London: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I will try to keep this spoiler free for those who haven’t read/seen Harry Potter and the Cursed Child yet.

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As I said in my previous post, I went to see Harry Potter and Cursed Child in London with a longtime friend of mine who is also a huge Potterhead. I had read the play as soon as it came out so I knew the plot while my friend didn’t. I was really curious to see how the technical stuff would work on stage – I didn’t wanna see any fake-looking magic! – but I was equally curious to find out whether I would care for the characters the same way as in the original books.

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SURPRISE – the magic was incredible! We were both left wondering how on earth they managed to perform some of the tricks. Nothing looked out of place or lame, everything was expertly choreographed and made to look as real as possible. There were even two impressive dance scenes that looked fantabulous from the balcony!

The characters were often funny – surprisingly it was Draco who had me giggling more than once. Ron was perhaps the most similar to his predecessor from the new cast. I kept comparing the “new” Hermione, Ron, and Harry to the originals and wondering if the older characters were enough like their younger selves and, while all did a good job of it, Ron was most like himself.

The plot holes and problems one might have with the script itself are far easier to ignore when watching the story unravel on stage. The focus is on the characters, the movement, the visuals…and some of the awkward lines end up feeling less so.

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After the play ended, we quickly ran to the other side of the theater to wait for the actors to pour out and got our programs signed by most of them. In the pictures above you can see Noma Dumezweni (Hermione) and Anthony Boyle (Scorpius), who both were fabulous. Everyone was really lovely considering they had just finished a really long day!

All in all, I’d definitely recommend the play to any hardcore Harry Potter fan (as long as you’re not too nitpicky about time travel plot lines). However, if you’re not a massive fan, the length of the play can make it quite an intense experience. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the performance though and think that, as long as you recognize that this is separate entity from the original series, you can get a lot of kicks out of it!

Have you seen/read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? What did you think?

Jetting Off to London to Start the Year

This post (and a few drafts that I have waiting) has been a long time coming and I blame my very persistent flu. However, I couldn’t NOT show you guys how amazing the short trip to London I did in the beginning of the year was!

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This trip had been planned by me and a childhood friend of mine for a long long LONG time. Almost two years. And the reason was: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! While we got tickets to see the Cursed Child play, the date was a long way away. But at least that meant we had something to look forward to. It’s been the longest time I’ve waited for something but it was completely worth it.

I’ve been to London many times (as has my friend), so we agreed on not even trying to do all the tourist attractions. Instead, we focused on eating good food, enjoying the winter-y atmosphere, and walking about town without a care. It was perfection! These were my last days before my new job (yes, I will blog about that at some point!!) started so I made the most of my freedom.

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Covent Garden (pictured above) was still covered in Christmas lights and even boasted a huge Christmas tree. The area is very picturesque but Christmas decorations just enhance that feeling. I wholeheartedly recommend visiting Covent Garden around Christmas time! Also, be sure to check out the adorable Moomin shop there!

Our hostel YHA St. Pancras (student budget travel so no hotel) was right next to King’s Cross and St. Pancras stations, which was perfect for several reasons: very easy access to the underground and, thus, to basically every other area in town; almost in the center of London; food places and cafes nearby; AND the Harry Potter store at Platform 9 3/4.

During the trip we also checked out the House of Minalima, which will be its own post soon. And the play will naturally get its own magnificent post as well<3 Have you been to London? Or seen the Harry Potter play? If you have I’d love to hear your thoughts :)

Visiting the Bone Church of Kutna Hora

Have you ever seen a chapel that’s filled with human bones? Everything is bone: the chandelier, the candle holders, everything… Well, that’s the Kutna Hora bone church for you! The little medieval town of Kutna Hora is located a short drive away from Prague. We did a lovely day trip there on our vacation in Prague, just before Christmas.

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The town is really nice and atmospheric. We managed to see the sunset there since the sun sets so early during the winter. There are some cute restaurants, though not many, around town. The main attractions are the bone chapel (offically called Sedlec Ossuary), St. Barbara’s Church, and the Italian court, which was a palace modeled after Italian architecture.

