Tag Archives: Harry Potter

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Books I Love That Became Films or TV Shows

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

I recently did a Top Ten Tuesday post on a similar topic, so it’s going to be interesting to see how many other shows I can come up with. My best guess is that the first two items on my list will be on everyone else’s lists, too!

Lord of the Rings

With all of the 1980s and 1990s remakes coming out these days, I hope that this trend ends before anyone decides to remake the early 2000s Lord of the Rings films. They’ve aged wonderfully in my opinion. I’d rather see studios take a chance on something new than remake these films even though I do love this story.

Harry Potter 

There are certain things that work beautifully in a novel but won’t feel the same in a film (and vice versa). Overall, I was quite pleased with how the Harry Potter films depicted the Potterverse. The first few movies in particular will always feel magical to me.

The Martian

This film did an excellent job of explaining how the main character used science creatively to get himself out of all sorts of life-threatening predicaments when he was accidentally stranded on Mars. My first experience with Andy Weir’s style of storytelling came from this movie, and I’ve been a fan of his ever since.

Room 

Emma Donoghue’s original version of this drama about a young boy who had lived his entire life in the same room because his mother had been kidnapped by a violent stranger a few years before the boy’s birth made me stay up very late at night to see how it would turn out.

The film version of it was just as intense. Even though I already knew how it ended, I still found myself holding my breathe at certain key scenes.

Still Alice

Lisa Genova’s book by the same name was about a woman named Alice who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I was so excited when it was turned into a film.Both versions followed Alice from shortly before she was diagnosed until well into the progression of this disease. They were tearjerkers and I’d reread/rewatch either of them in a heartbeat.

My great-grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease, so it was especially meaningful to see what this illness might be like for the person experiencing it. The gif above is from a scene where Alice forgets how to get home again early on in the course of her disease. It was the moment when I realized just how amazing this story is.

Hidden Figures

Where there were a few fictional tweaks to the film version of Hidden Figures that I wasn’t a big fan of, the true story that Margot Lee Shetterly wrote of how these women made the calculations that sent humankind to the moon is still something well worth checking out.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question. The image below is the list of upcoming prompts for this blog hop.

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters That Remind Me of Myself

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

My answers this week will be a mixed bag of books, TV shows, and films. This topic was a little challenging for me, but I enjoyed brainstorming for it. Let’s see if I can come up with the full ten answers!

1. Karana from Scott Odell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins

While we grew up in completely different environments, we were both pretty independent kids. When I was in the fourth grade, I randomly decided to try walking home from school on a different route one day so I could see some new houses. After I got lost,* I asked a friendly-looking stranger to walk me back to my elementary school, went home the proper way, and then didn’t tell my parents this story for 20+ years.

*This happened before cellphones were something the average family owned, so it’s not like I could call home or my parents could see where I was through GPS tracking.

2.Amélie from the French film Amélie.

The protagonist of this movie was a shy, young woman who decided to perform random acts of kindness for the people around her for the sheer joy of it. I see a lot of myself in her.

3. Willow Rosenberg from the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Willow was the nerdy, bookish best friend of the Buffy, the main character in this series. I identified so strongly with Willow’s love of learning and occasionally awkward moments. The fact that we both came out of the closet after high school only made me adore her more.

4. Luna Lovegood from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series

Luna was such a creative free-thinker. I wish she’d gotten more of a chance to shine in this series! I sure thought she was delightful, and many of the fanciful things she said reminded me of stuff I’ve thought and sometimes said out loud myself.

5. Alice from Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love

Alice’s love of the library is what originally drew me to her. I dreamed about working at a library for a long time, and I see so many similarities between us when it comes to how we like to temporarily lose ourselves in a world of books (in a good way).

6. The Hsu, Jong, St Claire, and Woo families from Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club

Being an immigrant is such an interesting experience. You transition from “belonging” to one culture to feeling equally part of two (or more) of them and switching between the mindsets you develop for each one. It can be tricky to explain how this can change your perspective on life to people who haven’t been through it, but I found so many similarities between these characters and my own life.

7.  Joanna from Jaye Robin Brown’s Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit

This is a book I’m currently reading about the queer daughter of a pastor. Not only do Joanna and I have those two things in common, we both seem to have quirky personalties as well. She seems like she’d be a great person to hang out with.

8. Jane Eyre from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre

Jane and I are honest, dignified people who love learning practical and impractical things. She also struck me as someone who was quite skilled at avoiding gossip, and I truly respect that about her. I try to act just like her when a conversation begins to turn in that direction.

