And So It Begins 2020: The Truths We Hold by Kamala Harris

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From one of America’s most inspiring political leaders, a book about the core truths that unite us, and the long struggle to discern what those truths are and how best to act upon them, in her own life and across the life of our country.

Senator Kamala Harris’s commitment to speaking truth is informed by her upbringing. The daughter of immigrants, she was raised in an Oakland, California community that cared deeply about social justice; her parents–an esteemed economist from Jamaica and an admired cancer researcher from India–met as activists in the civil rights movement when they were graduate students at Berkeley. Growing up, Harris herself never hid her passion for justice, and when she became a prosecutor out of law school, a deputy district attorney, she quickly established herself as one of the most innovative change agents in American law enforcement. She progressed rapidly to become the elected District Attorney for San Francisco, and then the chief law enforcement officer of the state of California as a whole. Known for bringing a voice to the voiceless, she took on the big banks during the foreclosure crisis, winning a historic settlement for California’s working families. Her hallmarks were applying a holistic, data-driven approach to many of California’s thorniest issues, always eschewing stale “tough on crime” rhetoric as presenting a series of false choices. Neither “tough” nor “soft” but smart on crime became her mantra. Being smart means learning the truths that can make us better as a community, and supporting those truths with all our might. That has been the pole star that guided Harris to a transformational career as the top law enforcement official in California, and it is guiding her now as a transformational United States Senator, grappling with an array of complex issues that affect her state, our country, and the world, from health care and the new economy to immigration, national security, the opioid crisis, and accelerating inequality.

By reckoning with the big challenges we face together, drawing on the hard-won wisdom and insight from her own career and the work of those who have most inspired her, Kamala Harris offers in The Truths We Hold a master class in problem-solving, in crisis management, and leadership in challenging times. Through the arc of her own life, on into the great work of our day, she communicates a vision of shared struggle, shared purpose, and shared values. In a book rich in many home truths, not least is that a relatively small number of people work very hard to convince a great many of us that we have less in common than we actually do, but it falls to us to look past them and get on with the good work of living our common truth. When we do, our shared effort will continue to sustain us and this great nation, now and in the years to come.

Source: GoodReads

Right now, Kamala Harris is probably at the top of my 2020 picks for president.  That could all change of course, but out of the candidates that are likely to run she is leading the pack for me at least.  Her book sort of shows why.

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To be fair, I’m going to be trying to read something or analyzing something 2020 oriented every month or now before the election.  I feel its important.  There were a lot of misconceptions made by irresponsible media outlets about a certain overly competent candidate in 2016 and her stupid emails and look what we got stuck with…Putin’s puppet (God, how I wanted HRC so fucking bad to be POTUS).

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So I’m sure while idiots like Mika and Joe (yes, I had to call those two ignoramuses out for still bashing that very competent candidate this very morning-seriously, those two always get me raging within ten minutes of being awake) I thought for like the two or so people reading this  review I’d at least try to inform you of the literature that’s out there involving the candidates.

Note, there will be personal biases in these reviews.   Such as the fact that I find Donald Trump to be a total racist asshole (though, is that an opinion that’s sort of fact see asshole’s reaction to Charlottesville).  Anything Pro-Trump is not going to be tolerated.  Also, Bernie Sanders is NOT a democrat unless it suits his purposes-i.e. getting funds for another failed campaign.  Don’t believe me, see that little “I” next to his name that says it all… Also he’s full of  bull shit which oddly enough fits considering his initials.

Yes, I’m juvenile.

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And if you’re going to whine…we’ll this is my space find some other review to express your disgusting MAGA love and Bernie Bro-ness (seriously, those supporters are the ultimate internet troll).

Anyway, back to Kamala.  Even though she’s only been a senator for a couple of years, in some ways she’s one of the more qualified candidates that the democratic party has.  She has experience in local, state, and federal government.  And I think it’s really important for anyone who is trying to be president to know how these three different factions of government work.

