Friday, July 31, 2015

July Wrap-up


Notable Quotable: Kate DiCamillo (#84)

"It's not even that I bump into things.  It's more that things leap out of nowhere and bump into me." 
     --Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventure

Happy Birthday Harry Potter! (J.K. Rowling too!!)

Faith of GeekyZooGirl and Micheline of Lunar Rainbow Reviews are hosting the Harry Potter Month in July and I'm on board!  People can compete in the House Cup by accumulating house points.  I'll be earning said house points by posting about Harry Potter among other Harry Potter related activities! This year I will be representing Hufflepuff!

It's Harry Potter's birthday!  Which also means it's J.K. Rowling's birthday!  My life has changed because this woman created this character and then created a story and a world around him.  I honestly don't have many memories of my life before Harry Potter.  As I was reminiscing, I came across my oldest video on my YouTube channel.

Fittingly, it was a video about Harry Potter.  But it wasn't any old video, it is a video featuring some friends and I recreating Harry Potter and the Mysterious Ticking Noise.  I'm pretty sure I was 15 at the time and it was the best thing I'd ever suggested. (Okay, I just checked the date.  Apparently, I was 17 and it was still the best thing I'd ever suggested.  You'll see.)  Now, I'm going to share it with you because it's worth a watch.

I hope you enjoy it. ^__^

Happy Birthday Harry and Jo!  Thank you so much for existing! 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (#49)

hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows Reviews.

What books would you recommend to Draco:

Only one book comes to mind immediately when I think about this.  I'm sure there are many good ones out there that Draco should read, but this one is a very good one.

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga -  The main character grew up with a serial killer for a father.  His father taught him all the ways to kill a person and dispose of the body.  He taught him that killing was wrong for everybody but the two of them.  There's all sorts of inner conflict and constant reminders that he doesn't have to be his father, or the person his father wanted him to be.

This would be a great book for Draco to read because it would remind him that just because his parents were Death Eaters and pure blood supremacists doesn't mean he has to be.  He can make his own path.  It might even comfort him to know that people think about the situations in which people grow up and that it doesn't have to define him.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

7 Scenes that I wish had been in the Movies

Faith of GeekyZooGirl and Micheline of Lunar Rainbow Reviews are hosting the Harry Potter Month in July and I'm on board!  People can compete in the House Cup by accumulating house points.  I'll be earning said house points by posting about Harry Potter among other Harry Potter related activities! This year I will be representing Hufflepuff!

Last week I wrote about the importance in separating books and movies as two different mediums to enjoy them throughly.  I like the movies, but there are scenes that I would have loved to see in the movies!  Here's seven of them:

1. I would have loved to see Luna's room in Deathly Hallows when Harry, Ron, and Hermione visit Xenophelius at home.  It's described so beautifully that I had hoped they'd include it in the film.  I knew the chances were slim seeing as that seemed to be a minute detail compared to the much large story line.  Still, I would have loved to see the paintings of all their faces on her wall.  That would have been so gorgeous!

2. I so wish that Harry and Ginny's kiss in Half-Blood Prince was the kiss from the book.  I want to see Harry come in from detention irritated that he had to miss the match, but curious and anxious to find out if they won.  I want to see Harry hug and kiss Ginny without thinking and see Ron go red and then shrug a little because he'd rather see his sister with his best friend than anyone else.  I'd love to see Ginny tell off Ron for making a comment about PDA.  Man, all of that would be so awesome!

3. Dumbledore's Funeral.  I know this sounds morbid, but Dumbledore deserved the funeral from the book.  It would have been right to see everyone come together to tribute Dumbledore one last time.  To hear Fawkes sing and see everyone cry over the beloved man.  For all his faults, Dumbledore did so much for Harry and the wizarding world in general.  I would have liked the movie to dwell on this at least a little bit.

4. Winky the house elf would have rounded out the Goblet of Fire really well.  It would have made the presence of Barty Crouch Jr more prevalent.  If we had seen Winky by herself in the box at the Quidditch World Cup then there would be a reason for Barty Crouch Jr. to be there.  And the revelation that Barty Crouch Jr. was Moody that much more impressive.

5. WHERE WAS GINNY in all of Order of the Phoenix.  I mean really.  This was the book that Ginny's character arch developed in a great way.  She became feisty and fierce, though I'm sure she always was, we get to see it because she started to be herself around Harry.  I loved this in the book, and I would have loved to see some scenes with Ginny in it.

6. It would have been great to see the scene in St. Mungo's where we find out Arthur's okay and see the Longbottoms and Neville.  I would have loved to see that.  In the Order of the Phoenix, Neville is still painted as the incompetent student who just can't get it.  This scene would have done wonders for his character development.

