Sticky: I’m looking for Harry Potter fans! [Harry Potter Month]

Okay all, so I have this idea, but I need some help for it…Inspired by Rinn’s sci-fi month, (which I LOVED participating in) I’ve decided to take the plunge and try and organise a blog event for something I’m a huge fan of – Harry Potter. So, this is the announcement/gauging interest post for….

Harry Potter month
July 2014

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Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell)

Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell)Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published by Macmillan on 10-09-2013
Genres: Contemporary, Girls & Women, New Adult, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?  Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Readability: ★★★★★

Cath and Wren are twin sisters, who until now have done everything together, including write hugely successful Simon Snow fanfiction.  Now that they’re going off to college though, Wren wants them to be a little more independent.  She’s slowly become less of a Simon Snow fangirl and she wants to go and have the college experience – and that doesn’t mean sharing a room with her twin.

While Wren bonds with her new roomate Courtney, settles in to the party lifestyle, and generally loves college so far, Cath is finding it a little harder to adjust.  She’s always been the quieter twin, and she’d really rather stay in her room and write than try to figure out the chaos that is the dining hall.  Not to mention that her roomate sort of seems to think she’s a freak, and that Cath is worried about her father, who’s alone for the first time and hasn’t always had the most stable mental health.

“There are other people on the Internet. It’s awesome. You get all the benefits of ‘other people’ without the body odor and the eye contact.”

Do you know how sometimes, a book just clicks with you, and you aren’t quite 100% sure why?  When you love a book, but can’t decide on the exact thing that takes it from a four or five star read to “Keep, recommend, re-read a thousand times” status?

When I first finished Fangirl, it was one of those books, but I think I’ve decided what it is that makes Fangirl a new favourite.  It’s not the plot, the characters, the romance or the writing (all of which I loved) – it’s the combination of those things, and the way that Rowell makes everything so easy to relate to.  I texted countless quotes from this to my partner and friends.  I want to buy everyone close to me a copy and say “THIS. THIS IS HOW MY BRAIN WORKS!”. 

Rainbow Rowell has managed to capture the fears of starting college perfectly.  She manages to include the little things like worrying about proper dining room protocol and the endless train of what ifs – like what if my roomate wants her boyfriend to stay here overnight?  On top of the little things, there are the bigger concerns, like her relationship with her sister, worrying about her father, and keeping up with both her work load and her Simon Snow stories.  And of course, there’s the romance!  Rowell has perfectly encapsulated Cath’s fears, and I think they’re something everyone (even those not as anxious as Cath) can understand.

“I’d rather pour myself into a world I love and understand than try to make something up out of nothing.”

The plot line is basically a coming-of-age story, with Cath adjusting to college, worrying that Wren is maybe adjusting a bit too enthusiastically, the twins’ relationship, their new love interests, and their’ father’s instability.  What really makes the story, is the characters.  Cath and Wren are very relatable, in totally different ways.  Although there will be times when one or the other baffles you (as their behaviour is sometimes pretty opposite, logic says you won’t always love both!), there will also be moments you can completely relate to.  Whether it’s hitting the party lifestyle or holing up in your bedroom, Rowell has captured the sometimes slightly skewed adjustment of first year students.

I freely admit, not only did I love Fangirl, but it also reminded me how much I love fanfiction, and being a crazy fangirl about the things that are important to me.  You know those quotes people always pin about being a geek? (You know the ones, the John Green and the Will Wheaton quotes and so on).  Fangirl is like an entire book that says the same things: that being enthusiastic is okay.  Not just okay in fact, but fun.  That being a geek makes you you, and the important people will understand if you absolutely need to go to a midnight release or spend hours reading every Game of Thrones conspiracy theory or whatever else it is you want to do to celebrate whatever you’re passionate about.

 

“What’s that thing you wrote about Simon once, that his eyes followed Baz ‘like he was the brightest thing in the room, like he cast everything else into shadow’? That’s you. You can’t look away from him.”

