I saw Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and I have some thoughts

Hi everyone! Originally, I was going to make this post about my favorites of 2018 but I ended up seeing the newest movie in the Fantastic Beasts franchise tonight. In my previous post about having “too much story,” I admitted that I was hesitant about this movie and if it was messing with the original lore too much. You all know that I am a die hard Harry Potter fan, who also enjoyed the first Fantastic Beasts movie. Let me tell you what I thought. Spoilers Ahead!

I wanted to start by talking about the thing I liked about this movie. First, I loved seeing Newt again. I really enjoy his atypical characteristics. Eddie Redmayne is charming as anything and it comes through again. In addition to Newt, I also enjoyed seeing him and Jacob back together for adventures. I can’t go any further without mentioning how I loved seeing Newt and Tina together. (I really ship it.) As for the story, I did enjoy seeing the lore of Grindelwald come to life as that was a very important part of what led to Voldemort’s rise to power. Along with that, seeing Dumbledore before in his teacher days was one of the best parts of the movies. There was some really good world building and great character development. I can’t completely say the movie didn’t have some great elements. 

Let’s get to what I didn’t like. First, I’m still not happy about Johnny Depp being casted. He did a fine job in the movie but they should have replaced him with someone less controversial. I shouldn’t feel guilty supporting this movie. There was definitely some muddling of the lore that seemed to appear out of nowhere and with no preface. With the reveal of Credence possibly being a Dumbledore and not a Lestrange, I found myself a bit baffled. I know it’s mostly for sequel bait but it’s still a weird reveal. Along with the whole familial confusion, there was also infanticide! I was not expecting to see babies being murdered and I was disturbed as any other person should be. My biggest gripe, beyond all of that, is that there were not enough beasts in the movie. I wanted to know if Newt had made any progress in helping people learn to understand magical beasts but that was completely thrown away for the Grindelwald plot. The actual beasts are what drove the first movie and I really enjoyed seeing all of that. The charm of the first movie just got lost in this one. Only Newt, Tina, and Jacob were the driving forces of what made the first movie so enjoyable. 

In conclusion, I don’t think this movie gave “too much” story. Instead, I thought it told the wrong story. It wasn’t a badly written story by any means. It was just too much of a turn from what the first movie delivered. The plot twists felt as though they were mostly there for shock and sequel bait as opposed to story building. Now, I am aware that this is JK Rowling’s world and she can do whatever she wants with it. There, however, has to be some consistency. I understand we can’t know everything about the Wizarding World. I am just saying, though, that the world building felt lost in the epic-ness of the movie. I’m not hating on this movie by any means. I would definitely watch it again. I’m just intrigued as to where the story is going to go from here. 

Where the World Ends is Where You Must Begin: Reviewing The Gunslinger (Book One of The Dark Tower Series) by Stephen King

Hi everyone! It’s time for me to stop padding this blog with random posts and start giving you some actual book reviews. I was grateful to receive the entire Dark Tower series from my aunt not too long ago. I have mentioned in the past that it has been awhile since I have read a series. I’m also a Stephen King fan so this was all very serendipitous. Now, here are my thoughts on The Gunslinger. 

The mysterious man called the Gunslinger is on the hunt for the equally enigmatic Man in Black. As he travels across the desert, the Gunslinger must survive many magical obstacles in his path as well as protect Jake, a kid from Earth in order to reach his arch nemesis. King’s mix of epic fantasy and classical Western tales provides a surreal backdrop for the thrilling and dark tale of the Gunslinger and his quest.

As you have probably seen, I have reviewed King’s horror novels in the past but I have not read one of his non-horror novels yet. The Gunslinger had a surreal and gritty atmosphere that brings together all of the classic elements of a Western story with the kind of fantasy I’ve read in Lord of the Rings. The story is certainly not structured in any traditional way. It took me a bit to realize that as the story simply flows together and isn’t broken up by so many chapters. The Gunslinger is actually a quick read but the story makes you pay attention to detail as King certainly follows the “show don’t tell” rule of story telling. I finished this book feeling intrigued. King does inject his usual gory form of story telling into this novel, so you have been warned if you are sensitive to violence. At times, the writing did carry a certain sexual overtone that made me a little uncomfortable. It wasn’t enough to deter me but, again, you may not enjoy this if you are sensitive to this kind of content. In the end, I found myself very intrigued by The Gunslinger. I love the mashup of two very different genres and will definitely be reading the rest of the series. I’ll go ahead and recommend this novel to fans of fantasy novels. The Gunslinger is an epic exercise in pushing the limits of action and fantasy.

Note: I know the movie adaptation came out a year ago or so. I haven’t seen it but let me know if you think it is worth watching. I would like to know.

