Book Review: Harry Potter and History (Wiley Pop Culture and History) by Nancy R. Reagin

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A guide to the history behind the world of Harry Potter just in time for the last Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part II)

Harry Potter lives in a world that is both magical and historical. Hogwarts pupils ride an old-fashioned steam train to school, notes are taken on parchment with quill pens, and Muggle legends come to life in the form of werewolves, witches, and magical spells. This book is the first to explore the real history in which Harry’s world is rooted.

Did you know that bezoars and mandrakes were fashionable luxury items for centuries? Find out how Europeans first developed the potions, spells, and charms taught at Hogwarts, from Avada Kedavra to love charms. Learn how the European prosecution of witches led to the Statute of Secrecy, meet the real Nicholas Flamel, see how the Malfoys stack up against Muggle English aristocrats, and compare the history of the wizarding world to real-life history.

Gives you the historical backdrop to Harry Potter’s world Covers topics ranging from how real British boarding schools compare to Hogwarts to how parchment, quills, and scrolls used in the wizarding world were made Includes a timeline comparing the history of the wizarding world to Muggle “real” history

Filled with fascinating facts and background, Harry Potter and History is an essential companion for every Harry Potter fan.

I had this on my TBR for a few years and decided to read it for the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter. I have been on a Harry Potter kick for most of the year. I did a “reread” by listening to the audiobooks and Harry Potter: A History of Magic. I also went to the exhibit at The New York Historical Society. And I started listening to the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.

I have stated before that reading non-fiction and reading history is not my cup of tea (I prefer watching shows about history), but I have read Twilight and History, also edited by Nancy R. Reagin, and I liked that.

Before I get into all the cool new things I learned from these essays I have a bone to pick with Susan Hall in her essay “Marx, Magic, and Muggles: Class Conflict in Harry Potter’s World.” On page 288 she compares the Gaunt family with the Durbeyfield family from Tess of the D’Urbervilles. While I totally agree with the comparisons between the two families she COMPLETELYdescribes the plot of Tess of the D’Urbervilles INACCURATELY! Tess is not “seduced” by Alec D’Urberville. She was raped. She doesn’t hang for the murder of her “lover”. He raped her! WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK, SUSAN HALL!?

Also, on the same page is another inaccuracy she made when she said the Weasleys spend money they don’t have on extravagant trips. They won that trip to Egypt! Did you even read the books?

Now that I got that off my chest, and sorry for the use of the F word but I feel in this issue it was justified, onto the rest of the review which is positive.

There were topics that I already had learned about from Harry Potter: A History of Magic, such as potions and witch-hunts, but this collection goes more into topics of class conflict, politics & government, women’s civil rights, aristocracy, boarding schools, and werewolves.

I learned more about the Spanish Inquisition in this book than I did when I was in school.

One essay also goes into why most spells are in Latin and goes into the origins of the Unforgivable Curses and the term “hocus pocus.” Which I found fascinating.

A few other cool things I learned:
– There really were secret magic schools!
– There was an Emperor who was not of nobel birth named Severus.
– Lupin’s werewolf affliction is an analogy for HIV/AIDS.

Some of the essays dragged on a bit and I found myself skimming sometimes. At one point I put the book down completely to listen to The Shining. The good thing about that is that there is no plot to this book to remember. You can easily pick it up and pick whichever essay you feel like reading about.

It’s a good read for anyone who is really interested in history and is a die hard Harry Potter fan.

4 out of 5 O.W.L.S.

 

Harry Potter: A History of Magic by Ben Davies, Natalie Dormer (Narrator)

