Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay (Fantastic Beasts, #1) – J.K. Rowling

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Source: Goodreads

Newt Scamander loves magical creatures and is determined to teach the wizarding world how to live in harmony with them. When he arrives in New York City in the winter of 1926, it is meant to be for a brief visit on his way to Arizona. Unfortunately for Newt, evil is afoot, and it will take all of his skills and the skills of his new American friends to defeat it before it destroys the city and exposes wizarding kind to the world.

For once, I had no expectations. This wasn’t anything like Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. J.K. Rowling wrote the entire screenplay herself. She helped produce it, and all of the directors and producers and talented filmmakers from the original Harry Potter movies were on board. I had no worries about whether or not it would be any good. I had faith. But I am not an expert on the 1920’s, and I am especially not an expert on the wizarding world in the 1920’s. So it was that I went in to see the film with no expectations except that there would be magic.

I saw the film twice before I read the screenplay, though because I pre-ordered it, the book arrived the same day that the movie came out. Because of this, I could see everyone clearly in my head as I read. I tried to be objective, however, impossible as that was.

There was a lot of scene setting included in the screenplay, despite the lack of details that were clearly added during the actual filming. I loved the descriptions of how people were standing, or what the characters might be thinking as they contemplated something. The script was full of tidbits that would help the actors get into character, and it made me love each of them more for it. My favorite part of all was that the script confirmed my thoughts on the fates of some of the characters that I had been continually worrying about since I had watched the film. Knowing from the bits of notes and descriptions what was going to happen to them between films has been an enormous blessing.

To make this book/screenplay even better, it’s short enough that you can read it in one sitting if you like, and therefore you can read it multiple times a day if you should so choose. I really hope she prints the rest of the screenplays as the films come out. I think it would be a very nice collection to have, and I love how descriptive and thoughtful the scenes are.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Other Reviews in This Series:
Book #1 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Book #2 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Book #3 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Book #4 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Book #5 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Book #6 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Book #7 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The Cursed Child – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child – Parts 1 & 2 – Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling, and John Tiffany

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Source: Goodreads

Albus Severus Potter has just started at Hogwarts and is really feeling the length of Harry Potter’s shadow. Faced with never living up to his father’s legacy, he ignores his cousin’s advice and befriends Scorpius Malfoy, around whom many rumors swirl.

Harry James Potter, 19 years after the battle of Hogwarts, is still adjusting to his job at the Ministry of Magic, and learning through trial and error how to be a good father to James, Albus, and Lily when he has few father figures to look up to.

After much magical mayhem, it is up to our heroes to return the world to rights and hopefully live to see another day.

From the beginning, I was extremely scared to read this book. I know J.K. Rowling helped idealize the original story, and was on hand to keep things from getting crazy, but this play was not really built by Jo, and therefore, I was scared. It happens. I actually made my brother read it when I first got it just so I could make sure it wouldn’t ruin my life forever. He read it in two days and assured me I wasn’t walking into a trap. So I read it, even though I felt as if I was going to have a heart attack just thinking about it. I just want you to know, I was wrong, and it’s great. But let me start at the beginning.

It’s been a long journey here. I just finished rereading the original seven books for the first time since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out in 2007. It was rough, and I relived all of the deaths and the hopes and dreams of the millions of people who’ve read and loved this series. When I closed the last book, I picked up this one almost immediately. I’ve had it on standby since it came out.

The first act was rough. Extremely rough. It picks up at the same place the epilogue to Deathly Hallows does, but it changes some of the wording, which rather annoyed me. Beyond that, in the first act, no one felt like themselves. It was all a bit uncomfortable, as if new people were stepping into the skins of our beloved characters and had to stretch them out to make them fit more comfortably. Thankfully everyone became much more themselves in the following three acts. A bit of warning, though, don’t stop reading at the end of the first act. I was actually so pissed off at what was happening that I put the book down for nearly a MONTH, and I almost didn’t pick it back up again. But I am so glad that I did.

Act two was much better, and everyone started acting normally again. Huzzah! I started to see where the storyline was going, and everything became significantly less cringe-worthy. Also, the cliffhanger is pretty marvelous. I did not expect this play to get that colorful, but this…this is some great stuff right here. And the fact that Part One ends there, and if you didn’t buy tickets for Part Two you are just screwed is just bloody brilliant on Jack’s part. (Can I get a round of applause for Jack Thorne please?)

Act three. We pick up a few days after the end of act two, and it’s still pretty awesome. The plot twists! SO FREAKING AMAZING. Somehow, I did not see it coming. I’m an idiot sometimes. I had to stop at the end of act three because I was babysitting and the baby woke up, but I was dying to read act four.

Seriously, act four was super action packed, and super heartfelt, and just ALL OF THE FEELINGS. So, SO good. Did I mention how glad I am that I picked this up again? I was so beyond worried that everyone was going to stay wonky that I didn’t want to finish it and then they all went and became awesome and saved the world again. However, I’m still not 100% sure who the cursed child is supposed to be, nor do I completely understand how the cover art plays into the storyline. But who cares, it’s magical and intriguing and exactly what I should have expected from J.K. Rowling. I am sorry I ever doubted you, Joanne. It won’t happen again.