We Fought. We Persevered. We Rose.: Reviewing Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Hello everyone! It’s been way too long since I’ve posted anything. I wanted to wait to completely finish this novel before talking about it but, I’m just going to go ahead and tell you my thoughts about it. I’ve had to put this book on hold more than once due to graduation and now work. Anyways, I am incredibly excited to tell you all about Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

Zelie Adebola was just a child when the king targeted the maji and wiped out all of the magic in Orisha. Zelie lost her mother and was forced to hide her powers from the world. Now, years later, Zelie has the chance to bring back magic with the help of the rebellious Princess Amari. With her brother and Amari at her side, Zelie must race against the bloodthirsty king and ruthless prince in order to bring back magic to Orisha.

There has been a lot of hype about this novel and it has even been promoted by Jimmy Fallon. I am pleased to say that Adeyemi’s debut book lives up to the hype. It has a wonderful balance of world building and character building. It has a very Game of Thrones vibe as the narrative is a similar style with the chapters alternating the characters’ points of view. It also carries the same adventurous spirit as Harry Potter. This book is a journey in every sense and it is a great YA novel as it deviates from so many of the tropes in YA fantasy/adventure novels. Fans of mythology will also enjoy this as it is based in African folklore and mythology. I haven’t read many (if any) fantasy novels that weren’t told from a Western perspective so this novel is particularly unique in that sense. I highly recommend Children of Blood and Bone to anyone looking to an exciting YA novel that you don’t want to put down.

Note: I know that Adeyemi had released that title for the next novel in this series and that she is in talks for a movie adaptation.

Be Strong, Saith My Heart: Reviewing Circe by Madeline Miller

Hello everyone! I am beyond excited to talk to you about Madeline Miller’s sophomore novel. I have reviewed her debut novel, The Song of Achilles. You can check that out on my blog. Anyways, I do absolutely love mythology, in particular Greek mythology. I also enjoy these particular stories that are classic tales retold with a new angle. Novels likes Wicked have shown how popular this trope is and how it is really great when done well. I shall continue on and tell you all about Circe by Madeline Miller. (Quick note: Circe is pronounced as Sir-See.)

During the fall of the Titans, Circe was born to Helios, a god of the sun and a powerful force. From her birth, Circe realized she was different that the other immortals and turns to mortals for comfort. Circe then discovers her true talent: witchcraft. She is banished by Zeus and Helios to a remote island for eternity. There she hones her powers and crosses paths with many icons of mythology, with the most notable being the cunning Odysseus. Circe, however, soon finds herself in danger after angering the gods and Titans alike. Circe must prove her true powers or else lose everything that she loves in this thrilling and vivid story.

I was absolutely hooked on this book from the first page. Circe herself is a relatively lesser known figure in Greek mythology who is only really known for having an affair with Odysseus. Miller, however, saw this character and turned her into a force to be reckoned with. The first thing I wanted to talk about was the mythology backdrop and the godly characters. They felt equally as human as they did divine. The competition between the Olympians and the Titans felt very much like Game of Thrones, which I enjoyed. With that being said, the novel did present a certain harsh reality within the mythical world. Circe herself embodied what it meant to be a survivor, in my opinion. Despite her familial history, she still goes through many struggles with little to no help. The novel certainly carries a feminist message throughout, which I found very empowering. Her voice, thoughts, and feelings are all very strong and honest. Miller certainly proves that even gods struggle but that there is hope through survival and perseverance. You probably know I’m going to highly recommend this novel to you. Circe was an exciting and emotional reading experience that is impossible to put down.

Note: I got the title of this review from The Odyssey. I do actually really enjoy that epic.

Monsters, Fathoms, and Witchcraft: Reviewing The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

I’m surprised it took me as long as I did to get to reading this book. In a moment of weakness that I experience whenever I am in a bookstore, I decided to add yet another Neil Gaiman book to my growing collections. What can I say? I’m guilty of being a Neil Gaiman fan. I will now tell you about The Ocean at the End of the Lane. 

When a middle aged man returns to his childhood home for a funeral, he finds himself drawn back to an old farm where his friend, Lettie Hempstock, lived. As he stands by Lettie’s “ocean” (that was really a pond) behind her farmhouse, he remembers a frightening, magical, and fantastical time in his life that no small boy could have even imagined. The Ocean at the End of Lane follows the journey of children trying to make sense of a strange world where adults aren’t always right and magic inhabits the forest.

You are all aware of my bias as I am a Neil Gaiman fan but, regardless, this novel is a delicate and dark look at childhood and the struggles that come with it. Gaiman takes his signature dark storytelling and turns it into a fairy tale that is surprisingly relatable. It’s a quick read too, at only 273 pages but Gaiman makes every last page count. This coming-of-age story presents the reader with a new outlook on adulthood, humanity, bravery, and kindness. The Ocean at the End of the Lane takes you a whirlwind journey through the magic world that we grow out of.

The Harry Potter Spells Tag/Challenge

I’m back at it again with another book tag but I realized I hadn’t done a Harry Potter related one yet. I found this one on @becomingbookish  so check it out if you want. Other than that, enjoy this tag and feel free to participate in these tags too.