9. Lily from Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Lily had such a sweet, gentle personality. She reminded me a lot of how I behave when I’m trying to make a good impression on people. Her strong creative streak also reminded me of myself.

10. Shasta from C.S. Lewis’ The Horse and His Boy

Fair warning: this book contains some language and descriptions that modern audiences would rightfully describe as xenophobic. I believe you can love a story while also acknowledging its flaws, and I’d like to think that C.S. Lewis would have written it very differently if he’d lived in our era.

With that caveat out of the way, I’ve always enjoyed the way Shasta reacted to the thought that talking horses might really exist. He was skeptical at first, of course, but he accepted it a bit faster than other people might have. I think I would have done the same thing at his age! His wary sense of adventure also reminded me of myself.

We enjoy them…but we also would be perfectly content to sit at home and eat dinner instead. Ha!

Characters Who Would Have Made Great Dads

After publishing a similar list for characters who would have made great moms in a Saturday Seven post last month, I simply had to repeat the idea for male characters now that Father’s Day is nearly here.  If the Saturday Seven meme was still around, this is what I would have written for it for this week.

Like I said last month, in no way do I think having kids is the right decision for every person, fictional or otherwise. I’m happily childfree myself, but I still wonder how the lives of these characters would have changed if they could have become fathers.

Some of the people on this list died before they were old enough to have children. Others simply never found the right time to become a dad. All of them would have been good at it if the circumstances in their lives had been different, though.

1. Fred Weasley from the Harry Potter series.

Fred and his twin brother George provided a lot of the comic relief in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter stories. They were intelligent, mischievous and energetic teens who embraced the playful side of life.

While their antics irritated Professor McGonagall and many of the other adults in their lives at times, I think a grown-up version of Fred would have made an excellent father. He spent his entire lifetime soaking up every bit of joy he could find in the world.

Any child would have been lucky to grow up with such a positive role model in life, especially if they inherited his rambunctious and needed to be shown how to use that energy without annoying the more proper members of wizarding society too much.

2. Albus Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series.

Wizards in the Potterverse generally live much longer than humans do. Dumbledore seemed to spend most of his adulthood focusing on his career. I completely understand why someone would want to do that, but a small part of me does wonder what his life would have been like if he’d found a nice man to settle down with and raise a few children.

If he could protect and help to educate hundreds of teenagers at work for all of the years he was at Hogwarts, I’d like to think he’d be just as patient with a few baby wizards at home.

3. Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.

One of the things I occasionally like to do when my spouse is in a quiet mood is ask him questions about parts of classic science fiction and fantasy novels that were never really explained by the original authors.

For example, I spent lost of time talking to him about the Ents in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series this past spring and winter. Where did the Entwives go? Will the Ents ever find them again? How did Ents reproduce? When did or will the last Ent die? The more I thought about this species, the more questions I had about all of the parts of their lives that weren’t revealed by the plot.

My newest obsession with this series these days has to do with the wizards. There were so few of them that I never got a strong sense of how their society worked when they weren’t fighting against Sauron. The legends about them made them seem bigger than life. I’m not even entirely sure that a wizard could have a child if he wanted one, but I do think Gandalf would have had the patience and love needed to be a good dad if he could.

I mean, he did come to care about the hobbits quite a bit, and they were about as un-wizard-like as a mortal creature could be.

4. Bilbo Baggins from Lord of the Rings.

Unlike the wizards in this series, I do know for sure that hobbits could reproduce. They didn’t seem to do it as often as humans do on average, but I think Bilbo would have made a good dad if he’d been one of the members of his people who decided to go down that route.

He loved food, music, and dancing. Storytelling was important to him, too. I’ve never met a child who didn’t find happiness in at least one of those activities, especially if their parents raise them to enjoy the simple things in life.

Also, just think of all of the stories he could tell his children about his adventures traveling to and back from the Lonely Mountain.

5. Shepherd Book from the Firefly television show and graphic novels.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Firefly, it followed the motley crew of a space ship whose members included a sex worker, fugitives, former soldiers from a failed revolution, and other folks who lived on the margins of society.  The cargo they shipped was often stolen or illegal.

Yet they also had a Shepherd – or what we’d call a pastor – travelling with them. He lived with people whose values were radically different from his own, and he loved them all the same.

If every father had the same sort of unconditional love and acceptance for his children, our world would be a far better place.

