The Boy Who Lived, Will Always Live On

In my heart…

Is that too cheesy? Sorry, haha. But honestly people may be a bit worn out with all the continuing talk about Harry Potter after all these years, but not I. Always…remember? (still cheesy, sorry haha) The Harry Potter stories will always be relevant and meaningful to me. I have already mentioned before why Harry Potter means so much to me. But in short, I read them at a time in my life when I needed them the most. I was always a push over as a kid and all my friends were never really true friends. I always wished to have friends like Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Luna. They were kind, understanding and just lovely.  Reading their adventures filled me with something that I just wasn’t getting in real life. And the feelings I still get reading the books are indescribable.

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So yes, as a 27 year old, you might get the eye roll or laugh at still being obsessed with Harry Potter, but unless you’re a potterhead, you just won’t understand.

I am always excited to read new material from the Wizarding World, like the new writing by J.K. Rowling of the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (proud Pukwudgie!) and I’m really excited for the new movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. However, I still missed my favorite trio. So with the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child of course I was extremely excited and at the same time nervous.

So for those of you who don’t know, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play written by Jack Thorne based on the original story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany. The script for the play was released in book form so that people who can’t attend the play in London can still somewhat experience the story. Now, when I first read the description of the play I was horrified. What were they doing to my favorite story!? I felt like they were tainting something that was pure and perfect!

“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.”

I was worried that this story was going to sully everything I knew about Harry Potter and the wonderful world J.K. Rowling had created. The last words of The Deathly Hallows read “All was well.” But now with Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, we know things are not all that well. Without giving away any spoilers, I did thoroughly enjoy the read. But of course this is not the eighth book although it is the continuation of the story we all love. The script is not wonderfully detailed like the books and was never really intended to be. This is just that, a script to a play that would definitely be more enjoyed seen on stage rather than read. However, J.K. Rowling gave us 7 wonderfully detailed books and 8 visually stunning movies were made, so all we need when reading this script is to use our imagination.

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The story itself went into some dark places that can only be written for adults. There is a part about Harry as a child talking to his aunt Petunia that just made my stomach drop and heart break. Of course we know Harry suffered at the Dursley’s but Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone was written for children so it doesn’t really touch on dark issues. One of the things I really loved was Ron and Hermione’s relationship. It seemed very solid and loving, unlike what many people predicted it would be like for them. Harry and Ginny’s relationship though appearing pretty solid as well seemed a bit lacking in romance for me, but that’s maybe because most of the scenes they had together were in concern for their son Albus.

My favorite new character was Scorpius Malfoy, who reminds me of a mixture of Hermione with a bit of Harry and Ron, if that makes sense. Albus Potter on the other hand, is more difficult to describe without using any impolite words-haha. However, all the events that transpire are believable to the main story. A lot of people were saying this read like really terrible fan fiction, and I think that that is because it is not a book written by J.K. Rowling. It can take you days or weeks to finish a Potter book, whereas I finished Cursed Child in 4 hours. Most of what makes Harry Potter so special is J.K. Rowling’s ability to write amazingly, so amazingly that we believe her world. I love the movies, but one thing that was missing from them and from this script book is the awesome thing that the books had, which was that as the reader we knew Harry’s thoughts and reasons behind every word. We warmed up to Harry because we knew his mind. The books have wonderful layers that are just so intricate that it’s impossible not to delve right into their magical world and feel for the characters so much, as if they were real people. So it’s not fair to compare the Cursed Child to the rest of the Potter books.

One of the things the Cursed Child demonstrated was that no world has a happily every after, even a magical one. And it wouldn’t be fair to expect Harry to lead a perfect life, he is human after all. He was bound to have other struggles beyond Voldemort.  In my mind, having grown up with Harry, I just wanted his whole life to be perfect, even his children to be perfect! But how realistic is that? So in a way I am happy with the plot of this story because it brings more realistic issues into a very unrealistic world. Besides that, we meet lovely new characters and are reunited with some surprising old ones that for me made the whole story worth it :’).

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Those beautiful wonderful books helped me through so much, gave me courage when I needed it and still have a warm place in my heart that fills up a bit more each time I read them. Will the Cursed Child have the same effect? Maybe not. But it will have a place of honor in my mind for sure, if not my heart. And reading it is an experience every potterhead should take part of.

Until next time lovely readers, Jeannete x.