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Harry Potter: A History of Magic is the official book of the exhibition, a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration between Bloomsbury, J.K. Rowling and the brilliant curators of the British Library. It promises to take readers on a fascinating journey through the subjects studied at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – from Alchemy and Potions classes through to Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures. Each chapter showcases a treasure trove of artefacts from the British Library and other collections around the world, beside exclusive manuscripts, sketches and illustrations from the Harry Potter archive. There’s also a specially commissioned essay for each subject area by an expert, writer or cultural commentator, inspired by the contents of the exhibition – absorbing, insightful and unexpected contributions from Steve Backshall, the Reverend Richard Coles, Owen Davies, Julia Eccleshare, Roger Highfield, Steve Kloves, Lucy Mangan, Anna Pavord and Tim Peake, who offer a personal perspective on their magical theme. Readers will be able to pore over ancient spell books, amazing illuminated scrolls that reveal the secret of the Elixir of Life, vials of dragon’s blood, mandrake roots, painted centaurs and a genuine witch’s broomstick, in a book that shows J.K. Rowling’s magical inventions alongside their cultural and historical forebears. This is the ultimate gift for Harry Potter fans, curious minds, big imaginations, bibliophiles and readers around the world who missed out on the chance to see the exhibition in person.

I listened to the audiobook this week and went to the exhibit at the New York Historical Society today.

Photos are not allowed at the exhibit so I do want to buy the book eventually. Maybe with some Christmas money. It was nice though to put an image to all the descriptions made in the audiobook.

I love Natalie Dormer and she did a fantastic job of narrating. There were many interviews with the curators of the British Library and the NY Historical Society, the narrators of the UK and US editions of HP (Stephen Fry and Jim Dale, respectively), as well as some clips from the HP audiobooks and Fantastic Beasts (narrated by Eddie Redmayne), and interviews with artist Jim Kay.

I realized I like Jim Dale’s narration more than Stephen Fry’s. I think Jim did more voices and it was easier to distinguish which character was speaking. I also loved his little tidbits about how he came up with some voices.

One of the curators of the British Library, Julian Harrison, has thee softest voice I have ever heard. Sometime I had to increase the volume to hear him. And once I did fall asleep on the bus listening to his voice. I swear it is like melted butter.

The chapters are broken up into the subjects from Hogwarts: Charms, Potions and Alchemy, Divination, Astronomy, Care of Magical Creatures, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Herbology. The subjects go into the history of magical elements, and also give insight into Rowling’s writing process, Jim Kay’s process for drawing scenes for the illustrated edition, and Dale’s and Fry’s ideas about narrating the scenes for the audiobooks.

I loved what I learned from this audiobook. It’s amazing how these ancient ideas and beliefs about magic are world wide. Every part of the world has their own folklore but the ideas and symbolisms are so similar to each other.

They also spoke about the origins of the images we associate with witches. Such as cauldrons and broomsticks. The broomstick has a feminist origin. A woman is owning her power by taking an domestic item and using it for her power.

The word Abracadabra was believed to cure malaria.

I could keep going but there are so many that are fascinating! I bookmarked many parts to remember what I learned. I feel like going on Jeopardy! now.

It was just so enchanting that it took 3 hours to get through the exhibit today because I just had to study everything there.

I found that listening the audiobook before seeing the exhibit was very beneficial. I felt I was more prepared to know the more detailed stories behind the items I was studying. The exhibit is like the Cliff’s Notes of the audiobook.

If you have any interest in history, magic, and/or Harry Potter, this book is for you.

5 out of 5 Broomsticks

Top Ten Tuesday: October 9: Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl.

What constitutes a long book? I think that depends on the reader. A person who doesn’t read much may say anything over 200 pages is long. But to someone who reads 50 books or more a year, they may say it’s anything over 600.

To keep this list reasonable and in the realm of 10 books I am sticking with anything over 500 pages.I’ll do this in order of page numbers, which means I am not grouping trilogies or series together.


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Top Ten Tuesday – July 10: TTT Throwback

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl.

July 10: TTT Throwback (pick a topic we’ve done in the past that you missed out on, or loved so much you’d like to do again!)

I have been so busy that I didn’t have time to keep up with TTT and so this is perfect for me to do a couple of lists that I really wanted to do.

Throwback to May 22: Best Character Names


1)Victra au Julii, Red Rising trilogy.
I think Victra is a cool futuristic twist on the beautiful name Victoria. And the character is bad ass.

2)Rhiannon, Another Day by David Levithan.
Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” is an iconic and beautiful song. I only wish that the song had been mentioned in the story. Rhiannon is not a common name, so was she named after the song?

