Posted in discussion

In Defense Of Cedric Diggory

“Cedric was a person who exemplified many of the qualities which distinguish Hufflepuff house.” – Dumbledore

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*This post contains massive spoilers for the Potter series and Cursed Child*

I am a proud Hufflepuff and an unapologetic lover of Cedric Diggory – it’s probably the worst kept secret about me. Over the years it’s continued to annoy me to see Cedric Diggory dumbed down to a “plot device” because he briefly appears in Prisoner of Azkaban and becomes a main player in Goblet Of Fire. So it’s time for me to set the record straight.

Cedric Diggory was a perfect at Hogwarts, captain of the Hufflepuff Quidditch team and also the seeker, and he put his own name forward to take part in the Triwizard Tournament.

Despite being a Triwizard Tournament rival, Cedric tells his supporters to stop with the “Potter Sticks/Support Cedric Diggory” badges that being to circulate during the trials, gives Harry a major tip on how to solve the golden egg clue, was one of the few people to actually be kind to Harry when his name comes out of the cup, and when they both reached the end of the maze in the final trial he doesn’t steal the glory and agrees that they should win together.

When it comes to the graveyard scene in Little Hangleton, Cedric never hesitated to lift his wand to protect them both even though he had no idea the threat they were facing.

Cedric has lasting impact on Harry in particular: Harry essentially suffers PTSD for months in Order Of The Phoenix and it’s a big theory among many Potter fans that Cedric is the reason Harry is able to see thestrals. As said by J.K.Rowling herself (whether we take her word on aspects of Potter is a different discussion altogether) that merely witnessing death is not enough to be able to see them: for example Harry saw his parents die but was too young to understand what was happening, and Harry doesn’t see the thestrals for the first time until the fifth book. Along with this, the trauma around Cedric’s death is carried by Harry for years: (again another discussion altogether but) in Cursed Child Harry shows Albus Cedric’s grave and talks about how he comes and visits him every year to pay his respects because he never wants to forget that Cedric was one of Voldermort’s many victims.

Cedric Diggory really did portray the many traits associated with Hufflepuff mainly his kindness: when Hufflepuff win the quidditch match against Gryffindor by default when Harry is attacked by the dementors, Cedric demands that the match be replayed as he didn’t think their win was fair, however he is overruled.

I could go on for hours and pages about my love for Cedric but I’m going to level it here for now!

Who are some of your favourite underrated characters?

 

Posted in discussion

Falling Out Of Love With Reading

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I have been reading books for as long as I can remember. In fact, if possible, I probably would have been born holding a book. Growing up I was fortunate not to have to worry about money and my mother raised me on the principle of “if you want a toy you have to wait a week to be sure you really want it, but if you want a book you can have it now.” Naturally my child mind wanted the thing I could have now; Quite a clever tactic really. I was read stories before bed; though my father preferred to make up his own stories and encourage me to do the same.

I take books everywhere with me. Even if I know for sure there is not an opportunity to read, I bring one along as a “just in case.” You never know when a quick two minutes might occur to pop into a fictional world. As I struggled with those around me not wanting to talk about books all the time – and many not reading the same things as me – I turned to the internet in search of a space that had other people like me. And thankfully I found a whole community.

And here we are, three years into a blog and a couple of months past a disastrous booktube channel attempt. Like many, I feel so much pressure to not only keep up with the new books but love them as everyone else and I feel like a failure when I don’t. My blog is scheduled so far in advance but already I’m worrying about the fact that I haven’t finished anything new that I want to review.

Back in March, it started to creep in like a gremlin lurking in the shadows: the reading slump. It manifests itself differently for everyone. But for me, I just don’t enjoy what I’m reading. Even if it’s textbook the sort of thing I would like, it just leaves me feeling empty. Reading is often an escape from my mental health which is obviously not a good way to go about things. But not enjoying reading also leads to me having a general life slump and I realise that I don’t have that much in my life outside of reading and writing, and it’s a dark place to be at times.

It can feel lonely and hopeless and I’m yet to find a way to really get out a reading slump other than to reread something I loved dearly. But then that pressure to be involved in the community bubbles to the surface again and I realise I’m falling behind. It’s sad to, in a way, fall out of love with books; especially when knowing how much time the author put into them.

But for now, I’ll keep muddling through a reading slump that’s been around since March… and hope for the best.

