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Before the Fall Book Review

I love me a good survival story.  Whether it’s surviving a zombie apocalypse, traveling the Alaskan territories, or hiking the Amazon trail, I get such a high from humans beating all the odds to ensure their own survival.

Why?  I have no idea.  I guess subconsciously I desire to go on my own daring adventures…risking the elements and taking my body to the limit in the face of ultimate danger.  So far, camping in a park is about as rugged as I’ve gotten…but there’s still time!

Recently I went on a little trip to visit my alma mater and, since it’s about a 7 hour drive up to Marquette, MI, I stopped at my library to pick up a story to listen to on the way.  I knew it would have to be something that would keep me interested during those looooooong hours driving up through Wisconsin…so I needed something exciting, enticing, and engaging…

TO THE THRILLER SECTION I WENT!

Since I’d be driving by myself through the backwoods of Michigan, I didn’t want anything too scary, so I settled on a story about a plane crash called Before the Fall.

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Little did I know that this would turn out to be such a gem in the realm of survival fiction…told with such fluidity and honesty that I completely found myself engrossed in this amazing tale of strength and the human condition.

On a foggy summer night, eleven people board a small plane departing Martha’s Vineyard, heading for New York.  Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane crashes into the ocean and most of the passengers disappear.  The only survivors are a down-on-his-luck painter named Scott Burrows and a young four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful family.

With chapters that weave between the aftermath of the tragedy and the backstories of the passengers and crew members, the reasons behind the accident begin to unfold…and as the media frenzy spirals out of control with false accusations and media outrage, the fragile relationship between the two survivors begins to grow and blossom…and truly is the beating heart of this story.

A unique POV story that gives almost every character a moment in the spotlight, Before the Fall aims to highlight the life of each passenger before they boarded that small plane from Martha’s Vineyard.  It puts into perspective how small events in their lives lead them to the pinnacle moment where most of them perished…and also highlights why Scott, a man who wasn’t even supposed to be on the plane at all, was one of the only ones to survive the horrific accident.

A bittersweet and tragic story about fate and human nature, Before the Fall is a spot-on novel about what humans – and the media – will do to survive.

 

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Thoughts I’ve Had Reading Harry Potter Again as a 30-Something – Part 2

The sole reason I love Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is Gildroy Lockhart.  He’s one of my favorite Harry Potter characters…you guys, I even got his card in my chocolate frog from Harry Potter World…this is not a joke.

So I was super pumped to dive back into Chamber of Secrets…and, per usual, Lockhart did not disappoint!

And since my random thoughts about Sorcerer’s Stone was so well-received (thanks, guys!!), I decided to continue tracking my thoughts of randomness as I dived into Chamber of Secrets.  If you missed Part 1, be sure to check out my article on thoughts I’ve had reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Now, without further ado…

Thoughts I’ve Had Reading Harry Potter Again as a 30-Something

Part 2:  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter - Chamber of Secrets

I wonder if Dudley ever got his pink tail removed…oh to be a fly on the wall during that examination…

How do Quidditch players practice Quiddich outside of school?

There is such beauty in the words used to describe the Dursley’s.

Dobby is like the Jar-Jar Binks of Harry Potter.  Yes, yes he is.
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Does the Weasley house look different to Muggles?  Cuz if I came across this house on a jog…I’d have some questions…

But I have to say…the first visit to the Burrow makes me wanna be a Weasley…

WHY WAS THIS DEGNOMING SCENE NOT IN THE MOVIE?

“Arthur Weasley, you made sure there was a loophole when you wrote that law…just so you could carry on tinkering with all that Muggle rubbish in your shed!”  Seems the Wizarding World is just as corrupt as the Muggle world!
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GILDROY LOCKHART!

What did Hermione do on the train when Harry and Ron were flying the car to Hogwarts?  Did she go compartment to compartment looking for them?

So what exactly happens when you ignore a Howler?
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“Why,” demanded Ron, seizing her timetable, “have you outlined all Lockhart’s lessons in little hearts?”
I still love this line and chuckle every time I read it.

Can we just stop for a minute and really consider how terrifying mandrakes are?  Like, really…
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So there’s no amazing spell that Hermione can do to fix Ron’s wand?  Nothing?  Could he at least pull a Hagrid and put the pieces of his wand into a cane or an umbrella or something?

So how do families with non-wizard blood, like Hermione’s for example, know about Hogwarts?  How did she know her letter from Hogwarts wasn’t just junk mail?

I wonder what else Hagrid has used his Engorgement charm on…
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“What’s that funny clicking noise?” called Fred, as they hurtled around the corner.
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So food appears out of nowhere in the Great Hall…but they still need Filch to clean and polish everything?  I mean, even Molly Weasley has cleaning spells in her house!
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I wanna go to a Death Day Party!