3)Padmé, Star Wars.
It’s so pretty to say over and over, and I love symbolism. It means lotus which is earthy and very fitting since she’s in a forbidden relationship with a sky-walker.

4)Mara Jade, Star Wars (Legends).
I think it’s a fun name to say because it rolls off the tongue well. And as a red head she looks good in green.  I could do a whole list of Star Wars names that I love. Ahsoka Tano, Asajj Venress, Thrawn, Sabine Wren…  Ok. Moving on.

5)Hermione, Harry Potter.
An unusual and strong name for an an unusual and strong girl. Thought I admit, if it weren’t for the films I would be saying it wrong.

6)Ysabeau, All Souls Trilogy.
This is another name that until I listened to the audiobook I was pronouncing it wrong. I was saying Yas-a-beau, but it’s a French variation of the name Isabelle. When pronounced correctly it’s very pretty and uncommon.
Ironically, Ysabeau says in the first book that names are very important, so of course I had to include her on this list.

6)Edmund Dantes, The Count of Monte Cristo.
I loved the way the narrator (B.J. Harrison) said this name on the audiobook.

7)Sherlock Holmes
That is a one of a kind name and I like saying the sarcastic phrase, “No shit, Sherlock.”
What kind of name is Sherlock anyway? So I googled it.
“Sherlock is actually an English surname, which was used by Doyle as his character’s first name. The name translates from Old English roots scir, meaning ‘bright’, and locc, meaning ‘lock of hair’.

Doyle had originally named his character Sherrinford Holmes, his last name a homage to the great Oliver Wendell Holmes. But in the three weeks of writing his first short story featuring the detective, A Study in Scarlet, Doyle changed his first name to Sherlock, after an unidentified player he played cricket against. ”

Well, there you go!

Throwback to June 25: Series I’ve Given Up On/Don’t Plan to Finish
1) Shopaholic. I read Confessions of a Shopaholic, Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, and Shopaholic Ties the Knot. I once planned to read past book 3 but I am no longer that interested in what happens next (I guess it kind of jumped the shark for me) and I don’t really read that genre anymore.

2) Dorothy Must Die. I gave the first book 2 stars so … forget the rest. I thought it should have been a standalone anyway.

3) The Beautiful Creatures spin off series: Dangerous Creatures. I mildly enjoyed the Beautiful Creatures books but not enough to keep going. I got closure from the first set of books and don’t need to open that door again.

The same reasons apply to..

4) The Dark Artifices. I liked The Mortal Instruments, liked The Infernal Devices a whole lot more, but I am done with this universe. The only exception is The Bane Chronicles. I already have it on my TBR pile and Magnus is a favorite character.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 & 2 Broadway review – no spoilers

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I saw the play, still in previews, on April 5th and 6th, in the evening. The Showbills have the same content inside, just different covers. I guess for the guests not seeing the shows back to back. The pins they gave out at the end of the night. They almost ran out on the second night. And I bought the pen and the bookmark as a souvenirs.

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I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed this production. I went in with such low expectations because I had read some things online about the story. Well you can’t always believe what you read because the story was different than what I expected. While I had a couple of issues with the plot because it felt a bit fan fiction-y, Cursed Child still remained true to the characters and did not demean their core values or their journey, actions and sacrifices from the first 7 books.

Also, it was so funny. I, and the audience, laughed a lot. I missed some of the lines because of the laughter and will have to read the script sometime to see what lines I missed. I didn’t expect it to be so funny. The actors had great comedic timing.
Speaking of such, the performances in general, even when the material was dark and serious they were fantastic.

I will say that the play being broken up in two nights, each two and half hours, is a bit long. I think some scenes could have been cut down or cut out.

I will make a separate detailed post about the things I liked and my critiques to discuss with those who have seen it.

I will end on a high note. The special effects were PURE MAGIC! Jaw dropping fantastic! I won’t say more in this review. Go see it, then go read my other post so we can discuss.

Some more photos: Expecto Patronum!

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Top Ten Tuesday: March 6: Favorite Book Quotes

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl.