While I liked Eleanor and Park, I loved Fangirl. I loved the characters, the slow-building romance, the snippets of Simon Snow stories that made it feel like a real fandom.  I loved that Rowell had included sex, and partying hard, and plagiarism concerns, that the girls didn’t always get along perfectly and that Cath was anxious and geeky without being a pushover.   It’s never explicit, and yet it doesn’t shy away from those real concerns, those things that happen at college.  I think the reason Fangirl stands out, to me, is because it doesn’t feel like a cookie cutter version of something else; it’s unique, and it’s relatable.  It reads like it could literally be a story about one of the bloggers you follow.

Buy it? Definitely one worth buying – a new favourite.
In a nutshell: Fantastically relatable characters, a perfect reflection into starting college and the mind of a fangirl.

Other Reviews of Fangirl: Wondrous Reads | Daisy Chain Book Reviews | Recovering Potter Addict

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Review: Why My Love Life Sucks (Shevi Arnold)


Review: Why My love Life Sucks Amazon| Goodreads


Summary (From Amazon.co.uk)
Seventeen-year-old super tech geek Gilbert Garfinkle knew the future was going to be perfect, because he was going to invent it himself. He had it all planned. But a funny thing happened on the way to the future… Amber is the most beautiful girl he’s ever met, way out of his league. He can’t understand why she asks to go home with him, asks him to sit next to her on his vintage Star Wars sheets, and starts kissing him. Now once bitten and twice terrified out of his brilliant mind, Gilbert lies alone in his room in the dark, paralyzed, and pondering life’s ultimate question: “Why me?” WHY MY LOVE LIFE SUCKS—book one of THE LEGEND OF GILBERT THE FIXER—is the humorous science-fiction novel that proves it takes the ultimate geek to be the ultimate hero.

You can read an excerpt of Why My Love Life Sucks here

Author: Shevi Arnold
Length: 340 pages
Source: Copy provided by the author
Publication Date: February 1st, 2013

Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★

My opinion:
Why My Love Life Sucks follows Gilbert Garfinkle, a loveable geek who meets a gorgeous girl, Amber, who turns out to be a vampire.  The story begins with Gilbert getting bitten, and both flashes back to how that happened, and how he deals with it afterwards.  After Amber turns him, Gilbert not only has to try and pick up the pieces of his shattered dreams, he also has to try and figure out how he’s going to put up with Amber.  Amber’s seriously hot, but that isn’t helping him any, since she has awful taste in men and wants to be BFF’s.  She’s also somewhat impulsive, seemingly shallow and infuriates him to no end!

Why My Love Life Sucks is not the sort of thing I would normally pick up, because I rarely read humour (doesn’t that make me sound boring), and because while I do read paranormal, it would never have occurred to me to look for a funny vampire story!  However, Why My Love Life sucks genuinely had me chuckling while I read it.  Filled with witty dialogue and geeky references, it’s not only funny, it’s funny in a way that makes you feel good about yourself!  There’s the occasional humour from the situations Gilbert finds himself in, but there’s also lots of inside jokes and one liners that had me elbowing my other half to say “Listen to this…” regularly.

Gilbert is very definitely a geek – he fixes arcade game machines as a hobby, has various pieces of customised computer gadgetry and he’s a Star Trek fan.  Having said that, Why My Love Life Sucks, is not at all elitist, it’s very relatable and not just for the hardcore geeks.  Gilbert’s witty, and funny, and it’s not the sort of geek humour that has you cringing on behalf of the characters.  It’s more the sort of humour that makes The Big Bang Theory so popular (and there’s even a reference or two).

Why My Love Life Sucks is written in first person, from Gilbert’s point of view, which is something I was a bit wary of at first. However, it’s that first person perspective that makes Gilbert such a success.  It helps build Gilbert up into a very convincing, likeable, three-dimensional character very quickly, and his voice continues convincingly throughout the whole book – you really do feel like you’re getting inside his head.

