Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Redhunter

The Redhunter by William F. Buckley, Jr. was a mixed bag for me. Overall, I enjoyed the story, which was about the life of Joe McCarthy. But despite the fact that Buckley is one of the founding fathers of the modern day conservative movement and I should really like him, I just don't care for his writing style. He's very dry and somewhat stuffy, and Ryan described him well be calling him "bland." I read somewhere that he always edited in his head and never edited once he put something in writing. Although I actually tend to write this way, with him I feel like he really needs an editor. He also just needs some spice. He somehow managed to make what should have been an exciting story and make it boring. About halfway through I just stopped caring what happened. He also seemed to expect you to already know some of the historical figures, even the minor ones. He also: overuses the colon. And uses it: incorrectly in my opinion. Like that. I've never seen so many colons in one book before, and 90 percent of the time a comma or dash would have been more appropriate, or even no punctuation at all. It got to the point of being distracting.
The novel also has a fictional side story, focused on Harry Bontecou that would be more appropriate in a soap opera than this type of novel. Since I doubt any of you will read this, I'll spoil it for you. Young Harry manages to sleep with and fall in love with his sister. They don't realize this, but it happens. And their father lets it go on for a few months before putting a stop to it. Really? It's an unbelievable situation, and then what kind of father lets that continue? She could have gotten pregnant during that time. What would he do then? Ugh.
The one interesting thing I learned from the novel was about McCarthy's downfall. McCarthy was right that there were Russian spies and sympathizers working for the government, and 1,400 people were let go from federal positions after others began conducting investigations. But for some reason he gets a bad rap as being completely wrong, and people incorrectly connect him with the House Un-American Activities Committee and the blacklisting of Hollywood figures, despite the fact that he wasn't in the House and couldn't have served on that committee and had nothing to do with it or the blacklisting of anyone in Hollywood. He was entirely focused on federal employees, especially those within the State Department and the Army who could do severe damage to the U.S. According to this book though, he became an alcoholic, gambled, didn't exercise very good judgment, and was just not very nice. He wasn't very likable, so he turned potential allies away and made it easy for his name to be smeared in the mud. After writing this post, I've realized maybe it wasn't a mixed bag. It was just plain disappointing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Matthew Pearl Commented on My Post!!!

Really! Check out the comments for the last post. Now, I realize it might be his publicist or something, but I'm going with it being the real deal. He calls me a "thoughtful reader"!!! That's crazy! I can't believe a New York Times best-selling author read my blog post. I'm looking at my copy of The Dante Club and it has a quote from Dan Brown on the cover! Dan Brown people! Pearl doesn't need my little blog post. It's a great quote, "Matthew Pearl is the new shining star of literary fiction...with an immense gift for intricate plots." I mentioned The Dante Club in the last post, but probably didn't make it sound too wonderful since I just said I really liked it, but then mentioned the gross part.
It's about, well, the Dante Club - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, and J.T. Fields. Longfellow translated Dante's Divine Comedy (and Pearl edited the Modern Library edition of that translation). Murders begin occurring in Boston based on the Inferno, and the Dante Club has to solve the case. Again, you get a great mystery, historical fiction, and Dante all rolled into one. It's great!
I picked this book up originally because of the title. I read the Divine Comedy in college, and I wanted to see if it had anything to do with that Dante. You see fan fiction of Jane Austen's works all the time, but you don't usually see that sort of thing for Dante. Most people hated that part of Civ, even some of my fellow English majors, but I loved it. I've always been fascinated by Catholicism, even though I'm Baptist and the two don't usually mix. A part of me really likes the idea of purgatory and the levels of Hell. It's more logical than the way we Baptists think of things, but I actually think that's a point in our favor. No human would design a system where all sins are treated equally. But I digress. This book was interesting because it was a murder mystery, but it was high brow and literary and had an entertaining story. In a lot of mysteries, you don't really care about the characters. You care only about the plot. Pearl's stories give you both.
As a side benefit, the book made me enjoy my trip to Boston last year more. Pearl also does a good job of making you feel like you're physically there with the characters, so I felt like I recognized some of the city. That didn't keep me from getting lost a few times though. When you're in Boston, it's fun to pretend you're back in this time period. I was amazed at how easy it was to walk around Boston. Cars really were secondary, and I felt completely safe even though I was traveling alone.
Anyway, there's a review of The Dante Club for you. I will have to go buy The Poe Shadow now because Matthew Pearl told me to read it! And I don't think when an author tells you to read his book he means to check it out from the library. I will have to limit myself to only buying this book - I swore I would stop my obsessive book-buying habit until the end of the year. It's hard though. While I love the library, I feel bad not buying the books and supporting the authors. I'm trying to mainly pick up books that I wouldn't usually buy, or that I might buy at a library book sale but not at full price. Anyway, go check out Pearl's books! You won't regret it. Just don't read this one in the vicinity to bugs.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Last Dickens