If act one hadn’t been so weird, I would probably give this book 4 stars, but alas, act one kind of, well, it sucked. The other three acts more than make up for it, though, so I tried not to penalize it too badly. Also, and I understand it would have been way too much work to include them all, but I really missed many of my favorite secondary characters, and I wanted to know more about Ginny’s life outside of being a wife and mother. So, no five stars for you. Sorry.

HHC Rating: 3 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Book #2 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Book #3 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Book #4 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Book #5 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Book #6 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Book #7 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Fantastic Beasts #1 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7) – J.K. Rowling

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Source: Goodreads

Harry James Potter is about to turn 17. He’ll finally be a full-fledged wizard, legally allowed to cast spells outside of school. He’s also leaving home for the last time. The magic that protects him at the Dursley’s ends the night of his birthday, and he’ll be free game for any dark wizards who wish him harm. With a whole list of things to do before he can even attempt to face-off with Lord Voldemort and stand a chance of surviving, Harry will make some of the toughest choices of his life.

This book. THIS BOOK. Oh my goodness. When I first read it (9 years ago) in 2007, it was July, and I had just finished my freshman year of high school. We always pre-ordered the Harry Potter books because if you didn’t it was sold out for like a month, and by then everyone had already told you what had happened. So, on the morning of July 21st (or it might even have been the 20th. They sometimes delivered a day early back then because there were just too many copies that had to be shipped out.) it just happened that no one was around except me when the UPS man arrived. I took the package and sprinted up to my room, where I closed the door, tore the book out of the box and immediately started reading. I didn’t even bother telling anyone it had come, because when the previous book arrived my mom and brother had started trading it back and forth to read it, and I had had to wait through an entire agonizing week of listening to them talk about it before I was allowed to read it. Their reasoning was that I read too slowly. So this was a combination of excitement, straight up selfishness, and maybe even a wish for revenge.

I hid the book under my pillows whenever anyone came into my room (thank goodness they always knocked so I had time to hide it), and I only left to use the bathroom or attend meals. It was summer. I didn’t have responsibilities. In the end, it took me about 36 hours to read the entire 759-page novel, and I don’t think I slept more than 3-4 hours. It was worth it. Not just because I loved the book, but also because the look on my brother’s face when I knocked on his bedroom door and handed him the book whilst saying, “Here you go, I just finished it.” when he didn’t even know it had arrived yet was PRICELESS.

Of course, I’ll have to argue about whether I read the whole book in 36 hours or not for the entire rest of my life, but who cares. I know I  did it, and that’s all that matters. And they thought I read too slowly. HA!

So, clearly, you can see how much I love this series. The first book came out in 1998 in the U.S.A., when I was just 6 years old, and my mom read them to us the next year, so we read books 1 & 2 back-to-back before eagerly awaiting the publication of book 3. For all intents and purposes, I learned to read with the Harry Potter books. Those 10 years of my life were incredibly magical because of them, and don’t even get me started on going to see the films. I was that child that immediately poked holes in all of the book/film differences the second we left the theater, to the point where my family banned me from speaking for the entire rest of the day after we saw the last three movies. I’m a pretty diehard fan.

Rereading this series has been pretty magical, too. There’s nothing like reading it for the first time, not knowing what’s coming, but reading it a second time is pretty amazingly wonderful also. I really appreciate all of the secondary characters a lot more now. Everyone is human to me, even Hannah Abbot who we hear about a total of maybe three times in the whole series. When I first read the books, and the films came out, I desperately wanted to be Hermione. To the point where I wanted to hate Emma Watson for getting the part, even though I was only 8 when the casting happened and was too young (and not anywhere near British enough) to try out. Hermione was smart, she was pretty (but not too pretty), and she had great friends. During my reread, though, I found that I identified a lot less with Hermione, and a lot more with Ginny. She’s quiet, she’s fierce, she’s determined, and yet she can still be silly in love sometimes, like when she sent Harry the singing valentine in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Her peaceful courage and undying loyalty are two of my favorite things about her, and I identify so hard with that. I’m even considering dying my hair red, though not exclusively because of my admiration for Ginevra Molly Weasley. I’ve been thinking about it a lot longer than I’ve been rereading the series.

Still, reading the first 300 pages of this book was agony. And trying to stop reading it is like wearing a Horcurx, or asking a dementor to please follow you around every second of the day while you wait to find out the fates of your favorite characters. It feels like there’s not a whole lot going on, and in the movie it doesn’t look like there’s a whole lot happening, but it is. Inside of you, the reader, and inside the characters. Everyone is rising to the challenge, marking off their to-do lists and gearing up for war. All 759 pages are needed because that’s how long it takes for you to be ready to fight the ultimate evil that is Lord Voldemort. That’s how long it takes for your courage to rise to the top, to stamp down your fears, and face the true evil head-on. And after countless deaths that you can still feel, echoing through the years, you are finally prepared for your destiny.

“That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children’s tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped.” pgs. 709-710 (US 2007 Edition)

So, yes. This book is wonderful, amazing, magical… everything you hoped and wished the final Harry Potter book would be. It is also heart-tearing, gut-wrenching, and exhaustingly sad, yet somehow we still love to read it.  This book, I am convinced, is why the series is so beloved to this day. Also, I blew off NaNoWriMo for a day in order to read the last 459 pages because I couldn’t take the waiting any longer. It was worth it.

HHC Rating: 5 stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Book #2 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Book #3 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Book #4 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Book #5 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Book #6 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The Cursed Child – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Fantastic Beasts #1 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay