Literature and London Part 2: Hogwarts and Harry Potter

Technically, most of the Harry Potter stories don’t really figure into London, and even the Warner Bros. Studio (which houses many of the original scenes and prop decorations) lot isn’t located in London. But I suppose it wouldn’t be a “Literature and London” series if I called it something different every time, heh.

And I did say I was going to write about my Harry Potter experience.

Which was much easier to say than to do. At first I’d thought it would be almost impossible to do just the one post about a series that originally spanned seven books. I mean, seriously, what pictures would I have to choose? What quotes would fit each picture? And did I really need to add 30+ Quidditch-related pictures? No? Darn.

But what I will add, is this stunning depiction of the Great Hall entrance in all its glory. Because I totally got emotional just seeing them open. I’m not a sap, promise. Okay. Maybe I am. #sorrynotsorry

Seriously, I could go on and on about the series and how much of it has been a part of my life. I could go on and on about how I walked the halls pretending I was kinda sorta there, in my own way, down at Leavesden, inside the Warner Bros. lot. But at the interest of brevity, I won’t go crazy, and have limited myself to blogging about a few choice pictures.

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

It’s the first sentence quite literally heard ’round the world. And it’s the first location within the HP books that readers paid attention to. Not so much because of its perfectly normal, English quaintness, but because of the things that happen right after. Like cats reading maps and owls flying by day and a cloaked man putting out the lights with a cigarette lighter in the middle of the night.

It didn’t come….he kept on running…he opened his eyes.

A scarlet steam engine was waiting next to a platform packed with people. A sign overhead said Hogwarts Express, eleven o’clock. Harry looked behind him and saw a wrought-iron archway where the barrier had been, with the words Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on it. He had done it.

I hadn’t been able to visit the King’s Cross Station platforms much, even though I had walked by that way a few times to transfer lines. That said, it was still fun to walk into the HP Studio to find myself transported to Platform 9 3/4, with a full-blown train set on makeshift tracks, just waiting for people to board it. And I didn’t even have to walk through a wall!

There was a loud “Oooooooh!”

The narrow path had opened suddenly onto the edge of a great black lake. Perched atop a high mountain on the other side, its windows sparkling in the starry sky, was a vast castle with many turrets and towers.

I had originally selected a different picture, one of a much larger model of the Hogwarts grounds. Unfortunately, WordPress didn’t seem to like showing it because it’s one of those weird panorama photos, so I had to make do with a miniature model of what set designers pictured Hogwarts would look like. Still, it’s rather impressive. And if you were standing before a much larger model of the castle, you’d be severely knocked out with awe.

“You are here to learn the subtle science and exact art of potionmaking…I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses…I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death…”

Confession: While I probably would have excelled in Arithmancy (because math-ish magic? Yespls!), my passion would have probably been Potions class. And not because I think about using it for evil or anything…um. Let’s hide any evidence I try to poison people through my concoctions…*buries the Dark Mark cookies under pillows and stuff*

Honestly, though, the Potions class boasted an excellent ambiance and well-stocked equipment. I wish I had the kind of budget for my future science classroom, but alas.

“The Chasers throw the Quaffle and put it through the hoops to score,” Harry recited. “So–that’s sort of like basketball on broomsticks with six hoops, isn’t it?”

“What’s basketball?” said Wood curiously.

Quidditch! Anything that can let you fly on broomsticks is a fun game to me. And yes, I do have a position I prefer to play, which is kind of fitting, considering I’d probably end up being one of the more violent ones on the field. Unintentionally, of course. I mean, as a Ravenclaw I’d be sort of expected to be able to approximate the trajectory with which to send a bludger careening down the opponent’s head, right? Right? Okay. That joke was made in poor taste. #sorrynotsorry

THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED. ENEMIES OF THE HEIR, BEWARE.

This was quite honestly one of my favorite props there. Apparently the door–which opens up into the Chamber of Secrets–is made out of several snakes that actually do move through a series of mechanisms.

With a yell, he rolled back onto the pavement, just in time. A second later, a gigantic pair of wheels and headlights screeched to a halt exactly where Harry had just been lying. They belonged, as Harry saw when he raised his head, to a triple-decker, violently purple bus, which had appeared out of thin air. Gold lettering over the windshield spelled The Knight Bus.