Posted in discussion

Why I Love Book Acknowledgements

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Back in the day, before the internet, (yes I am that old) the only way I could learn more about those people behind the books was through acknowledgements. I didn’t even know what my favourite authors looked like, so it was a chance to peek behind the curtain in some way.

Book acknowledgements are stories in themselves. A name that could mean nothing to me, means everything to someone else. Did they sit there over coffee with the author who groaned endlessly about a chapter that didn’t work? Have they been life-long friends? Maybe they’re another writer who understands the plight of creating a new world. As social media has developed and expanded, readers can now interact with their beloved creators on a daily basis. We feel closer as we see their friendships play out in the virtual world (take Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera and Angie Thomas, for example). Those names littered in the acknowledgment are often familiar now, but it doesn’t make them any less magical.

When a close friend of mine, K.M.Robinson, released her debut book Golden, I was overjoyed to read it after hearing about it for so long. At the time of writing this (I say that because she is a machine and could have written five more by the time this is posted), she has sixteen books out in the world. As I reached the inevitable end, I turned to the acknowledgements and froze when I saw not just my name, but a whole paragraph dedicated just to little old me. I will be grateful for this for the rest of my life.

My favourite thing about it is that it’s a collection of inside jokes. To anyone else, this is jut nonsense;  a weird footnote in a list of thank yous. But to me, it is everything.

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Posted in discussion, Uncategorized

Things I Learnt As A Bookseller

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Working in a bookstore was always something I wanted to do, regardless of for how long it would be. I’ve been fortunate to work as a Seasonal Bookseller, two Christmas’ in a row, at a high-street bookstore, and I thought I would share some of the things I learnt during my time there.

 

HOWEVER MUCH YOU THINK YOU READ, IT’S NOT ENOUGH

It’s pretty self-explanatory that you have to read a lot of books. But no matter whether you read 10 books a month, or 10 books a week, it is NOT ENOUGH. The book industry is constantly moving and unless you grow fifty pairs of eyes and arms, it’s pretty hard to keep up with.

 

THERE IS HOMEWORK

As someone who is very rigid when it comes to genre, you have to do a lot of relying on what other booksellers are into. If someone asks about cookbooks, it’s easily to palm that person off on your co-worker that spends all their free time baking cakes. But when a customer comes up to you with a book from the new releases section and wants to know whether it’s any good, reviews are your best friend. I spent a lot of time when the store was quiet just reading summaries and reviews of the latest releases I had no interest in reading, just so I would look like I knew what I was on about.

 

SENIOR BOOKSELLERS ARE WALKING ENCYLOPEDIAS

I lost track of how many obscure questions customers asked me where I stared back at them blankly, not sure they were talking about something real, only for a co-worker to go “oh yes I know all about that, let me show you out selection.” If you get to work as a bookseller, or the next time you go into a store, take time to talk to them. They have an endless supply of knowledge about books and various topics. I’m convinced some of them aren’t human.

 

PREPARE FOR BIZARRE INTERACTIONS

Following on from my previous point, I have my fair share of odd stories to share. My personal gem is a woman who told me she was looking for a book (handy as she was in a bookstore) and told me she “didn’t know the name of it, or who wrote it but it was on tv as a serial killer drama at the moment and she thought the cover was a light green colour.” Hoping I could narrow the search down, I asked if she knew what channel the show was on. To which she said “how the bloody hell should I know?” And walked off.

 

YOU WILL WANT TO TIDY EVERYTHING

Long after you’ve left your position (if a temporary one), and knowing the secrets of brand standards, you will struggle to avoid reorganising in stores. I have a bad habit of putting books in series order on a shelf, tidying tables before that horrible “I don’t work here” moment dawns over me and I scamper out of the store to safety.

 

SHELVING IS HORRIBLE

Is this 5-8 fiction or 9-12? Is it a biography? Travel? Am I going to leave it on this trolley for someone else to deal with? Absolutely. The only way to solve this problem is by paying attention to your surroundings and learning where everything is. There is no shortcut and it’s often a struggle to shelve books when the store is open. Also, you’ll probably get something wrong and see a senior bookseller grumbling to themselves as they move a book to the right place.

Posted in discussion

The Right Way To Read…

The book community is truly a wonderful place to be. I originally started this book because I wanted to create an online space where I could talk constantly about books without feeling like I have to apologise for word-vomiting my love for stacks of paper. I’ve grown to learn more about the industry and try some books I would never have touched of my own accord. Conversations are constantly streaming in this community from the latest movie news, book announcements, what readers are loving at the moment… But with the good side, there is also a bad one to balance everything out.