She is also very personable.  The structure of this book tries to integrate Harris’s personal life with her policies and for the most part it works.  The anecdotes will make the Mika and Joe’s of the world happy , while the more policy wonks (i.e. people who actually make a SMART choice when they vote) will be happy to know that Harris knows her stuff and you can see that she is very passionate about certain issues.  I will say though, at the beginning of the book when Harris is going over her childhood there were parts of these personal anecdotes that felt a bit wooden.

Again, this was only for the first few chapters though.  The only other problem I had with this book was it was clearly an I’m running for president book.  And okay, yeah she is.  And yeah, candidates do in fact often write books before campaigns, but it does sort of effect the overall quality to the book.

It still though did what it set out to do, it really did a nice job introducing Harris.  You can see how her career choice as a prosecutor influenced her policies regarding criminal justice reform.   I especially like the fact that some of her solutions aren’t something that you would find in a typical politician stump speech.  Like, bail reform.  It’s an important thing, but unless you’re familiar with the bail system (which most Americans aren’t) you’re not going to really know how much an effect that these reforms would make.  Harris is pretty clear in laying out her case for it.

In addition, to her career influencing her choices in policy.  You can see how important Kamala’s mother was to her and what an impact she had on her life.  There really was a strong mother–daughter relationship there that I think has impacted her life and it really shows.

At the end of the day, a book is a book.  I thought the memoir once it got past the Harris’s childhood years was quite compelling.  I managed to get through it in about two hours after being exhausted after a long day at work.  Between the book and the town hall that Harris did at CNN last night, she is definitely a top contender for me.

I’m sure as the race continues to evolve I’ll have more books and or town halls to read and review. However, if you are interested in voting for Kamala I do suggest checking out her book.  If anything, it will give you a good indicator of what her values and policies are.

Overall Rating: An A- rocky beginning but I think overall the book did what it was intended to do.

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To Summarize Misogyny, Emails, Russia, and Morons: What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

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“In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net. Now I’m letting my guard down.” —Hillary Rodham Clinton, from the introduction of What Happened

For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference, and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet.

In these pages, she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterward. With humor and candor, she tells readers what it took to get back on her feet—the rituals, relationships, and reading that got her through, and what the experience has taught her about life. She speaks about the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, the criticism over her voice, age, and appearance, and the double standard confronting women in politics.

She lays out how the 2016 election was marked by an unprecedented assault on our democracy by a foreign adversary. By analyzing the evidence and connecting the dots, Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect our values and our democracy in the future.

The election of 2016 was unprecedented and historic. What Happened is the story of that campaign and its aftermath—both a deeply intimate account and a cautionary tale for the nation.

Source: GoodReads

Disclaimer: I voted for Hillary Clinton in both of her presidential campaigns, and I’d vote for her again in a damn heart beat.  So, yeah…obviously, this is not going to bash her.  And before you mansplain that I didn’t do my research on her, I’ll have you know that I did PLENTY.  I just, you know, didn’t get my news from Info Wars or Facebook.

Oh, also if you decide to troll on this review your comment is never going to get to see the light of daylight (or if you post junk on my GoodReads review of this you’ll her blocked and deleted).  And don’t think you’re going to get a rise out of me, I’ll just be laughing as I block and delete because it makes it easier to know who to avoid.

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Okay, that aside.  I will say right away that I’ve always considered HRC to be a role model.     A lot of the choices I have made in my career have been influenced by her, and I try to live up by the motto that she refers a lot to in this book, “Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can.”  The quotes actually a product of Hillary’s Methodist and I’m Catholic but it has really influenced a lot of my decisions.  And Hillary Clinton has made the path forward a little bit easier for professional women going forward, and she needs to be given praise for that.

