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  • 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 

    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 

    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 

    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.

  • Jenny Kawecki 2:00 pm on 2016/10/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , funko, , harry potter   

    Decorate Your Bookshelves with These Collectible Harry Potter Figures! 

    The holidays are upon us, and what better way to deck the halls—or your shelves—than with the magic of Hogwarts? We can’t help but want to keep our books company with the entirety of Funko Pop’s Harry Potter collection. With their adorably large heads and charming details, these collectible figurines make the perfect gift for just about anyone—including yourself.

    Harry Potter
    Of course, you’ll want to kick off your collection with the boy wizard who started it all. Doesn’t his hair look perfectly mussed? Don’t you just love his little Gryffindor tie? It’s almost as if he’s really real. (Just kidding. We know he is.) Whether you’re buying him to accompany your precious hardbacks or gifting him to a friend, you can’t go wrong with classic Harry.

    We’ve loved Dobby from the moment he and his tennis-ball eyes appeared in Harry Potter in the Chamber of Secrets, warning Harry not to return to Hogwarts. And there’s nothing, not even stupid old Bellatrix, that can stop us. Here’s our favorite house elf having just been given the most wonderful gift a house-elf can get—a sock! And now you can give the next most wonderful gift: Dobby, holding his newly acquired sock!

    Luna Lovegood
    Luna is our favorite Ravenclaw (not skewed at all by the fact that she’s really one of the only Ravenclaws we ever meet). With her radish earrings and her brave, wand-ready stance and her eyes that have so clearly seen Thestrals, Luna is hands down the only person we want guarding our dirigible plums—and proudly chilling out with the rest of our collection.

    Sirius Black
    Harry’s beloved godfather will live on in our hearts and minds forever. Of course, that’s much easier to say when you’ve got a little statue of Sirius giving you a daily reminder of his scruffy perfection. Go on, try to convince us you don’t know someone who’d love to have him standing watch over their copy of Prisoner of Azkaban. We don’t believe you.

    Harry & the Sorting Hat
    This one is a B&N exclusive you absolutely have to have: nervous little first year Harry anxiously awaiting the announcement of his permanent Hogwarts home. From the detail on the Sorting Hat to the worried gleam in the Boy Who Lived’s eye, this cute little collectible is bound to make a stellar gift for the Harry Potter fanatic in your life. Bonus points if you yell “Gryffindor!” when the wrapping is opened.

    Neville Longbottom
    On to Neville, aka, the Boy Who Suddenly Became Totally Adorable. Seen here lovingly holding Trevor the Houdini-esque toad, Neville is just too cute not to add to your collection. Now if only Funko would make one of Neville holding the sword of Gryffindor in one hand and Nagini’s head in the other, all our action-figure fantasies would be complete.

    Draco Malfoy
    How can you resist this flawless rendition of Draco Malfoy? With that slicked-back hair and what we swear is an arrogant tilt to his chin, you can almost hear him saying, “My father will hear about this.” For all the times you and your friends have wanted to reenact Draco and Harry’s finer moments, this little guy makes an excellent—and essential—addition to the collection.

    Hermione Granger
    Have a wicked smart friend whose brains and tenacity you admire? Just give her this Hermione Granger figure and she’ll understand. From her bushy hair to her practical shoes, the Brightest Witch of Her Age is a must-have for all Harry Potter fans. Besides, you know there’s nothing Hermione would like better than sitting on a bookshelf for the rest of time.

    Fred Weasley
    Brand new to the Harry Potter collection is Fred Weasley, complete with a suitcase (no doubt full of prankish items from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes) and a mischievous glint to his eye. We’ll admit it: it’s hard not to tear up a little when looking at this half of the Weasley twins. But there’s no doubt we want him on our shelves, anyway.

    Who wouldn’t want this huggable giant (well, half-giant) gracing their collection? Just like in the books, Hagrid towers over everyone else, complete with a tiny pink umbrella. All we need is a Buckbeak figure to go with him—and a Fang, and an Aragog, and a Norbert, and okay, basically, Funko needs to release a complete series of Hagrid’s menagerie next.

    The post Decorate Your Bookshelves with These Collectible Harry Potter Figures! appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Elodie 1:00 pm on 2016/10/11 Permalink
    Tags: , harry potter, ,   

    7 Ways Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Ups the Stakes 

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban details Harry’s third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and it brings the story to a whole new level of intrigue, treachery, and page-turning excitement. Why? Because this year at Hogwarts, it’s not all riding broomsticks and casting spells: a notorious mass murderer has just broken out of wizarding prison Azkaban to finish what he started 13 years ago. His target? You guessed it: Harry Potter. Here are just a few ways Prisoner of Azkaban is a series turning point.

    The Marauders. Harry, Ron, and Hermione have a friendship to end all friendships, but before they ever set foot on the grounds of Hogwarts, there was another group of goodhearted troublemakers running the school: the Marauders. The foursome may be gone from Hogwarts, but their legacy lives magically on. The overarching storyline of the Marauders—codenamed Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs—is one of the best in the entire series, and it all begins in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

    New enchanted objects. Harry’s trusty Invisibility Cloak is back, and with it a bunch of brand-new items—like biting textbooks, crystal balls, and the Marauder’s Map, a magical mischief-maker’s guide to every secret passageway in Hogwarts castle, courtesy of the mysterious Marauders themselves. When it winds up in Harry’s possession, shenanigans ensue.

    More magical classes. In addition to Potions, Transfiguration, Charms, Herbology, and Defense Against the Dark Arts, Prisoner of Azkaban gives us a more in-depth peek at the various Hogwarts classes we’d exchange for algebra in a heartbeat—including Divination and Care of Magical Creatures, also known as “trying not to get your hand bitten off by a creature that’s half-horse, half-eagle.”

    Professor Lupin. Remus Lupin is Hogwarts’ savvy new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts. He quickly locks in his reputation as the cool teacher who’s class actually studies practical applications, but beyond that, he’s a fascinating character well-versed in the art of compassion. He genuinely cares about his students, and he’s widely adored by both the characters in Harry’s world and its fans alike. There’s just one hitch: he may or may not be guarding a dark and dangerous secret.

    Hogsmeade. Prisoner of Azkaban introduces us to Hogsmeade, a nearby village that Hogwarts students are allowed to visit on weekends. Whether you’re touring the real-life model at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida, or simply reading about it at home, Hogsmeade is a testament to J.K. Rowling’ superb world-building. Not only does it evoke a vivid mind portrait of every quaint British hamlet you’ve ever seen in movies, but it’s home to some of our very favorite places in the wizarding world, chief among them the Three Broomsticks pub, sweet shop Honeydukes, and Zonko’s Joke Shop.

    Dementors. We learn about a whole slew of magical creatures, but the most notable (and terrifying) is the Dementors. They’re hooded creatures that feed on despair, fear, and doubt, and they serve as a metaphor for all things terrible. But a well-learned wizard can fight Dementors using the Patronus Charm (it’s like a spirit guardian fueled by hope and happy memories), and the existence of the Patronus speaks to one of the larger thematic elements of the novel—namely that despair, fear, and doubt can be overcome.

    It’s J.K. Rowling’s favorite book. Okay, so she said it’s “one of” her favorites, but she had seven brilliantly penned, life-changing novels to choose from, so that’s saying something.

    The post 7 Ways Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Ups the Stakes appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

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