Thursday, 25 August 2016

Аеніль - читаю українською

Продовжуючи тему про пошук книжок-друзів, я все ж таки вирішила написати декілька рецензій на книжки, які прочитала за останній час. Мабуть, почну з книги, яку завершила сьогодні та на яку мала великі сподівання. 


Що сказати? «Аеніль» – суцільне розчарування з початку до кінця. Перш за все мене привабила обкладинка. Дивіться яка гарна та таємнича. Сто пудів щось захоплююче та магічне має відбуватися на сторінках такої книжки. Загадкове ім’я. Тендітна дівчина. В руках світиться щось золотавим сяйвом. Мабуть щось магічне. Якась магічна кулька. Можливо важлива для сюжету. На задньому плані замок магічної академії, де навчається дівчина. У дівчини добрі та впевнені карі очі. Гарна посмішка. Мають бути магічні здібності. Можливо ці здібності приховані чи не надто розвинені на початку книги, проте рано чи пізно вони мають проявитися та допомогти щось знайти, когось врятувати, абощо. 

Такі були сподівання. Жодне не справдилося. Дівчина виявилася повною нездарою. Та ще й дуже неприємною, зухвалою, різкою, недобачливою. Моє питання після закінчення книги: Навіщо називати книгу ім’ям дівчини, яка жодним чином не вплинула на події книги? Якщо вилучити цю дівчину з цієї книги – нічогісінько не зміниться. Ну, може книга буде менше дратувати. Друге питання: Навіщо дія книги відбувається у магічній академії, якщо «головна героїня» там так нічому не навчилася та не використала нічого із магічних знань, які мала отримати, для просування сюжету? Можна було назвати книгу «Академія» і все тут. Тоді це б мало певний сенс, бо все що відбувається на сторінках стосується радше магічної академії, її викладачів (по більшій частині), та (дещо) її учнів. 

Щодо умов проживання та навчання в цій академії, то це просто суцільне неподобство та безлад. Нема жодного балансу між поганим та добрим. Постійні знущання, образи, пригнічення, небезпечні магічні експерименти зі смертельними наслідками для учнів. Жах. Викладачам начхати на учнів. Інтриги. Клани. Вбивства. Невиліковні хвороби. Порятунки. Звісно ж, до яких дівчина немає жодного відношення. Складається таке враження, що автор не зовсім зрозумів жанр, в якому вирішив написати книгу, та проігнорував всі тропи, закони, та правила, які роблять такі книжки цікавими та захоплюючими. Все ж таки, коли називаєш книжку певним ім’ям, в читачів виникають певні сподівання, що головна сюжетна лінія буде будуватися та розгортатися за допомогою людини, що носить це ім’я. Чи може я помиляюсь?

Friday, 19 August 2016

Декілька слів про пошуки книжок-друзів

Як насправді важко знайти книгу собі до душі! В мене є декілька улюблених книжок та серій, які я постійно перечитую, бо не можу інакше, але іноді хочеться відкрити для себе щось нове – нові світи, нових героїв, нові пригоди... Це дивно, адже книжок так багато! Тож у чому проблема? Іноді здається, що книжок аж занадто багато – бо як же їх усіх прочитати??? От як заходжу до книгарні, очі то й діло розбігаються. Назбираю цілий врожай, а потім як починаю читати, розумію, що щось воно не те – не до душі. Гарна книжка, так, але… але… але… 

Бути книгофілом важко. А бути вибагливим книгофілом той поготів. Бо я ж не шукаю просто якусь гарну та цікаву книжку, яка легко читається та дарує миттєву насолоду. Ні. Я шукаю таку книгу, яка стане моїм найліпшим другом та невід’ємною частинкою мого життя; яка буде мене надихати та підтримувати; до якої я буду повертатися знов і знов; від якої мені буде затишно та солодко – не люблю книжки після прочитання яких стає ще гірше на душі ніж після перегляду новин – проте, яка даси над чим добряче покумекати… Ось такі в мене критерії до улюблених книжок, нічого не можу з цим зробити, я їх не один рік вдосконалювала))) 

Підсумок: За останні два тижні я прочитала чотири книжки, та гарного друга так і не знайшла. Виявляється, знайти таку книжку так само важко як і написати.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - initial (spoiler-free) thoughts

By Dumbledore! Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! I’m still trying to process what I’ve read but I’ve decided to write down my initial (spoiler-free) impressions before rereading and analyzing the newest story later on. My first thought was how amazing – stunning – spectacular – breathtaking – etc – it must look on stage. It was closely followed by the question: how on earth did they manage to pull it off without magic? I mean, all those set decorations, special effects, choreography… and all that.

It was definitely not what I would have expected. I mean, I tried not to expect anything, so I don’t know what I expected, but I was surprised by the plot and twists and turns that it took. I was also surprised by the way some of the characters turned out to be and how they interacted with each other. I don’t know. I kept thinking that I would write it differently and so would Jo. I could just tell that she didn’t write the thing. I found something alien in the style, the words, the expressions, the humour… I think I once said that it is a legitimized fanfiction and it definitely is. In fact, at times I found that it was a mixture of all possible headcanons and fanfic scenarios that I’ve ever heard of put together. 

It is not a novel so everything is condensed and, therefore, extremely intense – the pace is wicked. I’m not yet sure whether I like it or not. I’m discombobulated (*snickers* you’ll know what I mean when you read the play). I think I do. I do like the story. I just need to read it again... and again... and again! It is exciting and hilarious and sad and heart-breaking and intriguing and wild and shocking and unexpected and batshit crazy and it definitely should be watched on stage. But – and this is entirely my issue – Harry is my favourite character and when he is treated unfairly, hurt, criticized, has aspersions cast against him, etc, I get very-very angry – especially, if it’s someone very close to him.

But this story did something very important (maybe without even realizing it) – it addressed an issue that a lot of fans regarded as possible for resolution of certain plot things within the seven-book story arc, criticizing Jo for not using it when it would obviously (in their opinion) solve so many problems, and it showed them exactly why it would be a very-very bad idea. So... has anyone read it yet?

On an entirely unrelated note, did you see Jo yesterday? She looked magical, didn’t she?