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The day trip was a great break from walking around in the same area of Prague and it allowed us to see some of the countryside as well. It was fairly cheap and we even got a discount by attending a free walking tour hosted by the same company the day before. You can also get a student discount from a lot of the tours, which is something to keep in mind!

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I only wish we would’ve had a bit more time there because we had to rush to eat quickly before heading back to Prague.

Have you been to an ossuary before? (I hadn’t but it was definitely interesting learning about its history!) Would you be creeped out? :P

Traveling to Prague during Christmas Season

Who doesn’t want to travel somewhere nice and warm during the winter? Wait…what did you say? Prague isn’t warm? Oh well, it didn’t bother us one bit. I went to Prague with the boyfriend just before Christmas for some well-deserved R&R and loved every minute of it. The Christmas markets, frosty air, and smell of crepes and mulled wine in the air. It was a perfect city vacation. Winter in Europe tends to mean dark dark dark all day long but it didn’t matter since there were brightly lit Christmas trees and decorations everywhere.

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Our hotel was about half an hour walking distance from the center of the Old Town in Prague 1 (Prague is divided into districts with numbers…how very Hunger Games!) and we walked every day to that part of the town along the river Vltava. I don’t think I’ve ever walked that much – in fact, we didn’t take the public transport anywhere and even the taxi only to the airport. We did use a bus service once but it was included into a day trip out of town so it doesn’t count…

Prague is so handy for seeing all the major sights by walking, especially because many of the sights are statues, bridges, and buildings that you can see by merely standing outside. Also, the architecture in general was absolutely amazing: pastel buildings and ornamental designs.

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We saw all the classic sights, such as the Charles Bridge, Powder tower, Prague castle, the Lennon Wall, the astronomical clock, and Dancing House. The Charles Bridge is one of the most known sights and it’s lined with magnificent statues. The bridge goes across the river, the Old Town being on the other side and Prague castle and the Lesser Town (one of the oldest districts in Prague) on the other. The Lesser Town also boasts the colorful Lennon Wall (pictured below), near the bridge entrance.

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Many of Prague’s sights are in or around the Old Town Square, including the astronomical clock and the Powder tower (used to store gun powder back in the olden days). During Christmas time the square is taken over by a massive, festive Christmas market where you can eat all day from different booths and save a ton of money. Or that’s what we did at least. The food was incredibly cheap (in general, Prague is cheap) and it was great getting to taste different local treats at the market while browsing for souvenirs. I also heartily recommend the Kafka bookshop for literature lovers (situated on one side of the square)!

It was incredible just getting out of town and on holiday, but Prague was definitely worth the praise we’d heard from a lot of our friends. It’s very affordable, gorgeous, and people are really friendly. What’s not to like?

We did one trip out of Prague during our stay: we visited a little medieval town called Kutna Horá, which boasts one of the most famous bone chapels in the world as well as a lovely cathedral. You can check it out in my next post!

Have you been to Prague?

Christmas Wish List 2016: Books and Fandoms

Lately I’ve been all about books. I think my publishing internship is rubbing on me because, while I’ve always read a lot, this fall I’ve doubled the amount of books I’ve read. This whole year actually. Naturally then, my Christmas wish list this year is mainly books. I’ve been reading a lot of YA and fantasy so most of these are continuations of series.

Sabaa Tahir’s Torch against the Night I’m really excited about because An Ember in the Ashes was BRILLIANT! I can’t say enough good things about it. The Invasion of the Tearling is also a sequel. It continues from the events of The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. Holly Bourne’s …and a Happy New Year? is the latest Spinster Club book and after reading the original trilogy I’m OBSESSED. Holly Bourne writes in such a relatable and funny way. Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody has been something I’ve wanted to read for a while. Also, after watching the new episodes of Gilmore Girls (Did you watch them? Thoughts?), I really want to get my hands on Lauren Graham’s Talking as Fast as I can.

