Reviewing Cursed Child (Warning: Contains Spoilers)

Inspiration, Review

Our wizarding friend Harry Potter has been all of the media lately, with the release of the playbook Cursed Child gaining not only a lot of attention, but equal amounts of praise and criticism. Now that I’ve had a week to collect my thoughts, I’m ready to publish my review.

Readers of this blog and those of you who know me personally will know that I am a huge Harry Potter fan and attended the midnight release party for this book. Nine years later, what I loved best and what I disliked most:

Worst:

  1. Lapses in character. I have a few thoughts concerning this criticism.
    1. Readers witnessed serious breaks in character from Harry. Harry would never have been so cruel to his son, having grown up an orphan himself, and it was out of character for him to also be rude to McGonagall.
    2. Ron’s character was disappointing. He just didn’t feel like Ron.
    3. Harry and Draco’s newfound friendship was much too rushed (granted this is probably due to the play format…but still).
    4. Voldemort would NEVER have a child. He’s too smart to procreate and risk having another human possess the same amount of power and abilities as himself.
  2. Reliance on the time-turner. I wish that there had been more new content as opposed to a heavy reliance on the past. This felt like a cop-out to me, but I was also afraid that the play would now change my perception of events when I go back and re-read or re-watch the original series. When I think about the night Voldemort murders Harry’s parents, I don’t want to think about future Harry witnessing it or about Voldemort’s deranged love child attempting to keep him from dying.
  3. Penmanship. J.K. Rowling did not write this play…and it shows. I realize this was a play, but it still read very differently from the books, format aside. I wish the language and nature had been more similar to the books that we all love.

Best:

  1. The fun of another book. Marking the release date on my calendar and attending a midnight celebration allowed me to relive one aspect of my childhood. It was a lot of fun looking forward to this book and also enjoying the rebirth the series has had in pop culture.
  2. Draco’s son. In my opinion, Scorpius was probably the best and most interesting character in the play. Immensely different from his family, readers were introduced to a well thought-out new character.
  3. Visiting Hogwarts again. Although I did not love all of the plot, it was fun to revisit Hogwarts and the wizarding world once again. Nostalgia brought back of lot of good memories, both in regard to reading the original series and visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and there were several places in the play that I found myself laughing and smiling as I thought back on this series.

Thoughts? Comment below.

Cursed Child Midnight Release Party

Inspiration

Last night, to celebrate the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child I did what any loyal fan would do: Attended a midnight release party!

The Colgate Bookstore in Hamilton, NY put on a good show, hosting a costume contest, themed snacks (butter beer obviously included), trivia and a local owl.

Attending with Andy and his sister Nicole, we had a fun time reveling in the HP-culture with local enthusiasts.

Also, while I did not participate in the costume contest, I did go dressed for the occasion …

And even came home with a new shirt, appropriately made by a company that creates book-themed apparel!

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Most importantly, I walked away with the most important item, the highly-anticipated play book! As much fun as the party was, I’m going to have much more fun finally reading this book. I’m already well into act two and I’m enjoying it thoroughly. Happy reading everyone!

Celebrating Harry Potter

Inspiration

Like thousands of other people, I am overwhelmingly excited for this weekend’s release of the eighth Harry Potter installment, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” We fans have, after all, been waiting nine long years for another chance to visit the wizarding world.

This past weekend, Andy, his siblings and I attended a special showing of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” at the local movie theater, adding to the excitement I already possessed.

Now, in order to celebrate all things Harry Potter, I’m using this post to recap all of the wizarding inspired art and cooking that I have made and shared this past year.

I’ve shown you costumes…

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And food…

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Cauldron Cakes

But mostly magical creatures…

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Of course our hearts were broken in January, but we will Always remember.

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Clearly, this series acts as constant inspiration for me and it is thrilling to see the story being resurrected again in pop culture.

Aside from purchasing your  book this weekend, you can further celebrate the franchise by tuning in to FreeForm’s Harry Potter Weekend beginning this Friday (don’t forget Harry’s birthday on the 31st) and keeping your ears and eyes open for midnight release parties in your area.

Nearby Colgate Bookstore will be holding a party this coming Saturday and you can be sure I will be in attendance. More on that later, but in the mean time: LESS THAN 4 DAYS LEFT!

 

 

2015-2016: Top 5 Nonfiction

Inspiration, Review

Continuing on with summer reading, today’s post is all about nonfiction. While a lot of people shy away from this category, thinking it to be dull or uninteresting, I absolutely adore nonfiction.

Why? A few reasons:

  1. It’s broad. Nonfiction could mean anything from how-to books to biographies.
  2. It can teach you. Whether you are educating yourself on a particular topic or teaching yourself a new skill, I love reading for a purpose.
  3. You don’t have to read the whole book. A lot of times, a nonfiction book can serve a purpose in a matter of pages or chapters. You don’t necessarily have to read it cover to cover.

