Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Oh the nostalgia – it’s been such a long time since the last time I got to gush over a new Harry Potter book!

I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as soon as it came out but I wanted to think about it first for a while before writing anything. Then my internship started and it got pushed even further. But here are some of my thoughts on the new play (in the book format…actual play review will come only in January when I get to see it).

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I get the feeling that a lot of people are disappointed in Cursed Child because it doesn’t present as vivid of a world as the originals…but how could it? It’s a play that is supposed to work on stage with the emotions of the actors and props guiding the story. A play in a book format is only the lines of the actors so naturally it doesn’t feel quite as engaging as a regular narrative.

I did find the writing somewhat fanfiction-y but I didn’t feel like it was too distracting. However, I can completely understand why it would bug a lot of people the wrong way. Overall though, I really liked Cursed Child. I guess Harry Potter will always have me under a spell ;)

cursed child

SPOILERS AHEAD!

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Me Before You & Game of Thrones: The Fashion

Two of my favorite reading materials this summer: Game of Thrones and Me Before You – hands down! I started re-reading the Song of Ice and Fire books during the late Spring and now I’m hooked (again). And, of course, with the new season being so epic I am completely submerged in the world of Westeros once more. Though the season just ended (and what a finale!) I am still in the middle of reading so I get to stay with the characters for a while longer. With this in mind, I wanted to make a little “fashion inspired by” Polyvore set and ended up making another one for the book-that-made-me-cry-more-than-The-Fault-in-Our-Stars – also known as Me Before You.
game of thrones style
I love all the individual styles of the characters in Game of Thrones. I love the whole winter-y an steely look of the Starks but also the bold and rich colors of the Lannisters. And don’t even get me started on miss Khaleesi herself! Her style has changed so much but it’s always recognizably Dany!
me before you louisa clark style
Me Before You was such a tearjerker that I don’t know how I survived it. It was heartfelt and emotional – something I couldn’t stop thinking about for weeks. I still haven’t seen the movie but will hopefully soon. I love the casting of Emilia Clarke as the lovable, goofy Lou and Sam Claflin as the intelligent and handsome Will. Lou’s style is very quirky and colorful. Bold patterns and interesting shapes cover her feminine shirts and dresses. And I love that about her – she seems like a radiant sun personified!

Have you read Song of Ice and Fire and/or Me Before You? Did you like them?

Tour of Scotland pt 4: Glencoe & Edinburgh

Unfortunately this is the last part of my Scotland tour series – but before we embark on other adventures, I still have loads to tell you about our last days on the road.

We didn’t need to drive far to reach our first destination: St. Conan’s Kirk is a gorgeous church a short drive away from Oban and it has the most beautiful view of a loch. You can even see the Kilchurn Castle, which was our second stop of the day.

glencoe

Doune Castle was a lovely treat on our last stretch before Edinburgh: the castle has served as a filming location for Monty Python’s Holy Grail as well as Outlander (Doune Castle is Castle Leoch). It even appeared in Game of Thrones as Winterfell! There was an audio guide which had fun tidbits both about the history of the castle as well as the movies that were filmed there. The entrance fee was 6 pounds, which was not too bad either. From Doune Castle we made our way toward the famous Glencoe.

Glencoe was the last location we visited before getting back to Edinburgh. I can’t even stress enough how beautiful the mountains were around us and the amount of green was just staggering.

Once we got back to Edinburgh, we still had one and a half days left to explore the city. Our pre-planned stops included The Elephant House (where J.K. Rowling sat writing Harry Potter), Tom Riddle’s grave (okay, Thomas Riddell’s…but that was in any case the inspiration for Voldemort’s real name), Arthur’s Seat and Greyfriar’s Kirk.

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Arthur’s Seat took the longest amount of time considering the climb you have to do just to get up on the hill. But the scenery overlooking Edinburgh is amazing. Especially on a warm and sunny day, you can see really far and get wonderful snapshots as memories.

All in all, our tour of Scotland was amazing (we used the company MacBackpackers) and we met wonderful people and saw more than we could’ve hoped for. I wholeheartedly recommend it!

Have you been to Scotland?

Tour of Scotland pt 3: Skye, Oban & Kilmartin

Time for another part of my Scotland tour: from Lewis, we made our way to the Isle of Skye, a famously breathtaking island that is filled with faeries. The first stop on the island was the famed Faerie Glen, where you can climb onto a faerie “castle” and see the entrance to a cave that leads into the faerie realm. You must be careful not to take even a twig as a souvenir though, because otherwise the fae will make sure you’ll have bad luck until the item is returned!

