Monday, 7 August 2017

Calendar Girls - Aug 2017 - best historical fiction novel - #CalendarGirlsBooks

Calendar Girls is hosted by bloggers, Flavia the Bibliophile and Melanie Noell Bernard – both have amazing blogs full of fun, bookish posts. Calendar Girls is a brand new monthly blog event inspired by Neil Sedaka’s 1961 song Calendar Girl. Just like in the song, we decided to use a specific theme for each month and choose a book based on these themes! The event is meant to incite discussions with other bloggers about books we’ve read and loved, is meant to help bloggers meet other bloggers, and also for bloggers and readers to find out about blogs which they normally may not have come across! Want to know more? Click on the links above! And it’s not too late to jump on the Calendar Girl train! Join now!

Best Historical Fiction Novel

I haven't read as much historical fiction as I would like. Which isn't the same as saying I haven't read any historical fiction - I have, at least 33 novels since I started using Goodreads shelves properly. There are probably loads more that I haven't shelved properly. Either way that's not as many as I would like. My fantasy shelf, for example, has 272 books on it. Which for those of you math inclined means that my historical shelf is only 12% the size of my fantasy shelf. But all that being said I do have 4 contenders for this month's selection.

Displayed nicely with my new piertotem locomotor bookends.
1. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

It took me a long time to finally get around to this book and now I'm not even sure why it did. I've always been fascinated by Henry VIII and his wives, especially Anne Boleyn, but this and The Tudors both took me a long time to finally read and watch for some reason. I read it in 2012 and gave it 3 stars. It was really interesting. It's not about Anne, it's about her sister Mary and Mary's own relationship with Henry. It's a fascinating glimpse into what life in Henry's court might have been like for the B-List.

2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

This one takes place in two historical time periods, 1945 and 1743 in the Scottish Highlands. There's time travel, but that's the only sci-fi element, everything else is purely historical fiction. You can tell that Diana Gabaldon spent a lot of time researching this novel, and all of that work really comes through. This one is about a  WWII nurse named Claire. She travels back to the time of the clans and meets a young clansman named Jamie Fraser. The first time I read this was in 2006 for an English class, as mentioned in an old post.

3. Paris to Die For by Maxine Kenneth

Inspired by an actual letter in the John F. Kennedy Library written by Jackie and revealing her job offer from the newly formed CIA this novel imagines what Jackie's life would have been like if she had accepted that job offer and become a CIA Operative. It's the first in a duology. It's set in 1951 with the main action taking place in Paris where Jackie interacts with real and imagined historical figures while she tries to help a Russian defect to the West.

4. Front Lines by Michael Grant

I have talked about this one before in a couple of different posts, in fact, it was my pick back in March for best novel with a war in it. It's an alternate history set in WWII and based on the question "what if girls had been able to serve in the American Armed Forces?" It's full of BAMF young women, and I can't wait to get around to the sequel next year, Silver Stars is out now and sitting on my shelf but I don't have time for it until next year.

So which of those historical novels did I chose as the best one:

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

2017 Reading Challenges Update - January 1-July 31 2017

So I am doing 5 different challenges this year, 6 if you count the Goodreads challenge, so yeah let's count that. Anyway, I think that might make me some sort of masochist. I told Goodreads I was going to read at least 52 novels this year, and well...I passed that when I was at Angie's in May. Where do I stand right now? Well as of yesterday at 87/52 (167%) which you might notice is much, much more than I originally pledged. And I am not stopping, I still have 5 other reading challenges to finish, one by September 21 and the others by December 31. What other reading challenges did past!Lauren decide would be present! and future!Lauren's problems? Well, here they are:

1. PopSugar's 2017 Reading Challenge
3. The 2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge over at Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf
4. My Reader's Block's 2017 TBR Challenge

Since we've just finished July I figure it's time to post a mid-year check in to see how I am doing on all of my challenges and how many/what books I have left. Because I have planned out all the books I am going to read for each challenge I know that I have 50 more books to read before December 31...wish me luck.