6. Jonas from Lois Lowry’s The Giver.

The concept of parenthood – and marriage, for that matter –  in this universe wasn’t the same as you or I think of it. Jonas was born into a highly regimented society where your spouse would be selected for you based on your personalities and interests. When a couple felt ready to become parents, they applied to a committee for a baby.

The members of this society who created the children were never the same ones who raised them. Once a year, all of the healthy babies born over the last twelve months would be given to families who had been waiting for an infant. It was a cold, efficient process that I only wish had been explained in greater detail.

Due to all of this, it came as a surprise to me to see just how paternal Jonas was as a 12-year-old boy. His family was temporarily assigned to care an infant whose fate was still up in the air, and Jonas bonded with that baby quickly.

7. Captain Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

(Some of the Star Trek novels were about this character. I say that’s enough to count him on this list).

When I first started watching TNG, I wondered if Captain Picard was childfree as opposed to childless. He wasn’t the sort of person who would coo over a baby, for example, and he seemed to relish sticking to the same routine each day. His demanding but rewarding job was the focus of his life. There was precious little time for anything else.

There were a few subtle hints about this character’s regrets in life later on in the series, though. “The Inner Light” showed him experiencing 40 years of life on a planet that was about to be destroyed by a nova. His four decades of experiences there included him becoming a father and grandfather.

This was a side of Captain Picard I’d never seen before. As confused as he was by how he’d managed to slip away from his current life as the captain of the Enterprise, he genuinely loved his family. Their safety and happiness meant the world to him. It was in those scenes that I realized just how much this character would have loved to have the chance to raise a child or two of his own if he could meet the right woman who was also willing to let his career take precedence over where they lived and how often they moved.

That’s a lot to ask of someone. I understand why no one ever took him up on that offer, but I also think he would have been a doting dad if his circumstances had been different.

Which of your favourite male characters do you wish could have had the chance to be someone’s father?

What Harry Potter Taught Me About Celebrating the Holidays

Image credit: Jmh2o.

There are many things I love about the Harry Potter series. How it describes Christmas and the winter holidays in general is one of them. I’m planning to do yet another reread of these books in the near future, so all of the Christmases Harry celebrated with his friends have been popping into my mind again.

Today I wanted to share a few quotes from this series that illustrate some of the most important lessons they’ve shared about food, presents, and celebrations at this time of the year.

Harry had never in all his life had such a Christmas dinner. A hundred fat, roast turkeys; mountains of roast and boiled potatoes; platters of chipolatas; tureens of buttered peas, silver boats of thick, rich gravy and cranberry sauce — and stacks of wizard crackers every few feet along the table… Harry pulled a wizard cracker with Fred and it didn’t just bang, it went off with a blast like a cannon and engulfed them all in a cloud of blue smoke, while from the inside exploded a rear admiral’s hat and several live, white mice.—Description of the Christmas feast in The Philosopher’s Stone

The food descriptions in these books were mouth-wateringly delicious in general, but they somehow always outdid themselves over the holidays.I wanted to eat chipolatas even before I had any clue what they were because of how delicious everything else sounded.

There are plenty of Christmas crackers for sale here in Canada, but a small, playful part of me doesn’t want to buy any of them unless they’re magical and clearly meant for wizards.

Harry Potter: “Will you look at this? I’ve got some presents!

Ron Weasley: “What did you expect, turnips?

One of the things I loved the most about this exchange between Harry and Ron was how it showed the subtle ways their childhoods had influenced their expectations of the holidays.

Ron Weasley’s family was poor but loving. While his parents could only afford simple, homemade gifts most of the time, they were always distributed evenly.

Harry’s family could have afforded to buy him all sorts of things, but they chose to use what should have been a joyful day to inflict even more abuse on him by giving basically all of the love, attention, presents, and desirable food to his cousin every year.

What was a fairly ordinary Christmas to Ron was something Harry found overwhelmingly kind. This was a good reminder that everyone’s approach to the holidays is different. Some people love them. Others find them painful for any number of reasons. ,

“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.” – Dumbledore, Philosopher’s Stone

I couldn’t agree with this more. Socks are a deeply under-appreciated gift. There’s nothing like starting the winter off with some brand-new socks that are warm, comfortable, and maybe even cheerfully colourful. One size fits almost everyone, and they can be personalized in all kinds of cheerful ways. I’ve seen socks that have animals, superheroes, rainbows, flags, baseballs, musical instruments, sassy sayings, TTC lines, and all kinds of other stuff printed on them.