Amber was refreshing as a YA character – yes she was gorgeous, but she was also quite insecure, and had some self-worth issues.  This isn’t a character flaw though, but an issue that’s actually addressed throughout the story.

Gilbert is by far the best character, but the smaller characters are worth mentioning to. Gilbert’s family are a little strange. There’s his aloof mother who barely talks to him and insists he calls her by her name, and Uncle Ian, who tries to look out for Gilbert and steps in to act as a sort substitute parent when necessary.  Gilbert’s friends are all likeable and convincing enough.  Dylan, his best friend, has a very mild sort of Howard Wolowitz (?) vibe going on, but he’s also a good friend to Gilbert, and he gives some great insight into Gilbert’s character.  Dungeon Master Dave (as in Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master, not as in S&M club Dungeon Master) was also a really interesting character, and I enjoyed his conversation with Gilbert (though I can’t say anymore without spoilers).

All in all, Why My Love Life Sucks was a pleasant surprise, with just the right mix of vampire drama and humour.  Was it the funniest book I’ve ever read, probably not, but it was enjoyable, and (as strange as this sounds) it was a really comfortable read. The writing style is very easy to read, and flows nicely.  I found the chapters a great length; short enough that I felt confident reading “just one more” even with limited time, but long enough that they did move the story forward.  The pop-culture references and Gilbert’s witty monologue drew me in more than the plot itself, but I’m definitely still curious about book 2.

Buy it? I don’t know if I’d buy the paperback (it’s currently £7 and that’s pretty much always out of my budget), but I’d be happy to buy the Kindle version (currently £1.91).
In a nutshell: A promising start to a new series, pleasantly surprising and genuinely funny.

Drinking Game: Harry Potter Ring Of Fire

If you like this post, you may also like The Hunger Games Ring of Fire!

 
So you might recall the rules for Ring of Fire a few months ago – this is exactly the same game, only with a Harry Potter twist. It originated on facebook, but here are the rules for those of you who haven’t tried it yet! (Full disclaimer: we’ve just put our spin on the original rules, available on Facebook, and added instructions etc)

We definitely don’t play this as much as regular ring of fire (mainly because rule 2 is harsh when so many girls are in dresses!) but it still gets played when we want to change things up, or on nights when we’re not going out afterwards.

Name: Harry Potter Ring of Fire/Goblet of Fire
You’ll need: 1 deck of cards & 1 empty glass/jug. A wand for each player minus one – we use spoons usually. One soft ball or ball of socks to be the Quaffle. Each player also needs a drink.
To set up: Place the empty glass or jug in the middle of the floor or table. After house-sorting, spread the cards face down around it. Place the wands somewhere central too!

The premise: Exactly the same as regular ring of fire: each card has a meaning, take turns drawing the cards and acting out their meanings. The biggest one to remember is the King – if you draw one of the first three, add some of your drink to the centre. If you draw the final one – drink the mix!

House sorting:
Take a random card each, the suit determines your house. Remember your house, then slot the cards back together, shuffle and spread around the central cup.
– Hearts: Gryffindor
– Spades: Slytherin
– Clubs: Hufflepuff
– Diamonds: Ravenclaw

The rules:
A – Voldemort- You become Voldemort and must now be referred to as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named or You-Know-Who. If anyone calls you by your name they must do one finger.

2 – Dobby the House Elf – Everyone in your house has to swap one item of clothing with someone from another house for the rest of the game. Anyone who refuses does three fingers. Anyone who receives an item of clothing has to do two fingers.  We usually play it that you can’t refuse twice in a row or more than once per game depending on how many layers people have! [Items that do not count: Shoes, jewellery, hairbands etc]

3 – Veritaserum- You become High Inquisitor and everyone not in your house is required to drink. You then take turns in a circle to ask a “Never Have I Ever” question each until you get back to the High Inquisitor.  Anyone who has done the offending item has to drink. This round can be lethal, especially if there’s a lot of player.  For a variation, we sometimes play it with five lives.  For each item you’ve done you lose a life, the first to lose all five lives dies and has to drink half their drink.  This is quicker than going all the way around the circle if there’s a big group!