 

The book (obviously) deals with her run for president.  It was an enthralling read.  A bit bittersweet, melancholy, and desperately needed.  When I finished reading it, I did feel like the country would eventually be okay.  Though, now as I write this review watching the latest Trump-catastrophes that are airing on MSNBC that feeling is quickly disintegrating.  I think what I liked best about this book was how relatable I found Hillary in the pages.

Hillary Clinton relatable?  I know a lot of people are laughing at that.  And I’ll probably get some flak for that remark, but as a professional woman reading about Hillary’s own struggles with misogyny I found myself nodding my head throughout the pages.  It’s amazing that the struggles she faced at the beginning of her career are similar to struggles that I’ve experienced in my own.    One of the many reasons, why she will always be a feminist icon.

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The tone of the book has almost a blunt quality about it.  And I loved it.  She doesn’t waffle around subjects.  She depicts the election for what it was.  She takes blame for her own mistakes (think the comment on coal miners) but also states the very obvious that there were a lot of outside factors that contribute to her loss and the idiot we now have as president.  Honestly, her tone reminds me a lot of my sister which is bonus points for her.  It’s also interesting to note, that a lot of people don’t like my sister because she’s direct…funny, how being direct is considered a plus when you have a penis and not a vagina.

There is also an intimate quality to the book.  Hillary talks about her personal life: Bill, Chelsea, the grandkids,  her friends,  even the dogs.  We also learn what she likes to eat for breakfast and what’s on her DVR (though, if you read any of those stupid emails you’d know she watched The Good Wife, so it’s not really that big of a spoiler, but apparently Bill likes NCIS: LA).  It also dives into some of the darker emotions that she experienced after the election, and the hope she has for the future.  You also see her disdain for how the coverage was handled during the election and how Matt Laurer was pretty much an idiot (Hillary, girl, I agree).

As much as this book is about Hillary and about the fallout of the disastrous election in 2016, the book also touches on policy.  Policy, oh lord, how I missed you.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned this to you guys, but I minored in political science during college, and that in part made watching the whole mess of an election really hard for me.  Even during the primaries it seemed policy was overlooked (and yes, even the democratic primary).

Sure, St. Bernard promised the moon but he never explained how we were going to get there.  Hillary clearly had a plan of how she wanted to enact policies, and how she thought we could feasibly get there.  Her website was filled with them, and I always annoyed me how a certain idiotic morning news host with bad hair that used to be B.F.F.’s with Donald Trump until he insulted his fiancee said she had no message.  Because her website was nothing but message after message.

But hey, ration was thrown away in this election.  Especially the general election.  In the later part of the book, there are sections of this book that almost feel like they’re written as an indictment against Russia, Wikileaks, the media and in part to Comey  for what they did to unravel the momentum that she had.  And it’s a damn it’s a beautiful written thing.  Hate her all you want, but if it wasn’t for Comey’s interference the media would’ve been talking about that damn bus and it’s more likely than not that pervert wouldn’t be turning the White House not the Golden Showers House (God, I feel for whoever will be POTUS next, they’ll have to fumigate the place).

Yeah, crude.  But I really don’t care.  Again, this is my review and I’m just sick of having to be the adult while all the Trump, the Russian bots,  trolls, Bernie supporters, etc. can act like the idiots they are.

Okay…back to the book. I think my overall thought when I closed this one is how much I missed Hillary and what could’ve been.  Even if she never runs for office again, I hope her voice continues to resonate.  It also makes me more energetic to keep on resisting, to fight the good fight.

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Overall Rating: An A.  I enjoyed it and it was needed.  An articulate summation of what went wrong by the woman who should be president of the United States.

 

Plot, What Plot: Mr. President by Katy Evans

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katy Evans comes a sizzling new contemporary romance.

He’s won the hearts of millions. But is he willing to lose his?

I met the president’s son when we were both young. Matthew Hamilton was handsome, polished, and intelligent. I’d never met a guy like him.

He promised me that he’d never run for president. I promised that if he did, I’d be by his side.