Friday, 29 July 2016

HP Month is almost over - so here is a thank you post:)

I want to thank Micheline from Lunar Rainbows Reviews and Faith from Geeky Zoo Girl for hosting another Harry Potter Month. It's coming to an end and I already feel nostalgic. I've had a real blast getting to know you all guys, reading and discussing your excellent posts, earning points for Ravenclaw House, and gushing about everything HP on my blog and in the comments on the other participating blogs, without feeling silly or ashamed for being so HP-addicted, knowing that this amazing bunch of people will totally understand and support my HP obsession.

Naturally, I'm already looking forward to the next year and I'm already working on a possible list of HP-related posts that I'd like to share with you. I also have a really cool secret HP-related project that I'm looking forward to working on, but it might take a while to actually realise it, so I won't say anything about it just yet - wouldn't want to jinx it! Thank you very much for stopping by and leaving your comments on my blog. I had so much fun interacting with you.

I hope, though, that while HP Month will be over by then, we'll get together again to discuss Harry Potter and the Cursed Child once everyone has read it:) I understand that Pottermore is planning a digital midnight party experience by holding a quiz tomorrow on Twitter at 8 pm BST. Maybe I'll see you there? Farida ;)

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

People telling J.K. Rowling to stop writing about Harry Potter

From Jo's Twitter
Guys, have you ever come across "open letters to Jo" that crop up once in a while online? Their authors (they call themselves Potterheads - as if true Potterheads would ever do something like that!) tell Jo (out of the goodness of their hearts, no doubt... right) that she should stop writing about Harry Potter and go and write something else, because, apparently, they just want to lock him up in the cupboard of their childhood and leave him there. So, instead of opting simply not to read new stuff Jo shares with her grateful and lifelong fans, they opt to tell her what to do with her world instead. Gah! I'm so angry and outraged right now I'm shaking! And I needed to share it with someone. I'm not even talking about complete disregard for those of us who actually want to know all this stuff. I mean, why would anyone at all think that they have any right to tell anyone else what to do with their creativity and where to take their famous character and his beloved world?!! Here's this piece of rotting garbage: An open letter to J.K. Rowling: Please, just stop. Can you believe the nerve and the condescension of this person?! Are you with me on that? I'm so furious!

HP Scavenger Hunt + GIVEAWAY!

Do you feel like taking part in a Scavenger Hunt for a chance to win something special? Well, then, here's your chance! S.P. Sipal - the author of A Writer's Guide to Harry Potter - is holding one today on Facebook and Twitter (11 am - 2 pm Eastern US) as part of her book launch party. Press this link to take you to the Facebook Event. I'm sure it'll be fun. There will be interviews with authors from around the world influenced by J.K. Rowling, excerpts from A Writer's Guide to Harry Potter, discussion of all things Harry Potter, a scavenger hunt, and, of course, a giveaway! Isn't it a fine thing for Harry Potter Month?

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

A Writer's Guide to Harry Potter by S.P. Sipal

Hi all! I'd like to introduce to your attention (if you haven't heard of it yet) 'A Writer's Guide to Harry Potter' - an excellent book for anyone who wants to improve one's writing and go behind the scene of J.K. Rowling's writing tricks and techniques - written by a fellow HP fan! I thought it would make sense to do it now seeing as how the author is having a book release week and we're having Harry Potter Month and this is the kind of book that is all about Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling and it's all happening at the same time, so yay! I found this book extremely useful in my writing endeavours and I know that I'll be using its excellent advice again when writing my fantasy novel. In any case, I think that you'll find this book an excellent store of information and knowledge whether you are a writer or not and you will definitely enjoy it if you are a HP fan!


You can read more about what the author has planned for the release week HERE. Please do! There's a giveway planned and many other things at the launch party.

A Writer's Guide to Harry Potter:

5th year anniversary edition! Expanded and improved. Includes references to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Improve Your Writing with Harry Potter as Your Text!

The Harry Potter magic lives on as J.K. Rowling expands her wizarding world into new stories and formats. For five years, writers and fans from all continents have used A Writer's Guide to Harry Potter to delve beneath her pages' surface to discover the skill and artistry which created a story that enchanted audiences across generations. In this newly revised and expanded edition, S.P. Sipal takes you even deeper than before, exploring new techniques, and even peering into the artistic and marketing vision behind the upcoming Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

No matter your genre, this guide will help you strengthen your writing by virtually apprenticing under a bestselling mentor. Through fifteen lessons, discover the expert techniques Ms. Rowling employs which makes her series such a phenomenal success and which will help improve your own craft and style.

Topics include:
  • characterization
  • world building
  • backstory
  • mystery plotting
  • myths and archetypes
  • fan interaction
  • social media
  • and author-driven publishing and promotion.

MY REVIEW:

A Writer’s Guide to Harry Potter by S. P. Sipal is an amazing treasure trove for someone who happens to be both a writer and a Harry Potter fan. The depth of research that went into writing this book is astounding. In fact, I'm simply floored by the author’s profound insight into many layers hidden between the lines of J.K. Rowling’s excellent books. I thought that I knew Harry Potter books from cover to cover, having read them obsessively for many years, but the author of this guide managed to pick out all these amazing details – from the biggest to the tiniest ones – and then put it all into words and explain everything so well. It made me think about my own writing in ways I never considered before. It made my mind explode with new ideas and all sorts of possibilities for making my book so much better. It is full of special treats, advice and techniques that will help make your book stand out and remain with readers for many years to come. I confess that I got distracted quite a lot while reading it, because all the while it made me think about different ways in which I could improve my book and I wanted to start right now. It is as inspiration as the books it is based upon and I can’t wait to start revising my own novel in hopes of using all these excellent lessons provided by the guide.

Friday, 22 July 2016

'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' quote

One of those rare cases when Hermione, bless her, lost her head :D

'Devil's Snare, Devil's Snare... What did Professor Sprout say? It likes the dark and the damp - '

'So light a fire!' Harry choked.

'Yes - of course - but there's no wood!' Hermione cried, wringing her hands.

'HAVE YOU GONE MAD?' Ron bellowed. 'ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?'