Xmas Wish List 2017

 

I feel like everyone (including yours truly) is on a Harry Potter high this year. First we got the Cursed Child, now Fantastic Beasts movie AND book, and I’m also going to see the play in London in a month. So obviously, I included a little Hufflepuff-y goodness: the house scarf! I also love the Luna Lovegood mug, she’s definitely one of the most lovable cooky characters in the series. And how cute is the BB-8 mug?! I also really need a new watch and this kitty one speaks to my cat lady soul. Finally, the Doctor Who mug…because it combines Christmas and one of my favorite fandoms.

What’s on your wish list this Christmas? Anything you fancy on my list?

Exploring Helsinki Book Fair 2016 pt. 2

The second part of my recap of the completely amazing Helsinki Book Fair 2016 is finally here! So, obviously I spent most of my time doing social media posts of Gummerus panels and authors (you can see our Insta here). However, I did manage to spend most of my money there also. After I had splurged on the Harry Potter books (see previous post) and the Ravenrings trilogy, I also was inspired to buy a steampunk anthology after I listened to a fascinating steampunk panel with Magdalena Hai, J.S. Meresmaa, and Anni Nupponen who were interviewed by Paula Havaste. I really like how such a niche genre as steampunk is becoming something even more special as it takes on Finnish culture and geography.

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I also found so many beautiful and fun looking books. I think one of my favorite parts of the fair was just looking at the plethora of book covers! On occasion, I could’ve just bought the books based on their appearance. And yet they say “don’t judge a book by its cover”! :P

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I can’t imagine what the fair must be for those who have to stay in their booth for the entire time. I guess no one really has to do full days but I felt exhausted from just walking around and standing so much. Coffee was the only thing keeping me going on the last day. However, I did help with packing everything up and now I can say I’ve seen (almost) everything that goes into making a book fair happen: from planning the look of the booth to stacking the books (I did a book pyramid, hurrah) and packing everything away in the end. It’s an exhausting and huge part of the year but also an incredible adrenaline boost. And I had the best work mates to hang with whenever I had free time which was a plus!

Do you ever go to book fairs?

Exploring Helsinki Book Fair 2016 pt. 1

The Helsinki Book Fair was about a week ago and I was attending because of my publishing internship at Gummerus Publishers. I’ve been lucky enough to get a ticket almost every year due to some kind of related work but this was the first time I was there for all four days, from morning til evening.

The book fair is always really hectic but amazing. I love seeing all the new books and especially the offers! However, it can get a little claustrophobic after a while. I was in charge of social media during the fair so I spent my time shuttling between the various stages listening to Gummerus authors give fantastic (no, I’m not biased :P ) presentations and interviews.

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I did manage to get some non-work related things done as well: I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Siri Pettersen, author of the Ravenrings trilogy, and listen to a panel where she talked about fantasy as well as her books. She even signed my trilogy!

Siri talked about how the same people who are bottle fed on fantasy will be the same ones who will be inspired to save the world and how fantasy creates heroes. She also mentioned thinking that all good stories are political. And goodness, she was hilarious! Also, I will totally from now on use her term for the lack of fantasy elements in a story: SDD = Severe Dragon Deficiency.

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Jaana Kapari-Jatta, the Finnish translator of Harry Potter, also spoke at several interviews at the fair. She is such an inspiration, I really love how she has managed to translate not only the words but also the feeling and atmosphere of J.K. Rowling’s writing.

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Obviously, I also bought a ton of books, some of which are here. So, I got some Harry Potter related books, because I love to relive all the little moments from the movies and books. I also bought Half Bad by Sally Green, which is actually published in Finland by Gummerus. I hadn’t read her books before despite having heard good things about them so I figured this is the perfect time to start. With Half Bad, I got another paperback (you got the second one cheaper): Kesytön. It’s a werewolf story and while I don’t have high hopes for it, it seemed like a good on-the-way-to-work reading.

Part 2 of the Helsinki Book Fair is coming soon!