Also another of my favorite descriptions of things Harry Potter related. This one happens to operate in London in the books, and for the longest time, I actually did think that buses in London were triple-deckers. Of course, I eventually realized that normal buses were only two decks, not three. And none of the official transport was purple, either. How unfortunate!

“What we need,” said Dumbledore slowly, and his light blue eyes moved from Harry to Hermione, “is more time.”

“But–” Hermione began. And then her eyes became very round. “OH!”

It takes a very trusting teacher to give a 13-year-old that much hold on time. Hell, I barely trust my 12- and 13-year-olds to do anything right when given that much responsibility. I mean, you’d think that after two years people would get the idea that Hermione broke almost as many rules as Harry and Ron did during their time at Hogwarts. That said, wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff was interesting at best.

The lid creaked slowly open. Dumbledore reached inside it and pulled out a large, roughly hewn wooden cup. It would have been entirely unremarkable had it not been full to the brim with dancing blue-white flames.

No flames in this particular cup, but then again, this one isn’t exactly the Goblet of Fire. This one happens to be the Triwizard Cup, a prize given to the player who makes it through the third task first. Of course, things don’t go exactly as anyone would expect, but things sort of pan out slowly by the end.

The walls of the Hall had all been covered in sparkling silver frost, with hundreds of garlands of mistletoe and ivy crossing the starry black ceiling. The House tables had vanished instead, there were about a hundred smaller, lantern-lit ones, each seating about a dozen people.

I always thought the Yule Ball was much better done through visuals than description. It was cool to see how the Great Hall was decorated, and how it had changed once the music went from a classical style to The Weird Sisters. Also, the food and drink must have been grand!

And that’s where I’ll stop. I had hoped to have seen a couple other places like the Department of Mysteries and maybe even Xenophilius Lovegood’s house, but I suppose there’s room for them to add to their exhibits later on. When I went, the Forbidden Forest had just opened up, which was cool to see. The Ministry of Magic also had a few highlighted areas, but again, not enough in my book. I would have loved to have seen more.

That said, I did end up walking out of Hogwarts and back into London with a spring in my step and a sweater to tout off my Ravenclaw pride.

For the first Literature and London post, please click here.

Coming up in the last Literature and London post: Odds and ends and a bit of Shakespeare.

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Of Epic Fantasy Owl Crates and TBTBSantas

I don’t think I’ve posted a book haul-ish post on my blog in ages. Mostly because the last few books I’ve bought I’d done piece-meal. And honestly, for the most part, they were gifts. The last thing I’d actually bought at The Strand for myself was a copy of Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith (which, if you’ve seen the cover, is gorgeous and of course I wanted it in my collection). Everything else I’d gotten I’d given away (including six children’s books, five of which I really wanted to read but didn’t have time to, and three books to my TBTBSantee).

But! There is always the OwlCrate.

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I had subscribed to Owl Crate last month, when the Wonderland Theme was a definite buy because I really wanted a copy of Marissa Meyer’s Heartless and come on, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was an awesome book, and it’s a fabulously aesthetic theme. I was not disappointed, and when I saw that December’s was going to be on YA epic fantasies, I jumped at the chance. I hadn’t been able to call the book this time around (Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst), though it looks really good (and an LGBT one, too!), so I can’t wait to read it. The swag for the Epic theme was pretty much kickass as well, what with items from some of my favorite fantasies out there.

Next month’s theme is “Classic Remix,” and I’m fairly sure it’ll include Heartstone by Elle Katharine White, because it’s certainly a remix of a classic Jane Austen story, and surprise surprise, it gets released in January. My inner Austenite wants this book, but I’ve chosen to opt out of the Owl Crate because I’m not keen on getting more tea (especially if it comes out to be a slightly disappointing set of decaf).

I also had the pleasure of getting a lovely pile of swag and books from Raisa @ raisinetta and they were gorgeous, thank you so much!

