Archive for the 'Harry Potter' Category

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter….also known as My New Home

First off, I would also like to apologize for not posting much lately.  And to inform you that I won’t be posting much at all for a while because I think my internet is going away in a few weeks.  The reason why it’s going away is because I can’t afford to have internet when I keep going on so many trips to amazing places like……


Ever since they announced that there was going to be a theme park, I made it my life’s goal to go there.  I did have to wait over a year after it opened, but I think the timing worked out perfectly.

I went down to Florida with my sister from September 18-24.  We went there to see her friend Zac, swim with dolphins, go to SeaWorld, and chill out at the beach.  But mostly, we just went so we could go to Universal to go to the HP theme park.  Anne was the perfect person to go with because she is just as much of a hardcore fan as I am.  I could talk about all the other fun stuff we did, but I will just focus on the park.

It. Was. Unbelievable.  I knew I would love it, but I didn’t realize just how amazing it would feel to walk through that big stone archway.  The atmosphere inside the park was unforgettable.  There is music from the movies playing everywhere, owl sounds, and moaning myrtle whining away in the toilets.  Anne and I spent at least a couple of hours over two days just sitting in Hogsmeade, sipping Butterbeer (the frozen kind for me) and soaking up the atmosphere.  Yes, the shops and the rides were really fun (we didn’t go on the dragon one because we DON”T do rollercoasters, even Harry Potter ones) but really the best part was just being there, if that makes any sense.

Since I know that Jill is the only Nerdgirl who has been to the park, I thought I would list a few tips for anyone interested in going.  Since we visited the WWoHP 4 times over the course of two days, I feel like it is my second home.

1–Go during Mid-September!!!!  This is probably the most important tip of all!!  There were obviously other people in the park, but it was not crowded at all.  We didn’t have to wait for either ride and I never had to wait to buy stuff in the shops or get food.  The only time we really waited in line at all was to get into Ollivander’s wand shop demonstration and that was only for 15 minutes.  We went on Wednesday and Thursday.  Wednesday was the better day because there were a lot more people there on Thursday, but nothing to get too excited about.  The main reason the experience was so awesome was because there were no frustrating lines or big crowds to lose each other.

2–Eat at the Three Broomsticks in late morning or mid afternoon.  To be honest, the real food at the restaurant (lunch and dinner stuff) looked really gross, but that could be the vegetarian talking.  We went around 2:30 and had dessert and drinks and it was fabulous.  Anne had the chocolate trifle and a butterbeer and I had peanut butter strawberry ice cream (straight outta the books) and a delicious Hogshead Brew.  If you get a chance just sit in the Three Broomsticks and look around.  Every once in a while an owl shadow popped up on the wall I was facing, and Anne pointed out a house elf’s shadow along the upstairs hallway.  We would never have noticed them if we had been rushed through the park.

Chocolate Trifle and Frozen Butterbeer

3–If the line is horribly long, skip the Ollivander’s demonstration.  Granted, this was pretty cool, but it wasn’t what I thought at all.  I thought if you waited in line, you got to go in and pick out a wand at Ollivander’s.  This is not the case.  When you go in it is more like a little bit of theater.  A creepy Ollivander comes down from a ladder and picks one person to demonstrate a wand.  It is literally just like in the movie.  Lights flash, shelves open, and boxes pop in and out.  Pretty cool, but nobody really gets a wand.  The wands you can buy are just in the regular shops.

4–Get a postcard and get it stamped with the Hogsmeade postage seal.  You have to do this outside the post office under the big roof with all the owls.  Also, it wouldn’t hurt to have some postcard stamps with you when you go.  Then you can just drop it in a postal box and have the whole process over with.

Inside the wand shop (where you really buy the wands)

5–Use the single riders line for the Hogwarts Forbidden Journey Ride.  The line for this was actually rather long, but using the single riders entrance, Anne and I hopped right on.  But if you do this, you must also do #6.

