Sunday, 20 September 2015

Harry Potter: Harry's Presents Part 2

This is part two of Harry's Presents, read part one first here. Despite everything getting very serious in the wizarding world, the presents keep rolling in for Harry on his birthdays and Christmasses. Highlights include odd socks, hand-knitted by Dobby, maggots from Kreacher, plenty of Mrs Weasley's baked goods, and a vey good seventeenth birthday haul, including a weird 'how to chat up girls' book from Ron. So here we are, starting back at the Goblet of Fire:

-Four Birthday Cakes
"And then on Harry's birthday (which the Dursley had completely ignored) he had received four superb birthday cakes, one each from Ron, Hermione, Hagrid and Sirius. Harry still had two of them left, and so, looking forward to a real breakfast when he got back upstairs, he started eating his grapefruit without compliant."

Harry's Fourth Hogwarts Christmas:

-Socks from Dobby
"Dobby now handed Harry a small package, which turned out to be- socks.
'Dobby is making them himself, sir! the elf said happily. 'He is buying the wool out of his wages, sir!'
The left sock was bright red, and had a pattern of broomsticks upon it; the right sock was green, with a pattern of Snitches."
-Presents 'much more satisfactory than Dobby's odd socks'
"Hermione had given Harry a book called Quidditch Teams of Britain and Ireland; Ron, a bulging bag of Dungbombs; Sirius, a handy penknife with attachments to unlock any lock and undo any knot; and Hagrid, a vast box of sweets including all Harry's favourites- Bertie Boot's Every Flavour Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Drooble's Best Blowing Gum and Fizzing Whizzbees. There was also, of course, Mrs Weasley's usual package, including a new jumper (green, with a picture of a dragon on it- Harry supposed Charlie had told her all about the Horntail) and a large quantity of home-made mince pies."
Birthday Chocolates that Harry Throws Out:
"He could hardly bear to think of the pair of them having fun at The Burrow when he was stuck in Privet Drive. In fact, he was so angry with them he had thrown away, unopened, the two boxes of Honeydukes chocolates they'd sent him for his birthday. He'd regretted it later, after the wilted salad Aunt Petunia had provided for dinner that night."

Harry's First Grimmauld Place Christmas:
"Harry awoke on Christmas morning to find a stack of presents at the foot of his bed and Ron already halfway through opening his own, rather larger, pile.

'Good haul this year,' he informed Harry through a cloud of paper. 'Thanks for the Broom Compass, it's excellent; beats Hermione's- she got me a homework planner'"
-Homework planner from Hermione
"Harry sorted through his presents and found one with Hermione's handwriting on it. She had given him, too, a book that resembled a diary except that every time he opened a page it said aloud things like: 'Do it today or later you'll pay!'"
-Defensive Magic book from Sirius and Lupin
"Sirius and Lupin had given Harry a set of excellent books entitled Practical Defensive Magic and its Use Against the Dark Arts, which had superb, moving colour illustrations of all the counter-jinxes and hexes it described. Harry flicked through the first volume eagerly; he could see it was going to be highly useful in his plans for the DA." 
-Furry wallet from Hagrid
"Hagrid had sent a furry brown wallet that had fangs, which were presumably supposed to be an anti-theft device, but unfortunately prevented Harry putting any money in without getting his fingers ripped off. "
-Presents from Tonks, the Weasleys, and Dobby
"Tonks's present was a small, working model of a Firebolt, which Harry watched fly around the room, wishing he still has his full-size version; Ron had given him an enormous box of Every-Flavour Beans, Mr and Mrs Weasley the usual hand-knitted jumper and some mince pies, and Dobby a truly dreadful painting that Harry suspected had been done by the elf himself. He had just turned it upside-down to see whether it looked better that way when, with a loud crack, Fred and George Apparated at the foot of his bed."

Harry's First Burrow Christmas:
"Harry's presents included a sweater with a large Golden Snitch worked on to the front, hand-knitted by Mrs Weasley, a large box of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes products from the twins and a slightly damp, mouldy-smelling package which cam with a label reading: 'To Master, from Kreacher.'... A moment later, Harry had given a loud yell and leapt out of his camp bed; the package contained a large number of maggots."
Harry's Seventeenth Birthday:

