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  • Elodie 2:00 pm on 2016/12/20 Permalink
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    5 Reasons Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a Newbie Reader’s Best Way Into the Wizarding World 

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    Longtime fans have been clamoring to see Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on the big screen ever since its announcement, on the heels of a long dry spell for Potter cinephiles. But the movie isn’t just a sparkling, often dark addition to the canon for those who already love J.K. Rowling’s brand of narrative magic—it’s also a new reader’s perfect introduction to the wizarding world. If you’ve never read Harry Potter and are wondering if you should climb aboard the bandwagon, here’s why you absolutely should, and why Fantastic Beasts is the best place to start.

    1. You can dip your toes in first.
    Once you’re hooked on Rowling, seven books (and one script book) in the Potter series won’t seem like enough. But coming in cold, it might look like a hefty commitment for a newcomer. If you’re looking to test the waters before diving in, Fantastic Beasts is the way to go. The film features a practically new character in Newt Scamander, a magical creature enthusiast who eventually goes on to write one of Harry Potter’s school textbooks and has plenty of misadventures along the way. Bonus: the movie isn’t an adaptation of a novel, meaning you can see it without invoking the ire of book purists, and you won’t be missing out on anything. Score!

    2. It won’t give anything away.
    Fantastic Beasts takes place in 1920s New York City—about seventy years before the events of the Harry Potter saga. Needless to say, you’ll be safe from spoilers. (It won’t be like trying to navigate Twitter after the latest Game of Thrones episode, for instance.)

    3. But that doesn’t mean Fantastic Beasts is entirely unrelated to the larger Harry Potter series.
    Fantastic Beasts is set in the same richly textured world as the series that first captivated readers over 15 years ago—which means Newt uses many of the same magical spells as Harry, that institutions (like the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) exist in both stories, and certain characters even pop up in each. However, elements are incorporated so seamlessly (and familiar names dropped so casually) that Potter newbies won’t feel left out.

    4. It will leave you wanting more.
    Which is perfect. Fantastic Beasts is the first of five (yes, five!) movies, so you’re all set there. And if you’re interested in the nuances and finer details of the wizarding world—more than what the quick-paced, rollicking good time that is Fantastic Beasts delivers onscreen—then we can think of seven books you might like.

    5. You’ll still have the whole Harry Potter series to look forward to.
    Most Potter fans would like nothing more than to be able to go back and reread the series again for the best time. It’s not one of the biggest bestsellers of all time for nothing. After falling for Rowling’s world in Fantastic Beasts, you’ll be in the uniquely enviable position of having basically prepared your mind to be blown. Because trust us when we say this: the Harry Potter saga is life-changing.

    The post 5 Reasons Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a Newbie Reader’s Best Way Into the Wizarding World appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Elodie 2:00 pm on 2016/12/06 Permalink
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    7 Reasons Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Is the Best Literary Finale of All Time 

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    In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it comes down to Harry to defeat Lord Voldemort once and for all. He and best friends Ron and Hermione must decode cryptic clues left for them by Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore—all while being hunted by evil wizards in the midst of an ongoing war—to make one last stand for the side of good in the wizarding world.

    This book marks the final chapter in a beloved, boundary-breaking saga, so it’s fair to say expectations were high. But worry not—J.K. Rowling rose to the occasion magnificently. In its joy and heartbreak and sheer storytelling magic, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the best denouement in the history of literature, full stop. Here’s why.

    It’s the first book in the series to take place outside of Hogwarts.
    The series’ first six installments rarely stray from their beloved formula, in which Harry finishes out a deadly summer break with the Dursleys before setting out for another year at literature’s most iconic wizarding school, where he dabbled in world-saving in between Potions classes. But in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, he finds himself unmoored from the place he’s come to call home—which is what makes his inevitable return to Hogwarts’ ground toward the end of the novel all the more powerful.

    The whole thing is an emotional rollercoaster.
    It’s a showdown between good and evil; of course there are going to be casualties. Voldemort is seeking a way to secure immortality, and he’s leaving a trail of death and destruction (and the neverending tears of everyone reading along at home) in his wake.

    It dares ask the question, “What if this story doesn’t have a happy ending?”
    The fates of Harry and Voldemort have always been linked. And in the eleventh hour, Harry is forced to confront a very difficult truth, one he has known for years—that just because he and Voldemort are fated to clash, it doesn’t mean Harry is fated to win.

    It ties up loose ends.
    In a seven-book saga, tying up loose ends is no mean feat—and what’s even more impressive is that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows does it in a way that feels both fresh and revelatory and utterly right.

    It rewards longtime fans.
    Over the course of the Harry’s journey, we’re able to revisit key places and hark back to notable moments from previous books. Rowling begins this book with a heartfelt dedication to her readers (“and to you, if you have stuck with Harry until the very end”), and she really, truly means it.

