Hogwarts on my mind

So I saw this video about a month ago and it’s been bugging me ever since. Of course, after spending the whole of New Year’s Eve as well as New Year’s Day having a massive Harry Potter movie marathon with the husband and kids, it has been on my mind even more. Now, I adore Laci Green. Really I do. I find her refreshing and vibrant and intelligent. She is without a doubt someone to look up to.  This bugs me though! I can’t figure out why any of this matters! I don’t really think it’s fair to tell anyone “you should have done this or that differently” when it comes to their work. No. You should have done it exactly the way you did it because that’s the way you wanted to do it. I don’t think there is anything puritanical or conforming to societal taboos about leaving sex out of any narrative – especially this one! You know – if you go ahead and use your own imagination, there were probably a ton of teens having sex at Hogwarts…just like any other school But when you were at school, did you see your friends having sex? Of course not! And if you did, it was most likely by accident. Without meaning to sound like a prude, sex is a private subject. There is nothing wrong with exploring sexuality,or writing about it, but for heaven’s sake expecting it to be part of the storyline because it’s “more realistic” strikes me as a little silly. It is not shameful to keep sex behind closed doors – that it where it belongs. And when it comes to stories, if all the sex being had at Hogwarts (gosh!) had anything to do with the narrative then it would have been included. As for Dumbledore being gay – it didn’t matter. So it wasn’t mentioned. Joe Rowling has every right to know things about her characters that she does not share in her books. And it is not her “job” to teach anyone about sexuality or sexual orientation. She has already taught so many children (and adults!) out there a thousand things about all sorts of important stuff like empathy and friendship and bravery and loyalty and love and compassion and and and…. To fault her for not also teaching everyone that “having sex is ok” is a little bit insulting. I just can’t get over how weird this observation is…. But then again, maybe I’m just a prude. I’m grateful that sex wasn’t part of my own personal high school experience because I wasn’t ready for it then. But that was MY choice. A choice that I made because it was my choice, and not because I was ever under the impression that it had to be a certain way. And come on: if it was ok for Joey and Pacey to be having sex, then really, the “sex is ok” message has been out there for a long time.  A lot of TV and novels are already preaching the “sex is ok narrative” – they have been for years. The taboos of sex are placed on us because of our own issues and because of the issues of our parents, ministers, friends, school teachers etc. We cannot turn around and start demanding that our artists fix what we ourselves have broken. Sex/sexuality is not an issue – that is what the more progressive of us would like to see in the people around us. JK never made it an issue. This video, however, kind of does make it an issue. Choosing to not have sex should be no more of an issue than choosing to have sex is. Turning around and berating someone for not sharing anything sexual is the exact same thing as berating them for being too sexy. At least, that’s the way I see it…

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

The Peach Keeper

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wish I could give it six…

I am in love with Sarah Addison Allen. I know it seems like such a trite thing to say but she really caused a breakthrough around my own writing. I will always love her for that. Aside from the latest Allen – which I haven’t been able to get my hands on because I live here – this was the only one I hadn’t read. It was kind of expensive (I don’t know why her books are so expensive here in SA) but my brother got it for my birthday anyway. It was a kind of silly and predictable read, but in a gloriously satisfying way. I kind of expected just about everything that happened to happen, but it was comforting, happy making. I think that’s pretty special. If you write things that make people happy, then you are kind of friggen fantastic.
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Children’s Book Week

10256499_10154169391275094_1680627886525252558_nIt’s been a disgracefully busy this week and unfortunately when that happens my poor Noah bears the brunt of all my neglect. Of course he is gloriously understanding and is quite happy to just steal hugs and kisses when he can, never bemoaning his lack of attention. I heard today that this week is Children’s Book Week. Of course, the source of this information was a random post on Facebook so it could be pure rubbish. I like the idea of a week dedicated to children’s book though so I decided to curl up with my little man this evening and have a bit of marathon reading session. We got through about six books before the little man decided that he was exhausted and therefore done humouring me. We’ll have to get through the others tomorrow night I guess…

Book Reading Blues

20140415_203735I am failing at my most sacred passion this month and it is getting me down. Does this ever happen to any of you other book readers out there? I set myself a goal of reading 100 books this year. I’m definitely not going to make it. It’s rather hopelessly too late for that unless I get very serious and take up speed reading.