4 – Felix Felicis – This is basically a get out of jail free card and can be saved for any point in the game. When someone plays a card against your house, you can use Felix to turn it against another person from another house.  You have to take a gulp of your drink (literally taking one for the team!) and it can’t be used against the final king.

5 – Unbreakable Vow- This is the same as Mate from standard Ring of Fire.  You form the unbreakable vow with someone in your house meaning whenever they drink, you drink and whenever you drink they drink.

6 – Chocolate Frog card – You know that game where you have to think of someone with a first name beginning with the first letter of the last person’s surname? (And isn’t that a difficult sentence?) For this round you play that game with Harry Potter characters until someone gets stuck.  They then drink and the next person draws a card. For example, “Hermione Granger, Gregory Goyle, George Weasley”…etc etc.

7 – Expelliarmus- The last person to grab a wand and shout expelliarmus drinks (the fact there is one wand less than people prevents arguments of “I definitely shouted before him”, “No I definitely shouted before her” etc etc.)

8 – Room of Requirement- You and anyone in your house can leave the room to go to the toilet or kitchen etc. If it’s a huge game, we sometimes allow the card holder to extend the invitation to one other house as well

9 – Quidditch- When this card is picked you get the quaffle.  You can choose to throw it at someone from another house at any point during the game until a 9 is drawn by someone else. If the target doesn’t catch it they drink, if they do you drink.

10 – Penseive- Copies the last card that was picked

J – Sorting Hat Card- everyone in the corresponding house drinks (Jack of Clubs= all hufflepuff drink)

Q – Bellatrix – Bellatrix has the power to cast three Crucios at any time (until someone else becomes Bellatrix). Each Crucio must be cast on a different person and requires that person to drink two fingers.

K – First three, add some drink to the centre. Final king, drink the middle!

Other optional rules from the original Facebook rules:
1. Whenever someone does something you can relate to a word rhyming with Dumbledore, they must do a finger. Eg. If someone talks too quietly, shout MUMBLEDORE! at them. If someone is moaning about drinking shout GRUMBLEDORE! at them. Other variations include Fumbledore, Tumbledore, Stumbledore etc.

2. Gryffindors can’t talk to Slytherins. If this occurs both people must do one finger.

What I’m packing: Electronics & Entertainment

I should warn you, this list will probably seriously emphasise my geekiness.  This is all the stuff I’m taking terms of electronics & entertainment.

Part 1. Work Electronics

  • PC
  • Printer
  • Laptop
  • Memory Stick

Obviously I’ll have all the associated cables too.  The PC is because I’m a Sims fan, and running it takes more power than my laptop can comfortably handle!   I very rarely use my laptop, it’s just for the occasional time I want to take it into university.

 

Part 2. Fun Electronics

  • PC games
  • Xbox and games
  • Gameboy

This is my really geeky section!  I bought the gameboy on ebay (one of the folded SP ones) with a Pokemon game for about £10. It’s great to throw in my bag for when lecturers are late and so on.  I negotiated to get the Xbox free with my contract so that I could give the Kinect it came with to my other half for Christmas.


Part 3. Other entertainment

  • Books
  • DVDs / TV shows
  • Board game
  • Deck of cards

I do know people who take a huge amount of books, but I’m trying not to. Partially because they take up packing space, and partially because there’s nowhere convenient to store them at uni.  I’m limiting myself to a maximum of 20 or so.  In terms of DVDs, I don’t honestly own very many!
Last year, everyone in my house took a board game, and we used them for nights when everyone was feeling lazy and just wanted to chill out together! I’m going to take Articulate this year if I can find it cheaply somewhere.  The deck of cards is an essential for drinking games, and it’s worth having a cheap spare set for when others get lost or ruined from spilled drinks.

What do you take to uni in terms of electronics and entertainment? Anything I’ve forgotten?  Feel free to add your suggestions!