Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – J K Rowling

017 - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Rating – 4*

When I saw they were re-releasing this, I knew I had to have it. When I found out that Eddie Redmayne was narrating the audiobook, I pre-ordered it (and also purchased the kindle edition because the cover on it was much nicer than the British hardback).

It’s always lovely to dip back in to the Potterverse, I love all of it. And Fantastic Beasts has stolen my heart. This didn’t disappoint me, it was exactly what I was hoping it to be. This book is just great fun – and the audiobook even more so.

The audiobook is just under 2 hours, and it’s fantastic. It’s a encyclopaedia of beasts found in the magical world, and is a textbook referred to in the Potter series. Obviously in this you read about beasts familiar to us from Potter, and general folklore, but also this covers off so many more – not just those explored in the Potter series, or indeed Fantastic Beasts (although, given it’s a series I’m really hoping they include some more of these in the future!) I really just loved how this ties in muggle stories, and has footnotes from Newt and gah, I just really loved this okay?! I know it’s not much more than a fictional encyclopaedia but it really was good fun – and Eddie Redmayne reading it just made it even more so!

Something which surprised me in this, and I found very nerdily exciting, is the introduction. In the introduction there is information on policy and politics behind the classification system of magical beasts which is used in the book (and wizarding world in general!) and for me that was really interesting. I love looking in to the wizarding world from that perspective and getting that insight in to the workings of the Ministry of Magic (and MACUSA).

This is definitely a book for a Potterhead, and I think it’s a fantastic companion to the movie – especially as they’ve revised it to tie in. Also, it’s worth noting that all proceeds from the book (physical, eBook and audio) are going to Comic Relief or Lumos, the charity JK Rowling set up herself. The original edition was written specifically for Comic Relief, and it’s really nice to see that even after all this time the proceeds are still going to a good cause. So if you were in doubt, it’s for charity, and that should sway you!

Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – JK Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

39 - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Rating – 4*

Advanced warning, while I will try and be as spoiler free as possible I can’t promise that will be the case. So, if you don’t want to have The Cursed Child spoiled for you, run now and come back when you’ve read it so we can discuss it. Now that warning is over, I’m going to start.

A quick disclaimer: I was very sceptical about this. I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. I was pretty convinced I would hate it actually. From spoilers I stumbled upon, I was pretty certain I’d read better fanfiction and while that sentiment does hold true, it doesn’t take away the magic of this book in any way. It is incredible. I went to the midnight release, I was sad that some muggle outbid me on eBay for some robes, but I had fun anyway. Harry Potter just brings some of the most amazing people together, and it was an incredible 2 hours. Harry Potter is my childhood, I feel like I am part of something and sharing that joy with others for just a few short hours gave me the warm fuzzies.

Now, this picks up exactly where Deathly Hallows left off – with some overlap. We start in the familiar scene of Platform 9 and 3/4, Harry, Ginny and the kids waiting to send Albus off for his first year. We follow Albus and Rose on to the train and, like their parents, they want to meet a friend for life. This is when we meet Scorpius, and I fell a little in love with this little Snake on his first line. He is just precious and he remains that way throughout. We follow them to Hogwarts, and as is expected, both Scorpius and Albus are sorted in to Slytherin – and immediately Albus faces the repercussions of this. Fast forwarding a little bit, we end up in their 4th year, and the relationship between Albus and Harry is tumultuous – Albus doesn’t fit with the family, is most definitely a black sheep. Without giving too many details away, Albus and Scorpius end up travelling through time, back to the Triwizard Tournament, in an effort to save the life of Cedric Diggory. This is pressured by a young witch calling herself Delphi Diggory, who isn’t all what she seems. Needless to say, this doesn’t go very well!