I picked up The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl because I loved his The Dante Club even though it features one of the most disgusting, graphic scenes I've ever read. Picturing being eaten alive by maggots and flies is not appealing, and he covered it in minute details. And I read it alone in a hotel room, which wasn't super comforting. But I liked the book anyway and I love Dickens, so I jumped for this one. It's about The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the book left unfinished when Dickens died.
Many publishers desired the full book in order to make money. One of them, James Osgood, decides to track down any information he can about how Dickens intended to end the book so that his publishing house could have an exclusive angle that the pirated copies of the books wouldn't have. He ends up caught in not only that mystery, but tangled in the mystery of opium trade and the real life Edward Trood. The book was complete fascinating. I love historical fiction. Pearl teaches literature at Harvard and Emerson College, so he knows what he's doing with the facts. Then he weaves this wonderful story of what could have happened on top of it. I was surprised to learn so much about the publishing world of the 1870s and the opium trade, but enjoyed those elements as well. I also thought it was fitting that Pearl write about this specifically, because since Dickens did leave Drood unfinished, readers are left to guess the end of the tale themselves. Did Drood come back alive? Or was he dead? Pearl basically wrote his own ending by writing this book. It made me sad that we rarely anticipate books the way they did back then. Many books came out in serial format, including Drood. So five installments were already printed when Dickens died, and another installment after his death. People were desperate to know how it ended. When his The Old Curiousity Shop was published, readers were left on edge not knowing if little Nell lived or died and they eagerly anticipated ships from England bringing in the next installment. I'm glad that with things like Harry Potter and Twlight some of that excitement and anticipation lives on. I think that's one of the other reasons I like series so much. The anticipation of what happens next is half the fun. That's probably another reason why I like soaps too, although they don't seem to do cliffhangers quite like they used to. Anyway, I recommend The Last Dickens for anyone who likes mysteries, historical fiction, or Dickens.

She Went All the Way

She Went All the Way is another book by Meg Cabot. Once again, Cabot delivers an entertaining, fluffy novel that is fun to read. I really Cabot because she's funny and her books are always fun. They are pure entertainment, a temporary escape from the real world. Her characters always succeed in drawing me in. I care about them, I like them, I become part of their world. Although I did have to put up with Ryan making fun of the title of this one.

This novel, in addition to the requisite romance, was also a mystery. Who is trying to kill famous movie star Jack Townsend? He and screenwriter Lou Calabrese survive a helicopter crash only to be pursued by killers on snowmobiles. Realistic? Um, no. Fun and entertaining? Definitely. For some reason, I really love those stories that start out with two characters hating each other and them falling in love. I don't know why. I just do. And this book had that element too, in addition to the Hollywood and action movie elements. It's a great book to take your mind of things for a while.

That's Not Exactly Amore

That's Not Exactly Amore is the the third and final book in the series by Tracey Bateman. It wasn't as good as Catch a Rising Star, but was better than You Had Me at Good-bye. I mentioned in my post about the second book that this book is about Laini, who should be a baker/caterer and is instead trying to follow a misguided dream of being an interior designer. I thought I would get really frustrated with her, but actually I kind of understood how she was missing what was right in front of her. We often look at things we're good at and assume we couldn't be fortunate enough to make a living doing that. She just saw her baking and cooking as a hobby and had to have someone help her see that it could be a career too. She's a much less frustrating character than Dancy, although she does have some of the same inabilities to say what's really on her mind. And she's 30 years old and still goes home to her mom's every weekend - the entire weekend. Now, I see my family every Sunday, but I don't go spend the entire weekend with them. It's kind of weird. And she says that she won't even think about kissing a guy until the third date about 50 times. Now I understand wanting to teach good morals and everything, but she just started to sound like a loser. That's something you want to teach your teenager daughter, but it sounds slightly ridiculous for a 30 year old grown woman. You probably know by the end of the first date if he's worth dating and kissing. And you're not going to be struck down by lightening for kissing a guy on the first date. Just my opinion. Still, it was refreshing to read something where the characters weren't sleeping with someone on the first date. But, I just think that kind of overdoing it makes Christianity sound unappealing to non-believers.