I Went Home

And by that I mean I went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter over at Universal Studios Hollywood. If you hadn’t already guessed from My Top 5 Favorite Books Of All Time post, I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I live and breath these stories, so going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was something I wanted to do since I heard they were building it. When Danny and I got married last year, we had planned on going to Universal Orlando for our honeymoon solely so we could visit the Wizarding World, but our finances just didn’t allow for that. Later we heard they were building one at Universal Studios Hollywood, so of course we had to go. They opened it in April, but we waited till our wedding anniversary to go.

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The most beautiful place in all the land!

I was not disappointed one bit, it seriously looked exactly like it did in the film.  I felt like I was right in the Harry Potter universe! My only disappointment (which was super tiny) was that they didn’t build Gringotts as they did in Universal Orlando, with the super awesome fire breathing dragon, and the fact that you can’t ride the train! But everything else was pure magic. The shops were heaven and the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride was so freaking awesome. I will not lie, I shed tiny tears of joy when I first rode it because I literally felt like I was in Hogwarts, plus Harry was talking to me and it was just amazing all around. The ride itself is a tiny bit scary (I’m not a fan of roller coasters or drops) but this one was just so magical that I didn’t even mind the couple small drops (that made my stomach clench) so much. The other ride,  The Flight of the Hippogriff, though described as family friendly was actually a bit scary for me (I am indeed a chicken though so don’t take my word for it). I did enjoy it, but it wasn’t worth getting on again. The ride was only what felt like 30 seconds long.

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DSC00105DSC00104We had breakfast and lunch at the Three Broomsticks. It was really beautiful inside.  All the furniture and the atmosphere just felt so magical. I tried both the Butterbeer and pumpkin juice. They were both very sweet, so if you don’t have a sweet tooth (like danny) you might not enjoy it as much. My favorite was definitely the Butterbeer.

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The ceiling of The Three Broomsticks ^_^
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*^o^*
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Proud Ravenclaw

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Since The Wizarding World part isn’t that big, we set out and explored the rest of the park. I have only been once before, so it was fun going on the rides and seeing the shows. Water World is a really fun show to watch, but sit all the way at the top if you don’t want to get soaked! I “bravely” endured Jurassic Park for Danny, it’s a fun ride, but that drop though! There was a tiny little girl sitting next to me though so I couldn’t be a chicken about it. But as the evening started to approach, we made our way back to Hogwarts. We visited Ollivanders where a person is selected to receive a wand. As Danny and I stay close to the walls in crowded spaces, neither of us was selected. But it was still fun to watch.  The shop was lined to the ceiling with wands.

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Still getting the hang of my new camera, photo came out slightly blurry.

We missed the Frog Choir show, but made the Triwizard Spirit Rally. The girls from Beauxbatons were definitely my favorite.

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The weather was a perfect 60 degrees with gray clouds and sun peeking in and out all day. It definitely helped set the tone.

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My only purchases were Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans, a Chocolate Frog, a few other sweets for my nieces and nephew, House enamel pins, and a postcard that got ruined in my backpack. Though I managed to save part of it by cutting away the crumpled wet(?) part.

DSC00146We also went into The Hogs Head for some drinks and got these cool mugs to take home. Danny got the Witches Brew and I had another Butterbeer.

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We had such a magical, wonderful day, that we will surely be returning. I cannot wait to see it beautifully decorated for Christmas!

Have you been to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Hollywood? Orlando? How was your experience? Tell me about it in the comments, I would love to know.

Until next time, Jeannete x

My Top 5 Favorite Books Of All Time

My love for reading began at a very early age.  I remember my older sister would read to me a lot when I was younger and when teachers started assigning books to read in elementary school, I read them all.  One of my favorite books when I was little was Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark by Alvin Schwartz.  I found the pictures and the stories to be really creepy and loved them.  I mostly read short stories and many of Judy Blume’s books although the only one I really remember is Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret-haha. But the first book I actually fell in love with was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.  I read this in middle school and just ate the whole thing up. I enjoy reading mixed genres, though I do favor classics.  So here goes, my top 5 favorite books of all time.

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Lumos doesn’t miss an opportunity to appear in a photo, here he is posing with my fave books 😀 The spines are all bent and pages falling apart (I even spy a never returned library book!) But I’ve read and re-read them countless times so they’re bound to have some wear and tear.
  1. Harry Potter-All 7 books hold the number one spot (although, if forced to pick, The Half-Blood Prince is my fave)-J.K. Rowling

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    “I am not worried, Harry,” said Dumbledore, his voice a little stronger despite the freezing water. “I am with you.”