We end up in several timelines and I loved, loved this. It is contrived, it is convoluted, and it is extremely messy, but I can imagine how incredible it is to watch and it does sort of work. The first is a bit of a dud, but then we end up in a timeline where the dark won, Albus doesn’t exist and the wonderful Scorpius has to figure out how to fix it on his own and get his best friend back. This resulted in what I found to be one of the most powerful moments of the entire script, and that was the appearance of Severus Snape. It was bittersweet, and heartbreaking for me personally, as Snape will always be Alan Rickman in my heart and the thought that there is someone else out there, being him made me pause for a moment. It doesn’t take away from the importance of his role because, once again, he plays the hero and it’s glorious.

I don’t want to say too much more, but how it pans out from that point is a little heartbreaking. Scorpius saves Albus, but they get thrown in the past again and this time without a way to get home – Delphi reveals her true identity and it all goes to hell until Scorpius and Albus, between them, have a genius idea. It reaches it’s peak in Godric’s Hollow, with the Potters, the Granger-Weasley’s, and Draco fighting to preserve the timelines. And it was powerful, contrived, but powerful.

At the end of it all, I’m not sure who the Cursed Child actually is – it could be Albus, Scorpius or Delphi. Each of them is cursed in their own way; all living up to their fathers legacies.

There were a few things I wish could have happened – cannon LGBT being one of the things. Reading this, I could see Albus and Scorpius being an incredible couple and it is just so, so frustrating that this is disgustingly hetronormatitive and completely ignores the blatant written chemistry between the two of them. It wouldn’t have to be explicit, but it could have definitely been something that was there. Also, it would have been an opportunity for JKR to make Dumbledore’s sexuality cannon – but not even a squeak about that.

All that aside,I loved this, and really hope I get the opportunity to see it in the West End in the not so distant future. Honestly, I went in to this with very low expectations but come the end of it I was pleasantly surprised. A few things disappointed me, quite significantly, but those aside this was a really interesting take on something I love so much. I would encourage every Potter fan to give this a go because you don’t have to be a genius to understand this script – knowing the characters and the world make it so much easier to follow.

Overall, I gave this 4* because it was a bit cheesy and contrived but I loved it anyway.

Review: Harry Potter Bulk Review 2 || Blogmas Day 18

As promised from my previous review, this is the bulk review of The Order of the Phoenix to The Deathly Hallows.

The Order of the Phoenix (3*)
This is my least favourite in the series. I know for a lot of people, this is the best but there are just so many things about this book that anger me. This book is really when it became a much more adult story and in some respects I struggle with that even now! The politics in this book frustrates me. Umbridge is one of the most deplorable characters in literature and really, really pisses me off. I find this book very challenging to read, it’s the longest filler book in a series you could imagine.

However, some of the good parts of this book are some of the best parts of the series. There is a lot of humour through this book that I do absolutely love and do mean that I keep reading but on the whole I don’t enjoy this book. The shining moments for me are the 40 lines of eye contact/sexual tension between Remus/Sirius (in addition to joint presents for Harry and general Wolfstar subtext), there is also McGonagall being her fabulous self and saying beautiful things like “have a biscuit Potter”.

This book is an important book in the series, a lot happens and a lot of it is good but for me it’s just too political and the teenage angst pisses me off!

The Half-Blood Prince (5*)
The reason I love this book is that while there is the sinister undertone of what is going on in the world there is also the overwhelming normality of school, or as normal as Hogwarts can be! I loved the Ron/Lavender relationship, I loved Hermione realising that she had feelings for Ron even though I’m still not sold on them being endgame.

My opinion of Dumbledore was sealed in this book the first time around. I hate him. I know that it was thought he had good intentions but that man made so many really bad mistakes, omitted so many facts, that man was dangerous and most people see him as this hero of the series. I don’t. Albus Dumbledore was a manipulative bastard, to be quite honest.

I loved Riddle’s backstory this time around a lot more than I have appreciated in the past. I also love the first chapter of this book, it’s often overlooked but I love The Other Minister, even if Rufus Scrimgeour is a bumbling idiot!