HOW DID GILDROY LOCKHART GET THIS JOB?

So Harry finds out he’s a Parselmouth and all the professors are just gonna let this go?  No one’s gonna say anything?  No?  OK, moving on…

Oh the innuendos in this book…
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So what are the rules with this Polyjuice potion?  How much of you REALLY changes?  Like, if Hermione wanted to turn into Harry, would she grow a penis?  And if she did, would she be able to…use it?  Would she have sperm?  Could she get someone pregnant?  Also, how much do you need for a full transformation?  What’s the equivalent of “1 cup” in the Wizarding World?  A goblet?  A toadstool?  A pically?  A flibbityjibbit?  Though, they are British so they probably use the metric system…ugh so many questions!

FURTHERMORE, since Harry and Ron had Crabbe and Goyle’s voice when they changed, wouldn’t Hermione have the voice of a cat after her transformation?
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Also, these kids had a MONTH to brew this potion…it never occurred to them to MAYBE investigate where the Slytherin common room was ahead of time?

“The moment their acne clears up, they’ll be ready for repotting again,” Harry heard her telling Filch kindly one afternoon.  “And after that, it won’t be long until we’re cutting them up and stewing them.”
But seriously…these mandrakes!  Messed. Up.

ARAGOG – AND THIS ENTIRE SCENE – IS LITERALLY THE WORST.
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How did NO ONE see the basilisk just slithering around the hallways of Hogwarts?  I know it moved around in the pipes…but it attacked people IN THE HALLWAYS OF THE SCHOOL.  How does this happen??

So…clearly these professors knew about the Chamber of Secrets – therefore knew about the basilisk – so why not just fill the school with roosters since their call is deadly to the snake?

OK, I know it’s revealed later that Percy was just making out with a girl, but can we talk about the phrasing here?  I mean…this certainly implies he was by himself…stroking his wand or whatever euphemism they have for masturbating in the Wizarding World:
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OOOOH SO THE FACE IN THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS IS SALAZAR SLYTHERIN’S FACE!!!  Don’t know how I missed that the first go-around.

“It’s our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
Smartest quote in this book.

 

 

Sometimes you just need a little fun in your life! Check back every week for a new “Just Bee-cause” post, where I discuss everything from celebrity news to favorite videos and websites!

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Orange is the New…Pink?

legally-blonde

“Whoever said orange is the new pink was seriously disturbed.”
Legally Blonde

 

Come back every Tuesday for “The Bees Knees”, where I post the best quotes from my favorite movies, TV shows, songs, and books.

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What Book Should You Read Based on Your Favorite FRIEND?

You know you’ve got one!  You may SAY you love all the FRIENDS equally, but we all have our favorites…by now you should know who mine is!

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Whether you’re more drawn to Chandler because of his clever one-liners or Phoebe because of her love of everything whimsy and imaginative, your top FRIEND choice can help dictate what’s next up in your reading list!

So no matter who’s been there for you when you needed them, if you’re still missing FRIENDS, you can get a little taste of your favorite TV BFF with this collection of FRIENDS-inspired books!

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If Your Favorite FRIEND is Monica friends frustrated courteney cox monica geller stressed GIF

Read The Joy of Cooking, by Irma S. Rombauer
cvr9780743246262_9780743246262_hrConsidered to be one of the best cookbooks of all time, The Joy of Cooking is a staple in the home of any food lover.  While most chefs probably have a copy stained with food and filled with crumbs, Monica’s is probably in pristine condition upon her shelf.

If Your Favorite FRIEND is Chandler tv dancing 90s friends happy dance GIF

Read Sh*t My Dad Says, by Justin Halpern
shitdadsezFilled with the best dad-isms you’ve ever heard, Sh*t My Dad Says is sure to be a little look into the future of Chandler Bing as a father.  Filled with amazing one-liners that even Chandler would be proud of, this collection of wit and humor couldn’t BE any better.

If Your Favorite FRIEND is Phoebe
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Read The Artist in the Office, by Summer Pierre
AITO_CoverThis inspirational and interactive book is great for all the Pheobe’s of the world…encouraging small acts of creativity to happen throughout the day, every day.  Take a picture of every coffee mug you see, take a lunchtime adventure, collect doodles and reassemble them…the possibilities are endless!

If Your Favorite FRIEND is Rachel
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Read The Glass of Fashion, by Cecil Beaton51UDgV-SMRLThe Glass of Fashion was written by iconic photographer, Cecil Beaton.  It explores the faces and models that shaped the golden age of fashion.  Filled with illustrations and personal stories about Chanel, Dior and Balenciaga, this is one book that Rachel would use as motivation and inspiration.