Even though I don’t celebrate Christmas, socks would be close to the top of my list if I were expecting any gifts at this time of the year.

“Do people usually give their house-elves Christmas presents?” ~ Harry, Half-Blood Prince

Who deserves presents at Christmas?

To give readers who aren’t familiar with this universe more context for this question, house-elves are owned by wizards in the Potterverse. The only way for them to be freed is if the wizard who owns them gives them an article of clothing.

Normally, house-elves don’t receive Christmas presents, but Harry didn’t know that when he first met one of them. His joy at being fully included in the Weasley family’s celebrations made him assume that everyone should receive presents at Christmas.

I agree with him. If your’e going to give gifts, be inclusive about it as much as possible. It’s like Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather, said:

” The more the merrier!” ~ Sirius, Order of the Phoenix

Why I Love to Read Speculative Fiction

Speculative fiction is an umbrella term for everything from science fiction to dystopians, fantasy to horror.

I’ve been thinking a lot about speculative fiction in general since The Handmaid’s Tale began last month. This specific storytelling style has appealed to me for as long as I can remember for several different reasons.

Honesty

Books like 1984, Animal Farm, or Brave New World reveal the ugly sides of the systems, societies, or cultures they’re critiquing without hesitation. Do they offend some people along the way? Yes, without a doubt. It wasn’t necessarily their original goal, but they’re not afraid to ruffle a few feathers while attempting to get their audiences to wrestle with the big issues that authors in this genre often explore.

I love that about these tales. There are times when I’m in the mood for something light and fluffy, but my first literary love will always be tales that rip off the parts of human society that are hidden and reveal everything they’re trying so hard to conceal.

It definitely isn’t easy to write an entertaining story that also challenges people to rethink their assumptions. When an author manages to pull this off, it’s truly magical.

Critical Thinking

One of the things that irritates me the most about many news networks in the United States is how sensationalized they are. All of their repetitive panic over serious and frivolous stories alike dulls the senses and makes it extremely difficult to think critically about what the newscaster is reporting. When everything is an emergency, nothing is an emergency.

I avoided the news as much as possible when I lived in the U.S. Now that I’ve been an expat for a dozen years, I find it overwhelming when I’m back in the States for a visit.

The nice thing about the more serious side of speculative fiction is that a well-timed plot doesn’t leave room for these kinds of diversions. Yes, there are scenes in The Handmaid’s Tale that draw me into deep thought every time I read about or watch them. These scenes not about assuming the worst or blowing things out of proportion in order to snag people’s attention, though.

Everything that was included in that particular book has actually happened at least once in the past. Some of the plot points have been repeated over and over again throughout history as we try and fail yet again to learn our lessons and improve on how previous generations behaved.

Speculative fiction can push readers to sort through the various points of view in their plots, decide which ones make sense, and come up with our own theories about what happened and how we should interpret fictional stories that have something to say about real-world events.

Wonderment 

First of all, isn’t wonderment a fantastic word? It’s the kind of word that I like to gently roll around on my tongue a few times before I bother to share it with anyone else.

All of the genres I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post are full of wonder in their own way. For example, I will never forget how I felt at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when dozens of invitations to Hogwarts appeared at the Dursleys house after Harry’s uncle destroyed the first few that arrived.

Seeing the Dursleys react so strongly to simple magic makes me grin every time I see it. If only they could have seen the more powerful, playful, and sometimes downright dangerous types of magic that Harry encountered once he started attending Hogwarts!

This sense of wonder stuck with me through all of the Harry Potter books. Even the darkest and saddest scenes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows still tickled my imagination in small ways. Once wonderment has been introduced into a story, it almost always remains there for good.

Escapism

Yes, I know that some people use this term in a derogatory way. I don’t think of escapist literature as a negative thing at all, though.

There is something to be said for immersing yourself in a completely different world when you need a short break or could use some encouragement.

The first time I read the Lord of the Rings series was shortly after my life had changed in all kinds of stressful ways due to a cross-country move my family made when I was a preteen. I had a lot of  trouble making friends and adjusting to my new school.

I was not a happy kid at that point in my life by any stretch of the imagination, but I found a lot of solace in seeing how Frodo and Sam persevered through even the most impossible circumstances.

We weren’t facing the same obstacles, but we were facing the same fears. If they could push through another day, then I could as well.

How about you? Why do you love speculative fiction? I hope you’ll pop over to Twitter today and tell me all about it!