Friday, August 21, 2009

You Had Me At Good-bye

You Had Me at Good-bye is a follow up to Catch a Rising Star by Tracey Bateman. It was disappointing. In the first book, the main character lived with her two best friends. This book is about one of the friends. Who has a really stupid name. Dancy. What the hell kind of name is Dancy? It's awful. Change one letter and make it Darcy. Although Dancy is probably a good name for such a pansy character. Now, the main character in Catch a Rising Star was a bit of a wimp until the end. I shouted at her a few times, but I liked her so I forgave her. But having two characters with the same superwimp, I'm a doormat please just walk over mentality? No. It just got annoying. I didn't root for her. I wanted her to grow a backbone or just let someone run her over for good and be done with it. I think the author is trying to show that going to church and becoming a stronger Christian gives you more strength and more of a backbone, which is wonderful, but she did in a way where I had stopped caring long before that happened. I did think that was interesting though. You read a lot of stories, or really hear people say, that being a Christian means being weak, so it was nice to see the opposite, but this was not an effective way of doing it I'm sorry to say. I'm still going to power through the next one, about the third girl, but I already know I'm going to want to shake her by the time I'm done. She quit her lucrative job as an accountant to go back to school for interior design, which she's terrible at, not seeing that her perfect career is right in front of her with her love and ability to cook and bake and her friendship with a coffee-store owner who starts selling some of her goodies. I want to kick her and tell her to give up the interior design dream and go cook, but I'm going to read the book anyway because it's a series and I feel compelled to finish it.

Pandora Gets Jealous

So after reading Atonement I needed something a little lighter and went for Pandora Gets Jealous. It's a young adult book by Carolyn Hennesy. Carolyn has a role on General Hospital, my favorite soap (even though it sucks right now and One Life to Live has better stories at the moment even though it's uneven). Her character, Diane, is hilarious and I knew she was also a trapeze artist, which I think is interesting, so I thought I'd give it a try. It takes place in ancient Greece and is about Pandora, of box fame. Pandora is the 13-year-old daughter of Prometheus, a Titan who brought fire to man. He's also the keeper of the box of evils that becomes Pandora's box once she opens it. Pandora takes the box to school one day for a project and it accidentally opens. Hera cooks up a plan for her to have to return all of the evils to the box within six months or her whole family will be tortured forever. So she and her two best friends set out to save the world. It's full of gods and mythical characters and real places. I love that I can see how a young girl would love it for the story and because Pandora seems like a regular 13-year-old girl, but they're learning all this stuff at the same time that hopefully spurs an interest in ancient Greece. Even if it doesn't immediately, how great is that some of the names would stick in their minds and then when they get to college, and maybe a little in high school, they remember these names as characters from a book they loved? It might make reading some of the ancient works and history more interesting to them.

I also just really thought the book was funny. She did a bunch of things like have them say "oh my gods!" And it was impressive how real she made Pandora, and made her where (I think anyway) modern girls could identify with her worries about her looks, if a boy likes her, looking stupid in front of the school, being popular. This is a series where she'll recapture one evil a book. Up next will be vanity once I go get the book from the library.


