A Harry Potter Moment

Last week, I went to the Harry Potter Studio tour in Leavesden Studios. As you can probably guess, it was a pretty monumental experience for me. I’m not saying that I cried when I walked through the Great Hall, but I’m not denying it either. I’ll spare you the details, unless you want the details, which are located on my other blog right about here.

I thought I needed to share my feelings about this experience with you people. I’m guessing you’ll understand best the mental breakdown I underwent. It’s a big deal to walk through and engage in a place that only existed on pages and television screens and in your mind. It’s like this imaginary place is suddenly not imaginary, and that transition from fiction to reality has certain repercussions.

I want to take a minute to say that I really super loved going on the tour and seeing the sets and being where the actors were when it was all happening. It is something that all Harry Potter fans deserve to see in their lifetimes! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you, studio tour virgins.

Back to realtalk. Afterwards, I was kind of freaked out. It was like these fantastic places were real, and that somehow dwindled their fantastic-ness and their magic. Does that make sense? And they also showed you the mechanics behind the magic in the movies, like how quidditch worked, or how they made Hagrid look so big (A ROBOT OKAY HE IS A ROBOT FOR A LOT OF THE MOVIES IT’S NOT EVEN A REAL PERSON). I guess I just didn’t want to know the muggle logic behind these things because I wanted their only explanation to be that they are magical. Which, I know, is pretty dumb and immature and I’m 19 years old, it’s a story about wizards, and it’s not real.

But alas, earwax, and this is the plight of the avid book lover and nerd. Books are very real to us and so are the people and places within their pages. I guess I just didn’t want all the secrets revealed. This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the tour, because I freaking loved it! Especially the Burrow and Dumbledore’s office and the Common Room and the Potions Room and yeah I liked pretty much most of it. If you made it this far, you will be rewarded by some photos, including a few of me, being as geeky as possible.

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I joined up. Too slow for seeker, but I think I’ll be decent as benchwarmer.

Review: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Okay, so I’ve been reading a lot of debut novels lately and none of them have been interesting enough to review. But, I did read Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (her second novel) and it was excellent.

From Goodreads:

It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old 11178225Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. 

She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

First Impressions: Do you like historical fiction? Do you like exceptional writing?

Based on the back cover of this book, I had a lot of trouble actually buying it. I would go to the store, carry it around for a bit, and then put it back on the shelf because it just didn’t immediately grab me. But I loved the look of it (I admittedly judge books by their covers, big time); I liked the font and the color scheme and the picture. And I like New Orleans. I’ve only been once, but it was just this special place, totally in a league of its own (and the food is baller, alright). It was the combination of the fancy cover and the setting that finally pushed me to purchase the book, which I am very glad I did.

Josie Moraine is the daughter of a prostitute who, for reasons made clear in the book, is a total scumbag. From page one, you’re rooting for Jo to relieve the weight of her nasty upbringing.

In order to support herself, Jo works as a maid in the brothel where her mother is situated. She’s been cleaning up after the “nieces” since she was eight years old, and has found a somewhat dearer mother-figure in the brothel madam, a raspy-voiced, dark alcohol-chugging woman named Willie. Willie cares for her in ways that her mother never has. She even attended her high school graduation, arriving in her souped-up black Mercedes alongside Cokie, driver and longtime companion. Josie’s mother did not make the event.

Josie was abandoned by her mother once she joined the brothel, and at the age of eight, found a place to live in the form of an apartment above a little bookshop, where she works to pay the rent.  Patrick, son of the bookshop owner, has worked at the store with Josie since they were young, and has been a constant in her life.

And then there’s Jesse Thierry, a boy living in the Quarter, selling flowers and his grandpa’s flower stand and spending a little too much time smiling at Josie.

I liked this book a lot. It’s probably my favorite of the year so far. I think it’s so good because it’s so different. There are a bunch of different plot lines occurring at once, which many authors can’t pull off. It’s usually too overwhelming or confusing, but Sepetys writes each one gracefully and patiently and with conviction.

You read along as everything progresses and when something bad happens to Josie or Patrick of Cokie, it is not over-dramatized. Sepetys tells it like it is, there is no embellishing what does not need to be embellished. She writes in a way that makes conflict and  and actions and their repercussions perfectly understood, without any unnecessary drama intended to make it more interesting. It doesn’t need that.

It’s very much a character driven book. They effortlessly make their way into your heart as you are drawn in by their personalities and their stories. They really make this book the success that it is. The plot is strong, but the characters are stronger. Also, prepare to cry a bit here and there. That’s how great they are!

Overall, this is a book about changing your stars and the people that will get in your way of doing that. It’s also about the people who help you along the way. Sometimes, you are born into a bad situation. You have a prostitute for a mother. You have no father. You have no money and no way to get out. This is a book about overcoming obstacles and finding family and love elsewhere.

This wasn’t a very good review. Couldn’t find the words to do it justice, I suppose. It’s really a wonderful book though. Please read  it okay and, also, eat some jambalaya while you’re at it to get in the mood. You’ll thank me.

9 STARS!

March and April Favorites

So it occurred to me that it is now May, and I haven’t posted about cool things since February, which, frankly, doesn’t seem right. To correct this, here are cool things from the past two months (also known as less cold winter) all in one fun-sized post.

1. Toast. With butter. I’ve been pretty wild about butter toast lately. I eat it a lot. It is tasty. And brings me back to simpler times.

2. Community. I watched the whole series in about a week and now I am all caught up. I now have a very real crush on Abed, and I’m not ashamed of it.

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3. Ensaimadas. They are these dope Spanish pastries that I just can’t get enough of. Last week, I went to Madrid, Zaragoza and Barcelona for a few days, and I ate about four of these on the last day alone. They were the highlight of the trip, which is saying something (that something being “I’m a fattie”).

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4. Vanilla Coke. IT’S BACK YA’LL.

5. Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I watched this on the 8-hour bus ride to Barcelona. I you haven’t seen it yet, you’re doing life wrong.

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6. Polka dot sneaks. They’re cute and also only £3. Dolla makes me holla.

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7. Little Venice. It’s this place in Zone 2 of London. It’s basically a canal lined with houseboats and restaurants and sloping trees and there’s this tiny park next to it. It’s just really pretty, especially on a sunny day.

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8. Gelato. I’ve been eating a lot of it. You should too.

9. American deodorant. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and England literally has no idea how to make deodorant. No idea.

10. The Diviners by Libba Bray. Super cool 1920s magical spirit-filled book. It’s totally original and exciting and scary and we need this book to be in this world. It’s a winner.

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11. Marks and Spencer fruit salads. Marks and Spencer is a chain department/grocery store in the UK and they make the most delicious fruit salads you’ve ever had. I shall miss them when I am gone.

12. Poffertjes. These are traditional Dutch pancakes that I had in Amsterdam. They taste like Jesus cooked them with the ambrosia of the Greek gods. I’m not messing around here, they really are that good.

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I realize that most of my favorites are food. I see no problem with that. Catch ya later.