See below the cut for my progress, it's a huge list!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Musing Mondays - Reading RoseBlood and many other things & author I would dine with

Musing Monday, July 17, 2017

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I’m currently reading…

by A.G. Howard

Oooooh today's date is a palindrome! 7/17/17! I love when I notice things like that. Anyway, back to the topic at hand and that is what I am reading now. I may be far too overzealous about the BookBub Summer reading challenge...and my competitive nature may or may not have kicked in (meaning it totally has kicked in, so now Sophia and I keep trying to get ahead of one another, not that I'm bitter about her currently being ahead of me, at least more than a little). Anyways, so yes I am overzealous and competitive so instead of focussing on one book at a time, I am currently trying to plow my way simultaneously through 2 audiobooks, 1 ebook, 1 poetry book, 1 play, 1 physical novel and 1 graphic novel...I normally would NEVER do this but my library holds keep coming in and you only get 14 days with the audiobooks.

I'm not going to subject you to summaries for each of those items that I am currently reading so I will just discuss them and then focus on one to post a summary for. We'll start with the 2 audiobooks. I was waiting for holds to come in so I downloaded Paradise Lost to use as my Presidential Favourite because it was Teddy Roosevelt's. Turns out this is not an audiobook I can listen to while multitasking, in fact, I actually need to have a physical copy of the book in front of me to follow along or it doesn't stick. Not so good for my usual audiobook reading methods, but it works well for working out. I can sit on the exercise bike and then not notice how long I've been pedalling because I am following the story. However, while I was figuring out how I wanted to listen to that my hold on My Brother Sam is Dead (my pick for a book about the revolutionary war) came in so I listened to that one first and then when I finished that I borrowed The Island of Dr. Moreau for the classic I have always wanted to get around to reading category. Then, of course, my hold for The Outsiders (a coming of age story) came in about 2 days ago, so I have about 6 days and 10 parts left to go on my Paradise Lost loan, and then I have to finish Moreau so that I can listen to The Outsiders before my hold expires. Luckily Moreau is only about 4 and a half hours long and I am already up to chapter 5.

As for the ebook, I started A Darkness Absolute a while back, before my phone decided it hated its old memory card, and then after installing a new one the Kobo app deciding it didn't believe I had an internet connection. So that obviously got me fed up and I set it aside even after remembering that my mum had a Kobo ereader she doesn't use and commandeering it. Once I realised that A Darkness Absolute can fulfil one of the BookBub challenges though I realised I need to finish it sooner rather than later. When I finished The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue on Saturday I decided to finish it before I start Kindred which is my library book with the next closest due date. This was a good weekend to do that because I had to stay over in Toronto last night and then I had today off work so I've gotten from about 5% done to about 55% done. I'm also working on the poetry book I picked for the challenge because I thought that would be easy, it's a Shel Silverstein book so I figured I could read it in one sitting, turns out no, I cannot read 203 pages of Shel Silverstein in one sitting...lesson learned. I also started re-reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as my pick for a book with a shocking plot twist and then I also started RoseBlood because the Calendar Girls are doing it as a read along (and it fits BookBub's set in a vacation destination category). However, I am failing the read along quite badly because someone at the publishing house thought it was a GREAT idea to publish an entire book in a dusty pink font which is really hard on the eyes so I can't read it much in one sitting:

Beyond the font issue though, let's talk about this book. I got it in one of my last OwlCrate's before I cancelled the subscription. When I received it I was kind of of two minds about it. You see, I've read A.G. Howard's revision of Alice in Wonderland - I LOVED the first one...and hated the second two so much that I rage quit the series before I could even finish the second book because I could see where it was going in and didn't like it. So I looked at the end of the 3rd, had my suspicions confirmed and set them aside very disappointed. Nothing makes me rage quit faster than a super badly handled love triangle and I think she handled hers very badly and copped out with the series ending. Which broke my heart because I so badly wanted to love the series. So that's the history I am walking into RoseBlood with, I have a bias. Here this book is another revision of a classic story that I personally enjoy, it's a take on the Phantom of the Opera a musical which I have seen live twice, which is I just learned, from this book, based on a book. Because of the problems I'm having with the font colour I am only 55 pages in, but I have to say my hopes are still high, I'm really enjoying it so far and I'm eager to see where she's going with it:

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera. 

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.-- via Goodreads
As for the comic book I'm reading, I picked up my hold on Ta-Nehisi Coates's Black Panther : Nation Under our Feet Book One on my way home from Toronto today (it's for the bestselling book from last summer category because issue #1 of this series was a bestseller) and while my mum was in making an appointment I didn't feel like pulling out the Kobo so I started reading it.

        THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: If you could have dinner with one author alive or dead who would it be?

I used to always answer this question with JK Rowling, and honestly, yes given the chance I would of course not turn down an invitation to dine with her! She has been one of my biggest idols, inspirations and heroes ever since I discovered her work. Of course, I look up to her and would love to pick her brain over a meal. But lately I've been finding myself really interested by Margaret Atwood and I suspect that's got a lot to do with the fact that she is a Canadian author, one of the most prolific and well known Canadian authors, and that's kind of the dream for me you know?  Not that I've ever managed anything longer than 15k one year for Nano, but I keep trying because like I said, being a published author, that's the dream. I just think that Margaret Atwood would be really interesting to dine with. She's such a polarising figure and her writing is so wide ranging and diverse. So yes, changing it up for once, not going with Jo, if I could have dinner with any author I'd want to dine with Margaret Atwood.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Musing Mondays - Emma the Audiobook/Radio Play, my summer reading challenge & reading through pain

Musing Monday, July 10, 2017

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I’m currently reading…

by Jane Austen

I know I said last week that I wanted to read The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue next, and in point of fact, I am. I started it this morning. Emma is the audiobook that I am listening to right now. Because my hold on it came in before bed last night, so I downloaded it this morning. For my summer reading challenge, I needed a book recommended by one of my favourite authors. Now as you all know my above all favourite is JK Rowling. So I looked up what book she recommends and the only one that looked appealing to me was Emma. This in itself says something because I am not generally a classics fan (even though I have a BA in English) and I did not like Pride and Prejudice. But one of my all time favourite movies is Clueless, which is an adaptation of Emma, so I have always suspected that I will enjoy it but have never gotten around to it. Figured now was the right time. Since discovering the joys of the audiobooks on OverDrive from the Public Library I decided to see if they had a copy of Emma. If they didn't I would have turned to LibriVox. Luckily though they did, and not just a straight narration, but a fully casted radio play version. I knew I had to have it.

When I went to add it to my shelves on Goodreads after placing a hold on it I was unable to find it. Luckily though, I am a Goodreads Librarian, so I just added it myself! Had to do that with my library's audio copy of Paradise Lost too for the same reason. I feel so cool when I get to add a new book on Goodreads, it's only the 2nd and 3rd times I've had the chance to do it haha.

Anyway, I started listening to it this morning, and it's super fun. I may end up having to buy a copy of this if audible has it...and they do, brilliant it's now added to my wish list! I paused it at the point where Emma decided to set Harriet up with Mr Elton because I couldn't stop laughing. Amy Heckerling didn't even change the Elton character's name in Clueless and I love it. I am excited to see if he's as much of an ass ad movie!Elton:

'I never have been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall.'

Beautiful, clever, rich - and single - Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen's most flawless work.-- via Goodreads

        THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Are you able to read when you're in pain or do you find it hard to focus?

I actually find that reading can help with pain, depending on the kind of pain that is. For sure it helps with emotional pain, that's why bibliotherapy is a thing that exists (and a thing I would love to explore/get into, wonder how one goes about doing that!). For physical pain, it can be a little more complicated. I think the degree/level/type of physical pain had a lot of influence in whether or not I can read. Mostly I use it as a distraction method, helps take my mind off of the pain. The exception obviously being when I have a headache. And when I have a sinus cold or sinus infection? Forget it, I am worse than useless then - we take for granted how much being able to breathe properly has an effect on the activities we do every day!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Musing Mondays - YA historical fiction with a bisexual male protagonist & release dates

Musing Monday, July 3, 2017

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

Up next I think I’ll read…

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
by Mackenzi Lee

I can't remember how exactly I heard about this book, it was either a review on someone's blog, or one of the other bookish sites in my feed (like BuzzFeed Books or Bookster, or Book Riot) had an article that had it included in a list. Regardless of how I came across it, I did - and the moment I read the description I knew I had to read it. Finding bisexual representation in genre fiction books is not an easy task, and this is the first one I've ever seen with a male bisexual main character. That alone was enough to pique my interest.