I have a love/hate relationship with this book. I read Atonement by Ian McEwan last weekend. It was one of those books I never really had an intention of reading. I enjoy literature, but most modern literature is pretentious liberal BS. But it was the next book in covered in The Reading Group, so I gave it a try. When I read the jacket flap, I actually got excited about reading it. It sounded like a great story. And I enjoyed the first little bit, but then two things happened. One was that the beginning had eerie commonalities with I Capture the Castle. Not in the whole plot, but in setting, character, atmosphere, and plot pieces. That bugged me because it was a lot of similarities, not just two or three. Three siblings (two girls and a boy)living in a castle/giant English manor, servant boy falls in love with one of the girls, eccentric family members, a virtually absent father, newcomers interrupting the family dynamic, etc. The other thing was that it seems that McEwan likes to read his own words the same way some people like to hear themselves talk. When a sentence will do, he gives you three paragraphs. When a paragraph will do, he gives you three pages. Ugh. If the first 150 pages were condensed to about 50, this would be an excellent, excellent book. I wasn't sure how I was going to make it through the whole thing, the dense, redundant, trying to be philosophical text, but once part one ended, everything picked up. I loved the rest of the book, which was odd since part two is all about the war, which usually doesn't interest me. I found that whole section fascinating, and since Robbie was the only character who I didn't want to kill for being horrendously annoying in the first part, I was glad to see him narrating the entire section. I cared about what happened to him, and through that began to care what happened to Cecilia. And I enjoyed part three even though I hate Briony. Passionately hate her. Imagined her dying wonderful deaths kind of hated her. I hated that she thought she could atone for her sins by just writing them down, like that makes everything okay. But then I thought about how I do that. When something goes wrong, I write. The one thing I truly regret in my life and would go back and change - I write about it. I see myself trying to receive atonement by putting pen to paper (or hands to keyboard), but I know that can't fix anything. It can take guilt out of your mind, at least temporarily. And it can help you visualize what you would do differently, tell your story so you don't do it again, figure out what went wrong. This book stuck with me all week. That's something a lot of books don't do, even good ones. I suppose that makes this a great book, even though I still have a love/hate relationship with it. I would recommend it though, and say that getting through part one is worth it in the end.

Also, I really loved this quote by Robbie, who wants to become a doctor: "he would be a better doctor for having read literature." I loved that quote, no hating involved! You can be a better anything for having read literature.

Monday, August 17, 2009

I Capture the Castle/Lost in Austen

In following along with the book club reading, the next book was I Capture the Castle. I've read this book several times and happened to just rewatch the movie recently, so I decided not to re-read it right now, but I wanted to mention it. It's an excellent story by the author of 101 Dalmatians, Dodie Smith. It's about a family in 1930s England living in this decrepit old castle. The characters are all a bit (or a lot) eccentric. It's a coming of age story about a girl named Cassandra. It's also about how love doesn't always work out right. You sometimes fall for the wrong person, or maybe they're almost the right person but they don't love you back, or a wonderful person is in love with you but you aren't in love with them. It's messy, and not everything works out neatly in the end. It's more of a Bronte sisters love story than a Jane Austen love story. Actually, it has a lot in common with the Brontes - creepy old settings in large houses, families who were once rich but have fallen from grace, odd characters. It's quite wonderful.
I also wanted to mention a wonderful literary-related movie I saw recently - Lost in Austen. It's perfect for anyone who has ever fallen slightly in love with Mr. Darcy. Elizabeth Bennett finds a doorway to modern England, which leads to a modern girls apartment. They trade places and the girl ends up in Pride and Prejudice. It's hilarious. And it's wonderful that they got all of the characters right - they're just they way I pictured them in the book. What's interesting seeing it play out with her there though is you change your impression of some characters. It's quirky, but wonderful.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Those Who Save Us

After all the fluff I've been reading, I went with two meatier books this weekend. The first is Those Who Save Us, which I started a few days okay but was having trouble getting in to. It's not really one of those books you can pick up and read a chapter and then make dinner and read another chapter while thinking about what all you have to do tomorrow. But I focused on it yesterday and it was wonderful. It was hard to read though. Not hard to read in the Shakespeare sense, but just because the content was very heavy. It's about a German woman during World War II who falls in love with a Jewish man, and about their daughter who grew up in America and has the mistaken impression that her real father was a Nazi officer. It's told through both women's perspective's, going back and forth in time. The daughter starts remembering some of thing things that happened when they were in Germany, but doesn't realize they are actual memories, and it's interesting to see her blurry memories juxtaposed with her mom's story that's being told as it happens. All of the mom's story is difficult to read, the loss of her love, living in true poverty, constant terror, making choices that you wouldn't normally do, but that you do because it's the only way to save your daughter. And the daughter's story is difficult too, because she's carried this guilt about who she thinks is her father, and she's not sure what her mother's thoughts on the war and the situation were because she won't talk about it. The whole story is hard because it makes you see these horrible things that happened, but they are horrible things that are more within our realm of imagination. It's difficult to read about concentration camps, but I think to some extent they are so hard for us to picture that our minds can't quite grasp the full horror, and we think nothing like that can happen again. The horrors that the mom goes through hit a little closer to home. It's easier to picture the things that happened to her happening to you than being sent to a concentration camp. Getting through the difficult parts was worth it though. It was a great story with very real characters, and it makes you think about how insignificant your problems are in comparison, which is always a good thing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Catch a Rising Star