7. Peeves should have been in the movies.  There so many great scenes that would have made the movies that much better.  For example, the moment when the twins leave and instruct Peeves to "give her hell for us" would have been awesome!  Plus, he's used as foreshadowing for quite a bit of things later in the series.  It would have been cool to see him break the vanishing cabinet in Chamber of Secrets and then see Draco trying to fix it in Half-Blood Prince.  That would have been great!

8. I would have loved to see more Quidditch in the movies.  We get it in the first three and in the sixth, but it would have been great to hear the cancelation in Goblet of Fire.  As painful as it would have been, it would have been great to see Ron suck at Quidditch and hear Weasley is Our King being sung and then to see Fred, George and Harry banned from it.  That would have been infuriating but also a great show of character on everyone's part.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. Cath (Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell) - She's so far into the book nerd world that she's writing really successful fanfiction about her favorite book series!

2. Maddie Summers (The Summer I Became a Nerd) - At first she tries to hide the fact that she loves comics but it's no use because she's a bonafide book nerd!

3. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter) - I think she's the first and original book nerd.  I mean at least for me she is.  Hermione Granger made reading cool for me.  I was already reading a bunch but she had great persuasion as to why I continued reading.

4. Matilda  (Matilda by Roald Dahl) - She read the entire library before she was five!  It's crazy, she's crazy smart and I think this qualifies her as a book nerd!

5. Pat Peoples (The Silver Linings Playbook) - Pat isn't what you'd call a book nerd, but he reads a lot of the classics that his ex-wife is teaching her high school students.  I really liked that he read these books in an attempt to further understand his ex-wife.  That's why he makes my list today.

6. Ponyboy Curtis (The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton) - Ponyboy Curtis my be a greaser but he also has a taste for poetry.  I think it's neat that he does well in school and enjoys reading too.  He even reads to Johnny.

7. Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen) - Elizabeth loves her books.

8. Klaus Bauldelare (Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket) - Klaus is a typical book nerd.  When he need to find information he goes to his books.  He's a brilliant reader who can find anything in a book. I love it!

9. Meggie Folchart (Inkheart by Cornelia Funke) - Meggie grew up with a father that loved books, so naturally she grew up to love books too.  They come alive to her in many ways (both figuratively and literally)  She is definitely a book nerd!

10. Liesel Meminger (The Book Thief by Markus Zusak) - Liesel steals books to keep them from burning, to give them a home, to read and cherish them once she has learned to read.  She delivers laundry in exchange for reading in a beautiful library.  She is a great book nerd, doing thing for the chance to read.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Harry Potter Spell Tag

Faith of GeekyZooGirl and Micheline of Lunar Rainbow Reviews are hosting the Harry Potter Month in July and I'm on board!  People can compete in the House Cup by accumulating house points.  I'll be earning said house points by posting about Harry Potter among other Harry Potter related activities! This year I will be representing Hufflepuff!

Soudha tagged everyone participating in Harry Potter Month in this Harry Potter Spell Tag.  I thought today would be a great day to share this with you seeing as we are nearing a close!  Let's get started.

Expecto Patronum 
A childhood book connected to good memories

You can't expect me to not have this book/series on this list at least in one spot.  This series is so full of wonderful memories, from midnight releases, parties, halloween costumes, family trips to see the movies, and so much more.  I love this series because it's amazing and so well written, but I also love this series because of all the memories attached to it.  

A book that took you by surprise

I first read this book as a school requirement.  I love reading but I'm always a little hesitant when I'm forced to read a book.  Naturally, I had my reservations about this book, but I was hooked immediately.  It definitely took me by surprise.  I liked it so much that I've read it again and again.  It's one of my favorite books now. 

Priori Incantatem
The last book you read

This book took me ages to read.  I was in a bit of a reading slump so I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would.  I still enjoyed it, though.  

A book that introduced you to a genre you hadn't considered before

This book was the first graphic novel (trade paperback) I read that I enjoyed.  This book and the graphic novel class I took in college opened me up to an entirely new world of reading that I had previously thought of as childish. (cringe.)  Yes, I was one of those people.  I thought comics are good for some but not for me.  Now, I'm completely sold on them! 

A book that was painful to read

This book could have been good, but it took me ages to read.  I think I was reading that book for 6 months before I finished it.  Parts of it were great, but some parts were down right painful.  I mean who talks about cutting grass for 100 pages and thinks it's a good idea? 