Three terms later, an invitation to join Matthew Hamilton’s campaign is the most exhilarating opportunity I’ve ever experienced. I’m determined to make a difference; he is determined to win.

Focused on his goal, Matt is steadfast, ruthless, and disarming. All eyes are on him and his popularity is surging. But soon, the next possible president of the United States is possessing me in more ways than one—and despite the risks, I’m helpless to resist.

We’re stealing touches, stealing moments, and stealing away at night. But our chemical connection is quickly becoming dangerously combustive, putting not only my heart, but Matt’s chance at the presidency on the line.

Winning will take everything. Walking away will be the hardest thing of all.

Source: GoodReads

Rarely, do I ever get embarrassed admitting I read a book.  I mean, I have read some pretty horrible books in the day-just read the archives for this blog if you don’t believe me.  But I am a little embarrassed that I read Mr. President.

It is bad ya’ll.  I mean, yeah I knew it was going to be a romance novel and it was going to have all the trimming that romances have (way too many sex scenes with bad metaphors) but all this book was was one bad sex scene after the next.  There wasn’t even a good plot to have a sex scene skimmer like yours truly interested in this book.

The romance itself was even lacking.

It was so banal.

To the point I didn’t even get the attraction between the two other than that they both found each other hot-aka Matt has dark eyes and Charlotte is a redhead.

The thing that bothered me about this one the most is that there was potential here.  I wanted to explore more into Matt’s dad’s assassination and his campaign. I wanted to know more about the other candidates that made Matt’s third party run viable.   I wanted Charlotte to have some semblance of a personality, but did I get what I wanted.

Big fat nope.

Instead, I was left with some interesting bread crumbs while being WTF out of how unrealistic Charlotte’s situation is.

Girl is twenty-two and with no experience whatsoever is working for a major presidential candidate, and yeah the book points out that there was a connection and a stupid hokey promise made when girl was like teen but still.

Ugh.

That’s all I have to say big fat ugh.  If you’re above the age of twenty-two and have been in the job market/don’t come from privilege, and if you are below the age of twenty-two and don’t come from any sort of privilege you’re going to hate this girl.  She makes Rory Gilmore on the Gilmore Girls revival look likable.

I mean, I was annoyed.

Is it really that hard for an author to write a background for their MC that’s age appropriate and why not age up Charlotte a little.  She could’ve been a little bit older than 22 and it would be perfectly acceptable.  I’m just saying.

Anyway, don’t recommend.  I find books like this odd.  If you go to their GoodReads page they usually have five thousand reviews oohing and aweing about it with lots and lots of pictures of models who are supposed to be the main characters.  But really, those sorts of reviews should’ve been my tip off that this book focused too much on bad sex scenes and not anything else.

Overall Rating: Big fat F.

 

The Dog Days of Politics: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

Andie had it all planned out.

When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.

Important internship? Check.

Amazing friends? Check.

Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.

Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected.

And where’s the fun in that?

Source: GoodReads

Finally, a decent book.

This week has not been a good reading week for me, if you keep on this blog.  Thankfully though, I was able to read something to end the slump I was having—I mean, really three DNF’s in a roll and then a book that would’ve been a DNF if I wasn’t tired of DNF-ing things.

Anyway, I had my eye set on The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson for a while, and for a lot of different reasons.

First and foremost, that blurb is practically written for me.  Dogs, political scandal, summer romance, I am so in.  Also, I had been wanting to try Morgan Matson’s books out for a while.  I’ve heard a lot of nice things about them, though most of them involve a recent death subplot—and um, no, a little too close and depressing to home for me.

Obligatory cute dog pic.  Featuring the one and only, Patricia Cakes Beagle.  Self proclaimed cutest dog ever.

Obligatory cute dog pic. Featuring the one and only, Patricia Cakes Beagle. Self proclaimed cutest dog ever.