Every so often I see readers complaining about how others choose to read/what others choose to read; going on rants about over-hyped books not actually deserving the attention they get,  shaming others for the age range they enjoy, the genre, the tropes they devour. Recently, authors seem to have become a lot more vocal about the money side of dedicating their lives to creating fictional worlds. As the pressure has continued to build, it’s become hard for me to buy book without feeling some sort of guilt as I try to work out just how much of the money spent will be going directly to the authors I adore. So, with all of this in mind, what is the best way to read?

 

Audiobooks

Audiobooks have surged in popularity in recent years, causing many publishers to start dedicating more money and time to expanding their collections. Over the past year, I’ve fallen back in love with audiobooks. Readers can multi-task, some books work better in audio form because the narrator is just so good. But there’s a lot of stigma around whether they are “real reading.” It’s a silly argument to me as you’re still enjoying the story and also it allows those with sight difficulties to fall in love with these tales just the same way as everyone else.
E-Readers

With extensive deals and discounts, it’s no surprise that readers are often against the idea of E-Books. The dreaded electronic devices have been at the centre of many disagreements and I used to be firmly against one… until I actually got one. For people with sight issues, text can be altered both in font and size to make it more readable.

 

Books

Yes, it seems like a rather obvious one, I know. Of course the best way to read books is to… read books. But where exactly do you get your books from? The supermarket or a high street book store? The library or online? What about your local charity shops? A big criticism made towards the video community, Booktube, is the lack of mentions about independent places, libraries or charity shops. (Again, we’re back to the theme of shaming) I’ve seen many people feel like they are superior because they bought their latest stack of books for 50p each.

Basically, this is a long winded way of me making the point that it shouldn’t matter how you read. It should matter than you’re reading at all. That you’re out there blogging about the books you love or just recommending it to those in your real life. Do not ever feel shamed for what you choose to read or how you chose to enjoy those books (as long as it is legal of course!)

What are your thoughts?

Let me know your favourite way to read!

Posted in discussion, Uncategorized

History Of Magic: A Comparison

“J.K Rowling first had the idea for Harry Potter while delayed on a train travelling from Manchester to London in 1990. Over the next five years she planned the seven books in the award-winning series for them at Bloomsbury. Harry Potter’s journey had only just begun…”

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To mark the twentieth anniversary of Harry Potter, the British Library held an exhibition all about the series. It covered everything from aspects of the content, to their real life magical counterparts, along with the chance to see J.K.Rowling’s notes and drawings in person. Like many, I was not able to attend, so breathed a sigh of relief when it was announced the exhibition would be turned into a book. In a time when we’re seemingly bombarded with endless add-on books (as discussed in my good things blog post LINK), I was slightly sceptical. But after reading, I can confirm this is probably the only extra Harry Potter book that needs to exist.

The book is available in two physical versions: The hardback which is called History of Magic and the paperback which is called Journey Through A History Of Magic.

The first main difference between the editions is the price: the hardback retails at £30 and is more of a “coffee table” book, whereas the paperback retails at £12.99 and is much easier to carry around.

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Both editions contain the same art and information; covering topics such as Defence Against The Dark Arts, potions and magical creatures. But the way that content is conveyed varies. The Hardback is more academic and very dense to read. I found myself having to take a chapter a day in order to get through it, and often had to reread passages because I didn’t understand what I’d just read.  Whereas the paperback is more aimed at children, and so the information is condensed, highlighting the important pieces of information to take away. It’s overall a lot more colourful and appealing to look at, along with little games to “try at home.”

Naturally, because I am such a child at heart, I enjoyed the paperback a lot more. It gives you the interesting highlights, has all the colourful illustrations from Jim Kay, and it’s easier to consume. Where it took me two weeks to get through the hardback, I was done with the paperback in an hour.

Have you read either edition? What did you think?

Posted in discussion

Is The Anniversary Edition for City Of Bones Worth it?

“Clary and her friends are heroes who make their stories true- as, in the end, do we all.”

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If you’re unaware who Cassandra Clare was and what The Mortal Instruments is then you must have been living under a proverbial rock for quite a few years. Having been turned into both a Hollywood movie and a Netflix TV show, this series continues to grow in popularity. Last year marked ten years since the release of the first book, City of Bones, and with it a brand new edition to mark the occasion. Naturally I indulged, interested to see if it’s worth it.