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Chapter Sixteen 'Through the Trapdoor'

Monday, 18 July 2016

Harry & Ginny - Witch Weekly Edition

I'm no good at photoshop and stuff like that but I can't help imagining Witch Weekly's special edition dedicated to Harry and Ginny's romance once they went public again. I'm sure such a rag as this would jump at the chance to write something scathing and gossipy about them. So here are some headlines that I came up with upon the occasion:

WITCH WEEKLY
Special Edition

HARRY POTTER'S SWEETHEART: Is She The One?



The Chosen One Off The Market: Truth or Ruse? p. 4

GINEVRA WEASLEY: does she have what it takes? p. 5-6

Q&A with HARRY POTTER: Fact or Fiction?

Find out everything you ever wanted to know about The Boy Who Lived! Including interviews with his classmates, professors, colleagues, and a special guest piece by Rita Skeeter! p. 7-12

What to wear on a date with The Chosen One?

Find out what the experts think! Special sponsor 'Twilfitt & Tattings' p. 13-14

You & Harry: A Perfect Match?

Find out if you and The Chosen One belong together! What do the stars say?
p. 15

Read Sybil Trelawney's Gloomy Predictions:

"I have always Seen that this boy's life is full of heartache..."
p. 16


*****

So, guys, what do you think? What other headlines and features would you like to include? Leave your ideas in the comments! 

By the way, maybe someone can make it into an actual magazine cover? That would be fun! 

Hmm... maybe I could also write some of these articles for the next year and create an actual magazine?

*clears her throat* 

So... ahem, ahem... if anyone wishes to try their Quick Quotes Quills at penning an article for a wizarding magazine, I'll be glad to hear from you...

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Wizarding World in Danger of Exposure - an open letter by Draco Malfoy

Today I decided to have some fun and pulled out from my archives something that I wrote for a fanfic a long time ago))) So! I present to you a letter of outrage I'm sure Draco Malfoy would definitely write at some point, attacking Hermione Granger and her activity at the Ministry of Magic. I hope you'll enjoy it and tell me what you think!

THE DAILY PROPHET

WIZARDING WORLD IN DANGER OF EXPOSURE

An open letter to the wizarding community 

By DRACO MALFOY

It has been of some concern to myself and my fellow witches and wizards from old pure-blood families to witness an alarming rise of pro-Muggle activity within the Ministry of Magic in recent years. While some might say and others might agree that it is, without a doubt, a worthy cause to maintain friendly ties between our communities and to graciously welcome and support Muggle-born witches and wizards into our fold, we find it rather disquieting to discover that certain members of the Ministry of Magic are over-zealous in their attempts to establish what we can only regard as a strictly Muggle-born society, governed by their new, untested laws; as well as promote (surely to some extent) Muggle awareness of our existence. 

In any case, one can hardly argue that with so many Muggle-born witches and wizards occupying important positions within the Ministry of Magic nowadays, we have never been closer to the brink of exposure now than in recent decades. Therefore, I sincerely hope that this is someone’s idea of a bad joke. Otherwise, I am very much concerned for the well-being of the Wizarding World once it becomes exposed to Muggles and history repeats itself. I do not suppose that anyone, who is familiar with our history at least, must be reminded of the constant danger wizards faced while exposed to the Muggle eye before the institution of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy of 1689. 

Noma Dumezweni as Hermione Granger
Prominent among those who believe that Muggles can be trusted with the knowledge of our existence is one Hermione Granger – a Muggle-born witch of some talent who, it has been whispered, makes up in brains what she lacks in bloodlines. Having no ties to the wizarding community (or any knowledge of it) before she received her Hogwarts letter, she has, in the course of many years, often failed to grasp many of our long-standing customs and traditions. Indeed, ever since she arrived into our world, she has been trying to change and even undermine our ways that had been part of our heritage for centuries – heritage, that her Muggle descent does not allow her either to value or simply comprehend. 

Her subversive activity started while she was still at Hogwarts. It was then when she launched her first attack at our traditions by aiming straight at the heart of every respectable wizarding household – house-elves, our faithful servants and dutiful companions – implanting dangerous ideas into their heads and going so far as to sabotage their work by trying to set them free against their knowledge, will and their very nature. Naturally, now that she is holding such an important position in the department of Magical Law Enforcement, it seems that there is no one who can stop her as she continues her devastating campaign, mindless of harm and distress that she is inflicting upon house-elves and their owners by her forceful actions that should not be tolerated or, indeed, permitted. 

Should we let Ms Granger have her way and carry on the execution of her unfounded belief that she is doing right by house-elves setting them free against their wishes and our traditions, she will not stop there. Before we know it, she will demand the introduction of Magic Awareness subject in Muggle schools, the main aim of which will, naturally, be to learn how to recognize a witch or a wizard living in the neighbourhood, which will instantly put us in direct danger of Muggle detection. And from there it is not hard to predict what will happen next. 

So I urge you to protect and preserve our legacy and stand against the tide of ill-meant intentions of some of the Ministry of Magic employees before it is too late and our children first and foremost – the hope and future of our world – become an easy target in the face of witch-hunters – something that surely even Ms Granger must understand, having two young children of her own.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Centaurs in HP universe: insecure in their own superiority?

I hope you’ll bear with me here. I might be taking my obsession with HP a little too far (or maybe that’s just my Ravenclaw personality rearing its head) but today I’d like to talk about centaurs and run by you a theory that I formed while rereading Chapter Fifteen “The Forbidden Forest” from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone a few weeks ago. 

I would like to start with a short background note on centaurs from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them textbook. I will skip the details on how they look or what their origins are and will concentrate on things that I find relevant to the topic that I’m about to expand upon: 

The ways of the centaur are shrouded in mystery. They are generally speaking as mistrustful of wizards as they are of Muggles and indeed seem to make little differentiation between us. They live in herds ranging from ten to fifty members. They are reputed to be well-versed in magical healing, divination, archery and astronomy. 

Being intelligent and capable of speech, it should not strictly speaking be termed a beast, but by its own request it has been classified as such by the Ministry of Magic. In fact, the centaurs objected to some of the creatures with whom they were asked to share ‘being’ status, such as hags and vampires, and declared that they would manage their own affairs separately from wizards. 