We also saw the famous Kilt Rock and it’s waterfall and later spent the night at Kyleakin where I did an evening walk to the Castle Moil, which was stunning in the evening light.

oban 1 skye

From Skye, we crossed on a ferry back to the mainland and to Oban – but not before visiting Fort William and the Steall waterfall in Glen Nevis. As a massive Harry Potter fan, I was really excited when we stopped at the Glenfinnan viaduct on our way to Fort William. Glenfinnan viaduct featured in Chamber of Secrets in the scene where Harry and Ron try to find the Hogwarts Express while flying in the Ford Anglia. And speaking of the Hogwarts Express, you can see the actual train either puffing over the viaduct or on your stop at Fort William. You can even ride the train! How cool is that?

After a lunch in the picturesque Fort William, we hiked up the mountain sides to the second largest waterfall, Steall, in Glen Nevis. The scenery was unbelievable – jumping over little streams and climbing on rocks until you saw the massive waterfall completely made my day!

oban 2 kilmartin

Oban was our end destination and we stayed there for two nights. The small waterfront town has delicious seafood and lots of cruises going to the nearby islands, such as Mull and Iona. I spent my free day in Oban by doing a half day trip to Kilmartin Glen, an area that has a massive concentration of Neolitchic and Bronze Age remains and a museum that tells you all about them. The best part is that after the museum tour you can actually go and see all the places that are talked about. Imagine climbing into two ancient cairns (tombs) and walking across a field with fluffy sheep before resting your eyes on ritual places, such as the Templewood stone circles. It felt like being sucked into a historical novel.

Places to Visit from Oban

  • Iona (“the cradle of Scottish Christianity”, graveyard, Iona Abbey, beaches)
  • Mull (beaches, wildlife, brochs, castles)
  • Staffa (PUFFINS)
  • Kilmartin Glen (ancient cairns, standing stones, castles)
  • Oban’s own McCaig’s Tower & the local distillery

Tour of Scotland pt 2: Inverness to Lewis

From Inverness, our tour of Scotland had us heading to the Isle of Lewis: an island with wondrous scenery in addition to peace and quiet. Lewis is the largest island of the Western Isles (or Outer Hebrides) of Scotland. Because our 10-day tour was literally called the “Best in the West”, it is clear why Lewis was on our itinerary.

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Our stay on Lewis was for two days and we spent the nights in a lovely hostel in the Gearrannan Blackhouse village, which is a group of old crofting buildings that radiate a certain old-world charm and history. The village is situated near the Callanish Standing Stones, which are even older than Stonehenge, and the Carloway Broch, an ancient castle-like construction from the time before castles.

The Carloway Broch is incredibly impressive and you can even climb a little ways inside the stone structure. However, while the broch was majestic, my absolute favorite from the whole island were the Callanish Standing Stones. It’s hard to comprehend how old the stones truly are – I felt like I had stepped into Outlander and was about to be whisked away into the olden days with bagpipes sounding in the wind. Okay, in reality, I was around a bunch of tourists and posing for my very 21st century selfies but that didn’t diminish the magic one bit.

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The various white, sandy beaches were another incredible sight for sore eyes: the turquoise waters and the long stretches of bright sand looked like they could’ve belonged to some exotic, warm country rather than the cold, windy Scotland. We visited on the Isle of Great Bernera that hosts the Bostadh Beach and an Iron Age mill. It was the perfect spot for a lunch break as we noticed.

In addition to Bostadh, another wonderful beach-y spot we explored was the Uig beach, which is actually one of the biggest beach areas on the island. It was huge – let me tell ya! It took forever just to walk from the parking lot to the waterline…like, if you were to go swimming (not that you would unless you were impervious to the cold) it would be a workout in itself just to get to the water. But there was a wonderful set of hills around it where we hiked on little twisty trails to see the beach from higher ground. It was gorgeous!

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Must see things on Lewis:

Sights that I saw and loved:

  • Callanish standing stones (though there are numerous standing stones around the island, these are arguably the most famous!)
  • Carloway Broch
  • Any of the gorgeous white beaches
  • Isle of Great Bernera
  • Uig Chessmen

Sights I wish I’d seen:

  • Lews Castle
  • Crannogs
  • St. Columba’s Church Ui

Finally, check out the first part of my Scotland tour: Edinburgh and Inverness!