These books mean so much to me.  When I was in middle school I didn’t have many friends and I wasn’t in a particularly happy place, but reading these books filled me with so much happiness and wonder.  I only read up to The Goblet of Fire and didn’t start reading them again until after I graduated high school.  I have re-read these books more times than I can count and each time they are just as amazing and powerful to me.  They inspire me to be a better person.  They demonstrate the importance of friendship and love and how every human deserves love and respect, no matter our differences.  We are all living, breathing creatures that deserve to be treated equally.  It doesn’t hurt that the books are filled with magic and fantastic characters.  I credit Harry Potter with creating my love for reading and all things magical.  I will re-read these books until I’m old and gray.

2.  Les Miserables-Victor Hugo

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“To love or to have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life. To love is consummation.”

This book was assigned by my high school english teacher in the 10th grade.  I fell in love with it and read it unlike many of my classmates.  This is one of those books that I love re-reading because of the importance of it.  It shows the struggle of the lower class, Jean Valjean’s journey of redemption, a love story, not only between a man and a woman but familial love, and an epic battle; this book has it all!  It’s a book so full of beauty and sadness that I just love it so much (how many times do I have to say how much I love it!).  And the themes written about in this story, though written so very long ago(1862), are still relevant to our lives today.

3.  Dracula- Bram Stoker

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“But my very feelings changed to repulsion and terror when I saw the whole man slowly emerge from the window and begin to crawl down the castle wall over that dreadful abyss, face down, with his cloak spreading out around him like great wings.”

So Bram Stoker’s Dracula was the first ever vampire book I read, and what ultimately started my obsession with them. I already liked creepy books, but never had I read a story such as this one.  It’s not particularly scary but it can be very creepy.  It is a love story even though you may not realize it at first because of the title.  The characters are fighting for the ones they love, as Dracula attempts to destroy them.  I fell in love with Jonathan, Mina, Van Helsing and even Dracula himself.  I loved how the female characters in this story are so strong and take initiative in many of the adventures that lead to the climax of the story.  If you’re trying to test the waters with scary books, I highly recommend Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  He was the man that created the character of Dracula.  Though Dracula has been re-made so many times in film and stories in very corny and over the top ways, nothing beats the way Bram Stoker originally portrayed him.

4.  East of Eden- John Steinbeck

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“Monsters are variations from the accepted normal to a greater or a less degree.  As a child may be born without an arm, so one may be born without kindness or the potential of conscience”

This book turned out to be an unexpected and amazing read.  It begins fairly slow,  as the narrator describes the landscape of his hometown (Salinas, Ca).  Though the descriptions are beautiful, I didn’t know what to expect.  I kept going, and I’m glad I did, because this book is absolutely amazing.  It’s a story that covers multiple generations.  We see children grow and age and have children of their own.  We see their struggles and mistakes and how they affect them in the long run.  This book left a huge impression on me and taught me that our actions control our destiny, not what people think or expect from us based on preconceived notions they may have about us, but what we choose to act upon.  Because there is always a choice.

5.  On the Road- Jack Kerouac

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“I was beginning to get the bug like Dean.  He was simply a youth tremendously excited with life, and though he was a con-man, he was only conning because he wanted so much to live and to get involved with people who would otherwise pay no attention to him.”

And last but not least, On The Road finishes up my top 5 favorite books of all time. In this book  Jack Kerouac tells about his own stories and adventures on the road through his fictional character Sal Paradise.  We meet curious and interesting characters that actually existed.  And as we see everything through his eyes, his lust for travel and obsession with Dean Moriarty become contagious.  I found myself wanting to get out on the road and experience adventures of my own.  I love that it’s based on actual events and that these people actually lived and breathed.  They had really big ideas and wanted more from life.  All these events happened in the 40’s-early 50’s and it’s intriguing to see that people did not appreciate the conformity they were expected to agree with and follow.

Of course this is just my top 5.  I have a lot of love for all the books I’ve ever read.  Maybe next time I’ll write about my next 5, that would make up my top 10 favorite books.  But for now I’ll leave you with these.  Have you read any of these? Do any of them make your top 5?  Let me know what your top 5 favorite books are, I’d love to know 🙂