Thursday, 28 May 2015

Harry Potter Book Only Moments- Ice-Cream!

Lauren Fairweather posted a video yesterday where she and Jackson Bird talked about their favourite book-only Harry Potter moments. All the things that didn't make it into the films and survive as special book treats, and some things that really SHOULD have been in the films too (Dursley goodbyes scene is definitely one for me).

My favourite little book gems are not big plot moments or missing characters and storylines, but instead the ice cream moments, of which there are a few throughout the books. They don't do anything big or important, but are just there to accent some happy moments. 

1- The lemon ice lolly at the zoo 

"The Dursleys bought Dudley and Piers large chocolate ice-creams at the entrance and then, because the smiling lady in the van had asked Harry what he wanted before they could hurry him away, they bought him a cheap lemon ice lolly. It wasn't bad either, Harry thought, licking it as they watched a gorilla scratching its head and looking remarkably like Dudley, except that it wasn't blond." 

Aw little 10 year old Harry, appreciating the small moments of happiness that he gets, always with a sense of humour, my heart breaks for you. 

2- Dudley's discarded knickerbocker glory also at the zoo

"Harry had the best morning he'd had in a long time. He was careful to walk a little way apart from the Dursleys so that Dudley and Piers, who were starting to get bored with the animals by lunch-time, wouldn't fall back on their favourite hobby of hitting him. They ate in the zoo restaurant and when Dudley had a tantrum because his knickerbocker glory wasn't big enough, Uncle Vernon bought him another one and Harry was allowed to finish the first.Harry felt, afterwards, that he should have known it was all too good to last."

Oh Harry it shouldn't have been too good to last.

3- Ice-creams at Diagon Alley with Hagrid

"Hagrid was standing there, grinning at Harry and pointing at two large ice-creams to show he couldn't come in... Harry was rather quiet as he ate the ice-cream Hagrid had bought him (chocolate and raspberry with chopped nuts)."

This is right after Harry meets Malfoy for the first time in Madam Malkin's. Stupid Malfoy ruining what would have otherwise been a really nice ice-cream moment. 

4- Blocks of ice-cream at the Hogwarts feast

"When everyone had eaten as much as they could, the remains of the food faded from the plates, leaving them sparkling clean as before. A moment later the puddings appeared. Block of ice-cream in every flavour you could think of, apple pies, treacle tarts, chocolate éclairs and jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, jelly, rice pudding..."

Ah the sweet sweet excess of Hogwarts feasting.

5- Free sundaes at Florean Fortescue's

"Harry spent the long sunny days exploring the shops and eating under the brightly coloured umbrellas outside cafes, where his fellow diners were showing each other their purchases ('it's a lunascope, old boy- no more messing around with moon charts, see?') or else discussing the case of Sirius Black ('personally, I won't let any of the children out alone until he's back in Azkaban'). Harry didn't have to do his homework under the blankets by torchlight any more; now he could sit in the bright sunshine outside Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlour, finishing all his essays with occasional help from Florean Fortescue himself, who, apart from knowing a great deal about medieval witch-burnings, gave Harry free sundaes every half hour."

Free. Sundaes. Every. Half. Hour.... EVERY HALF HOUR.

6- Harry has money to burn

"Harry, Ron and Hermione strolled off along the winding, cobbled street. The bag of gold, silver and bronze jangling cheerfully in Harry's pocket was clamouring to be spent, so he bought three large strawberry and peanut-butter ice-creams which they slurped happily as they wandered up the alley, examining the fascinating shop windows."

Sharing the wealth through ice-creams.

7- Summer evening at The Burrow

"Mr Weasley conjured up candles to light the darkening garden before they had their pudding (home-made strawberry ice-cream), and by the time they had finished, moths were fluttering low over the table and the warm air was perfumed with the smells of grass and honeysuckle. Harry was feeling extremely well fed and at peace with the world as he watched several gnomes sprinting through the rose bushes, laughing madly and closely pursued by Crookshanks." 

I'd love to have dinner at the Burrow, I bet Mrs Weasley's strawberry ice-cream is wonderful.

So there you have it- my favourite ice-cream moments of Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling must have fond feeling towards ice-cream to include it as a detail in so many happy little moments. Harry'll always be the sweet little boy who felt pleased to have a cheap lemon ice lolly to me. 

All the quotes in this post are from the Harry Potter books, and I found them by searching on my Kindle and flicking through the books and so I haven't included page numbers because, you know, different editions. But needless to say, all by J.K. Rowling, thanks J.K.! 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

REVIEW!: Wild Song- Janis Mackay- Piccadilly Press

Wild Song is a beautiful and enchanting book for children and adults alike. Janis Mackay spent a month on a Finnish Island on a writing residency, funded by Creative Scotland, to write this book, which sounds like a magical experience, and truly shows in the writing. The story follows Niilo, a 13 year old Finnish boy, who on top of having a terrible phobia of the sea, has horrible nightmares about drowning which drive him to spend his nights lying on the floor to avoid sleep, and disruptive anger issues which his parents can no longer deal with. Niilo is sent from Helsinki to live on a tiny island at the Wild School, where along with other boys who don't fit well with traditional education he is taught about nature, growing food, foraging, wood work and circus skills (among other things). Niilo's determination to 'free' drives him and he soon opens up to his case worker Hannu, who helps him search for his lost 'wild song'. 

Five things I loved about Wild Song:

5-The Finnish and Saami folklore was beautifully integrated into the story through Hannu. Seeing Niilo slowly embrace these stories and look for meaning and comfort in them was a great way to show his journey to finding those lost memories.

4-Niilo's anger issues were compassionately portrayed. With Niilo as narrator the reader was able to see and understand the thinking behind his actions, as Niilo himself attempted to understand them. Never were his feeling patronised or belittled, as his own version of events were what guided the reader.

3-Niilo's astute awareness of Hannu's methods of pep-talking and encouragement were spot on. Again Mackay never patronises Niilo, or the reader. He is aware when Hannu is gently pushing an idea on him, or telling him a story with a particular lesson in mind. He is even aware when that story is something he doesn't want to hear, and so stops listening. 

2-The Tove Jansson book in the wooden hut and Niilo wondering is maybe this island had been Tove's island. I love Tove Jansson's work so this reference gave me warm fuzzies when reading.

1-The seal! What a magical moment when the seal guides Niilo to shore, and helps him to fish, and keeps and eye on him. And the two seals popping up to greet Niilo and his mum, singing their wild song, was a perfect ending to a beautiful, thoughtful book. 

I'm strongly considering finding a way that I can spend a month on a Finnish island. Also my interest in selkies has been reawakened, and having a little look through Janis Mackay's previous work it looks like I have quite a few selkie-based children's books to indulge in. 

I'm currently doing the #MayBookChallenge on instagram- come follow me @ruthlily!

I was sent a copy of Wild Song by Hot Key Books/Piccadilly Press. This is not a paid review. All views are my own, and I just happened to love it! A version of this review has been posted on Goodreads and Amazon. Wild Song came out on 7 May 2015.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

REVIEW! Books I read in April: Half Bad, The Country of Ice Cream Star, A Darker Shade of Magic.

Ooh I read some right gooduns in April. All of these have been recommended by various bloggers and booktubers so I was very much looking forward to reading them, and I was not disappointed, whee! I read Half Bad by Sally Green, The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman, and V.E. Schwab's A Darker Shade of Magic. 

Half Bad

This is a story about witches in Britain, but not quite the usual kind. Nathan is half white witch and half black witch, and growing up in a predominantly white witch modern Britain, which is warring against black witches. As the son of the most notorious black witch, Marcus, Nathan has been brought up by his white witch grandmother and has been tracked and monitored by the corrupt and prejudicial Council for his whole life.
Nathan is quite young at the beginning of the book, and we see him grow up and slowly learn more about who he is, and why he gets treated differently to his half-siblings. There is quite a gritty, realist feel to the setting, while there are potions and shape shifting and magical occurrences, this is set against a grimy and grey backdrop. Nathan gets involved in punch ups at school (a normal non magic school attended by non magic children- fains), is nauseated by hearing mobile phone static in his head, and has to learn how to pick-pocket wealthy city workers. His time spent in a cage in the Highlands is just as grim. However, this is a fast paced and witty book and a fully formed novel in its own right, though it is the first of a trilogy. Read it!

