I wasn't expecting much as I haven't really been into the books for some time, but I was really satisfied. There wasn't any of the clunky exposition I was expecting. There really wasn't anything I would have cut (in terms of being extraneous -- I had a few wtf moments, but any big things I could have done without did serve some purpose). I felt engaged throughout. Okay, the Epilogue was stupid and pointless. I can see its thematic purpose, but it's not like anything came as a surprise, and it's not like JKR has had a shortage of post-book venues in which to talk about what she sees happening after the end of the book.
I really liked the moral grey throughout the book. I hadn't been expecting any further attempts at explaining why Dumbledore had acted as he did, so I was pleasantly surprised -- especially since I was actually sold on it. Okay, it did kinda of whitewash all that grey, but still. One thing I did find interesting was that Harry never told Dumbledore of how tempted he was (and wow, hello One Ring).
The book did a good job of building up the Ron/Hermione 'ship though the actual kiss felt pastede on to me. (Sidenote: When they said "bathroom," I immediately thought of Moaning Myrtle.) I was a little thrown that JRK married off Tonks and Lupin, though I guess it makes sense (in terms of what to expect from this author; I'm still not particularly sold on the 'ship -- though the Lupin of this book generally isn't the Lupin in my head); and as soon as Lupin was all despondent around all things Tonks I called that she was pregnant (and did an internal wtf, 'cause crazy parts of fandom have already been there done that). I wasn't always comfortable with themes of True Wub and blood ties, but it made sense within the world JKR had built. I liked the development of Kreacher.
I cried a lot. I was on an airplane and the woman sitting next to me handed me a couple of tissues and said, "It's miserable, isn't it?" I wanted to say, "No, it's beautiful." I was somewhere in the Hogwarts battle -- either one of the Neville scenes, or Molly battling Bellatrix.
The first time I cried was when Hedwig died. I might have cried when Hermione explained about what she did to her parents. And possibly at the magical graffiti at Godric's Hollow.
'All right, Harry. You're OK, are you?'
'I'm fine. Thanks, Neville.'
But Neville seized his wrist as Harry made to move on.
'We're all going to keep fighting, Harry. You know that?'
I did a skimming reread of the book to take notes, and I was dry sobbing at that. I also still choked up at Percy showing up in the skim/reread.
'NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!'
Mrs Weasley threw off her cloak as she ran
My immediate reaction was, "Wow! Molly Weasley said 'bitch.'" Jeremy said he immediately thought of a moment in the second Alien movie, which the Internet tells me is:
[To Queen Alien who's about to grab Newt.] Ripley: Get away from her you bitch!
Oh, and Luna, Ernie, and Seamus casting patronuses (patroni?), rescuing Harry.
'That's right,' Luna said encouragingly, as if they were back in the Room of Requirement and this was simply spell practice for the DA. 'That's right, Harry ... come on, think of something happy ...'
'Something happy?' he said, his voice cracked.
'We're all still here,' she whispered, 'we're still fighting. Come on, now ...'
I loved McGonagall's deep love for and pride in Harry. It is so real and so true.
I still haven't read any actual posts about the book, but due mostly to my not being incredibly scrupulous about spoiler avoidance, I was spoiled for: Fred and Ted Tonks being dead, Snape not dying a heroic death (I wasn't sure whether that meant he didn't die at all), there being more Snape->Lily, and the fact that there was a high death count. I was expecting more Snape, period, the way I saw people talking about the fic they wanted.
Luna's father's, 'They took my Luna. 'Because of what I've been writing. They took my Luna and I don't know where she is, what they've done to her. But they might give her back to me if I -- if I --' made me think of Mary Magdalene's, "They have taken my Lord, and I do not know where they have put him."
I loved Harry's response to Ron's 'he must've known I'd run out on you.'
'No,' Harry corrected him. 'He must've known you'd always want to come back.'
All the Potterwatch pseudonyms beginning with R was impressive, and of course at "Romulus" I realized they were puns ('cause you never say "Romulus" unless you're speaking of "Romulus and Remus," but it wasn't until my reread/skim that I caught Jordan River! ('cause my immediate initial reaction was of course the Summer Glau character), which I thought was pretty awesome.
Okay, I'm stopping now.