Here are the top 5 nonfiction books that I came across this year:

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  1. “The Bright Bizaar” by Will Taylor

Category: Interior Design/Home Decorating

If you have any interest at all in interior design or decorating, then you absolutely must check out this book. Will Taylor’s sense of style is quirky and unique, while also managing to make complete sense. Having worked at a public library for the past six years, I have seen a lot of home decorating books. This one is my favorite by far.

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2. “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook” by Dinah Bucholz

Category: Cooking

This cookbook is a lot of fun and has encouraged me to try cooking traditional British cuisine. Whether you are an amateur cook or an expert chef, this book provides recipes for a wide range of skill sets, supplying Harry Potter quotes as it does so! So far I have tried the cauldron cakes and Kreacher’s French Onion Soup, and both of which were delicious!

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3. “Rewire” by Ethan Zuckerman

Category: Anthropology/History/The Internet

I was actually required to read this book for my “Social Media Theory and Practice” course. Despite the fact that it was assigned, I truly enjoyed it! One of those books that will make you think differently about our world and digital landscape, I highly recommend this book to those who have an interest in the internet and the effect it has had on mankind.

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4. “The Art of Frozen” by Charles Solomon

Category: Film/Film Production

I have mentioned this book before, as I love the artwork and the behind-the-scenes look at the animated movie that broke records and won acclaimed awards. I loved reading about the research that went into designing the characters, costumes and architecture present in this Norwegian-inspired movie. If you’re an adult that loves Frozen like I do, then you will love this book.

 

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5. “The Wisdom of Walt” by Jeffrey A. Barnes

Category: Leadership/Success

I discovered this book when working on a PR management project. As a PR major, I wanted to learn more about the most successful communications business man in American history. Aside from supplying great leadership advice, the author is also successful in providing useful personal insight. This book will leave you feeling inspired.

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Starting in on my book choice for #PR #management

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If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out my top picks for novels and series! Happy reading!

2015-2016: Top 5 Series

Inspiration

Summer time is the best time for reading series. Mostly because this is the time we readers can dedicate more time to reading and becoming invested in a specific story and group of characters.

Below is a list of the top 5 book series I have read during this past year:

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  1. “A Song of Ice and Fire” series by George R.R. Martin

These books are not new, but have been made popular by HBO’s mega-hit series Game of Thrones. This year, I finally finished reading the published installations of this series, including the prequel stories compiled in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” If you are a reader that loves the show, then you will absolutely love these books. Martin is a first-class world-builder and will probably be recognized as the greatest fantasy author of our time. Also highly recommended is “A World of Ice and Fire.” 

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2. “Memoirs of Lady Trent” series

This series is fantasy meets feminism. An adult read, these books are also fun, providing drawings of the different dragon species throughout the pages. The first three books are shown above, with the most recent, “In the Labrynth of Drakes,” having been published this April. I have yet to read the 4th installation but am looking forward to doing so this summer!

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3. Harry Potter Film Production Series

This series includes:

  1. “The Creature Vault”
  2. “The Character Vault”
  3. “Magical Places from the Films”

I know that I have mentioned all of these books at least once before, but I’m doing so again because they are just fantastic. My favorite remains “The Creature Vault,” but all three books contain plenty of insider information and concept art sure to please all HP enthusiasts!

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4. The “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon

I started reading this series many years ago, probably when I was too young to be reading it. Having read through the first three books, but not remembering a lot, Starz’ drama encouraged me to revisit the series. Reading them through again as an adult, I have so much more appreciation for these books. This past year I re-read the first two books (“Outlander” and “Dragonfly in Amber”) and plan on reading the rest of the series this coming year. Whether you are a fan of the show or not, I would highly recommend these books to just about anyone.

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5. The Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier

This YA series was entertaining. Unlike many other books in this category, the main character was devoid of angst,and the fantasy and time travel elements were approached from an entirely unique standpoint. If you are looking for a quick yet entertaining read, give these books a shot.

Be sure to also check out my top 5 picks for novels!

Wizarding Wear

Art, Pop Culture

Lately, I have been getting back into fashion-drawing. Something that inspired me to do so was reading “The Character Vault” by Jody Revenson. This book accompanies two other books (“The Creature Vault” and “Magical Places from the Films: Hogwarts, Diagon Alley and Beyond”) that were published examining and explaining production of the Harry Potter films.

This last installment is intriguing because it examines the costumes of all of the different characters, as well as their wands, makeup applications and costuming tactics. A few of the photographs in this book stood out in particular, and inspired me to recreate some of the wizarding wear in pen, ink and colored pencil.