The centaur is given an XXXX classification* not because it is unduly aggressive, but because it should be treated with great respect. 

 (*Dangerous/requires specialist knowledge/skilled wizard may handle) 

The first time we meet the centaurs is when Harry, Hermione, Neville and Draco serve detention in the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid and Fang. First we meet Ronan and Bane. The original impression that I got from reading the part, where they appeared, was of calm and mysterious creatures who talk in riddles and don’t seem to be in any hurry to answer Hagrid’s urgent questions. They keep gazing at the sky, repeating “Mars is bright tonight” and other philosophical things like “Always the innocent are the first victims” and “Forest hides many secrets”. According to Hagrid, who is about to lose his patience with them, they don’t care about anything closer than the moon. He also calls them ‘ruddy star-gazers’ but acknowledges that they are very deep and know things but don’t let on much. 

So far everything seems just fine. Such ancient and mythological creatures as centaurs are supposed to be mysterious, wise and impossible to understand as they contemplate skies, stars and planets. But a page or so later we witness a scene that shatters that perception. Firenze, another centaur we meet, saves Harry from the hooded figure that had been drinking the dead unicorn’s blood and takes Harry to Hagrid on his back, because it would be quicker this way and because Harry was in real danger (we know very well who that hooded figure was). However, when Ronan and Bane appear again they are less than calm as they burst through the trees, their flanks heaving and sweaty. In fact, they are outraged at Firenze’s behaviour: 

“Firenze!” Bane thundered. “What are you doing? You have a human on your back! Have you no shame? Are you a common mule?” 

Firenze tries to explain his conduct: 

“Do you realize who this is?” said Firenze. “This is the Potter boy. The quicker he leaves this Forest, the better.” 

It makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, Bane doesn’t agree. In fact, he thinks that Firenze has been indiscreet with the important information entrusted to him by the stars and that he had let Harry in on secrets that he is not supposed to know. 

“What have you been telling him?” growled Bane. “Remember, Firenze, we are sworn not to set ourselves against the heavens. Have we not read what is to come in the movements of the planets?” 

Ronan tries to excuse Firenze’s actions: 

“I’m sure Firenze thought he was acting for the best,” he said, in his gloomy voice. 

But Bane has none of that. Bane kicked his back legs in anger. 

“For the best! What is that to do with us? Centaurs are concerned with what has been foretold! It is not our business to run around like donkeys after stray humans in our Forest!” 

Later, when Firenze galloped away with Harry on his back, leaving Ronan and Bane behind, Harry asked him why Bane had been so angry. It seems like a legitimate question. Why did he get so riled up just because Firenze opted to carry Harry on his back as it would save time and probably Harry’s life? I didn’t think it was a big deal. Firenze didn’t think it was a big deal. Even Ronan didn’t think that the incident merited such violent reaction. Firenze, after all, was doing what he thought was right: he was saving a young boy’s life. But Bane didn’t care about that. I think what Bane really cared about was how such behavior would reflect on centaurs as a whole. After mulling it over, I think I can see where he’s coming from. 

Centaurs – ancient, intelligent, proud creatures – have inhabited the planet long before humans appeared. They freely roamed the land and studied the skies until primitive yet cunning humans started spreading and occupying more and more of their territory, driving them deeper and deeper into the forest. I think that in the beginning the relationship between centaurs and wizards must have been quite friendly and centaurs might have even been freely sharing with them their knowledge until wizards started using it against them. I mean, people have a bad track record throughout history, so that wouldn’t be all that surprising. No wonder that Bane is adamant that they should guard most zealously their secrets against humans. Maybe it was back then when they made a promise to the skies and stars not to divulge their knowledge to them. 

But that’s not even the worst. Not only might humans have stolen some of their secrets and drove them deep into the forest, they actually put a label on them (‘magical being’ which centaurs refused to carry, because they do not recognize humans’ laws) and started treating them like animals! Or, at the very least, like magical creatures deemed to have near-human intelligence. So said Dolores Umbridge in OotP. But I’m sure that she’s not the only one who thinks that, because though magical and charming, wizarding community is no stranger to bigotry, discrimination and oppression. And, of course, being perceived as magical creatures of near-human intelligence is a great insult with centaurs, because they believe that their intelligence far outstrips that of humans’. So, of course, hearing that on a regular basis would not help to keep their relationship friendly. 

Looking at all that, I’d say that Bane’s reaction to Firenze carrying a human on his back is quite justified. Though centaurs have no doubt of their superior mind, they are vulnerable and insecure in the face of centuries of humans treating them as inferior beings. In fact, they are so touchy about that now that any innocently or carelessly spoken word can be interpreted by them as an encroachment upon their status and mental abilities. I think that Bane is so afraid of being perceived as an animal that anything remotely animal-like drives him into frenzy and violence, which, ironically, makes him behave more like an animal that he is so afraid to appear as. Firenze, on the other hand, is more than secure in his belief and doesn’t think that choosing to help a human by carrying him on his back or teaching them Divination (considered a dishonor and betrayal by other centaurs) will strip him of his intelligence or superiority. 

However, in OotP, the conflict escalated to the point where Firenze was kicked out of the Forest (almost kicked to death if not for Hagrid), because he agreed to help Dumbledore (according to centaurs “he is peddling our knowledge and secrets among humans” and “there can be no return from such disgrace), while the other centaurs succumbed more and more to violence. But I think that at the core of the conflict are humans (no matter whether they are Muggles or wizards) and their attitude to those who are different. Those they discriminate against, those they oppress, those they put labels on, because in this way it’s easier to put them in a certain frame and keep them there. And even Hermione, though the brightest witch of her generation, out of sheer desperation committed a horrible offence by behaving in a typically human fashion when she tried to use centaurs to get rid of Umbridge. Suffice it to say that it didn’t go too well with the centaurs for whom ‘helping humans’ is tantamount to ‘serving them’ and they most certainly don’t:

“So we were to do your dirt work, were we, human girl? We were to act as your servants, drive away your enemies like obedient hounds?” 