6 Fandom Inspired Halloween Costumes

Halloween is just around the corner and one of the best things about it are all the costume parties! Thus, I spend probably 80 % of the year thinking about various outfits I could pull off come next Halloween. However, I rarely do the Halloween costumes I really want to try because they are too demanding.

Nonetheless I wanted to show a few options for Halloween costumes.

6 Fandom Inspired Costumes

The first three more demanding ones inspired by Lagertha for Vikings, Amy Pond from Doctor Who, and the Evil Queen (aka Regina Mills) from Once upon a Time.

Halloween outfits 2016

 

 
Lagertha is a strong warrior so comfort is key: pants and long sleeved shirt are comfortable and keep you warm in the chilly October weather. A faux fur vest is reminiscent of the ancient warrior people in Norway. Round the whole outfit up with Celtic inspired jewelry, comfy boots, and braided hair and you’ll be the most impressive viking at the party!

Amy’s look is also all about comfort – but with a mini skirt! A soft flannel shirt and a leather jacket and you’re ready to kick some dalek ass! If you have a chance, get a red wig to give the costume the final touch.

The Evil Queen is formidable yet sultry: she favors blacks and deep reds with a fair amount of bling. Black faux leather pants pair nicely with a fancy red top and chunky statement jewelry. Furthermore, it’s an outfit you could even wear to a party around the year. Remember a sleek hairdo and red lips!

Halloween outfits 2016 part 2

 

 
If you are in a hurry and want an easier costume, here are a few options. Combine black leggings with a black top and add a headband with cat ears. Voilá – you’re a witch’s familiar!

The Queen of Hearts only needs a voluminous red dress and a little crown to be recognizable. But you can also grab a heart scepter or make one yourself if you want a little addition. And don’t forget to yell “off with their heads” a lot!

The final outfit is inspired by Disney’s Little Mermaid. Ariel’s bra can be faked with a fun sea shell top. Add a starfish barrette in your hair and some mermaid leggings you’re good to go!

What costume are you planning on wearing for Halloween?

Kiasma: Contemporary Art in October

Kiasma, a contemporary art museum in the center of Helsinki, had one of its open days a few weeks ago. I decided to pop by to see the current exhibitions after work.

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Above you can see one of my favorite pieces from the various exhibitions at Kiasma. Petri Ala-Maunus‘s piece Hinterland is just so vibrant and intricate. Just looking at it makes me feel like I’m being swallowed up by a wave of taken to the skies by the blowing wind. Absolutely gorgeous!

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Above on the right there are two very fascinating installations from a British artist Mona Hatoum. She was born in Beirut to Palestinian parents and her work deals with the conflict and contradictions in the world that surrounds us. Apparently this is her first solo exhibition in Finland and so it presented a huge range of works all the way from the late 70s. Hatoum’s pieces include videos, photography, installations, sculptures, and more. I loved the installations, which somehow felt very threatening even thought most of the items were perfectly ordinary. Definitely worth visiting if you have the chance!

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On the top left, you can see a piece from Meeri Koutaniemi‘s installation for After the Turmoil exhibition (by Meeri Koutaniemi and Arman Alizad). The exhibition as a whole is about survival and particularly. The exhibition featured photos of girls who had gone through female circumcision. Though disturbing, the topic is an important one and I’m so glad I saw the collection.

On the bottom right, there is a nice counter-balance to the dark and oppressive pieces I saw. Kaarina Haka‘s installation is  all about colorful fabrics and stuffed animals. I also loved how the piece was in front of a window where light could hit it. I made me think of Japan and candy and all things happy and colorful.

All in all, I’d say that the exhibitions currently in Kiasma are of great variety. There’s a bit of everything but nothing feels out of place. Big installations are everywhere, which I love. I like being able to walk around the pieces, maybe even through them, and seeing them from every angle.

When is the last time you went to see art?

Recap of My Summer 2016

I had a great summer though I was really busy both working and studying. Despite my hectic schedule I did manage to see friends, go to the beach, go camping, and more!

Here is a little video recap of my summer:

What did you do over the summer?