    That said, it’s also a literary achievement unto itself.
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a rousing culmination of seven books’ worth of page-turning plot, but it doesn’t rely solely on its previous installments to wow you. There are new characters, new dangers, and new twists to keep you guessing.

    It’s a satisfying conclusion to a much-loved series.
    Whether you grew up with Harry or are just reading the books now, you’ll thrill to witness Harry’s transformation from “11-year-old orphan who doesn’t know what a magic wand is” to “17-year-old action hero who chooses his own destiny.”Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows not only brings that coming of age tale full circle, but it also ensures that this expertly crafted world of wizardry will stay with you far beyond the final page.

    The post 7 Reasons Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Is the Best Literary Finale of All Time appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Elodie 2:00 pm on 2016/11/29 Permalink
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    8 Spells, Potions and Objects in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince That Will Make You Wish Magic Was Real 

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    Behind every fictional bad guy is the dark and troubled past that made him this way. Lord Voldemort of the Harry Potter series (aka, the most villainous villain to ever villain) is no exception. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry plumbs the depths of his archenemy’s life story—and discovers Voldemort may in fact have a fatal flaw after all.

    Needless to say, it’s not just another year at Hogwarts. And while we wouldn’t trade places with Harry for a second (unprepared as we are to take on an evil wizarding overlord), we can’t help but wish we had some of the magical spells, potions, and objects he gets to use along the way. Here are just a few that give us serious enchantment envy.

    The potion: Felix Felicis
    What it does: It’s liquid luck! Though the effects only last a few hours, you’ll succeed in everything you try. Harry uses this in the ongoing crusade to suss out Voldemort’s weakness, but think how useful it would be during a final exam, job interview…or the lottery.

    The spell: Muffliato
    What it does: It fills the ears of everyone in the vicinity with an undetectable buzzing sound, so private conversations can be held without being overheard. Harry discovers this spell, among many others, scribbled in the margins of an old Potions textbook—they seem to have been invented by someone who calls themselves the “Half-Blood Prince.”

    The object: A Canary Cream
    What it does: This might look like your average, everyday custard cream, but when eaten, it briefly transforms the consumer into a canary. The holidays are coming up. You can’t tell us this wouldn’t be a big hit at Thanksgiving dinner, either as a conversation starter or as a way to change the subject when your relatives start asking about your future, or why you aren’t dating anyone.

    The object: The Hand of Glory
    What it does: It’s an instrument that gives light only to the holder. With this tool at your disposal, bothering other people with the light of your cell phone as you struggle to find a seat in a dark movie theater would be a thing of the past. Draco Malfoy, who as usual appears to be up to something nefarious, might just be using his Hand of Glory to a more sinister end.

    The spell: Aguamenti
    What it does: It causes water to shoot from the tip of one’s wand. If this were real, we’d be using it all the time, either for refills when we’re thirsty or to shoot jets of water at unwitting friends.

    The object: The Pensieve
    What it does: It’s a handy item that allows you to deposit your memories into a container and then reexamine them at your leisure. Harry, alongside Hogwarts headmaster Professor Dumbledore, uses this to explore the memories of those who knew Voldemort growing up. Most people would probably use it to figure out where they left their wallet, but defeating a Dark Lord is pretty good, too.

    The object: A Skiving Snackbox
    What it does: Everyone fakes sick to get out of doing things. Everyone. What’s often missing is the authenticity factor. The Skiving Snackbox is a magical product developed by twin entrepreneurs Fred and George Weasley, and is one of four treats designed to make you just sick enough to get out of school, work, or your great-aunt’s 90th birthday party. We recommend the Fever Fudge rather than the Puking Pastille or the Nosebleed Nougat, though there’s something to be said for the Fainting Fancy.

    The object: 10-Second Pimple Vanisher
    What it does: Self-explanatory. This is another product courtesy of Fred and George, and we think we speak for all of us when we say…where is the real-life equivalent? We can put a man on the moon and invent cars that drive themselves, but we haven’t yet devised a way of getting rid of acne instantaneously? What’s up with that?

    The post 8 Spells, Potions and Objects in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince That Will Make You Wish Magic Was Real appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Elodie 2:00 pm on 2016/11/15 Permalink
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    7 Magical Quotes from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 

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    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a phenomenal read. It explores the increasingly troublesome notion that Voldemort—the wizarding world’s big bad—has returned. How do you convince the world an evil dictator is back in action when they’re all much happier believing the opposite? How do you defeat a villain when everyone (including the government) is in denial?

    J.K. Rowling handles those questions with tale-spinning aplomb—and with her characteristic mastery of language. Order of the Phoenix has the kind of quotes you want to wear on a T-shirt or stitch on a throw pillow. Here are just a few of our favorites.