-Weird advice on girls book from Ron
"'Here's your present. Unwrap it up here, it's not for my mother's eyes.'
'A book?' said Harry, as he took the rectangular parcel. 'Bit of a departure from tradition, isn't it?'
'This isn't your average book,' said Ron. 'It's pure gold: Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches. Explains everything you need to know about girls. If only I'd had this last year, I'd have known exactly how to get rid of Lavender and I would've known how to get going with... well, Fred and George gave me a copy, and I've learned a lot. You'd be surprised, it's not all about wandwork, either."
-Gold watch from Mr and Mrs Weasley
"When they arrived in the kitchen, they found a pile of presents waiting on the table, Bill and Monsieur Delacour were finishing their breakfast, while Mrs Weasley stood chatting to them over the frying pan... Harry sat down took the square parcel she had indicated and unwrapped it. Inside was a watch very like the one Mr and Mrs Weasley had given Ron for his seventeenth; it was gold, with stars circling round the face instead of hands.
'It's traditional to give a wizard a watch when he comes of age,' said Mrs Weasley, watching him anxiously from beside the cooker. 'I'm afraid that one isn't new like Ron's, it was actually my brother Fabian's and he wasn't terribly careful with his possessions, it's a bit dented on the back, but-'
The rest of her speech was lost; Harry had got up and hugged her. He tried to put a lot of unsaid things into the hug and perhaps she understood them, because she patted his cheek clumsily when he released her, then waved her wand in a slightly random way, causing half a pack of bacon to flop out of the frying pan on to the floor."
-Sneakoscope from Hermione (the one that alerts them to the Snatchers later on)
"'Happy birthday, Harry!' said Hermione, hurrying into the kitchen and adding her own present to the top of the pile. 'It's not much but I hope you like it. What did you get him?' she added to Ron, who seemed not to hear her.

'Come on, then, open Hermione's!' said Ron.

She had bought him a new Sneakoscope."
-Presents from the others
"The other packages contained an enchanted razor from Bill and Fleur (Ah yes, zis will give you ze smoothest shave you will ever 'ave,' Monsieur Delacour assured him, 'but you must tell it clearly what you want... ozzerwise you might find you 'ave a leetle less ahir zan you would like...'), chocolates from the Delacours and an enormous box of the latest Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes merchandise from Fred and George." 
-Pouch from Hagrid
"'Here, Harry- couldn' think what ter get yeh, but then I remembered this. He pulled out a small, slightly furry drawstring pouch with a long string, evidently intended to be worn around the neck. 'Mokeskin. Hide anythin' in there an' no one but the owner can get it out. They're rare, them.'
'Hagrid, thanks!'
''S'nothing',' Said Hagrid, with a wave of a dustbin-lid-sized hand."
From the Last Will and Testament of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore:
"'"To Harry James Potter,"' he read, and Harry's insides contracted with a sudden excitement, '"I leave the Snitch he caught in his first Quidditch match at Hogwarts, as a reminder of the rewards of perseverance and skill."'" 

And then begins the tent life and no presents happen in the tent life. So there ya have it! Presents galore for Harry! It's fun seeing all the extra detail in what is considered a gift in the wizarding world, chocolate and cakes being one of the main presents; little jokes like the Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches book from Ron; fun gadgets like the mini Firebolt model and the enchanted razor; and the special magical gift for a wizard coming of age, the gold watch with stars. Harry gives some good gifts throughout the series too, but it would have been far too much to include them here too. If you haven't already, go and read part one of Harry's Presents, and it Harry based blog posts are what you're in to then Best Harry Potter Food and Feasts and Harry Potter Ice Cream Moments should be right up your street. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll probably spend the rest of the day reading the Deathly Hallows. 

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, 13 September 2015

Review!: Books I read in August: Did I Mention I Love You? The Manifesto on How to be Interesting, Church of Marvels, Am I Normal Yet? The Big Lie, Trouble is a Friend of Mine

August was a busy blogging month, but I still managed to do lots of reading too! I finished six excellent books. Here they are reviewed!:

Did I Mention I Love You?

Estelle Maskame's Did I Mention I Love You series is super famous on the internet as she posted her chapters on Wattpad as she wrote them. A teenager from Peterhead in Scotland, she started writing when she was just 13 and now her massive online following has earned her a publishing deal, which is just so impressive! I had to see what all the hype was about, and of course I was extra interested as she is Scottish! The book is the first in a trilogy and takes place in the states, where 16-year-old Eden is spending the summer away from her Portland, Oregan home in Santa Monica, California with her dad and his wife and step children. Eden very quickly becomes part of the gang of the eldest step brother, with a built in group of girls and guys to hang out with. The brother, Tyler, is a total asshole, so that shows some convincing writing skills, as the reader follows Eden's journey to figure out just why he is such an asshole and whether she can make him stop being such an asshole. There's romance, too many house parties to count, high school drama, a rubbish dad, and underlying body image issues. All written by an actual teenager, hats off to you Estelle!

