phoenix came a delay in them being released and by that point I was heading into high school. It was far too big to carry and there wasn't much time to read so I had to keep it at home. I still struggled to sit with it up my climbing frame and I remember being a little taken aback by Harry's snappy behaviour. Luna became a new favourite and I was delighted to see more of Lupin and Siruis. I hated that Sirius had to die. He was one of my favourites, and it meant that Harry had no family any more.

Another gap and then the Half Blood Prince came out. Shorter than before but I don’t recall enjoying it as much because I really didn’t like Snape. Still don’t. I was a teenager by this point and my passion for reading had wandered a bit so I don’t remember much else other than being heartbroken at Dumbledore's death.

Deathly Hallows finally came out the year I left high school. I still went and got it at 9am and I eagerly took it home, terrified that Harry wouldn’t survive this one. I was however spoilt for some of the plot when I logged into msn to find a friend of mine had put a list of all the characters that had died into his status. I went off the handle at him because I was upset and taken aback - I hadn’t met someone before who didn’t like the series and I was disappointed that it was someone I cared about a lot being unkind.
My main memory of reading this one is when I was on a day out with the Samba band I was in. We were performing songs at the launch for the Rolls Rocye Drophead Coupe and between performances and checking out attractions with my friends I would sit on the floor in a corner and read it.

I was sad to see the series end. I wasn’t completely happy with the epilogue if I'm honest, but the overall conclusion was a good one.

I'm talking about the books rather than the films and that’s because for one thing this entry is too long, and for another I want to talk about them separately. If my conviction holds up this will be a blog trilogy of sorts. Fingers crossed!

His Dark Materials

Northern Lights  - Philip Pullman The Subtle Knife  - Philip Pullman The Amber Spyglass  - Philip Pullman

After many years I've finally gotten around to finishing this trilogy!

I first read Northern Lights when it came out, I must have been about 11 or 12. I remember struggling through it because it was a little above my reading level - although I was fiercely proud of my reading abilities and wouldn't admit it - and then trying to read The Subtle Knife. A couple of chapters in I gave up and I didn't really give it much thought after that, although I admit I don't like leaving something unfinished.


At the end of August I decided to give it another go, and I re read Northern Lights as I couldn't remember a thing about it. Almost immediately I regretted abandoning the series.

It is wonderfully well written. Truly a really enjoyable fantasy series. The style flows well, the characters go through a lot of development, and - most importantly for fantasy - it feels believable. You believe in all these worlds, in daemons and witches, in armoured polar bears, Dust, angels, harpies, the Authority, Mulefa, Gallivespians...everything feels completely natural in that universe. And you learn about it without having to sit through endless appendices, family trees or potted histories. The writing really drew me in and I became invested in every character. I think one of the best things was that with some you didn't know who you could trust, and even characters that appeared minor ended up playing big roles. I also enjoyed the fact that there were so many subtle twists and turns that I didn't know how it would end. Unpredictability is pretty much vital in fantasy I feel - you don't want to start a series and think "oh, this is just like Fantasy Novel #23456 that I read". But likewise you don't want to take your reader though so many plot twists that they get irritated and lose interest.


If you're into fantasy/sci-fi and you haven't read this series yet then I don't think I can recommend it enough. I regret not reading it sooner, although I was delighted to find something that I enjoyed so much! I almost wasn't expecting it as my memories of it were very hazy. So happy to have been proven wrong!


I feel I'm pretty poor at writing reviews, I don't do it often. Normally I put a star rating and leave it at that. I like talking about books with my friends though so I thought I'd give this a shot and hopefully I'll improve. Generally I don't have big deep and meaningful thoughts about books, I like them because I like them!

An introduction

I'm actually quite excited about all this. For some reason websites dedicated to the simple pleasure of reading books never fails to make me happy.


When I was a child I read all the time. I never went anywhere without a book in my bag and I'd sneak any time I could to read it. I can mark off my childhood in series and authors: Animal Ark, The Worst Witch, Animorphs, Harry Potter, Jaqueline Wilson, Diana Wynne Jones, The Princess Diaries...more than I can remember. Summers spent hiding away in the garden in a make shift tent, stuffing my suitcase full to go on holiday and sitting out on the balcony in the evening before dinner in order to get my fill.


Going to high school made it harder, you didn't really have designated reading time and for English lessons there were set books to study. Lunch times were taken up with sitting in the IT lab and discovering the wonders of broadband internet. That's not to say I didn't read, I discovered the Alex Rider and CHERUB series as well as The Wind on Fire trilogy. I tried to get through Lord of the Rings by doing my usual trick of reading more than one book at a time. Turns out the best way to read Tolkien is not 3 books at a time!

In my later teenage years I read a lot less and instead spend most of my time on the internet reading fan made Doctor Who, Ashes to Ashes, Merlin, and Sherlock stories. Gone was the habit of carrying a book at all times and soon the only time I was reading was during my lunch break at my Saturday job.


Slowly I did get back into it. BBC Sherlock made me read the Sherlock Holmes stories, The film of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy that came out in 2011 made me pick up the book which then in turn has got me reading all of John le Carre's books, and Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman got me to try non-ficiton. The first series in a few years that I couldn't physically put down was The Hunger Games - which was something I hadn't expected - and I read the trilogy in less than a week.


The main thing that got me reading again was the fact that after uni I got a full time job in London. For the first two months I commuted daily from Sussex which meant a 2 and a half hour train journey at either end of the day. I invested in a Kindle (even though for a while I was reluctant as I love having physical books) which was able to carry dozens of stories for me to pick and choose from. This also opened up another world to me; one where my author friends had been published but the books were e-books only rather than paperback. Suddenly I could read my friends work too! In the space of a couple of months I was back reading at full tilt again and I wondered why I'd ever left it behind. Yes it was fun to read stories about my favourite TV show characters, but this was so much better.


By the end of 2012 I had decided to plunge into George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series and I couldn't put them down! I'll do a post at a later date as to why I love it but needless to say this series got me back into fantasy in a big way. I've since read The Hobbit and re-read Lord of the Rings, and I'm now on the final book in His Dark Materials. I've also left my comfort zone and read three of the Call the Midwife books after watching the first series at the start of this year. I'm still making my way through John le Carre's extensive back catalogue, I finally sat and read Dracula which I LOVED, and at some point I'm hoping to tackle The Silmarillion!


My commute to work is now 40 minutes on the tube and I exploit every minute of it to sit with my nose glued to the pages. A tool I use to egg myself on is Goodreads' yearly challenge where you set yourself a target number of books to read in the year and then try to beat it. Last year my goal was 20 and I beat it by 1, this year it's 25 and with three months of the year left I'm already on 23.


If I was to sit here and wax lyrical about how much I love books and exactly why then this entry would turn into an essay, but I thought a potted history of my reading life would be a good starting point.


With this blog I would like to write about books I have loved reading, but with my discipline for public blogging being as poor as it is I can't promise that it'll be frequent!