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Alright, don’t laugh, but I’ve been wanting Eona by Alison Goodman for ages. And yet…I still haven’t read Eon, lol! It just wasn’t right, not having the sequel when it’s clearly a duology, I guess. I also got a hardcover of Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan, which is a fantasy following, well, wattaya know, a girl named Raisa (I see the cheek you used there, har har). All the chocolates have disappeared, and the tea will as well once I get going with my nightly teatimes. My sister has been grumbling about finding a particularly blue TARDIS hanging on our tree (which is all the more odd because our tree happens to be white and gold-themed). And Sailor Mars happens to be my favorite senshi so she is now hanging around my set of house and school keys!

Some other books I’ve managed to yoink this month includes a few library borrowed: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (because I needed to finish it and I’d already sent the copy I bought along to my TBTBSanta), the graphic novel of Brent Weeks’ The Way of Shadows (which I’ve been wanting to get my hands on since I’ve read the Night Angel trilogy and loved it) and White Sand by Brandon Sanderson (also a graphic novel, which looks awesome so far). Oh, and my bestie had a copy of Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson, which I plan to read in February before I lock myself down with A Conjuring of Light. Ahem.

Anyway. That’s all bookish updates so far! I shall be back with some holiday fooding this Sunday. If I haven’t died from the exhaustive week of knitting, baking, and gifting.

Of Hogwarts and Harry Potter Stories

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I found this tag at Lauren @ Always Me and I couldn’t resist! I mean, who hasn’t made up his or her own Hogwarts story at some point or other? After having my own Hogwarts persona for over ten years (probably closer to fifteen now, haha), this tag is a walk in the park and a fun one to do!

1. Are you a Pure-Blood, Half-Blood, or a Muggle-Born?

As Muggle-born as Hermione, thank you very much!

2. Which wand chose you?

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According to Pottermore, my wand is 11 3/4 inches, sycamore and phoenix feather, with surprisingly swishy flexibility. A curious and adventurous wand, apparently.

3. Did you take an owl, cat, rat, or toad with you?

I suppose I would’ve taken a cat. Preferably one with purple eyes. Preferably one named Faithful. Uh, I mean, you know what, I’d take a cat.

4. Where did the Sorting Hat put you?

Always Ravenclaw 😀

5. What House did you want to be in?

I don’t think any of the sortings have sent me anywhere but Ravenclaw, though I sometimes do get close to being thrown into Slytherin. I’ve got an inner Draco Malfoy inside of me. 😀

6. What lessons are your favorite and least favorite?

My favorite would be Potions, because I’ve always liked chemistry in school. Though I suppose Arithmancy would have been great, too. Least favorite, hmm. Probably Divination.

7. The form your patronus takes is a…

A dragon. Because why the hell not.

8. When confronted with a Boggart what does it look like for you?

A horribly awful “Your writing is really bad” rejection letter. I could Riddikulus it to the point where the letter is filled with grammatical errors. Hah, take that, rejection!

9. Do you partake in any school sports or magical hobbies?

*swings beater bat* Quidditch. Well, the online version of Quidditch where Harry Potter trivia is involved.

10. If you have free time where would you find yourself hanging out?

Take me to the library!

11. You are most likely to get a detention for what?

Hexing people for dog-earing library books. The nerve of these witches and wizards!

12. What career do you want after leaving Hogwarts?

Hogwarts professor. I’d probably come back to teach Muggle Studies or, hell, Potions.

I tag EVERYONE for this, because I want to see your answers! Yes. 😀

Inner Mind Geekness || Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Review

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Initial Thoughts:

I will say this: I cannot WAIT for all the fan fiction that’s going to result in this book. And honestly, I’m pretty damn sure there already WAS fan fiction regarding a few characters ever since the epilogue in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD

by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
Little Brown Books, July 2016
Children’s fantasy
Rated: 4 / 5 cookies

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a new play by Jack Thorne, is the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. It will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on 30th July 2016

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

My feelings when this book was announced as the “eighth Harry Potter book” was lukewarm at best. I mean, yes, I still added it to my TBR, and I was excited that there’d be more story in the HP world, but a play about Harry and his friends during their 30s? I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. But the anticipation started coming closer and closer, and by the time I finally got myself a copy (and attended a few of the launch parties littering the city–and I mean, egads, there are a LOT of HP fans out there who came to celebrate), I knew I was going to have to read the book ASAP. And discuss it with the numerous HP friends I’ve made over the years.