The Manifesto on How to be Interesting

This was my first Holly Bourne book and I was so impressed with her writing. The main character Bree, is pretty much a loser at school, too keen in class, and actively trying not to fit in with greasy hair and poor fashion choices. She fancies her English teacher and hates her parents and is desperately trying, and failing, to become a published author. She decides, as an experiment to make herself more 'interesting' which I guess translates more as likeable. She get a makeover and whole new wardrobe with the help of her mum and insanely quickly becomes a member of the inner circle of popular kids. I found myself liking Bree much more post-makeover, I think because she was focussed and nice to people and showing off her cleverness with witty comebacks, instead of the snarky, abrasive person she had become pre-interesting. Drawing influence from classic teen dramas, Bree project to infiltrate the populars, which see writes all about on a blog she sets up, inevitably leads to some less than ideal consequences. The book deals with issues of self-harm, identity, teacher-student romance, and being true to yourself, once you've figured out who you are. I think the point is Bree wasn't really being her true self pre-interesting either and she learns that through a bunch of lessons along the way. 

Church of Marvels

I was expecting this book to be more circus-y than it ended up being, but I still really enjoyed reading it. Set in a very grubby and grimy turn-of-the-century New York City, the book follows intertwining stories from Coney Island, to Manhattan, to the lunatic asylum, as Odile Church sets out to look for her sister Belle, with whom she was raised at the Church of Marvels circus, who has disappeared into the city. The story is compelling, and I enjoyed the thrill of seeing where each thread would link up. The writing is very evocative, the asylum scenes were particularly gruesome. I had a real sense of the smokey, bustling, grimy city of Manhattan. There is great representation across the lead characters too, with representation of disability, mixed race, transgender,  and mental illness. I can really picture it as a film, all gloomy and gritty, but bright  and warm and human in places.

Am I Normal Yet?

My second Holly Bourne book ever, and my second this month! I thought this was a brilliant book. The main character Evie just wants to be 'normal' and starting out at her new sixth form college is a real challenge for her. She is recovering from a bad case of OCD and is almost off her meds, but of course college involves boys, parties, booze, new friends, and lots of entirely new situations. My understanding of OCD has been completely topped up by this book, as Evie honestly shares her experiences with the reader, although not with her new friends. She struggles with symptoms returning, ignores the signs, or acknowledges the signs and then ignores them as she tries desperately to 'normal'. Her two new best friends are great characters, and their Spinsters Club where they create space fro themselves to talk about feminism is brilliant. Desperately trying to get a boyfriend and needing to talk al their feeling out, but also wanting their conversations to pass the Bechdel test. All the boys are pretty terrible, but they are well fleshed out and well written terrible characters at least. I was thrilled to see this is book one of a trilogy, which will follow one of the girls as the lead in each book, I think Amber is next. If you do (or want to) understand teenage girls, mental health, feminism, and dating then this book is most certainly for you. 

The Big Lie

Set in contemporary Nazi England, Julie Mayhew offers a vision of alternate reality, where the Nazis won the war. Jess is the main character, and she is very well behaved, a talented figure skater, and a proud member of the Bund Deutscher M├Ądel. Jess slowly starts to see through her own naivety that there are those who are less submissive around her and that there are consequences for those who speak out against the regime. She deals with sexuality, sexism, censorship, authority, punishment, in this strange version of reality where the Holocaust is a rumour, sterilisation is a punishment for crime, and death by hanging in public from a lamppost is a valid form of execution. Her next-door neighbour Clem and her family are outspoken and radical, getting caught with CD players and computers that can access the internet (technology seems stuck in the 1940s for everyone else). It is Clem who gives Julie clues to their oppression and helps open her eyes to the existence of the rest of the world.  Reading Julie Mayhew's notes at the end on her research process where really fascinating, learning how she drew on specific stories and events to create certain characters and scenes. It's a really great book. Read it!

Trouble is a Friend of Mine

Set in upstate New York, this story follow Zoe, who has recently moved from Brooklyn with her newly divorced Mum, and is attending a school she is hoping only to attend for a little while before she gets into a prestigious Princeton feeder school. She is befriended by an eccentric guy called Philip Digby, who gets her into various dangerous and bizarre situations as he attempts to solve the case of a missing, potentially kidnapped, teenage girl. His own infant sister had been kidnapped years ago, and so with the cases potentially linked, he is determined to find out the truth. Having been obsessed with the Serial podcast at the time of reading this, I was very much into the crime solving elements of the story. There is a touch of romance, and a group prom date situation, but mostly the book is about new friendships, terrible parents, a bunch of misfits, and a whole lot of creepy crimes exposed. 

A couple of these books pop up in other blog posts of mine, including Am I Normal Yet? and The Big Lie in Top 5 Feminist YA and The Manifesto on How to be Interesting in Top 6 High School YA. Go have a read please! 

I received a couple of these books for review. All views are entirely my own and not influenced by the freeness of the book!