As you can see from the above picture,  the anniversary edition is a gorgeous cloth-bound hardback with embossing that doesn’t come off when worn from reading, unlike the Penguin Classics. Inside, the story itself is accompanied by beautiful illustrations – some taking up full pages- and colourful end pages, along with other artwork of the main group of characters and a map of the book’s locations for extra measure. At the end of the book is a compilation of “official clave files” which are basically character profiles listening everything from appearance to motivations and, my personal favourite, “recommended actions” which provided quite a few laughs.

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And, of course, there’s an introduction to accompany the anniversary, which I thought might be a bit longer than it is, and focuses mainly on the aspect of stories becoming a reality and why Cassandra Clare was so fascinated with this idea and decided to explore this through Clary, Of course, this was interesting as I love learning more about a writer’s thought process.

So is this anniversary edition worth it?
The answer is yes and no.
If you’re new to the series, I think getting the regular edition is obviously the best place to start. This is something designed for readers who are really big fans of the world,  and as one of those readers, I personally don’t think it’s worth it. The additions don’t really add anything new to the world and the brief introduction was the only thing that I found interesting in the new material. (Apart from the map which would have been super helpful in the original edition)

But it looks pretty nice on my shelf and I mean, that’s what really counts…. right?

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Posted in discussion

Should Good Things End?

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It’s natural to not want books to end; to wish we could get endless information about our favourite characters, to know they’re alright after the story ends.

A few year ago, John Green addressed questions about The Fault In Our Stars by saying he had no right to dictate what happened after the end of the book because, after all, the characters’ lives end when the story does; something that he actually explored in the author character of the very same book.

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An obvious one to consider is Harry Potter. With a new movie franchise breathing life into this magical universe again, along came new illustrated versions of the books (published on a yearly basis, an exhibit at the British Library, cover redesigns for the minor spin-off books and, more recently, the announcement of 20th anniversary house editions for Chamber of Secrets. My love for this world is no secret, but sometimes it can feel overwhelming and it leads me to wonder: when does you run out of things to produce? When does it all stop?

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Another example is the Miss Peregrine trilogy, written by Ransom Riggs. To me, this series was the perfect length and the ending left me with a heart set to burst; it was the right goodbye for these characters and their world. But with the movie adaptation bringing along the Tales of The Peculiar companion and the announcement of a brand new trilogy… following the same characters.

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Someone I cannot help but mention is Cassandra Clare, who is very much known for creating series after series set within the Shadowhunters universe. The Bane Chronicles started off as a bi-monthly Ebook series but became so popular that it was produced in a physical form with an added story. Now some of the stories have started coming out in small, compact, beautiful editions.

I want to make it clear that this is not an attack on anniversary editions: I don’t mind new books to mark the milestone, to give us an excuse to revisit a well loved story.

But maybe there’s a beauty to the fact that things do end. It makes us appreciate them a lot more when there’s nothing else to be said, to know that we may never get answers to some of those lingering questions over the year.

Or maybe it’s just me.
Let me know what you think.

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings

Posted in adaptations, discussion

Are The Harry Potter Films Good Adaptations?

Recently I made a post discussing adaptations along with sharing some of my favourite adaptations along with others that are better left forgotten about. I didn’t talk about the Harry Potter films because I felt they warranted their own spotlight.

Everyone I know has experienced Harry Potter in their own way and as someone who grew up in the “potter generation”, I was able to grow up with both the books and films coming out each year. But little me, who is the first to jump up and down while screaming “that didn’t happen in the books” hasn’t really considered the films for what they are: adaptations.

I wondered if other people had thought about this too and naturally I took to twitter.

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As you can see, the majority believe they are but I was intrigued by the people who said no. I dug a little further. Those who said no felt that too much had been cut out in order to streamline the story into its main “good vs evil” plotline. Many felt that things that could have added extra substance to the films had been stripped away; which I understand and agree with. (I’ve said many times that Order Of The Phoenix is the longest book but shortest film.) Those who said yes felt that they are good because the most important part of an adaptation to them isn’t accuracy to the source material, it’s the feel of it and whether the purpose is still clear. If the message of Harry Potter has been transferred to the screen, can it really be considered a bad adaptation? If changes made still feel like thoughts and actions characters would make, is there anything to complain about?

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What I found interesting was that I got a lot of responses saying that they actually view the films entirely separate to their counterparts.