Despite the fact that I usually try to read books that are at least semi-intelligent, I sure am a sucker for a candy-colored spine. That's what made me pick up Catch a Rising Star by Tracey Bateman. Then I looked at the back and saw the words "soap star" and was hooked. It's about a former soap star who gets her job back. As a soap fan, I was sucked in immediately. I knew I would like the soapy elements, but what surprised me was that this is actually a Christian book. A Christian book about a soap star? Yep. It was partly about her struggle as a Christian to be on the soap and in that world and yet remain true to her faith. It was done in what I felt like was a realistic manner. She wasn't completely against sex scenes (I don't see how you could be and be on a soap!), but she confined them to her on-screen husband. She made compelling arguments about the character and why that makes sense. It also addressed how other church-goers viewed her being on the show, and how some of them watched it but wouldn't admit to it in public. That's kind of funny nowadays since soaps are actually cleaner than your average TV show or movie. It was also about finding love (of course) and dealing with all of the backstage drama at the soap. There are two more books that are about her best friends that I can't wait to read.

Side note on why I like soaps: they have great stories! Or are supposed to anyway. The writing on some has not been stellar recently. But my Grandma always refers to them as her "stories" and that's what they are. They're an ongoing story in a way that most shows just aren't. You connect with the characters, who are there day in and day out every day for years, even decades. You come to know them and love them, and you care about what happens to them. With prime time shows, half of the time they get cancelled after the first season or so and it's like you wasted all this time getting invested and it's just gone. Plus, most of the time anyway, they have actual story arcs, not just big plot points with a little bit of filler (although that happens sometimes). Lost and Grey's Anatomy are two of the few prime time shows that actually have story arcs, where you actually feel like you're watching a story unfold. That's why I like soaps.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


I started reading The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble, which is about a group of women in a book club. I decided to read the books they're reading along with them. First up is Heartburn by Nora Ephron. I loved this book! Which is interesting, because there are actually a lot of reasons to not really like the main character, or most of the other characters, and there's not a lot of plot. But I loved how she writes. It's like a sort of stream of consciousness, but with complete sentences and punctuation and paragraphs. The main character talks to directly to the reader, like she's there next to you talking to you instead of you reading the book. You end up feeling like her best friend, even though you sometimes want to scream at her. She also sprinkles recipes throughout the book. The main character is a cookbook author, so that makes sense, and again it makes it read more like stream of consciousness. I don't normally like that, but it was great here. I can see how Nora Ephron because a screenwriter. Her writing style lends itself to the screen because it sounds more like a conversation. She writes the way people talk, even when she's not writing dialogue.
What I did not enjoy is the high number of affairs in this book. There are a ton of books that center around affairs. They make it seems like it's the odd marriage indeed where there's not at least one affair at some point. That's just depressing, and not true. Or maybe it is true in NYC and LA, where these people tend to live. And I suppose happy stable marriages aren't that exciting to write about it. But this book just made it really seem like every marriage has an affair some time. And it took forever for the main character to stand up for herself, although the pie scene was great.
Interesting sidenotes: She wrote When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, two romantic comedies that are actually good. And she wrote the screenplay for Julie and Julia. Huh. I just looked her up, and apparently she was married to Carl Bernstein, the Watergate reporter, and found out he was cheating on her with a married friend when she was pregnant with their second child. Now that sounds extremely familiar! Also, she told anyone who would listen that Deep Throat was Mark Felt, but no one listened apparently. But she was right! Also, the main character is Jewish, and brings that up repeatedly. It's one of the two books I mentioned in the last post.

Certain Girls

I had just started reading Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner when a friend happened to ask if I had ever read because she wanted to talk about the ending. I told her it was funny she asked, because I had just started it. I said I was having a hard time getting into though, which is surprising because I've really liked her other books and sped right through all of them. After reading this one for several days I had barely reached page 50. But when Rachel said the ending was surprising, it intrigued me. She also said she had the same problem getting into it, but that halfway through it picks up. She was right, and once I made it that far I finished it pretty quickly. And the ending was shocking! Even knowing that something happened, I was still surprised. It was depressing for what is supposed to be a fluffy chick lit book though. I think it made me like the book better overall. When Rachel and I talked about it the next day, she said it made the book more memorable, that it sticks with you a little longer. That seems to be true.