“We do not help humans! We are a race apart and proud to be so. We will not permit you to walk from here, boasting that we did your bidding!” 

“They came here unasked, they must pay the consequences!” 

“We are an ancient people who will not stand wizard invasion and insults!” 

I guess I just wanted to say that centaurs are a good example of how even the most intelligent and superior of beings can be turned into barbarians and animals without being aware of it themselves. They are trying so hard to prove their superiority that they don’t realize that the methods they are using and the attitude they’ve adopted have completely opposite results, and that that’s what strips them of their superiority in the first place. And isn’t that just tragic? 

On an unrelated topic, I really love rereading HP with someone else, because then I get such brainwaves and I get to discuss them with passion worthy of Hermione :D 

**All quotes (in italics) belong to J.K. Rowling. The images of centaurs are taken from Pottermore.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Revisiting J.K. Rowling's old website

If you don't mind, today we'll be using the Pensieve to travel many years back into the past. You see, I've decided to go down the memory lane and revisit J.K. Rowling's old website. Who's with me? Dive in, then! 

 
In 2004 Jo's website went through a complete makeover and became what I think was the coolest author website ever. It was just awesome and I think what made it so great and unusual was that it had Jo's personal touch all over the place. It looked like a cluttered desktop, littered with Jo's own stuff: family photos, different mementos, gum wrappers (from all the gum she used to chew after quitting smoking), her glasses, her notes, etc.. 


You could click on different things (a hairbrush, an eraser, a pencil sharpener, etc.) that worked like Portkeys: they glowed bright blue and transported you to a different part of the website. You could hear different background noises: the phone ringing, the car honking, the dog barking, the fly buzzing, snatches of a programme on Wizarding Wireless, Peeves swooshing past... There were riddles to uncover and special prizes to receive. For example, you could get these wonderful old drawings done by Jo herself: 


There was so much to explore and so many things to look for! I particularly loved its different sections: News, Diary, Biography, Rumours, Rubbish Bin, Wizard of the Month, Extra Stuff... so much extra stuff! I still upon occasion find myself rereading it as it provides a treasure trove of information that goes beyond the books and into the very core of Jo's creative process.


The biography was written by Jo herself and on each page you got to see some mementos referring to her past. Here, for example, is the first page of her story that she supplied with an old photo of her mom, her sister and herself, a hand-drawn picture of what (according to her) she looked like as a baby and a pair of train tickets (because her parents met on a train): 


Wizard of the Month section changed every month for some time. Here are some familiar faces for your viewing pleasure: 


News and Diary sections weren't updated as often as one could have wished for but it was always fun just to click on them, because you got to see different wizarding advertisements that appeared and disappeared. 


Rumours and Rubbish Bin sections were just hilarious as she parried all that rubbish that was routinely reported about her. Rubbish Bin was actually divided into: Starting to Smell, Excessive Additives, Recycled, Mouldy, Pure Garbage, Toxic. If anyone is interested, I've got all these sections preserved :D


Then there was The Secret Door. It opened once in a while, containing some new information, usually pertaining to new books. In order to get this much coveted new information you had to find and work out the clues (something I was never good at but, thankfully, many others were!).


But a real gem, in my personal opinion, were the W.O.M.B.A.T.s. I adored them! For those who don't know, W.O.M.B.A.T.s were special aptitude tests that consisted of three parts, encompassing pretty much every aspect of life in the wizarding community, and had to be taken within a certain time limit. It was quite difficult, because it was not a trivia kind of test about books but a test where you had to deduce things based on your knowledge of the wizarding world and its many intricacies, but it was fun and you got marks from 'Outstanding' to 'Troll' and also a fancy certificate. I still have all three of mine! This is the description of the tests from the old website:  
 
The W.O.M.B.A.T.s, unlike the O.W.L.s, consist exclusively of written papers. Therefore W.O.M.B.A.T.s could be sat by Muggles as well as wizards, although the Wizarding Examinations Authority does not believe that any Muggle would have the degree of inner knowledge required to achieve a pass.


So, as you can see, I really loved that old website and I really miss it. Does anyone else know what I'm talking about or am I just this old? :D

Sunday, 10 July 2016

My old HP book set is finally complete! And here is the story behind it...

It’s incredible to remember the time when I knew nothing at all about HP! But the truth is that I didn’t know anything about it until 2001 when I went to see the first film and fell in love with its magic. It’s really amazing how there are things in your life that effect you in a very profound way and yet when it all starts you have no idea how far it will go… I can’t say that HP changed my life in any dramatic way – other than make it more isolated, I suppose, because I found everything that I needed in books and spent many years hiding there from the world – but it became an inseparable part of my life. It’s been more than ten years now that I’ve been a fan! I know that people are usually taken aback by how deep and great my knowledge of everything to do with HP universe and beyond is. The moment they mention HP in my presence I’m upon them and if someone is unfortunate enough to state a fact that is wrong or untrue I become very Hermione-ish, you know, in a very scary way.

Basically, my HP obsession has many different manifestations – one of them is book sets. I get crazy when I have mismatched HP books and unfortunately my favourite set – my old and battered set – is woefully mismatched. I knew nothing about HP when I went to buy the first book. But I would have no choice anyway, because I bought the only book that the shop had – Bloomsbury Paperback Adult Edition. I was lucky to buy the second and the third book of the same edition but when I came for the fourth book I found a different one. Of course, I bought it, because I had to know what happened next and I couldn’t very well wait for the same edition to appear! In retrospect, it’s a good thing that I didn’t wait, because it never appeared. Later, I discovered that it was discontinued. Then, a few months ago, I learned that it was discontinued after the fourth book came out and I never knew! So, of course, I had to get it. My first attempt, alas, landed me with yet another edition. But a few days ago I finally got the book that I actually ordered in the first place! 

So now, after so many years, I have a set and it’s complete and it’s beautiful! I wish Bloomsbury hadn't discontinued it, but what can you do? 



I also seem to have three different Goblet of Fire books now. But so what? 



Do I sound too crazy? 
Do you have similar obsessions when it comes to HP?