This made me realise I think in very much the same way. Of course I find myself rereading the books, baffled at some bits that never made it past the pages. Of course I have bits that infuriate me (do not mention the Half Blood Prince film in my presence). But it’s not often I find myself pulling the films to pieces while watching them. I just enjoy the ride.

As I’ve said before, adaptations are subjective. So what do you think?

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings

Posted in discussion

Nineteen Years Later

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*spoilers for the series*

The first of September rolled around and, leading up to 11am, I was sat on twitter. As usual, I was tweeting about how I had arrived too early to get the Hogwarts Express and so was sitting in my regular carriage with way too many chocolate frogs for the journey. I was not the only one tweeting about the upcoming departure of a train to magic school (many hashtags about the significance of the date were trending) and received may responses from people asking if there was room for a Ravenclaw in my cabin. I replied with “of course! I have some Fizzing Whizbees if you want to share.”

To the milder or non-Harry Potter fans, this turn of events will seem completely bizarre. After all, the Wizarding World is not real (hard to digest, I know!) and, rather than being docked out in Hufflepuff robes on a train stationed at a secret platform, really I was sitting in bed in my Harry Potter themed PJs pretending that I was. Also, even in an alternate world where Hogwarts did exist, I would be way to old to attend. But to me, these scenarios remind me of what it feels like to be home.

My adventures with Harry Potter began when the Scholastic Book Fair came to my primary school and we were allowed time out of class to go and buy something if we had the money. Armed with the funds my mother had supplied, I went on my way and came across a book called Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I don’t remember what it was that struck me about it but I bought it and read it; not realising it was actually the second book in the series. By the time I had caught up with the ones that were already out, there was a brand new one waiting for me. My first read-through of the books was 2-3-1-4-7.

I used to have two light switches in my room: one by the door and a pull string above my bunk bed. It would drive my mother bonkers when she’d get up in the night to find my bedroom light on and me tucked up in bed reading very late on a school night. When my mother too got into the books we had one copy of Order of the Phoenix  which I would be allowed to read one chapter of each night before mother would come and take it off me to ensure I slept. She would then take the book downstairs and read it herself. Both this book and Half Blood Prince used to have two bookmarks in indicating where we were. To this day, my most prominent memory of Harry Potter was reading period in school, during Year 4, when my teacher said that the hour had begun and we must remain silent. I was in a class of 30 children and every single one of us had a copy of Order of the Phoenix. Even the teacher. I think that was the first moment that I really got a sense of how Harry Potter was so much bigger than my sole experience with it. To say I’ve grown up with this world and these characters is too much of an obvious statement to make, and frankly it frustrates me that I can never full put into words why this particular series has had such a impact on me when other series I read around the same time (for example The Chronicles of Narnia) are forgotten memories. It’s the kind of thing where only other extreme Harry Potter fans can share a look and say “I know exactly what you mean.”

Harry Potter has remained a constant in my life. No matter the situation, it’s always been there when I’ve needed it and it always feels like being greeted by old friends.

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1st September 2017 held more importance than the previous years. This year in the Harry Potter timeline, marks the epilogue. This year marks nineteen years later. As I write this post, we have officially passed the Harry Potter timeline. (Don’t talk to me about Cursed Child)

As the hosts of Mugglecast joked on their podcast (Episode 334: Back to Hogwarts?), “how many more endings to Harry Potter are we going to get?!” While easy to laugh at, it’s true. There have been many endings to Harry Potter. The books ended and a few years later so did the film adaptations. Then Cursed Child (*shudder*) and in a few more years the Fantastic Beasts films will end. When I read that iconic last line in Deathly Hallows I cried for two weeks. Having been lucky enough to go to Orlando and visit the theme park, along with going to the studio tour several times (I’m going for the fourth time next month for my birthday. Eek!) it never really felt like the definitive end. Until now.

As I said earlier, I grew up with Harry Potter and aged alongside him. Even with my adult perspective now when I read the books I still get that all consuming feeling that I honestly cannot explain. I can pinpoint who I was and where I was when each book came out and list all of the places I read them.

Officially passing the timeline for the books has stirred a feeling in me and it’s not a pleasant one. In a strange way, it’s like I’ve been reminded of my own morality; that I will continue to age while the characters that were so present in my formative years do not. I am trying not to be sad about it and instead distract myself with happier Harry Potter memories. But it’s not without its struggles.

For the first time it really feels like this is goodbye.