I think it was somewhat difficult to get into at first because of the structure. You'd read one chapter by the mom, then one by her 13-year-old daughter. I normally like books that play with point of view, but the abrupt shifts just didn't work for me in this case. I think she also didn't create distinctive enough voices for the two characters. It was sometimes hard to tell them a part at the beginning of a chapter. I think that made both characters less real and made the whole thing harder to enjoy.

The other item of interest in this book is that the action centers around a bat mitzvah. I liked reading about that, although it was insane the amount of money people spent on those. I know it's just a book, but what is with people? It is not normal to buy designer gowns for your 13-year-old daughter or drop tens of thousands of dollars on a party. I'm glad that most Oklahomans don't go overboard that way and that most of those who do live in places like Edmond, where I would never ever live. The other interesting thing about this part of the book is that I seem to be on a Jewish kick. Two of the next books I'm going reading have Jewish main characters. I didn't even know that when selecting those books, but it's funny how that happens sometimes.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Literacy and Longing in L.A.

As part of our plan to get back on the Dave Ramsey bandwagon, I've decided to start going to the library again. I have 15 bookcases filled with books! I do not need to purchase any more (right now). So last week I headed to the Warr Acres library, which is small but pretty decent. At least it doesn't smell horrible the way the Shawnee library did, but it's just not quite the Moore library I grew up with. But, the nice thing is that it doesn't really matter that it's small. You can reserve books from any of the other Metro libraries with a click of a button and they'll deliver them to the WA library. Plus you can do inter-library loans with any library in the country. So there's really no reason not to use the library more.

What's ironic is that the first book I selected to read out of the books I checked out on my first trip had this quote near the beginning: "My mother would be appalled to learn that none of my friends go to the library anymore If you want a book, you just go to the bookstore that's closest to your house and buy it." It's called Literacy and Longing in L.A. and the main character goes on book benders when she's depressed or doesn't want to interact with people, which is a lot of the time. There are book references sprinkled liberally throughout the book and each chapter starts with a book quote. She organizes her library by theme, which is something I've actually thought about doing. I loved all of parts of the novel that had to do with reading. "[N]o matter what's going on in my life, I will always need a book." She reads for escape, and she reads to understand, which are two of the main reasons I read. She scorns people who only read for the literary style and don't care about the characters, the story. She mocks those who only read crap or only read things like Oprah's picks just because they want to seem smart. I loved all of that. But somewhere along the way, I stopped caring about the plot. I was reading just for the next book reference. Dora was really rather annoying at times. She wallowed in self pity, and at the end of the book she throws her books against the wall and vows not to get so absorbed in them. And she reconnects with her ex-husband, who really isn't that likable. Although he's certainly better than the boyfriend she has through most of the book. It was just disappointing in the end. I think I set myself up because I identified with Dora so much in the beginning, that when she did things I wouldn't do I would get angry and think, "that's not what she would do!" like I had created her and would know. I did enjoy it overall, but I'm glad it was library book and not one that I had bought.

Harry Potter

This post is a little late since I finished rereading all of the Harry Potter books a few weeks ago, but better late than never. This time around, I especially enjoyed how great of an escape they are. And they made me wish (again) that I could use magic to clean and cook. Life would be much easier. I would probably weigh 300 pounds though because that would definately encourage laziness!

I also made an interesting discovery this time through, although it actually started when we watched the fifth movie again. You see, there's this woman I know who I just took an instant dislike to, for no rational reason. Then I got to know her and realized I didn't like her for a rational reason - she's patronizing and stuck up. But after seeing the movie again, I also realized she looks a lot like Professor Umbridge! She's quite a bit younger, so technically she looks like a 15-year younger version of her and she doesn't wear so much pink, but there's definately a resemblance. Realizing that has made it easier to deal with her because now I laugh about that every time I interact with her. Thinking about Professor Umbridge (the one in the book) also taught me a lesson - sometimes it's just better to keep your mouth shut. Harry keeps talking back to her and all it does is bring trouble on himself. She never changes, not even after it's clear that Harry is right. She never apologizes and continues actually horrible. Some people are just like that. I'm someone who has a tendency to beat my points to death and speak up a little too much, so that was a good lesson to learn. I'm obviously not saying you should never speak up or argue (there's no way I could do that!), but you do need to learn when to do it and when not to.