Expecto Patronum – A book associated with good childhood memories

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Well, obviously I have strong ties towards the Harry Potter series but I also loved A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’engle and The Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funk

Expelliarmus – A book that book you by surprise

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I had to read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini for my World Lit class last semester and I ended up loving it. I definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a powerful story.

Prior Incantato – the last book you read

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The last book I read was The Shining by Stephen King. I haven’t finished it yet but I’m working on it.

Alohamora – A book that introduced you to a genre you hadn’t considered

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I used to be an avid Mortal Instruments fan and, though I don’t read it anymore, it introduced me to urban fantasy.

Riddikulus – the funniest book you read

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The Martian by Andy Weir is pretty hilarious. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett is also a really funny read.

Sonorus – A book that everybody should know about

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I absolutely recommend American Gods by Neil Gaiman and The Secret History by Donna Tartt to just about everybody.

Obliviate – A book spoiler you would like to forget having read

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I skipped to the end of Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent series, because I was frustrated with the book then I was pissed at the ending and just gave up reading it.

Imperio – A book you had to read for school

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I’ve read a bunch of books for school so I’m going to say my favorites have been Dracula, The Great Gatsby, Brick Lane, and Fahrenheit 451. 

Crucio – A book that was painful to read

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The Book Thief hurt like hell but was still a great book. Also, The Mark of Athena hurt my feels.

Avada Kedavera – A book that you would kill

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Allegiant, Ender’s Game, The Lovely Bones, and The Gold Coast can suck it for all I care.

 

That’s the end of this book tag. I hope you enjoy this one too.

After All This Time?

Since it is the twentieth anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone, depending on your country), I decided I wanted to write a little personal essay on why Harry Potter and JK Rowling mean so much to me and many others. Like many others, it is the foundation for my love of books and has inspired my writing in many ways. I felt it was a perfect time to give a little ode to The Boy Who Lived.

The first time I became interested in the series was when I was just about to turn six. The television was on in my living room and a preview caught my eye. It was a preview for the second movie, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I turned to my mom and told her I wanted to see that movie. I knew nothing about it but I was intrigued by the flying Ford Anglia. My mom told me I had to read the book first before I saw the movie. Happily, I obliged because I was a weird kid who loved the thought of being able to read a book on my own. At first, my mom would read me the book but I became increasingly frustrated because I felt I could do a better job with all of the pronunciations of the spells and names. I snatched The Sorcerer’s Stone from her hands and she let me continue on my own way.

Soon, the books and movies began to pick up traction in mainstream pop culture. My parents found themselves sucked into a series that they once disregarded as just another kid’s book. My sister was a little late to catch on but now we get into arguments over the content of the books and certain characters. I attended a Harry Potter-themed camp as my first Girl Scout camp. I got a Harry Potter doll and a toy obstacle course of sorts that allowed you to “levitate” a ball through a series of hoops. (It wasn’t a Quidditch toy but some of you out there might know what I’m talking about.) I went to midnight book releases and movie premiers. I dressed as Hermione for Halloween three years in a row, teasing my hair out to exaggerate my already frizzy curls. About two years ago, I went to the Harry Potter theme park in Universal. Since I was just a small child, the Harry Potter series has been my constant literary companion. Looking back at it now, it is easy to see why.

I distinctly remember my elementary school library consisting of series such as Goosebumps and The Babysitters’ Club. While I don’t mean to insult these books since they are a main part of many childhoods, I just remember not finding them interesting at all. Before JK Rowling came along, most children’s literature and YA books were written to be approved by adults. Magic was reserved for bedtime stories. Rowling, however, decided that magic should be for everyone. The series was not written to condescend to children about problems with growing up but to show sympathy and encouragement while struggling with life. It doesn’t pit children against adults, or use the “Listen to the Adults” trope, but shows how their is not simply good or evil but people with different motivations. This is how Rowling set herself apart from other children’s authors in a revolutionary kind of way.

JK Rowling herself is also a major part of why the series is still just as loved today. She stays in touch with fans on social media, isn’t afraid to expand her stories and answer questions, and she is honest about her life. To this very day, she is still hands on with her stories and is in control of the movies as well. The cast of the movies are still in touch and have mini reunions that make my heart flutter whenever I see them reference the movies. This unique network of writers and actors help to keep the hype alive. With the success of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, it doesn’t look the Harry Potter craze is going to fade out any time soon.

I can’t help but smile when I see new Harry Potter merchandise come out or hear it referenced in another show or movie. I still feel giddy whenever the first few notes of Hedwig’s Theme plays. I own several wands and have a Ravenclaw phone case. I cherish my well loved copies that have sat in the same spot on my bookshelf for as long as I can remember. I still play Harry Potter trivia. I can not properly express how I love the strange bond between “Potterheads,” as the fans have been dubbed.

It’s hard to imagine a life without Harry Potter. I hope it continues to inspire future generations in the same way it inspired my generation.