And boy, was it great to get back into the wizarding world. In fact, the whole book (which is in a screenplay format) made me want to re-read the first seven all over again, because The Cursed Child was just NOT ENOUGH OMG. I wanted more. MORE I TELL YOU. I wanted more Scorpius. I wanted more of the trio. I wanted more McGonagall and Albus and Hermione Badass Granger. Lawd, I just wanted more. Most of all, I really want to see this play live. Because omg it sounds amazing.

So this review isn’t going to be like my  normal reviews, only because I don’t want to dwell on super-spoilery things. It is, after all, a screenplay worth watching on stage. Below is pretty much just my inner mind commentary for when I was reading the book.

Inner Mind Geekness

  • We didn’t actually get confirmation at the epilogue about which house Albus Severus Potter gets into. I wonder which house he will get into…and I do hope it’s not Gryffindor… (that would make things boooooring).
  • OMG. THE FANFICTION THAT WILL BE WRITTEN. THE BROMANCING. #SNOWBAZFOREVER
  • “He dials 62442.” You’d think after all this time, with the whole “Magic is Might” Ministry breach thing during the Battle of Hogwarts, that they’d have changed the code to get inside. (Yes, it’s the same damn number. I’d know this because I’m a friggin’ nerd?)
  • Though I suppose a lot of things that get mentioned is due to an homage to the original seven books. And some of it is really taking me down Nostalgia Central.
  • I love Scorpius.
  • Holy shit. The grownup witches and wizards are even more intense now with their problems.
  • *sing-song “The Schuyler Sisters” melody from Hamilton* Hermione….Ron Weasley….and Draco. The…Potter friendsies?
  • Are they ever going to mention Teddy? Or…er…no?
  • Every time Bane’s name shows up I hear his dialogue in Tom Hardy’s voice. No, seriously, I hear him as The Dark Knight Rises Bane.
  • Harry, you can’t stop the rhythm of two hearts in love. (I’m totally not borrowing this from Hairspray…nope…)
  • OH GOD, YOU TWO. JUST SNOG AND HUG IT OUT. #SNOWBAZFOREVER
  • I frelling LOVE Scorpius.
  • Act Two, Scene 19: The many euphemisms in this scene just destroyed my brain.
  • FOR V AND VALOR. (Totally Pokemon-related as well.)
  • Okay, can we just talk about how badass Hermione was in the original series? Well, she’s even MORE BADASS in her 30s.
  • Did I mention how much I LOVE Scorpius?
  • Ugh. I just WATCHED characters die in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 the other day. Now my emotions are getting hurled all over the place again!
  • Er…things get all wibbly wobbly timey wimey nonsense on me. Not sure how I feel about that as the main premise.
  • I LOVE SCORPIUS SO MUCH.
  • And on another note, honestly, who the hell wants to sex Moldy Voldy anyway? (Don’t ask why THIS particular thought even came up…)
  • Ugh. What? Slight copout there, JKR. All that buildup and then….fwoosh. Something else happens. Sigh. #SNOWBAZFOREVER

So okay. It wasn’t my favorite story of the HP world, but honestly, it was still fabulous in its own way. Now excuse me while I scour the Internetz for some lovely slash fanfiction. Hem hem.

4 out of 5 cookies!


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Potterhead July: How I Discovered Ships and Why I Blame Harry Potter

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Potterhead July is a Harry Potter Blog Festival hosted by Aentee at Read at Midnight in celebration of the upcoming Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Thank you so much for hosting it, Aentee! Click the image for the full goings-on of the month.

Once upon a time, there was an elementary school girl who didn’t know much about doing things on the Internet. In fact, there wasn’t much to do on her family’s slow connection anyway (Remember when your PHONE was connected to your internet? Lord, I do!), so she opted not to use the computer too often. And, like most–if not all–book nerds, she preferred to read during her pastime, not spend it playing computer games (though occasionally she did that, too). Now, this kind of sounds familiar, because for those of you who were slightly older than 11 when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for the UK version) came out, it may be a similar story.