Buckle up buck-a-roos! This is a long post and it took me a long time to write up because I have so many and I did some narrowing down. Some will make sense out of context and some – well, it would too much to explain. That’s why I had to do some editing. The ones I chose are either the most memorable or classic quotes from that book, or they just really stuck with me because they made me laugh, cry, or I just found it so poetic.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion.

“Music? Music is life! It’s physical emotion – you can touch it! It’s neon ecto-energy sucked out of spirits and switched into sound waves for your ears to swallow.”

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story by Jewel.

“I would try to be as bold as that blue waterfall that had the audacity to liberate itself from stone.”

“We cannot always control or avoid what happens to us, but we can control what it does to our spirit.”

“Hatred is hurt masquerading-it is an energy used to fool someone into thinking they are frightening when in truth they are frightened.”

Every Day by David Levithan.
“Some days are like this. And the only way to get through them is remember that they are only one day, and that every day ends.”

Another Day by David Levithan.

“Most of the time when we think we’re looking for death, we’re really looking for love.”

Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden.

“Your virtue is safe with me. Your discomfort is rather charming, actually, but I’m sure you’ll get over it.”

“The overall effect made Vos like a falcon poised in that exquisite instant between free fall and flight, and for a moment he couldn’t breath.”

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.

“But I think you should be careful, Batyushka, that God does not speak in the voice of your own wishing. We have never needed saving before.”

“It is a cruel task, to frighten people in God’s name.”

Morning Star by Pierce Brown.

“Molten wounds still glow where the two nuclear bombs detonated. And I wonder, in my last moments, if the planet does not mind that we wound her surface or pillage her bounty, because she knows we silly warm things are not even a breath in her cosmic life.”

“Mobs are soulless things that feed on fear and momentum and prejudice.”

“Government is never the solution, but it is almost always a problem. I’m a capitalist. And I believe in effort and progress and the ingenuity of our species.. The continuing evolution and advancement of our kind based on fair competition. Fact of the matter is, Gold does not want man to continue to evolve. Since the conquering, they have routinely stifled advancement to maintain their heaven…”

Golden Son by Pierce Brown.

“He looks like a Miltonian angel falling with wrath and glory. His exoskeleton sheds its friction armor, as Lucifer might have shed the fetters of heaven, feathers of flame peeling off, fluttering behind. Then a missile slashes the sky and high-grade explosives christen him mortal once again.”

“No. Don’t speak. It’s not your turn just because I pause.”

“I will die. You will die. We will all die and the universe will carry on without care. All that we have is that shout into the wind – how we live. How we go. And how we stand before we fall.”

“Rise so high, in mud you lie.”

“And what is the bloodydamn point of surviving in this cold world if I run from the only warmth it has to offer?”

You’re a sinister little shit, aren’t you?” Victra asks.
“I’m Gold, bitch. What’d you expect? Warm milk and cookies just because I’m pocket sized?

Per aspera ad astra.”
“Through the thorns to the stars.” Sevro snickers. “You fancy little fart. Omnis vir lupus.” Everyone a wolf.

Zombies vs Unicorns, “Princess Prettypants” by Meg Cabot.

“My unicorn is going to smash your face.”

“You have one twisted unicorn.”

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

“And the next time you get handed something magical – whether you expect it or not – behave like the witch you are, not some silly human. Don’t ignore it or tell yourself you’re imagining things.” Willful ignorance and dismissing the supernatural were at the top of Sarah’s list of human pet peeves. “Treat it with respect, and if you don’t know what to do, ask for help.”
“Promise,” I said quickly, wanting to get off the phone. But Sarah wasn’t through yet.
“I never thought I’d see the day when a Bishop relied on a vampire for protection, rather than her own power,” she said. “My mother must be turning in her grave…”

She [Sarah] picked up three wineglasses and waved them in Matthew’s direction. “Got any more of that wine, Casanova?”
“I’m French, Sarah, not Italian. And I’m a vampire. I always have wine,” Matthew said with a wicked smile.

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness.