6–Go back into the castle and ask to just take the tour.  The whole first day we were there we missed out on a huge aspect of the park.  We were talking with Zac and he mentioned something about Dumbledore’s Office and we were like, “What??”  Apparently as you are waiting in the long line for the ride, you travel through the portrait hall, Dumbledore’s Office, the Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom, and the Gryffindor Common Room.  The single riders line does NOT go past this stuff.  So take the short trip around for the ride and then come back for the tour.

7–Beware of the expensive prices!!  I am not ashamed to admit that I spent well over $50 in Honeydukes.  Everything in all of the shops is really pricey, so be prepared to spend.  Also, I was sad that almost everything was Gryffindor and Slytherin, but very few things came in all four houses.  As a Ravenclaw, I was a little perturbed by that.


8–Make sure to take a minute and appreciate it.  Zac couldn’t believe that we spent so much time at a park he said could be done in 2 hours tops.  After you have visited all the shops and done the rides, make sure you take a minute to sit back and appreciate where you are.

I had a fantastic time and will hopefully go back again soon.  Anne and I decided that when we win the lottery we are going to build a replica of the castle and Hogsmeade right here in Iowa.  She wants to live in the castle (too drafty for me) and I can live above one of the shops.  There would also be lots of other openings in Hogsmeade for other lodgers (like the Nerdgirls).

So if you are any kind of Harry Potter fan, make sure you take a pilgrimage to Universal Islands of Adventure and check out the WWoHP because it is worth every penny!


This Movie Trailer Might Make You Pee Your Pants

When I first heard that Daniel Radcliffe was going to star in the movie version of The Woman in Black I was super excited.  I feel a strong connection to that story since I survived seeing the play when I was in London.

Why do I say “survived” seeing the play?  Because the play is freaking terrifying!!  When I was in London, I latched on to a lovely group of theater majors who were also on the trip and we went to a lot of shows together.  I think I went to 12 in all during the three months I was there.  I missed most of the big ones (The Lion King, Wicked, Chicago, etc.) but offhand I remember seeing Les Mis, Stones in His Pockets (the play Dan went to with his parents and met David Heyman for the first time……not a play for kids btw), Mama Mia, Noises Off, Private Lives (with Alan Rickman!!!) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (with Brendan Fraser).  It was easy for us to go to so many plays because if you had a student ID you could get any last minute tickets for super cheap right before the show started.

Well, one evening Josh asked if I wanted to go see The Woman in Black.  I said sure, whatever, because I had no idea what I was getting into.  Not until we got to the theater and I saw all the super creepy posters did I realize that this was a SCARY play.  I figured, “how scary can it be?  It’s a play, it will be so easy to tell that everything is fake!”  I could not have been more wrong.  The Woman in Black is soooooooo terrifying.  I don’t even remember much about the plot, just that this young dude spends some time in this spooky house and a woman in black keeps appearing.  It may sound kind of lame, but trust me, it is anything but.  At one point during the show, the woman actually walked down the main aisle of the theater and everybody screamed bloody murder.  If I hadn’t been safely up in the cheap balcony seats I would have run out into the dark streets of London by myself to escape the horror.

So anyway, enough rambling.  I figured that since I survived the play, the movie would be no problem at all.  Well, after seeing this trailer, I think I am going to skip this movie until I can watch it in broad daylight, surrounded by family and friends and my cats.

Awwwww man!  Why did I have to watch it again??  Now I am going to have nightmares for days.


Edit:  I just found the website for the play!!

Jill Finally Saw Deathly Hallows

Well guys, I finally went to see Deathly Hallows.  I was just getting back from vacation when it came out and didn’t have anyone to see it with, so I wasn’t in a huge rush.  Then I decided I would reread the series and rewatch the movies before going.  Well, I am certainly not as quick a reader as Jen!  As of Friday, I was still working on Order of the Phoenix.  By that point, I was getting really impatient, so I skipped movies 5 & 6 and pushed myself to read/listen to Half-Blood Prince and decided I was going to see the movie after that one.  I figured the book will always be better, so why not just go back and reread Deathly Hallows after seeing the movie?  So that’s what I’m doing.