The Deathly Hallows (5*)
This book always has me feeling a lot of things. I don’t think it’s the best in the series but it was exactly what the series was building to and was completely satisfying. I’ve always sobbed, quite a lot, while reading this book and even on my umpteenth reread it wasn’t any different. Dobby. Snape. Fred. Remus. Tonks. Every one gets me!

There are so many things I could say about this book. Every part of this book is incredible and Jo’s mind is wonderful, how she tied everything together like she did is awe inspiring.

When I finished this book I sobbed like a baby. I always do. As a wise woman once said, “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home” and I couldn’t agree more. Every time I read this series I feel like I’m home, even if I have some big issues with the epilogue, I forgive Jo, she’s the queen and she knew what she was doing.

Review: Harry Potter Bulk Review 1 || Blogmas Day 7

Something slightly different now, a bulk review. Most people have read Harry Potter or at least seen the movies and as these aren’t special as the illustrated edition of Philosopher’s Stone I thought a bulk review of three books would be a good idea.

I got the beautiful new box set for my birthday and, in combination with the audiobooks being available on audible I have got through these three very quickly.

Chamber of Secrets
While this book is possibly one of the weakest in the series for me, I still enjoy it. There are a number of things I found really frustrating in rereading this. I think that the fondness of this book is purely sentimental because every time I get around to rereading this I like it less.

My favourite character in this book has always been Ron. My feelings for him later on in the series diminish somewhat but in this book Ron is the shining character. His fear of spiders, his broken wand, he was just much needed comic relief in an otherwise quite dull book.

Some of the most key moments of the series happen in this book but aren’t really touched upon until later which is quite interesting to look at. It was quite fun actually to notice these key moments and how they develop in to bigger things later on. Also, we have some great moments at The Burrow and with the Ford Anglia.

Also, we can’t forget Dobby. Dobby somewhat annoyed me in this on the whole, but I still love that little elf.

On the whole, this book leaves me somewhat empty but it also leaves me very excited for what is to come. I gave it a 3* review this time around.

Prisoner of Azkaban
This book always fills my heart with joy. This has always been my favourite in the series. I primarily listened to this one as an audiobook and Stephen Fry really just adds such a wonderful tone to it and brings the characters alive.

I love this book because Remus and Sirius are possibly two of my favourite characters from the series and, I won’t lie, I’m a Wolfstar shipper too. I love these two and I really do love the idea of them together.

One thing about this book that I loved the most is the LACK of Voldemort. This book is very much more character driven. There’s the feud between Hermione and Ron, which while annoying me also amused me because it was pretty clear that Ron was trying to come to terms with the fact she’s a girl and becoming more important to him. In this book I actually loathe Ron for the majority, mainly because I love Crookshanks. Also, it’s worth noting that Dumbledore doesn’t annoy me half as much as he used to, he’s still a moron and if he were a real person I would detest him but as a character I’ve grown to like him.

Shining moment was Christmas with McGonagall “Tripe, Sybill?” will forever be a beautiful moment. In fact, all of McGonagall was fabulous in this book.

I think I will always love this book so it will always be 5* for this.

Goblet of Fire
As I said, Prisoner of Azkaban has always been my favourite. Until this reread of Goblet of Fire. I don’t know why I always disliked this book because this reread I absolutely devoured it. I read it in ONE DAY and I simply couldn’t put it down.

I love that this book started differently to the previous three, no Mr and Mrs Dursley (thank goodness). There is a distinct dark undertone to the start of this book and I feel it really does mark a turning point in the series, it’s where the books became a lot more mature and I really appreciated that this time around.

The pace of this book is much more suited to me. There was so much going on and I enjoyed all of it. I loved the start, as I said, I loved the build up to the Quidditch World Cup and meeting the other Weasley’s, I loved the events there, I loved the preamble to going back to school, the announcement of the Tri Wizard Tournament, the tournament itself, the final task, what happened in the graveyard, aftermath… It’s all just incredible and happens so quickly that this didn’t feel like a 600 page novel.