If Your Favorite FRIEND is Joey
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Read The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., by Adelle Waldman
The_Love_Affairs_of_Nathaniel_P._book_coverNate has it all…a rising career, his choice of beautiful women…but he’s constantly struggling with his own status anxiety and his search for what it really means to be happy.  An absorbing tale of women, sex and love, this is one book that Joey (hopefully!) wouldn’t have to throw in the freezer!

If Your Favorite FRIEND is Ross friends scream ross david schwimmer friends tv GIF

Read Jurassic Park, by Michael CrichtonJurassicparkThe ultimate in dinosaur fiction, Jurassic Park is a classic that Ross would surely have on his bookshelf.  Much different from the movie of the same name, the novel explores the science behind these dinosaurs…a topic Ross would probably love to discuss and argue about to anyone gullible enough to listen!

 

 

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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27 Inspiring Quotes by the Most Influential Women Authors

Feel the need to be inspired?  Check out these amazing quotes from some of the most influential women in literature.

What other quotes would you add to this list?  Comment below with your suggestions!

wuthering-heights-quote

“And, of course, men know best about everything…except what women know better.”
Middlemarch, George Eliot

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me.  I am a free human being with an independent will.”
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

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“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
– To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

frankenstein-quote

“If only we’d stop trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time.”
The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton

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“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are.  Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.”
We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

the-bell-jar-quote

“If thou must love me, let it be for naught
Except for love’s sake only.  Don not say,
’I love her for her smile—her look—her way
Of speaking gently—for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day–
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee—and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so.  Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity’s wiping my cheeks dry:
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love’s sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love’s eternity.”
Sonnets from the Portuguese, Elizabeth Barrett Browning

beloved-quote

“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them.  How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives.  To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”
Tiger Eyes, Judy Blume

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“…because in spite of everything, I still believe that people really are good at heart.”
The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank

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“She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.”
The Awakening, Kate Chopin

“Thinking has, many a time, made me sad, darling; but doing never did in all my life…My precept is, do something, my sister, do good if you can; but at any rate, do something.”
North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell

the-handmaids-tale-quote

“The world you desire can be won.  It exists…it is real…it is possible…it’s yours.”
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

little-women-quote

“The greatest wisdom doesn’t know itself.  The richest plan is not to have one.”
Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich

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“Sometimes we reveal ourselves when we are least like ourselves.”
Henry and June, Anais Nin

away-from-her-quote

“Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on.  Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone.  The world does not deliver meaning to you.  You have to make it meaningful…and decide what you want and need and must do.  It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world.  But that’s the deal:  you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags.  Finding an identity is easy.  It’s the easy way out.”
On Beauty, Zadie Smith

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Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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25 Fun Facts You Should Know: BOOK EDITION

With a history that dates back thousands of years, it should come as no surprise that the industry of book publishing is bursting with interesting facts and tidbits. From the longest sentence ever published to the first published novel, this collection of 25 Fun Facts You Should Know: Book Edition is sure to satisfy any bookworm!

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So grab a cup of tea, settle in under a cozy blanket, and have fun learning about the history of books!

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25 Fun Facts You Should Know: BOOK EDITION

According to Google, there have been 129,864,880 books published as of 2010.  Clearly that number is much higher today!

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The first book ever written with typewriter was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

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The most expensive book ever purchased was Codex Leicester by Leonardo Da Vinci.  It was purchased by Bill Gates for a cool $30.8 million.

“Bibliosmia” is the joy of smelling old books.

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One out of every eight letters you read is the letter “E”.

The longest sentence ever printed is in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.  It clocks in at about 823 words.

The average person reads at about 300 words per minute.

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J.R.R. Tolkien typed the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy with two fingers.

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The Harvard University library has four law books bound in human skin.

The longest book in the world is Remembrance of Things Past (A la recherche du temps perdu) by Marcel Proust.  It contains about 9,609,000 characters.

It takes an average of about 475 hours to write an average length novel.  Better get crackin’!

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Women buy about 68% of all books sold.

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There have been more than 20,000 books written about the game of Chess.

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The biggest book in the world is The Klencke Atlas.  It’s about 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide when opened.

In the United States, people buy an average of 57 books per second.

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It took Noah Webster 36 years to write his first dictionary.

The first book described as a best-seller was Fools of Nature by Alice Brown (1889).

Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed in film and television more than any other human character in literature.

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The Bay Psalm Book is the first book written in America…it’s also thought to be the most expensive book in the world.Image result for The Bay Psalm Book

Technically, the first novel ever written was The Tale of Genji in 1007, a work of Japanese literature.