    “Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure.”
    This is the motto of Ravenclaw house. Students are divvied up into one of four houses upon arrival at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, including Hufflepuff, Slytherin, and Harry’s own house, Gryffindor. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the first book to see Harry and his friends really mixing with students from the other houses, which they do in the interest of fighting back against Voldemort.

    “Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.”
    These words of wizardly wisdom come from Hogwarts’ elderly (as in, well over 100) headmaster Albus Dumbledore, who understands that while Harry may be a wizard, he’s also a teenager. He’s juggling classes, Quidditch, and a steady stream of ludicrous school gossip—you know, the typical woes and worries of being 15 years old, except with less “learning how to parallel park” and more “trying not to get murdered by your mortal enemy.”

    “Ron, just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.”
    Okay, so it’s not all doom and gloom and evil wizards; Rowling throws in a dash of teenage romance for good measure. It should come as no surprise that Harry and best friend Ron are pretty much hopeless when it comes to girls—forcing Hermione to step in with a few choice words.

    “Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”
    Things at Hogwarts get bleaker by the day as Professor Umbridge, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, imposes an oppressive regime upon the school. One of literature’s most detested characters, this chirpy bureaucrat is the human equivalent of stubbing your toe. This quote’s can-do wisdom comes to Harry from Ron’s sister, Ginny, who takes it upon herself to remind him all is not yet lost.

    “Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.”
    These words from wonderfully whimsical Hogwarts student Luna Lovegood are comforting whether you’ve lost a friend, a family member, or something trivial, like your car keys. We don’t want to spoil the book or anything, but, well, Harry doesn’t lose his car keys.

    “And from now on, I don’t care if my tea leaves spell die, Ron, die—I’m just chucking them in the bin where they belong.”
    Okay, this one’s just funny. The fortune-telling side of magic is given more weight as the novel goes on, but we always get a kick out of seeing Harry and Ron goofing off in their Divination class as if it’s no more engaging than Pre-calc or Sociology 101.

    The post 7 Magical Quotes from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Elodie 1:00 pm on 2016/11/01 Permalink
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    8 Ways Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Goes Wonderfully Dark 

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    The much-loved Harry Potter series may start off with a bunch of lighthearted magical shenanigans, but by the time we hit book number four, things take a turn for the serious. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry finds himself competing in the Triwizard Tournament, a dangerous competition that pits contestants from three wizarding schools against each other in a trio of increasingly treacherous magical competitions. The thing is, he didn’t sign up for this—someone else entered his name. Possibly someone with a dark purpose and a larger plan in mind.

    So how exactly do things get dark in the fourth chapter in Harry’s story? Let us count the ways.

    1. We meet the Death Eaters.
    We already knew there were people who supported Voldemort (the wizarding world’s resident big bad) back when he was powerful. Now we have a name for them, and it’s chilling: the Death Eaters. And it looks like there are still some living among the masses in secret.

    2. It gives us a feel for the First Wizarding War.
    Harry defeated Voldemort when he was just a baby. But before that, Voldemort’s rise to power was littered with panic, confusion, and mysterious deaths aplenty—and suddenly that dark period is at the front of everyone’s minds.

    3. It pits Muggles vs. wizards.
    Voldemort’s is driven by a belief that wizards and witches are superior to Muggles (non-magical people) and Muggleborns (witches or wizards with non-magic parents—like Hermione Granger). The events of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire put this conflict front and center, forcing everyone to choose where their loyalties lie.

    4. The Triwizard Tournament could be deadly.
    Hogwarts is no stranger to danger. But now that the school is hosting a magical tournament that was discontinued for 200 years after the death toll got out of hand, the stakes are higher than ever.

    5. The arrival of Professor “Mad-Eye” Moody.
    Harry’s new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor used to be an Auror (basically, the wizarding world’s equivalent of a federal marshal), whose entire job involved catching dark wizards. What we’re saying is, he’s a gruff and eccentric oddball who has seen some stuff, and he’s not shy about letting his students know it.

    6. We learn that magic isn’t all fun and games.
    The imminent threat of rising dark forces throws some of the uglier realities of the wizarding world into sharp relief. Between the Unforgivable Curses—the only three spells punishable by life in wizarding prison Azkaban—and the fates of those who wound up on the wrong side of the Death Eaters all those years ago, we’re given an unpleasant look at what wizards are capable of doing to each other (besides just turning each other’s quills into ravens).

    7. The book puts Harry’s orphanhood into fresh perspective.
    Harry lost his parents the very night he inadvertently defeated Voldemort. He was a baby; he never really knew them. But now that he might be in over his head with this whole “death tournament” thing, it could not be more obvious that what Harry wants—what he really wants—is a parent.

    8. The story is rife with themes of loss. Now, no spoilers, but we may or may not lose a character or two this time around. We DID tell you Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is when things get really real. The events of this novel in particular have far-reaching consequences that have a major effect on the rest of the series—right up to the brand-new two-part play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

    The post 8 Ways Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Goes Wonderfully Dark appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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