Tour of Scotland pt 1: Edinburgh to Inverness

When this school year started in September, I promised myself a reward for finishing my Master’s Thesis in the form of a trip to Scotland. I coaxed my friend to join me and after I returned my thesis in April, we packed our bags and embarked on our tour of Scottish moors in mid-May.

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We started out in Edinburgh where we had a lovely sunny evening walking around the main street and around the Edinburgh Castle. The next morning we boarded a minibus with eight other backpackers and headed out to the wilderness. Well, to Inverness, actually. Our first proper stop, after briefly getting out to snap pictures of the Forth Bridge, was the Highland Museum where some scenes from Outlander were shot. The 1700s village was quaint though the inside of the buildings was gloomy without any light source.

From the Highland Museum, we made our way further up north to the famous Loch Ness, which was magical. The lake was gorgeous and serene and somehow the entire scenery seemed imbued with the bluest of blue. Though we did not spot Nessie, the Loch Ness monster hunter (now there’s a profession I’d like to try) who has made his home on the shore of Loch Ness did sell little figurines to make up for it.

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From Loch Ness we rode on to Inverness where we arrived around 6 p.m. after traveling for nine hours. After such a long day we first wanted to shower and go have a bite to eat. Afterwards we would’ve wanted to go sit somewhere where we could hear music, but apparently it’s hard to find a place with live music AND free seats on a Monday night in Inverness. However, we decided to take a stroll by the river to the Ness Islands that were decorated with adorable fairy lights. It ended up being a lovely alternative to sitting in a pub.

It would have been nice to have more time in Inverness as we only got to spend one evening there (after everything had already closed) but hopefully I get to visit again another time. From Inverness our trip continued across the country to the West coast and to Ullapool, which I will tell more about in the second part of my travel diary.

Have you been to Scotland? How did you like the country?

Our Shared Shelf: First 4 Books

Our Shared Shelf, the feminist book club Emma Watson founded on Goodreads, is now well established and has a huge following as well as some very fascinating discussions on various aspects of womanhood. I was very eager to try and read all the books chosen for the club because I wanted to expand my horizons and discover books outside of my YA/fantasy-filled comfort zone.

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January: My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

Our Shared Shelf started with Steinem’s My Life on the Road, which right away generated a mixed bag of opinions: some readers appreciated Steinem’s strong point of view while others thought her writing as abrasive and inconsiderate. My Life on the Road is Steinem’s memoir that collects stories and anecdotes from her travels, while discussing important figures such as Martin Luther King and Hillary Clinton. She is also very focused on activism and talks about many of her fellow activists. While her writing can be somewhat disorganized, the overall tone of the book will quickly engage the reader.

February: The Color Purple by Alice Walker

I haven’t been so affected by a book in a long while like I was by The Color Purple. Walker’s novel has often been censured due to its themes of sexuality and violence. This of course tends to be the case with books that are in the position to make a real change in the prejudices of our society. The novel is structured as a diary (and later, letters) that is being written by a young African-American woman, Celie, in the 1930s. Celie shows true growth and strength of character as she learns to deal with racism, sexual assault, and an unhappy family life.

our shared shelf

March: All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks

Another book that divided opinions was All About Love: New Visions. bell hooks is widely regarded as a great thinker and feminist, which is why it was surprising that this particular work of hers was in fact slightly off-putting with its frequent, long-winded thoughts about religion. Furthermore, the book struck me as perhaps even too theoretical when talking about love and how one should find it and how it relates to e.g. abuse. However, it was still an interesting read and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in theoretical discussions, existentialism, religion, or philosophy. And, of course, feminism!

April: How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

How to Be a Woman is a hilarious, strange, and quirky piece of writing that might rub you the wrong way – or it might crack you up like no other! While I had trouble understanding some references (international reader here, hello), more often than not I found myself snorting with laughter while I read. Moran has strong opinions about all the different things women are “supposed to” be like and she is utterly unapologetic about it. She is a great example of a woman who has found her path in life and at least appears to be totally comfortable in her skin.
Our Shared Shelf is reading along quickly and the May book has been plowed through as well. I will post a review of The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson and the newly announced June book (graphic novel) is Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (and a few more additions hopefully) at the end of the summer.

Helsinki Art Museum: Tove Jansson, Roots & From Heino with Love

Last week I decided to visit the Helsinki Art Museum – or HAM – (located in Kamppi, in the center of Helsinki), which offers free admission every first Friday of every month. I often take advantage of these kinds of free days at art museums because my budget doesn’t allow me to spend a lot of money on art shows. Free admission days, then, are the perfect chance to switch gears and move from school and work mode to culture mode.