The Country of Ice Cream Star

Wow, where do I start with this book. I thought it was pretty wonderful. It's set in a post apocalyptic America, about 80 years after a virus has wiped out most of the population. The people who are left behind are all black and all children, dying of 'posies' before they reach their 20s. Ice Cream Star is 15 and part of community called Sengals. They hunt and live in the Messa woods, and search old 'evac' houses for clothing and supplies. The amazing thing about this book is that  Sandra Newman has created a language, a kind of English dialect, which at first is a little jarring, but soon easy to understand. A few chapters in and my own thoughts were in Ice Cream's language. And it was really hard to shake it after I'd finished. So a pretty immersive read. It's a long book, and so took me a long time to read, but it was well worth it. Ice Cream is a brilliant strong character and leads the story of this unsettling world, through capture, becoming a Queen, and Russian invasion, always looking to do the "right" thing. 

“I know, ain't evils in no life nor cruelties in no red hell can change the vally heart of Ice Cream Star.” 

A Darker Shade of Magic

This is a magical tale of multiple Londons, dark and dangerous magic, and excellent coats. A great introduction to what should be an exciting trilogy. Kell is a great misfit character, taken in by the Royal family but never quite fitting in there, feeling like the a trophy of the King and Queen rather than part of the family. Loyal to his duty, as one of the last Antari, to travel between the worlds and between Londons. His many sided coat is amazing, I want one. He reminds me a lot of Howl (of Howl's Moving Castle) and there is something of a Diana Wynne Jones feel to the Schwab's writing. With his red hair and search for answers he also reminds me somewhat of Kvothe (from The Name of the Wind). I loved Lila Bard, who dreams of being a pirate, and is tough and strong as long as she keeps telling herself she is tough and strong. The coat and cape she acquires is a thing of wonder too. In Lila I saw a bit of Hester from Mortal Engines, fending for herself, determined not to rely on anyone. The worlds were beautifully built and the plot very fast paced, taking place over just a couple of days. The baddies convincing and the heroes strong, flawed and independent. So much happened in this first book, but there are so many questions left unanswered and potential paths left open that I am very much anticipating the next in the trilogy with great excitement. 

I've already read some wonderful books in May- so I'm excited to share those with you next month! I'm currently doing the #MayBookChallenge on Instagram so go follow me there- @ruthlily

Friday, 8 May 2015

2014 roundup!

Welp, better late than never- the books I read in 2014!

I was finishing my masters so I didn't end up reading loads of fiction last year and I also spent a lot of time rereading loads of Harry Potter, which I haven't done for years. This time on my kindle. It was so worth it, a warm, comforting trip back home to Hogwarts. I couldn't bring myself to read Deathly Hallows again just yet (also they're like £7.99 for an ebook on Pottermore, which is loads)... but I'll bite the bullet soon and it'll all be over again wahh. 

J.K. Rowling-
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

And then in no particular order I read these books:
Paper Towns- John Green
This book was... fine!
Howl's Moving Castle- Diana Wynne Jones
I liked this a lot, pretty different to the Studio Ghibli film, but just as magical.
Let it Snow- John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle
Christmas time read!

Mortal Engines- Philip Reeve
This was great!

Predators Gold- Philip Reeve
Sequel to Mortal Engines, also pretty great.
The Girl With All the Gifts- M.R. Carey
Ooh this was right good.
Only Ever Yours- Louise O'Neill
If you haven't already, read this immediately.
Girl Online- Zoe Sugg
I mean, it was okkkk.
Charmed Life- Diana Wynne Jones
This was good! I should read the rest of the series.
Looking For Alaska- John Green
I liked this better than Paper Towns I think maybe.
Eleanor & Park- Rainbow Rowell
This was nice, and then sad, but nice too.

The Name of the Wind- Patrick Rothfuss
Kvothe! Denna! Auri! I think I pronounce all the names wrong but I am very much into this series. Excellent.

The Wise Man's Fear- Patrick Rothfuss
A great sequel, a little slower moving than the first I felt, but still enthralling and stuff.

The Passage- Justin Cronin
This book was sooooo long. And it's part of a trilogy?? This was a major project to read. Miiiight not bother with the rest of the series.

Tada! That was it. April reads coming soon... Follow me on instagram (@ruthlily) where I'm currently doing the #MayBookChallenge :)