For the most part, The Unexpected Everything lived up to my expectations and then some.  I really loved how all of the relationships were handled in this book—from Andi’s relationship to her father, to her friends, to her relationship with Clark.  They all seemed rather realistic and  were developed fairly nicely.

Yes, her friends weren’t glorified ship cheerleaders.  They actually had their own life and problems besides Andi’s—and yes, their subplot might’ve been a little too much for this already jammed pack story and was abruptly resolved, BUT I appreciate the effort and it wasn’t terrible.  However, the clunky feel of this plotline was what bumped down this book from getting a perfect score.

Other aspects of the novel, besides character building were well done.  I thought there might’ve been more to the plot in why Andi suddenly couldn’t attend her medical program, but with almost  500 pages I was okay that the book didn’t focus on this plot more.

I’m also glad that the political scandal took a backseat, so that Andi’s relationship with her father could be built up a little bit.  That was nice.  While I was interested in who was behind everything, and what was going on.  This story wasn’t focused on the scandal so much as the father and daughter relationship, and I really love it when YA books focus on family.

Overall, if you want a cute contemporary to read this summer give this one a try.  It is good, though maybe a tad bit long with some unnecessary subplots.

Overall Rating: A-

YA Books Based on US Political Candidates

Disclaimer: Because this blog does not talk about politics, other than to make fun of Donald Trump’s toupee, this is not an endorsement of any political candidate.  If you know me in real life, you know I do support a certain candidate and that I have been a lifelong member of a certain party (I am trying to be relatively unbiased in this post though).  But this blog post is purely written in jest, rather than being  a thorough analysis on the current state of weirdness in America. If you want to talk about politics with me you can read my Tweets and interact with them when there is a WWE debate on which seems to be like every other day. Note, I am only using the candidates currently in the race.  If I was to you use all of the candidates that originally entered the 2016 election  this post would never end.  

Anyway, without further ordeal.  American  presidential candidates  and YA books.  Note, each selection has a default Harry Potter comparison.  Because, you know, Harry Potter.

 

Hillary Clinton:

Hillary like  protagonists are practical.  They have a plans set out.  However, they might not exactly be the most outgoing of book characters.  They can be arguably polarizing, and people will always talk about them (often negatively).  Hillary protagonists also break ceilings and wear classy pant suits.

  • Kestrel The Winner’s Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski: Much like Hillary, Kestrel can come off as aloof and secretive  and is hated by a lot of people in said book series.  She is a master mind though, and wears classy looking dresses (a far cry from pant suits, but you can’t have everything).
  • Sydney from Bloodlines by Richelle Mead: Sydney is a planner and isn’t exactly the warmest character.  She does actually wear pant suits too, come to think of it.  Also, there was a big investigation concerning her actions.  However, I don’t think she was interrogated for over eleven hours.  Instead, she was just locked up in an underground Duggar like rehab facility for months.
  • Hermione Granger from Harry Potter:   Hillary probably has the most extensive of policies amongst the candidates, but like Hermione not everyone totally feels her.  Because, you know, not everyone likes hearing about Hogwarts a History.  Much like a lot of people don’t like hearing about policy.  They just like dick jokes, see the last GOP debate.  And Hermione ultimately did get a ministry job which sort of goes to this comparison.  The only thing is I don’t know is  if Hermione wears pant suits.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump himself could be a book character that no one would believe is real.  He has the potential to be either great comic relief or potentially an evil corrupt dictator who Cinder and her friends or someone equally capable would have to defeat.  He is a Lunar, right?  I mean that so explains the ever changing orange hair and the popularity.

  • Queen Levana from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer: Because that hair is a total indicator that he is a Lunar.  And how he is always on top of the GOP polls despite the shit that spews out of his mouth indicates mind control.  Total Lunar.  Maybe he is Levana back from the dead OMG.
  • Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling: While he still has a nose, he could very much be using a forbidden curse to get those votes.
  • That Obnoxious Xenophobe in Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah: Seriously, as bad as the characterization was in this book, someone needs to send it to Mr. Trump.  It shows how obnoxious xenophobes are.  Maybe Mr. Trump would learn something if he read it (doubtful, but maybe).