“I just killed a man! This isn’t the moment to discuss our marriage.”
“Nonsense. Marrying amid bloodshed is a de Clermont family tradition,” Philippe said briskly.

“I trust my wife’s judgement,” Matthew said firmly.
“That’s what Philippe says about Granny,” Gallowglass muttered under his breath. “Just before all hell breaks lose.”

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness.

“And if we all did what we should, we would wake to find ourselves in paradise.”

“Ah yes the elusive right moment.” Matthew snorted. “It never comes, Diana. Sometimes we just have to throw caution to the wind and trust the people we love.”

“And one last thing: I do not, nor have I ever, sparkled.”

The Perks of Being a Wallflower byStephen Chbosky.

“And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.”

“I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there.”

Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand by Aaron Allston.
“Luke, I don’t want to discourage your curiosity, but I have to remind you, if something goes wrong, this is an exceptionally embarrassing way to die.”

I can go on and on with Harry Potter quotes, but this is what I narrowed it down to:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.
“So light a fire!” Harry choked.
“Yes…of course…but there’s no wood!” …
“HAVE YOU GONE MAD!” Ron bellowed. “ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT!”

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling.
“Ginny!” said Mr. Weasley, flabbergasted. “Haven’t I taught you anything? What have I always told you? Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain?”

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling.
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling.
“Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.”

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling.
“Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure.”

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling.
“Do you remember me telling you we are practicing non-verbal spells, Potter?”
“Yes,” said Harry stiffly.
“Yes, sir.”
“There’s no need to call me ‘sir’ Professor.”
The words had escaped him before he knew what he was saying.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling.

“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all those who live without love.”

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: February 27: Books I Could Re-read Forever

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Updates are now at That Artsy Reader Girl

Mostly I like to read a book for the first time in printed form then I like to reread the story in audiobook form. So mostly likely if I am rereading – it’s on Audible. I especially love rereading favorite series because when you know the outcomes you catch all the hints you missed, all the foreshadowing, and all the world building. Rereading also feels like going home again.

1. Red Rising saga.
I haven’t had Audible for that long, maybe only a couple of years. Each time a new book came out I read the previous installments. Now that I have the Audible app I listen to the books. And now that I have read the e-book of Iron Gold I’ll listen to the audiobook.

Fun fact: The way Tim Gerard Reynolds does Ragnar’s voice is the best ever. You can feel the bold type as it’s written in the books. I also really love the deep voice he does for Karnus.

2. All Souls Trilogy. Actually every year the fans do a Real Time Reading, where we read the chapters that correspond to the dates they take place. It’s easiest for the first book, A Discovery of Witches, which takes place over 40 days. The second and third are too stretched over time so there is a condensed calendar for RTR on a Facebook group I belong to. Though I have to admit with rereading the Red Rising trilogy and Iron Gold I fell behind on the RTR of Shadow of Night (I finished a week or so after the RTR calendar we have on the Facebook page) and have not started The Book of Life.

Fun fact: I love the way Jennifer Ikeda does Emperor Rudolf’s voice. He’s like a stuffy, whiny, entitled snot.

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3. Pride & Prejudice. Rosemund Pike, she played Jane in the 2005 film, narrated P&P. Her voice for Mr. Collins is so funny. Anytime I reread it I always picture the 2005 cast.

4. Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story by Jewel.
Being such a big fan I thought I knew everything but she tells so much more about her life in this memoir. It’s also part self-help. I love the emotion she puts into her narration.

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5. The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe.
I love the sinister darkness of this story. What revenge! The audiobook is only 15 minutes long so it’s really easy to listen to over and over and earn Audible badges really fast. Also, B.J. Harrison is the best at narrating Poe’s stories. The way he has Fortunato say “Amontillado” – it cracks me up.
(Getting off track: I have his narration of The Count of Monte Cristo, which I started but will finish next month. That is a first time read.)

6. Harry Potter – I started doing a reread with The Sorcer’s Stone and then got sidetracked but I want to finish my reread before seeing The Cursed Child in April.

7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. This is actually one book I have yet to get the audiobook for. It’s an emotional reread but it’s a classic from my teenage years.