I looked to see if one of my public libraries had a copy, which is very easy to do thanks to the Chrome Library Extension because it show's your local library's holdings right on the Goodreads or Amazon page for a given book. The extension informed me that the Kitchener Public Library has 5 copies, so I went to their website to place a hold. I got to the catalogue and was informed that all of the copies were unavailable, so I placed a hold and was informed that I was hold 6/8. I didn't take note of when the book was actually released, turns out it was only released on June 27 of this year, if I'd noticed that I would have released that the books were in cataloguing still. But I didn't - so I was prepared that it was going to probably be about a month or so before I actually got my hands on a copy. However, on Wednesday night I received an email telling me my hold was available for pick up - cue much shock on my part when I read that on Thursday morning. After work that night I proceeded directly to the library to pick up my book. Now I have it until July 20.

First, though I have to get through Hag-Seed because it's due back on July 6 and I only started it on the 1st. I had to finish Blood Prophecy first before I could get to Hag-Seed you see. I'm only 29 pages into it and it's not going well, my desire to pick it up and keep reading it is very low. Not because of Margaret Atwood's writing, which is spot on, but because it's reminding me already just how much I really don't like the story in The Tempest. Anyhow, I digress, here have the summary for The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue:

An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.-- via Goodreads

        THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Do you follow book release dates and eagerly await a new arrival? Or do you just kind of check things out in a more casual manner?

I am not very good at following release dates, mainly because if I were trying to it would be an expensive prospect and almost like having a second job. There are just that many different series that I am following. If I were to buy every new book in a series I am following, or every new book that looks interesting on their release date I would quickly go broke and be even more stuck for space than I am. I have 250+ (it was 250 when I counted 2 weeks ago but I've added a few library books and bought a few more since then) books on my TBR shelves. So as you can imagine I'm not buying sequels and new books on their release dates unless I've been really, really hyped for them. Actually, this year is the first year that I'm even tracking release dates on certain books because an earlier Musing Monday question asked if there were any books coming out that I was excited for. In fact, in reviewing that post I just realised I've just missed 2 exciting ones, one I want to get ASAP and one I will be waiting on. I want the 3rd volume of Faith as soon as I can get my hands on it. But I will definitely wait until probably next year on Darkest Promise because it usually takes it that long to be released in paperback and as all of my Gena Showalter books are paperback I would like to continue having them in that format. Now I'm really eager for the next Dragon Kin novel, not until August though so I still have some waiting on that one. I may just have to start eagerly awaiting it.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Calendar Girls - July 2017 - best fairytale retelling - #CalendarGirlsBooks

Calendar Girls is hosted by bloggers, Flavia the Bibliophile and Melanie Noell Bernard – both have amazing blogs full of fun, bookish posts. Calendar Girls is a brand new monthly blog event inspired by Neil Sedaka’s 1961 song Calendar Girl. Just like in the song, we decided to use a specific theme for each month and choose a book based on these themes! The event is meant to incite discussions with other bloggers about books we’ve read and loved, is meant to help bloggers meet other bloggers, and also for bloggers and readers to find out about blogs which they normally may not have come across! Want to know more? Click on the links above! And it’s not too late to jump on the Calendar Girl train! Join now!

Best Fairytale Retelling

I've always loved fairy tales. Growing up I had a lot of them memorised, I used to frequently read through my copy of Mother Goose. I also loved the Grimm Brothers fairytales. Fairy tales are just such a fun genre of story, I love how the old original ones were so much darker and grittier than the ones that children are reading today now when they read Grimm or Mother Goose. I feel like Disney really helped push that change when it started doing its animated retellings. Not that I have a single problem with that because the Disney versions are my favourite versions of those fairy tales. In undergrad, I took a class called Children's Literature and we spent quite a bit of time on fairy tales. It was really fun to have to read and analyse them for marks because it really didn't feel like work to me.

So which fairytale retelling did I chose then:

#WWBookClub - Week 1 - Magic in the Muggle World - Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone

Week 1 Topic: Magic in the Muggle World

The first book up on the #WWBookClub docket is, of course, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, because where else would they start with a Harry Potter book club? And the first topic of discussion was magic in the muggle world. This was discussed on Twitter this past Friday, June 30. It was a very busy chat! There were a lot of participants taking part and I found it really hard to engage because of how fast all the comments were flying. I also found it harder to participate because Twitter's character limit makes meaningful replies really hard sometimes. That second reason is the reason I am going to answer the questions asked in a blog post as well. Because I want to be able to give meatier answers and hopefully generate some more discussion with the people who read our blog.