Bernie Sanders

The idealist.  Whose ideas appear great on paper, but you’re like that would cost me a lot of money in taxes.  Still, he wants to start a “revolution” and YA much like real life likes revolutions so that makes them fairly popular.   Also, he has his own folk album and that would probably make him one of YA’s “musical” geniuses.

  • Mr. Weasley from Harry Potter by JK Rowling: Because you could totally see him feeling the Bern in a flying car.  Plus, a lot of Bernie’s policies remind me of Mr. Weasley’s muggle tinkering.  Sort of a little out there, but hey some of them are fairly decent ideas.
  • Cinder in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer: While her personality in some regards has flecks of Hillary (she’s breaking glass ceilings with being the first cyborg Lunar queen)  her speeches almost mirror Bernie’s.  I mean, she and all the promo material involving the Lunar Chronicles constantly discussed “the revolution”.  Pretty much all those Winter promos, Bernie speeches.
  • Raif in Exquisite  Captive by Heather Demetrios: He talks a lot about revolutions.  Alas, no mention of the mysterious Wall Street (I looked a lot for a YA character who talked about the 1%, but there wasn’t a lot out there since most YA characters are members of the 1% which is another blog topic for another day).

Ted Cruz:

The character that nobody likes, and thinks he’s always rights, and randomly quotes Princess Bride quotes and makes you wince because-hey, you used to like that book until Teddy started talking about it.

  • Vizzini The Princess Bride  by William Goldman  : Because obviously. It’s inconceivable that Teddy wouldn’t be compared to him
  • Draco Malfoy the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling: He doesn’t quote The Princess Bride, but he does think he’s always right.  Although, to Teddy’s credit he hasn’t called anyone a mudblood.  He has insulted several groups of people though not quite as much as Donald Trump  Voldemort.
  • Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: Because Teddy sort of has the pious thing going on.   And Collins does make me wince.   BUT luckily Elizabeth didn’t end up with Collins because that would be just ew.

Marco Rubio:

Marco characters are the “golden boy” archetype.  Arguably though, they are the golden boy characters that just don’t live up to their so called “potential”.  Still though, they have a pretty face and doesn’t that make all the difference.  Also Marco characters are known for being a bit robotic.

  • Simon from Carry On by Rainbow Rowell: It’s too bad the obvious romance in the GOP party is between Teddy and Trump, because I could totally see Marco playing Simon the “chosen one” character that just can’t get it right and Teddy could be Baz which is akin to Draco.  But it’s obvious that Truz is the ultimate ship of this race (I just threw up a little in my mouth, but seriously you could cut some of the debate scenes and make  a 90’s rom com trailer-you know the love hate kind-with their interactions).
  • Harry Potter  by JK Rowling: If you think about how Harry won the books it was a bit of a Hell Mary.  I think at this point for Marco to win the race he’s need a horcrux.  He didn’t fare so well with his past battles with the Dark Lord.
  • Iko from the Lunar Chronicles: Becuase she’s sort of a robot (android) and she’s pretty.   However, Iko would not fail if she was a golden android.  Just saying.

Joh Kasich:

Um, who are you?  Seriously, the Kasich characters are those that we sort of forget that exists and are like-oh, yeah, that guy.  Often a supporting character who tries to be a main character, these type of characters easily fade to the background but slowly lurk their way to main cast as the book continues.

  • Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter by JK Rowling: Because everyone forgot about Neville until he grew up graduated and got hot and ruled the internet.  Now everyone talks about Neville a lot.
  • JP from the Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot:  Because no one saw him becoming a main cast member until he was in your face in book seven.  Up until that time he just had a corn in chili obsession.