Only about 2% of more than 1/2 million books published each year sell more than 500,000 copies.

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John Milton used 8,000 different words in his epic poem, Paradise Lost.

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The Bible is the world’s best-selling book.  It’s followed by Cervantes’ Don Quixote.

The world’s first eBook was a digital copy of The Declaration of Independence.

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Fluid Concepts And Creative Analogies: Computer Models Of The Fundamental Mechanisms Of Thought was the first book ever purchased on amazon.com.

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Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Thoughts I’ve Had Reading Harry Potter Again as a 30-Something – Part 1

A couple months ago, my sister and I got back from an epically splendiferious adventure to Harry Potter World Orlando.  We were completely immersed in the Wizarding World for three magical days.  We sipped butterbeer, got fitted for wands, and dined at The Leaky Cauldron.  We walked through Hogwarts, road the Hogwarts Express, and even took a walk through Gringotts Bank.  It was truly a wonderland for us Potterheads…and I still find myself daydreaming about how much fun we had on that trip.

Needless to say, I returned with a deep desire to jump back into the Harry Potter series.  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read Harry Potter, but since I’m now in my 30’s and considered an adult (boo), I tried recording some thoughts that popped into my head as I re-read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

I also decided to invest in the illustrated editions of the first two Harry Potter books (the third one is due out later this year!), so I’ve also included some beautiful illustrations from the book in case you haven’t seen how insanely amazing this book is…

Despite some of my commentary here, I have to say that I love this series even more now than I did when I first read it.  I think I have a deeper understanding for the language and the story now, and as a student of literature, I feel like I can better understand the depth of the characters and how 3-dimentional they were, even before the first movie came out.

The themes that softly hide under the bigger messages about friendship and bravery are what really make this series for me, particularly in Sorcerer’s Stone.  The Mirror of Erised chapter still remains one of my favorite parts of the series, and Dumbledore’s simple message, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live…”, has stayed with me since the moment I read it all those years ago.

Harry’s struggle to accept the fact that his parents are dead also hit me in a different way this time…as I felt like I could relate to Harry in a way I couldn’t before.  What I originally thought was an annoying quality in his character had morphed into something much more understandable this time around, and I found myself sympathizing with Harry, perhaps even relating to him.

I hope you enjoy these fun little thoughts that popped into my head as I re-read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone!  Stay tuned for part 2, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, coming soon!

Thoughts I’ve Had Reading Harry Potter Again as a 30-Something

Part 1:  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry Potter Collage-1

Why didn’t Hagrid tell Harry how to get onto the platform?

If Voldemort truly wanted to kill Harry, was a spell REALLY necessary? I mean he was one year old!

How did NO ONE see a whole slew of wizards running into a wall in the busy London underground?
platform

What is the point of bringing a toad to Hogwarts?
toad

Is there a deeper meaning to “Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!”? Am I missing something?  TO POTTERMORE!!  (the theories on this are a bit of a stretch…but interesting!).

How do they keep track of House Points? Are Professors responsible for keeping track of how many points they give and take?
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Can we just agree that the Remembrall is literally the most pointless invention ever?

Did Hermione rock out to The Spice Girls?

How can Harry be the greatest Seeker in a century and not be able to catch an envelope from an air full of envelopes?

I would just like to point out that in the illustrated version of Sorcerer’s Stone, you can see that there’s a beer shop under the bookstore.  This, IMHO, is brilliant.
flourish and blotts

Dumbledore: “And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death.”  Da-fuk kind of school is this?

The first-years were 11 when they just left their homes for like 8 months of the year. Did any first-years have separation anxiety from their parents?

Does Hogwarts have a fine arts program?

Why would anyone play Quidditch? Like, seriously…this game seems suuuuper deadly.

If every door in the castle can be opened with ‘Alohomora’, including the one with the 3-headed dog behind it, why do these doors even have locks on them? Take a lesson from Gringotts, guys!

Man, it takes a long time for this wizard trinity to become official friends.

I wonder if Ron and Hermione reminisce about the first time they met on the train…

The Mirror of Erised is still one of my favorite Harry Potter chapters.
mirror

Neville is adorable.

HOLD ON…Harry gets caught out of bed at night and gets 150 points taken away from Gryffindor AND has detention in the Forbidden Forest AND has to face Voldemort?? He only got 10 points for saving Hermione’s LIFE!  Someone NEEDS to sort out her priorities!

How does the Sorcerer’s Stone even work? How does it turn any metal into gold and produce the Elixir of Life?  Is this like a stone soup thing?

How did Quirrell survive with a face on the back of his face? How did he shower or sleep or poop?
quirrel

ALAS, EARWAX!!

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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