Once again, Ron annoyed me but in away I sort of understand that from him as it’s pretty clear he’s infatuated with Hermione, coming to terms with these feelings and is easily jealous. But when him and Harry make up I did feel myself getting a little sentimental. The kids going through puberty and discovering their sexuality in quite a discrete way was something I found quite hilarious to read about because they were all pretty clueless!

I love the story on the backburner about the house elves and S.P.E.W; Hermione’s quest for justice is something that I didn’t really appreciate fully until this reread. Also, I love how Emma has become Hermione in that aspect! Also, while on the subject of house elves – DOBBY AND WINKY! I love that little side story.

One thing I have barely touched upon so far is my love of the teachers and other supporting characters. I love the teachers in this book. Hagrid’s growth as a character is something I’d forgotten about and then McGonagall is just her fabulous self as always. Also, in this book while Snape was a bastard (no other way to put it) come the end I had the respect for him that I had always had. There’s no excuse for his behaviours but honestly, it takes a brave man to do what Severus Snape did.

Overall The Goblet of Fire has gone up to a 5* read for me and I’m so excited to start on The Order of the Phoenix!

I will probably do this again for the final three books in a week or so! Until tomorrow!

Review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Illustrated) – JK Rowling & Jim Kay

HP&tPS

Everyone knows the story of Harry Potter, so this isn’t really going to be a review of that. This is going to be more of a review of what an incredible experience rereading it with illustration was because I’m in love with it, I really am.

This has been a long time in the making, but the wait was really not a disappointment. Jim Kay has added a new dimension to the story and I really cannot wait to see what he does with the rest of the series. The illustrations he’s created are definitely more what I imagined when I first read the books, but there is a bit of influence from the movies (how could there not be?!).

The story hasn’t changed any, but the illustrations boosted this book significantly in the enjoyment levels. I would even go as far as to say it’s now my favourite in the series, simply because of the illustrations. The first movie was weak, the kids were poor actors and significant portions were cut and this just gave the insight in to some of the better scenes that were cut with beautiful illustrations. I really want the panorama of Diagon Alley on my wall, I loved the sorting hat, I loved the little inserts of dragon eggs and trolls… I just loved everything about this.

My only peeve is that it’s in columns of text rather than blocks, but after a few pages I got used to that. It was just jarring at first. But otherwise this is just perfect and I just want the entire series now. I cannot wait for The Chamber of Secrets to be released, hopefully sooner rather than later. Needless to say this is easily a 5* book now, before it was a 3/4.

One final note, this would make a beautiful Christmas present for any Harry Potter lover or even a child who is ready to be introduced to the wizarding world. Or just a present for yourself!

Blog: Harry Potter Re-Read 2015

Happy Halloween!

I’m kicking off this Halloween with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. A forum I’m part of have an annual reading challenge and, this year, I’ve decided to host a Harry Potter Re-Read for us! It all started after I bought the beautiful Jim Kay illustrated edition and I’ve been holding off reading it, saving it for today because I felt Halloween was the perfect day to read it!

So I’m going to reread the entire series over the next two months, the goal is to read the full series by the end of the year. I have read the whole series and watched all the movies in a week before but with uni work, that isn’t going to happen! I think they’ll be the perfect comfort reads during the next couple of months that will undoubtedly be full of stress with coursework deadlines and postgraduate applications. I’m really looking forward to reading it for the first time since Pottermore has been in play and reading it with the new dimension added to the characters.

Anyway, I’m now off to read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I’m unsure as to whether I will review them individually or do a big discussion post at the end, I shall see. I may just do brief updates throughout the next couple of months. So if anyone wants to discuss Harry Potter with me at any point in the near future, feel free, I will be more than happy to chat back because I love Potter. Lots.

I reiterate what I said in the beginning, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!