Avada Kedavra
A book that could kill (interpret that as you may) 

This book cannot get here soon enough.  I am dying to know how this series finishes!  I'm so excited and anxious.  I want this book here and now! 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Butterbeer Cupcakes

Faith of GeekyZooGirl and Micheline of Lunar Rainbow Reviews are hosting the Harry Potter Month in July and I'm on board!  People can compete in the House Cup by accumulating house points.  I'll be earning said house points by posting about Harry Potter among other Harry Potter related activities! This year I will be representing Hufflepuff!

It's time for some baking!  Are you ready?!

My younger brother turns 21 today, so as part of the his celebration I wanted to make him something cool.  I thought about it and I came up with the perfect little treats.  Butterbeer cupcakes!  I bet Harry, Ron and Hermione would have loved to try these out.

These little cakes DO have alcohol in them, so I advise that you stick to the legal drinking age, where ever you may be.  That being said, let's bake!

I found the basic recipe on amybites. I used the cake recipe but made some adjustments to suite my dietary needs/preferences.  (I also added the alcohol.) ;)

For the Cake:

2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (I used earth balance vegan butter.)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed (I used light brown sugar.)
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring (I skipped this and added 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla instead.)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cream soda (I used Butterscotch Schnapps instead.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake pan with paper liners.  If you are going to make the mugs of Butterbeer, spray and flour the mason jars.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

 In a large bowl, cream you butter (or earth balance) until light and fluffy.

Add sugars and beat until well-combined.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Then beat in vanilla.

Alternating, add buttermilk, Butterscotch Schnapps, and dry ingredients in batches until all are well incorporated.

Fill each cupcake line 3/4 full, then bake for 15 to 17 minutes until a toothpick/fork inserted into the center comes out clean and cake springs back to the touch.  Cool completely on wire racks.  If you are using the mason jars, fill about half way and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick/fork inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let mason jars cool for 10 minutes and then tip them over and slide the cake out. If the cake doesn't easily slide out, run a knife along the edge of the mason jar to help it out.  Let them cool on a wire wrack.

For the frosting:

Buttercream frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of Butterscotch Schnapps (if you want a stronger taste, add a little bit more)
16 oz of powdered sugar

 It's a basic buttercream frosting with a little bit of a kick.  Cream the butter in a bowl until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla, salt and Butterscotch Schnapps and mix well.  Slowly add powdered sugar a little bit at a time until combined.  If the frosting is too stiff, add a little bit of milk to thin it out.  Be careful not to add too much, you don't want the frosting to run.  If you do add too much milk, you can always add a little bit more powdered sugar.  It's an art form really.

Then decorate you cupcakes! :D

For mug style cupcakes:

Modeling Chocolate

100g of wilton chocolate melts (whatever color you want the mugs to be.)
2 teaspoon of corn syrup

Melt the chocolate melts in a bowl in 30 second increments until completely melted, with no lumps.

Heat the corn syrup until it is the same temperature as the melted chocolate, 10 seconds at most in the microwave.  Pour some of the melted chocolate into the bowl with the corn syrup and mix well.  Fold that mixture back into the rest of the melted chocolate until it is just combined.

 Be careful to not over mix it because you will ruin the modeling chocolate if you do.  Let it sit overnight!

It'll get nice and hard.  Heat the modeling chocolate for 5 seconds in the microwave, that will help with removing it from the bowl.  You'll be able to kneed the chocolate in your hands until it gets to the consistency of play dough.

Then you're ready to roll it out and have some fun.  Create the mug anyway you want.  Here's how I've done mine!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Notable Quotable: Sara Raasch (#83)

"That's why literature is so fascinating.  It's always up for interpretation, and could be a hundred different things to a hundred different people.  It's never the same thing twice." 
     --Snow Like Ashes 

Harry Potter and my College Career

Faith of GeekyZooGirl and Micheline of Lunar Rainbow Reviews are hosting the Harry Potter Month in July and I'm on board!  People can compete in the House Cup by accumulating house points.  I'll be earning said house points by posting about Harry Potter among other Harry Potter related activities! This year I will be representing Hufflepuff!

I went to college right around the time colleges were announcing that they had classes dedicated to the beautiful series.  I contemplated and was seriously tempted to choose my school based solely on which Harry Potter classes were offered.  I didn't end up doing that.  I chose a school based on all the usual things, campus, classes, majors, people, that sort.

Imagine my surprise when the syllabus of one of my required freshman year classes had us reading Sorcerer's Stone!  It was an Intro English class that taught us how to write papers that were up to college standards.  That was the class that I was able to do a 10 page research paper on why Harry Potter should be considered a classic.  I discussed all the mythology and classic literature references and allusions made throughout the series.  I've never had so much fun researching in my life.  I even had a very clever [read: puny] title to my paper: The Myth-use of Muggle Artifacts:
How J.K. Rowling Creates a Classic.  My professor didn't get it... I was actually incredibly surprised that she didn't get the reference.   

Although that class wasn't solely dedicated to Harry Potter, it was great fun reading and discussing themes and literary devices in Sorcerer's Stone.  I rather enjoyed that beginning to my college career.

Fast forward three semester, my sophomore year I took a Children's Literature class.  This class is as awesome as it sounds.  There's a list of books, we read them and discuss them in class.  The end of term paper was a lengthy discussion of what I think the formula for children's literature is based on the books we've read and the discussions we've had in class.  It was awesome!   Going into the class I didn't know for sure, but I was really hoping the Harry Potter would be included on the list of books we were to read that semester.  

Again, I got the syllabus and class book list and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was on it!  It was a good day to be me.  When we actually got around to reading that book, my professor gave us the option to read whichever book in the series we wanted to.  She encouraged those who hadn't read the entire things to pick up where they left off or start from the beginning.  Since I read the books quite often, I chose to read Prisoner of Azkaban which is one that I always enjoy reading.  (I mean I like reading them all, but PoA was one of the shorter ones, so it was easier to read in the short time span I had to read the book.)

That class is among may favorite I took in college.  

Moral of my college career, it was a good thing I didn't go to the college that had all the Harry Potter courses.  I went to the school that had everything I wanted AND I was rewarded with not one, but two unexpected Harry Potter classes.  It's a beautiful thing.

Side Note: My aunt often called my schooling "pretend college" because she couldn't quite believe that I had just happened across TWO classes that had me read a Harry Potter book.  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (#48)

hosted by Uncorked Thoughts and Lunar Rainbows Reviews.

Favorite James Potter Moment:

I'm having trouble thinking of all the good James moments at the moment because I've just finished Order of the Phoenix and he's not painted in the best of light in that one.

I'd say my favorite moment has to be the moment in the Forbidden Forest when Harry uses the resurrection stone to bring those he loved close to him.  James, Lupin, Sirius, and Lily join Harry and that moment of comfort is what spurs him on to his sacrifice.  I love that everyone is there, but James says the words that get me every time I read it: "Until the very end."  James assures Harry that they will always be there, even when he can't see them.

I love that moment.  It warms me as much as it makes me cry.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Snow Like Ashes

by Sara Raasch
published: Balzer + Bray, 2014
pages: 416

When the Kingdom of Winter was conquered by Spring, it left them enslaved and without magic.  Meira doesn't even remember it happening, only that it did, but she is living with the consequences.  Along with seven other Winterians refugees, Meira is searching for a way to get their magic and ultimately kingdom and people back from the power-hungry Spring kingdom.  She is willing to do whatever it takes to restore Winter to it's former glory, what she doesn't realize is that her destiny might not be her own to claim.  Greater powers are at work and she has to deal with them.

I haven't read high fantasy in a long while and I wasn't even sure this would be high fantasy but it was and it was so good.  I loved diving into a new realm with magic and war and people torn across lands.

Let's cut right to the chase, I freaking love Meira.  She is fierce and loyal and determined. Yes, she's selfish at times and doesn't always think about what's best for her kingdom when her own fate's on the line, but you you be willing to sacrifice yourself at all?  Her character development in this book alone makes me excited for the rest of the series.  Quite a bit of her character development comes with new understanding about her situation.  It's hard to stay stagnate when the world is constantly changing.  Meira may start off slightly selfish, but she sheds that quality when she realizes what's at stake for her and the Winter kingdom.  It takes her some time, but she really comes into her own.

The one thing I don't like is the love triangle.  It feels a little bit unnecessary, especially given the fact that there are so many more pressing issues at hand.  I get that she is a teenage girl and her best friend is ridiculously handsome and boy number two cares about things deeply, but let's focus on the fact that the Winterians are all enslaved, shall we.

The pace of this book was incredible.  I flew threw it, without even considering how well it was paced.  All I cared about was finding out what happened next.  The natural ebb and flow of the story line work very well, packed action and moments of discovery and explanation.

Meira and company have captured my heart and made me crave more from them! I cannot wait for the rest of this series.

Stars: 4/5


"Snow Like Ashes is a thrilling tory with unforgettable characters set in a stunning fantasy world that had me quickly turning pages.  I want more!"
      --Morgan Rhodes, New York Times bestselling author of Falling Kingdoms

"The plot and writing are superlative...Highly recommended."
     --School Library Journal

"A new society, a grand adventure, and a first romance, all rolled into one big fantasy epic."