But I’m not here to talk about how I fell head over heels in love with the series. I’m not here to talk about my journey reading through these books. The former is obvious, considering I’m writing this post; the latter would require several posts and more than a few weeks, hah.

I’m here to talk about the other thing that the Harry Potter series–and, indirectly, J.K. Rowling–introduced me to: shipping.

Oh, yes, as a 13-year-old at the start of her hormonal journey, I came to a realization. I had romantic preferences in fictional characters. On top of story, I was also invested in who would eventually hook up with whom. I’d discovered my preferences when I read Tamora Pierce and cheered for the man Alanna eventually chose, but it was post-Harry Potter where I had a word to connect to the preference.

I was a shipper, and a hopeless one at that.

Pretty much this was when I started going online a little more. Waiting to find out how my ship would fare further exacerbated the impatience for the next installment. And let me tell you, before Fanfiction.net even boomed, finding fanfiction for your favorite ships meant having to abuse your good ole’ search engine. Not Google, either, because hell, that wasn’t even a thing back then.

Oh, no. Fanfiction came as a rarity. When I did find ones I liked (and boy, there were fabulous writers out there), I printed them out. Pages and pages and pages of H/Hr fanfiction (ha, y’all can guess which ship I’m shipping now, right?) can still be found in one of my storage boxes somewhere, because that was how I rolled. I liked something, I printed it out. I reread it a few times. Even now I don’t have any of my favorite HP fanfiction saved on my FF.Net account, and chances are most of them have been taken off already, or are totally outdated. But hell, thank goodness I kept them somewhere, because nowadays there’s just a TON of HP fanfic out there that deal with different ships–some a bit more disturbing than others.

So why do I ship?

Top 5 Reasons Why I Ship (Explained Harry Potter-Style)

“Dumbledore would have been happier than anybody to think that there was a little more love in the world,” said Professor McGonagall curtly.

I love characters. Main fictional characters tend to get kicked down a few times before they decide they want to kick back. (I mean, how many times did Harry get a smackdown before he finally told Moldy Voldy to stuff it where the sun don’t shine?) Sometimes the road to victory is a lonely one, and friendship can only go so far before the MC will need a stronger emotional tie as a motivator (Paraphrased: “Ron, I love you, but your sister’s where it’s at.”). Love goes a long way, and a significant other can do just that. So yeah. I like my characters finding people to romance. It’s quite lovely.

Still not a fan. But I’m okay with that.

I love the idea of romance. Not so much for myself, but for me, watching other romances take root is like watching somebody appreciate my baking. It’s just a reward in and of itself, and when the characters finally, FINALLY hook up, it brings out the squee in me. (I was SO HOPING Luna and Neville would eventually get together, because they were totally meant to be…and Lily&Snape? WTF ROWLING. WHY U BRING THAT POSSIBILITY UP AT THE LAST MINUTE?!). Shipping is sometimes the worst.

“ALWAYS” GIVES ME THE FEELS. OHGODIAMCRYINGINSIDEAGAIN.

Declaring love is age-old cliche, but hot damn, some authors know how to write romance in so many different ways. Some use beautiful, lyrical metaphors. Some use actions. Some use blunt dialogue or, erm, interestingly muddled expressions (“Wangoballwime?” Oh, Harry, you tongue-tied boy, you). It’s always different, and that’s what makes it worthwhile.

Those romantic pickup lines, though. You cannot deny some of them are just swoonworthy and delicious. Or giggleworthy.

“Oi! Angelina! Do you want to come to the ball with me?”
“All right, then.”

‘Nuff said.

Some characters are just meant to be with other characters. I don’t care about love triangles so much because often I’m already set in my thinking. This is sometimes a weakness, because there are times when my ship doesn’t make canon. (Such is the case of Harry Potter.) Most of the time, though, I can kind of call the ship at this point.

Yes. I am a shipper. I ship things shippy. And I blame the Harry Potter franchise for doing this to me.

Do YOU ship characters in HP? Are they canon? Non-canon? Let me know!