Friday, 8 July 2016

The most memorable HP revelations, part 2

Goblet of Fire 

It was the first book that I failed to read in one sitting. It was just too long. I remember I’d been reading the whole day without a stop and by the time I’d reached the graveyard scene with poor Harry tied to the tombstone my head was literally buzzing with Voldemort’s shrieks and Death Eaters’ laughter. So… revelations! I was shocked to learn that Mad-Eye Moody Harry trusted throughout the year turned out to be a Death Eater in disguise – so much for ‘Constant Vigilance!’ – and that the real Mad-Eye Moody had spent the whole school year at the bottom of his own trunk subdued by spells – so much for one of the toughest Aurors there has ever been! I was even more shocked that the Death Eater in disguise turned out to be Barty Crouch Jr, whose trial we’d seen earlier in the book and whom I’d felt genuinely sorry for. I couldn’t believe it! Or that he killed his own father and turned him into a bone that he buried somewhere in the Forbidden Forest! I was shocked to learn that Snape was a Death Eater too or that he actually revealed his Dark Mark! I was floored. On a lesser scale, I was really astonished to see a whole different side of Fudge. I didn’t expect such a total parting of ways there. Also, it was inconceivable for me to see Ron turn his back on Harry like that. It broke my heart to see them torn apart by envy and jealousy. But to see Rita Skeeter locked up in an enchanted jar as a beetle by Hermione made my day! All those clues about her buzzing around and I didn’t see it… Just like the fact that it never occurred to me that there were house-elves at Hogwarts. 

Order of the Phoenix 

I suppose the biggest revelation of all was the content of the prophecy as well as the person who gave it and the person who received it. Of course, Aunt Petunia talking about Dementors and Azkaban. Arabella Figg, Harry’s old, batty, cat-loving neighbour, being a Squib and working for Dumbledore. The Order of the Phoenix! Harry being watched round the clock. Sirius’ dark family! Grimmauld Place. Percy’s new attitude. St. Mungo’s. The Ministry of Magic and its many and varied departments. Dumbledore’s fall from grace. Harry’s stigma as an attention-seeking liar, possibly disturbed and violent. Snape’s worst memory. His childhood memory. Harry’s revelation about his father and mother. Fred and George leaving Hogwarts on broomsticks! Grawp! Thestrals! What else… what else?! It was such a HUGE book it’s hard just now to remember it all. 


Half-Blood Prince

I really enjoyed that we got to learn a lot more about Voldemort. I didn’t see that coming, but I’m usually bad at guessing. I was taken aback by the whole Half-Blood Prince/Snape thing. I was devastated when Snape killed Dumbledore. I wanted to believe that it was part of the plan but I have to confess that it was hard. My faith wavered. Later on my best friend would reproach me for not trusting him – she believed him through and through. Just like she always believed that Harry and Ginny would end up together. I was slightly surprised when I saw the first inklings early on in the book. However, I wasn’t surprised to learn that Snape asked Voldemort to spare Lily because he loved her – I remember once upon a time discussing different theories with my friend and suggesting more for laugh than anything just that; well, she laughed all right, but I proved right in the end! But I was really shocked when I discovered that it was Snape who’d overheard Trelawney telling the prophecy to Dumbledore and reporting to Voldemort! What an ugly, horrible revelation that was! Voldemort’s request to teach at Hogwarts and the jinx that he put on the job when denied. Now who could have thought that? Horcruxes. Vanishing Cabinet. Fleur and Bill getting married! Snape getting to finally teach DADA… 

Deathly Hallows

The final book has some of my favourite revelations. Dumbledore’s backstory: so many shocking things from his father’s imprisonment to Dumbledore’s swift and heartbreaking friendship with none other than Gellert Grindelwald and everything in between! Helena Ravenclaw’s devastating story. Who would have thought that the ghost of the Ravenclaw Tower, the Grey Lady, was Rowena Ravenclaw’s daughter, who broke her mother’s heart, and who was loved and killed by Bloody Baron? I mean, on top of everything else! And, of course, the story behind the Deathly Hallows. I love it! 



Have I missed anything crucial? What were your favourite revelations? Not necessarily momentous but just interesting?

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

The most memorable HP revelations, part 1

I dedicated my two previous posts to new HP stuff to look forward to. So I’ve decided that it’s only fitting to dedicate my next I-don’t-know-how-many posts to looking back. HP has a very long history and obviously much to look back on and remember. I want to start with going back to each book, remembering their most shocking, interesting and fascinating revelations. Today I’ll be looking at books 1-3. 

Philosopher's Stone

In the first book everything was new, unusual and unexpected. So, basically, everything there was a huge giant revelation. 

“Harry – yer a wizard.” ‘Nuff said. 

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a revelation in and of itself. Quidditch. Classes. Oh, yes, let’s not forget about a giant and deadly three-headed dog whose name turned out to be Fluffy, who belonged to Hagrid and who fell asleep when you played him a bit of music.

But I think that the biggest revelation for me was the fact that Quirrell and not Snape turned out to be the bad guy (possessed by Voldemort no less!) and that Snape was actually trying to save Harry all along. 

“Severus?” Quirrell laughed and it wasn’t his usual quivering treble, either, but cold and sharp. “Yes, Severus does seem the type, doesn’t he? So useful to have him swooping around like an overgrown bat. Next to him, who would suspect p-p-poor st-stuttering P-Professor Quirrell?”

Who indeed! I was completely thrown off the trail there. 

Chamber of Secrets 

In the second book there were a lot more revelations. The most shocking for me was the truth behind Ginny’s diary: 

“They had almost reached the motorway when Ginny shrieked that she’d left her diary.” 

Now, tell me, who would have thought that this unobtrusive sentence, thrown among other sentences of similar nature, would have such a profound effect on the whole plot? I still can’t wrap my mind around the way J.K. Rowling plants her clues throughout the story. I mean, really! 

Another shocking revelation was that Harry could talk to snakes! I just love that scene during the Duelling Club when he can’t for the life of him understand why everyone is staring at him like that. Poor boy. Similarly shocking was the fact that model student Tom Riddle turned out to be Lord Voldemort. That Moaning Myrtle was more than just a sulky ghost that haunted the girls’ bathroom but actually Basilisk’s original victim. And that Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts because he was wrongly but deliberately accused by the boy who was to become the most feared wizard of all times. Hagrid and Voldemort went to school at the same time! Just think about that!