HAM has several exhibitions on at the moment: Tove Jansson exhibition (which is featured on Her Campus at Helsinki right now), HAM’s Roots (featuring various paintings from Finnish artists), From Heino with Love, and more. The exhibits vary greatly in size but they are all fascinating.

helsinki art museum 1

I felt that the most interesting exhibit was From Heino with Love, which includes numerous pieces of contemporary art from The Heino Art Foundation. The foundation is run by a couple and their son, who have collected over a thousand pieces of art. The exhibit itself consists of 100 pieces that include paintings, photographs, drawings, and sculptures.

helsinki art museum 2

I loved the use of color in most of these works; the boldness of the works made a huge impact on the viewer. Most of the paintings were very bright and – I thought – very street art inspired. Some of my favorite pieces were the green and white sculptures that reminded me of some strange fantasy anime.

Helsinki Art Museum has become one of my favorite museums during my university years because they show a lot of contemporary art and often have very interesting and topical themes. I will, however, make it my mission for the summer to start visiting other museums, too.

Have you been to any art shows lately? What kind of art do you like? (I prefer contemporary)

Pottermore Sorting: I’m a Hufflepuff?

The sorting is back on Pottermore! I was so excited to find out that the sorting function has been reinstated on Pottermore because it was lovely to have your own house in the previous incarnation of the site. Way back when I first sorted myself into a house, I got Hufflepuff as a result….and the same thing happened again! I’ve always related to Slytherin the most, but I guess I have to come to terms with the fact that inside this Slytherin there was always a little Hufflepuff heart beating.

hufflepuff-pottermore

My wand is a lovely rowan wood one with a dragon heartstring core. Neat, huh? Now if only I could choose a pet to take to Hogwarts (or would I have to attend Durmstrang since I live in Northern Europe?)…

pottermore-wand

Reasons why I’m now all about Hufflepride:

  • They are loyal and kind…what else could you want from a person?
  • They can grow up to be kickass aurors like Tonks!
  • They’re good at herbology (and I could use a greener thumb since I even managed to kill my cactus).
  • They are hardworking but they don’t brag about it – Cedric, anyone?
  • They’re common room is next to the kitchens and I adore food…I’d be having a midnight snack every night.
  • Newt Scamander was a Hufflepuff and from what we know of him so far, he’s a pretty cool cat.
  • They don’t go dark. I wouldn’t want to share my house with a bunch of dark wizards (and yes, I’m aware I said that I relate to Slytherin most. It was based on ambition and a slight dark side – not being a dark wizard!)

Pottermore also now includes new information about other magical schools besides Hogwarts. I love especially the African one…though they all sound absolutely epic!

Did you get sorted already?

5 Fandom Friday: Late to the Game TV Discoveries

5fandomfriday

This week’s 5 Fandom Friday topic is about TV…more specifically: “Favorite Late To The Game TV Discoveries“. And oh boy, I have loads.

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly link-up about fandom-y goodness, which was started by the lovely ladies of The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick.
tv shows
Merlin

I absolutely adore this show! Everyone seems to have great chemistry, the dialogue is funny, and of course I love the whole story idea (what with me writing my MA thesis about Celtic myths and all…)! Morgana is an admiringly twisted persona and Anthony Stewart Head is brilliant as king Uther.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this show. Marvel is sometimes a bit of a hit and miss for me personally. But I really like the dynamics between the characters in the team as well as the “mutant” plot lines (I’m a sucker for superpowers).

Reign

I don’t know why it took so long for me to start watching Reign. The characters are amazing, I love the plotting and scheming, and the costuming is to die for. It’s also very emotional, I’ve gotten very invested in all the characters (read: I cry over everything).

Lost Girl

Another fantasy show :) This Canadian series is filled with interesting folklore and kick-ass female characters. What more could a gal want? I also like that the main character is a succubus but no one treats her like a crazy woman because of her enhanced sexuality. Instead, it is embraced. Hurrah for female empowerment.

Girls

I was a bit hesitant to start watching this show – I’ve seen all Sex and the City episodes a million times and I wasn’t sure how I felt about the comparisons between the two shows (as in, Girls is Sex and the City for millenials). However, once I did watch a few episodes I really liked the odd characters, especially Adam and Shoshana.