The thing is…this happens to me every time I read a really good book…or at least one that is good to me. I then struggle to read something else because it’s just not the same. I know this book I’m currently reading is good. It is well written and interesting. But I miss the magic of Sarah Addison Allen. I miss that comfort. Yes, all (ok most) books are wonderful, but some gel so well with our cores that the others start to pale. I’m in one of those pale moods. It makes me sad. And it doesn’t help that I have been editing someone else’s book for the last couple of weeks. Reading for pleasure falls by the wayside when you spend all day reading for work.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Garden SpellsGarden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I tried not to read this book in one day but I couldn’t help it. Even though I had guests and things to do and people to cook for, I started this book on Saturday morning and but a little past midnight on Sunday morning I was done. Every time I read one of Allen’s books I fall in love. It is rather an exquisite feeling to be so enchanted with the mind and worlds of another. She creates true magic on the page and I must admit that I am eternally grateful to her. I started reading a bit of Magical Realism with Alice Hoffman but didn’t quite love her s o much. Ali Shaw excited me far better. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake excited me in theory but not in execution. And then Allen came along. The more I read her stuff the more empowered I feel to write the same genre and the idea excites me more than I can express. Some writers are so good at this particular genre that experiencing their stories feels like childhood fantasy come true. That childlike search for wonder has been satiated by these writers for me. How do you say “thank you” for that? How do you let someone know that because of them something in your own universe has shifted for the greater good and that they have given you a priceless gift for which you will  always be grateful.

If you’ll excuse me, I now have to go and find the rest of Ms. Allen’s books because it has become very clear to me that I need them…


Are We Not Reading the Same Books?

Photo on 2014-03-05 at 9.39 AMI was bullied pretty badly as a kid. I’m sure nothing as serious as what a lot of other people out there have endured, but it was pretty consistent (boring, tedious). I never considered killing myself. I don’t think I ever felt completely hopeless. But I did spend a lot of time in quiet tears that I didn’t let anyone see. It was a stupid thing. One of those things that I considered my problem because asking for help was too hard and I didn’t want anyone else to feel sad because of it. And your friends (and teachers) teach you very quickly that it is your problem and that they’re not actually going to stand up for you or do anything about it. They’re just going to sit on the sidelines and be grateful that you’re the target and not them, and sometimes they’re going to give off a giggle because being cool with the cool kids is what life is really all about. Your square ass doesn’t stand a chance! Kind of stupid I guess but you quickly come to the conclusion that you’re alone on this one, and if you’re lucky, you grow the boobs to deal with it and move on, hopefully unscathed.  (more…)

How Did I Forget That I Love John Green?!

1660975_10153903486230094_2069668086_nSo John Green has lately become my favourite thing of all the things because he is a real person (sadly, as much as I love The Doctor, he is not real) and as a real person I think the contribution that he is making with regards to changing the world is a significant one. John Green is just a good and brilliant man. This is literally a person who has made the world a better place to live in simply by reminding so many people that not-being-an-asshole is kind of the coolest thing there is. John Green and his brother Hank started the Nerdfighter movement which is too much awesomeness for me to even remotely comprehend nevermind share with you so that you might comprehend it. John Green writes the kind of YA literature that you can confidently give your kids and not worry about somehow messing them up for life. In fact, if your kid is reading John Green you can be pretty confident that they will be better people at the end of each novel. How do I know this? Because I am a little bit better for each of his novels that I have read. That is how magic he is.

Anyway – the point is that I forgot that he is one of my favourites of all the favourites while I was writing a post about reading all my favourite authors this month.  This is kind of lame of me but he is a “new” favourite in that he has been a favourite for less than a year so I reckon I can forgive myself for the mistake. Luckily!! My husband bought me this little treasure as an anniversary present (I got him nothing…seriously…why did this man marry me?!) which made me remember that I LOVE JOHN GREEN and now I am so super duper happy because I get to read it right now this very minute as soon as I stop writing about how excited I am to have this new (to me) book by the awesomeness that is John Green. (more…)

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium #1)The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Like everyone, I suppose, I find myself on occasion wondering if there is something wrong with me. After reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I couldn’t help but find myself trying so very hard not to be devastated. Why is it, Nadine, that you can’t just have a read and smile and be happy just like everyone else? They’re having way more fun that you are…I promise…

The thing is though – as much I would like to blame hype for my disappointment – I can scarcely explain why I should love one book for the exact reason that I find myself mildly disgruntled with another. (more…)

Hello & Welcome

Hello & welcome to The Katalina Playroom!

Maybe you stumbled in here by accident, or perhaps you were sent here by me and have arrived at this page out of some sort of sense of obligation. Either way, I thank you for being here and hope that you will come back again soon.

Really, The Katalina Playroom is simply a place filled with a few things that I love. There’s the well-known story of the teacher who asked her class what they wanted to be when they grew up. One little boy answered that he wanted to be happy. The teacher then told him that he didn’t understand the question, and the little boy told the teacher that she didn’t understand life. It has taken a few years but I have started to learn that holding on to the things that make you happy does not make you selfish. It makes you sane. And it gives you life. So in here, you will find a very big part of my life. Luckily, our humanity ties us so closely together that I think you might find your own bit of joy in the many things that I plan to share. (more…)