But I must confess that my favourite revelation was actually the story behind the names of the four Hogwarts Houses and that they belonged to Godric Gryffindor, Salazar Slytherin, Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff. I don’t know but it just gives me so much feels. What can I say, Hogwarts: A History would be my favourite bedside table read :D 

Prisoner of Azkaban 

In the third book things began to get a lot more complicated. I think it was while reading the third book that I started realizing just how tightly everything was linked and interconnected. Now, where to begin… 

Messrs Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs - the creators of the Marauder's Map - are actually Remus Lupin (Harry's DADA Professor!), Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black and James Potter. It so happened that they all became animagi in their fifth year, having broken not only about a thousand school rules but wizarding laws too. Sirius and James were best friends. Sirius is Harry’s godfather. Sirius betrayed his parents to Voldemort. Sirius is innocent. Sirius is a giant bearlike dog. Ron’s rat Scabbers is not a rat at all but Pettigrew. Pettigrew is a Death Eater who actually betrayed Harry’s parents to Voldemort. Lupin is a werewolf. James saved Snape from being savaged by the said werewolf after Sirius pranked him into going after it. Whomping Willow! Crookshanks! Firebolt! Hermione’s Time-Turner. Harry’s Patronus! Professor Trelawney can actually produce prophecies once in a while! Whew, this book is a rollercoaster of revelations! 

Have I missed anything? I’m sure I must have… 

So what are your most memorable revelations? Revelations that shook you to the core?

P.S. I just love these new ebook covers from Pottermore. Especially the third one. Do you? 

Monday, 4 July 2016

Harry Potter stuff I'm looking forward to

I think many will agree that being a Harry Potter fan has always been extremely exciting and tremendously frustrating at the same time. Despite the fact that the last HP book came out as long ago as 2007 now is no different. In fact, those of us who remain faithful fans have much to look forward to again – it’s like we’ve been given a special reward for our life-long allegiance. Here is the list of things I’m personally looking forward to the most: 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, 31 July 2016 


It might not be exactly what I had in mind whenever I was thinking about the continuation of Harry’s story but I’m not going to turn my nose against it. I can’t wait to read it. I try not to get my expectations too high or to imagine what we’re going to find there, because that’s a sure way to a major disappointment, but sometimes I just can’t help it. I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that it was written by someone other than J.K. Rowling, but they say that it is based on her original story, so I guess the playwright was following her own vision while creating the play. It does sound like a legitimized fanfiction though. The playwright, Jack Thorne, admits himself to be a total Potterhead, so that must count in his favour. But can you at all imagine having J.K. Rowling’s actual stamp of approval on your own fanfiction? How cool that must be! And terrifying! Gosh, I have so much to say on the subject, I think I’ll just have to write a separate post dedicated to it))) 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Illustrated Edition, 
4 October 2016 

I am a proud owner of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Illustrated Edition. I have to say that I’ve spent more money on that book than I’ve ever spent on any other but it is truly worth it. It is an amazing edition and every now and then I enjoy just holding it in my hands, slowly turning its pages, reading passages that I practically know by heart, while drinking in its lovely and oftentimes quirky illustrations. I will not miss the second one for the world. I can’t wait to discover Jim Kay’s unique vision, because I’m sure there’ll be plenty of surprises waiting. Just look at these beautiful pages and tell me that you won’t be rushing off to buy it if/when you have the chance or the money. 




Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film), 18 November 2016 

I can’t believe we’re getting another magical adventure in our favourite magical world. I already love Newt, Tina, Queenie and Jacob and I can’t wait to discover the story written by J.K. Rowling herself. It’s got to be great, right? To tell you the truth, I kind of worry about its success at the box-office and its popularity among fans and non-fans alike, but I think we can trust Jo to create an amazing, riveting, head-spinning story, filled with a necessary amount of fun, humour, mystery, danger, plot twists and magic. Also, it would be very interesting to read the actual script that will be out on 19 November 2016. It will be a great study of J.K. Rowling’s method. 


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (book), 14 March 2017 

I’ve always had a particular fondness for this textbook. I mean it’s all about magical animals and it’s a Hogwarts textbook! I own an original book – a thin red one with Jo's illustrations – and it’s high time I had a new one. I know that there have been other editions but I could never make up my mind about buying them, except one other (Russian language edition) that I bought for my family. I’m really hoping to read some new information in the new book, but so far I’ve only heard that it’s going to contain new illustrations by Jonny Duddle and a new foreword from J.K. Rowling. No word as to whether it’ll actually contain new stuff but I could swear I’ve read somewhere some time ago that it would. 

Whew! 

So what are you looking forward to the most?

Friday, 1 July 2016

Just a random scene from a random book I'm not even working on)))

Eugenia knocked on the wooden door of the library storage and timidly invited herself in when there came no reply. The room smelled strongly of standard perfume of paper and dust. Eugenia, who considered herself something of an expert on books and places that contained them, expected a more imposing and orderly room for book-storing at HCA. This room was long, narrow and cramped. Eugenia was standing on a small semi-circular rug that was the only place empty of books. The desk that stood next to the door was barely visible and that only because of its shapely wooden legs. The room was zigzagging among the bookcases that looked like they were about to burst.

Eugenia had a sudden vivid image of a portly middle-aged man with a belly so big his waistcoat popped open and his velvet buttons sprinkled onto the floor once he'd had one too many bites of his sandwich. Here and there stood books in towering piles, wobbling ever so slightly. Some books just spilled onto the floor from the multitude of passageways the room seemed to have like extra pockets for all kinds of knick-knacks on one of her mom's favourite coats. Eugenia was afraid to move in case her movements caused something of a domino effect; there was no way she could walk along the passage without finding herself buried under the whole book population. 

“Hello,” she said, raising her voice and hoping that someone would hear her. “My name is Eugenia Leonard. I was sent here by Miss Harridan to receive my punish – ” 

Eugenia screamed. 