The Questions

Is the wizarding world as secretive as it likes to believe?

Oh good god no, I really don't see how it can be. Yes there's the statute of secrecy and there are protections against muggles on places like Hogwarts and the Ministry of course, but that's not going stop everyone and everything. There are whole teams of obliviators and misinformation officers at the ministry but even then there's no way they could have complete control over the secret. You're never going to be able to obliviate everyone, and misinformation doesn't work on everyone either. 

Case in point - muggle parents and muggle siblings. As muggles, they can't be held accountable to the statute of secrecy because you can't throw a muggle into wizard prison. Any families of muggleborn witches and wizards are not only going to know about the wizarding world and Hogwarts specifically, they're going to get to be a part of it, an active part. Hermione's parents came into Diagon Alley to help with her school shopping, and if hers did you know others have. More than one muggle parent or sibling has let something slip before, it's just going to be a thing that happens.

Regarding the obliviators and the office of misinformation. These two things are going to create messes like to see in Men in Black - people whose memory wipes haven't taken completely or at all, people who don't buy into your misinformation. This is how conspiracy theories and urban legends are born. All it takes if for people to be willing to dig, because yeah the wizarding world is hidden within the muggle world, but not that deep.

Why do you think the Dursleys are so afraid of magic?

I think that you have to look at each of the Dursleys individually here, there's not just one full-stop answer as to why the whole family is so afraid of magic. With Vernon for example, I don't know so much if he's afraid of magic as he is pissed off by it and afraid of what being seen in the company of magic users could do to his reputation. Vernon is almost completely reputation focussed, anything that could damage his social standing is wrong and must be squashed. More than that even Vernon is a bigot and a bully who hates everyone and everything that don't fit into his very narrow-minded world view. I mean think about it, yes he was scared of having magic used on him, but it never stopped him getting into arguments with wizards whenever they showed up at his house.

Then there's Petunia, for her there is definitely a fear of magic, but in her case, I think it is completely justified. We have no way of knowing that at this early point in Philosopher's Stone but as we do find out as the series go on she was way more affected by her sister's murder than the early books show. She knows exactly what magic can do in the wrong hands - of course, she's scared of it. However, there's definitely more than just fear, there are bitterness and resentment which makes her seem as narrow-minded and bigoted as her husband at this point in the series. The thing about Petunia is it takes a long time for us to learn why she's so resentful and bitter but once we do it makes sense - of course that is never an excuse for how she herself treated, and how she allowed her husband and child to treat Harry. Of course Petunia also has a healthy dose of "nothing shall tarnish our social standing!" but in her case, I feel like that really is the least of it.

Dudley, of course, is the product of his horrible parents and their attitudes. His attitude towards magic and magic users is 100% shaped by his father's narrow-minded bigotry and his mother's fear and bitterness. Not only have his attitudes been influenced by theirs but they have also actively encouraged him his whole life to see his cousin as a weird, freaky other who he needs to be wary of. The final straw for Dudley of course that pushes his fear of magic over the edge is when Hagrid gives him a pig tail, and realistically, after that incident, I can hardly blame him for being scared of magic and magic users.

What makes Hagrid so trustworthy?

I'm going to be completely honest here, I really don't understand what this question has to do with the weekly topic. I do totally get how it's relevant to the point we're at in the narrative, obviously, Hagrid plays a big role in the early part of the book because he is Harry's first mentor in the wizarding world. And in writing that sentence I've now realised how this question relates. If Hagrid wasn't as trustworthy as he is, he would not have been selected by Dumbledore to be the magical liaison sent into the muggle world to collect Harry, so yes I can see now how his trustworthiness directly relates to the topic of magic in the muggle world.

To answer the question though - Hagrid is possessed of several traits that make him trustworthy. First and foremost is that he is totally and completely guileless. There are times of course where that lack of guile comes back to bite him, those times being anytime he utters the words "I should not have said that!" But for the most part, it's a positive trait that makes him trustworthy. There's also his earnestness, sincerity, total and complete loyalty and devotion to Dumbledore and his ability to follow orders. He also has the added benefit of his size making him intimidating/unapproachable to people who don't know him. He's also underestimated, nobody expects Hagrid to be the one running important errands or holding the important information. Certainly, Voldemort never would. We know how little he thinks of Hagrid given what he did to him when they were both at school.