The first is the outfit worn by the Beauxbaton girls, specifically Fleur Delacour, when they make their entrance into Hogwarts during Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  I love the powder blue.

The second is one of Minerva McGonagall’s. Professor McGonagall has always been one of my favorite characters and I love the Scottish influence seen in her robes and hats.

While “The Creature Vault” still remains my favorite of the series, all three of these production-focused books are excellent and I would recommend them to any Harry Potter fan. I would especially recommend “The Character Vault” to those who, like me, possess an interest in fashion and costuming.

Fantastical Vegetation

Art, Colored Pencil

It’s finally spring again! The sun in shining and the world is coming back to life. While many people see this as an opportunity to get outside and garden, I prefer to get outside and draw pictures of vegetation. Or in this case, pictures of fantastical vegetation.

I have always been fascinated by J.K. Rowling’s mandrakes and thought it would be fun to represent this personified plant in pen and ink. But once I had finished my drawing however, I noticed that something was lacking.

Unsurprisingly, it was missing color. Such a vivid combination contrast of sienna and bright green, I decided that my drawing would in fact be much more captivating if it was upgraded from black and white.

  
I used Prismacolor pencils to fill in my drawing, adding extra shadows and highlights while adding hues. I am certainly glad that I did decide to add color and am quite pleased with the finished product.

  
So whether you are a gardener or an artist, I hope you are enjoying the warm spring weather!

  

Cauldron Cakes

Food

If you follow this blog, you may remember my receiving this book in November:

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You may also remember seeing it in my Halloween post:

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So far, my favorite recipe has been for cauldron cakes. Although they are similar to pancakes in preparation and cooking procedure, cauldron cakes are much much sweeter. They also call for 8 tablespoons of butter. (This is your first indication as to how delicious they are).

Below is the recipe taken from this book:

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If you are inspired to try cooking these for yourself, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind:

  • Constantly grease your cooking surface. Cauldron cake batter is much stickier than that of pancakes. If you do not grease your surface in between batches, they will adhere to your cooking surface and be near-impossible to flip.
  • Don’t be flip-eager. Even when they look ready to flip, give them time. The batter is much thicker than pancake batter and if you try to flip them too early they will not cook properly.
  • Try marmalade. If you are not one for the overly-sweet you may not want to put maple syrup on your cakes. Instead, try orange marmalade. The tanginess of this jam-like substance helps cut through the sweetness while still blending well with the taste of the cakes!

 

All in all, if you wish to have a Harry Potter breakfast, I highly recommend this recipe. I hope you enjoy cauldron cakes as much as I do!

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Feeling Impish

Art

To say I have a unique sense of home decor would probably be an understatement. Let me put it this way: When I vacationed to Disney World and Universal Studios, I came home with a handful of decorative objects including a magic wand, a Dobby movie prop and a troll from Epcot’s Norway.

That being said, my home is full of wee folk. From house-elves, to leprechauns, trolls and gnomes, I have built an interesting collection.

While some of these are my own acquisitions, some of the gnome items are actually Andy’s. Having always had a slight obsession with elves and fairies, words can’t describe how excited I was to hear that as a child he had been fascinated with gnomes.

While some people may find such decor off-putting, ugly or weird, I, obviously, love it. Placing such “creatures” in my house allows me to be inspired and absorb inspiration both consciously and at times, subconsciously.

Below are a couple marker sketches that I recently made, both inspired directly by my own decor.


 So as the old saying goes, be true to yourself. Your home doesn’t have to look like an issue of Good Housekeeping or a program from HGTV. What it looks like should reflect who you are as a a person.

The only advice I would give is to decorate with pieces that inspire. Even if those pieces look like this:

Always.

Art

Recently, and much delayed considering when it was published, I was able to get my hands on the illustrated edition of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Now, you can imagine my excitement. (I being someone known to frequently create Harry Potter fan art).

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As an artist, there is a lot of value in viewing and reviewing the works of others. I was interested to see what kind of magic Jim Kay was able to create, inspired by the words of J.K. Rowling.

Unsurprisingly, I rather enjoyed glancing through this edition and was even so inspired to make a few drawings of my own.
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As well all know, however, this month has also brought misfortune to the Harry Potter universe.

Although the passing of Alan Rickman happened 3 weeks ago yesterday, I believe it is still in the thoughts of many. That being said, I would like to dedicate this post to him and the character of Severus Snape.

Rickman’s portrayal of arguably the most interesting character in the series was not only perfect, but inspired fans of all ages. I know that I credit the Harry Potter franchise to much of my inspiration, even after all of this time. So RIP Alan Rickman, #Always.

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