A plump young woman with pink cheeks and merry face emerged from under the desk with a booming “Hello, dear! I've been expecting you!”. 

“Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't see you there,” replied Eugenia, slightly confused. How she could have failed to see her in such cluttered space that barely admitted room for her own average self was a mystery. Miss Leaf, the librarian, was not exactly a Thumbelina. However, as she heaved herself upwards and Eugenia leaned slightly forward to satisfy her curiosity, she saw that Miss Leaf had actually appeared – or that part of her that had – from inside a trapdoor that was right next to the desk on the other side. 

“Oh, dear,” giggled the jolly librarian, “I'm afraid I got stuck. Genie, dear, can you give me a hand?” 

“Sure,” stammered Eugenia. She squeezed herself around the desk and gave both hands for Miss Leaf to grab onto. Miss Leaf held on tight and for one heart-stopping moment Eugenia was certain that they would both fall through the floor. However, the very next second Miss Leaf sprang upwards with a burst of laughter that turned her cheeks into two bright-red apples. 

Eugenia was pushed backwards and as she got her bearings she understood why Miss Leaf got stuck in the first place: she had stuffed her pockets with at least half a dozen thick books each! 

“Thank you, dear,” gasped Miss Leaf, taking out the books from her pockets and putting them on the desk buried under a mountain of volumes. They immediately slipped onto the floor. “Now... your assignment!” she declared, taking no notice, as she spread her plump arms as though trying to embrace the book-storage. 

Eugenia had a sudden sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. Will she have to put the whole place in order? Oh, Miss Harridan was a sadist. She knew how much Eugenia loved books. Everyone did. But sorting out the whole storage of dust-filled volumes would give her a horrible allergy and would put her off books for a very long time. 

“Ah, yes... you've noticed the bedlam that reigns in here,” commented Miss Leaf, nodding and smiling broadly. “Everyone brings here books they no longer need and just leave them here. It is one of my duties to sort through them and find those that are worth keeping. The rest goes down through that trapdoor until such time when I find use for them. I don't actually get rid of books, you know, because the moment I do, I realize that it is exactly what I need. Anyway,” Miss Leaf giggled, “for the duration of your punishment, you will be helping me look for real gems. Now don't be intimidated,” she added, correctly interpreting Eugenia's look of utter misery, “you don't have to sort out the whole place. No, no, no. You just grab a pile – any pile that beckons to you – look through it and find something special, something that whispers to you.” 

“But how will I know what is special?” asked Eugenia. 

“Trust your instinct, dear. That's the best thing.” 

“So... how exactly does that work? I trust my instinct and you trust me? Just like that?” 

Miss Leaf nodded, beaming at her. Eugenia continued to look doubtful; she wasn't sure that she could trust her instinct with something so important. But Miss Leaf didn't seem to worry about that. 

“Well, go on, Genie-dear, take your pick,” she hurried her into action.

Eugenia looked around. No pile beckoned or whispered to her, so she grabbed the top of the nearest one as quickly as though she was committing a theft and ducked her head in embarrassment under Miss Leaf's expectant gaze. Eugenia was slightly annoyed. Did she expect her to have a system or something? 

“Very good, very good, now follow me,” said Miss Leaf and much to Eugenia's astonishment went along the narrow passage at a jolly trot, making the books bounce off her wide sides without causing even a minor avalanche. 

Eugenia stared. How did she do that? She'd expected Miss Leaf to squeeze her bulk through with great effort but not to walk, swaying her hips, as though she was on the dance-floor. The moment that thought occurred to her she heard faint sounds of jazz coming from somewhere. Miss Leaf turned into another row and gently scolded Eugenia for dawdling. 

“Sorry!” gasped Eugenia as she sprang after her. 

How great was her shock and humiliation when the towers of books that she'd just passed – without so much as touching – fell crashing down onto the floor in her wake.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – join me for SPOILER FREE pre-reading discussion

A new play based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. Here they are: The Golden Trio! Behold the three “J”s behind the new Harry Potter story! 



So… let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about the eighth story that many of us have been craving for. For a while there J.K. Rowling was quite adamant that she had no intention of going back to writing another Harry Potter book. But it couldn’t have been plainer that she wasn’t done with the magical world and that she wanted to explore the story further – particularly the part which was connected with Harry’s second son, Albus Severus Potter. Then she was approached with the idea of doing a play and apparently she liked it so much that she green-lighted it and here we are at last. The lucky ones will get to see the actual play. The slightly less lucky ones will get to read the printed version of the play. I belong to the latter group but I won’t give up hoping to see it with my own eyes one day! 

So… what is it about? 

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. 




So… what do we know from this and what do we want to know? 

Harry Potter is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and a father of three school-age children. I wonder if we are going to see him in full Auror mode. I’d love to! I so want to see Harry as an Auror.

Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs. What part of his past does it actually refer to? Voldemort? Dursleys? His parents? Umbridge? Snape? Dumbledore? The list can go on and on… 

Harry’s youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. That’s understandable enough. His name alone is a triple legacy to carry around. In a way he is as much a marked man as his father. But the question is in what way does he struggle with it? 

Past and present fuse ominously... Well, that obviously spells trouble for our heroes. 

Both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places – well, that sounds even more alarming, doesn’t it? Whose darkness and what unexpected places exactly are we talking about here? Will Harry and Albus Severus, perhaps, have a horrible clash?

And, most importantly, who is the Cursed Child? 

Do you have any guesses? Spoiler-free, of course! I’d really love you to join me for a discussion – before and after! Are you excited? How much? What are your expectations? Leave your replies in the comments! 

P.S. I’m sure that everyone has already seen the photos of the cast and I’m not going to post them here for they will take up a lot of space. But I just want to say that I’m very happy with it and I can just imagine them looking the part. However, here are some tantalizing pictures from the show… In the first one, for example, the magic is brewing...

I can almost hear magic crackling in the air...



So... why is Rose standing all alone in the centre? It is Rose, right? Why is everyone staring at her? What is going on? By the way, love the new banners!


Harry, Ron and Draco together as an unlikely trio - not something you get to see every day! Once again, what is going on here? I just love Harry's cloak!