Anyway, the movie?  It’s been a few hours now and I’m just now able to put things into solid thoughts.  In short, it was amazing.  I wanted to turn around and go see it again, and I don’t generally want to watch something twice in a row.  I’m going to see it again in theaters, I think – possibly in 3D.  (Anyone else see it in 3D?  I figure it’ll be my only chance to.)

My initial thoughts afterward–

– I left the theater feeling a little shaky and very quiet whether from the grief of it all being over, the deaths (Snape in particular) or just low blood sugar (I went at lunchtime).  I still haven’t quite figured what I’m feeling, but I suspect it’s largely sadness that it’s all over.

– The whole film is SO emotional!  Highlights for me include Harry entering the room in Hogwarts from the picture frame with Neville, McGonagall’s preparing the castle for battle, Snape’s flash of memories, and Harry’s resolve to go to Voldemort & his parents, Remus & Sirius with him.  That said, though, I didn’t truly cry at any point.  I got teary a lot, but I think since I was in a room full of strangers, I was able to hold it in.  I kind of wish I’d had a private screening, so I could really let it out.

– The battle scene & the prep for it was spectacular.  I actually was reminded at one point of the huge battle in The Two Towers (even though it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it).  I love a good fight where good is outnumbered but makes up for it in spirit.

– McGonagall is so bad-ass in this film.  I mean, yes a lot of people are incredible, and I’d heard people say McGonagall and Neville are great, but wow.  Another moment where my heart swelled was when everyone was lined up in front of Snape and he’s asking if anyone has anything to say about Harry, when Harry himself steps out.  I honestly couldn’t remember if that was in the book, but I kind of loved it.  And speaking of Snape and feeling emotional — the scene at the very beginning where he’s standing at the top of the castle looking down at the marching students – OMG was his face not PERFECT knowing everything we know about Snape?  Alan Rickman, you ARE Severus Snape.

– The castle being blown up was emotional too.  It’s a little like the scene in the book where Harry leaves the Dursleys’ home – like you’re losing a part of your childhood and officially becoming an adult.  Only way more dramatic.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say after it’s sunk in a little more.  Until then…

– Jill

My Thoughts on Deathly Hallows Part 2

I went to see this movie at midnight and it was a wonderful experience.  I was in line at 3:30 p.m. and it was quite lovely.  I watched a movie, did several word searches and ate a lot of food.  We got great seats and the whole evening was phenomenal.  My poor sister was in Ames and she was nearly trampled to death at her theater.  They wouldn’t let anyone line up until 9:00 p.m., so there was a literal “Wal-Mart on Black Friday” mob running across the parking lot to get in line.  She was the only one from her group who made it into the building so she had to save seats for 12 other people.  Poor thing, she was so traumatized.

Anyway, I have already seen the movie twice and have managed to put together some thoughts (once I mopped up all my tears and stopped whimpering).  It will be filled with spoilery type things, so only click through if you have seen the movie.

Continue reading ‘My Thoughts on Deathly Hallows Part 2’

Recap: Goblet of Fire

Goblet of Fire, to me, is really when the books start crossing into real YA lit area. It’s much darker, thanks to Voldemort. Also, I would argue that Goblet is really when the whole story of Harry Potter begins. The first 3 books could be viewed as exposition. Sure they have real plots and read individually, but in the whole story arc of the series, doesn’t it boil down to Harry vs Voldemort?

Sigh, this book is so good. Right now I’m after the Quidditch World Cup just before the dark mark is conjured. Ron is fantastic. I love him. Evidence: “Another loud bang echoed from the edge of the wood. Let’s just keep moving, shall we?’ said Ron, and Harry saw him glance edgily at Hermione.”

I love Harry & Ron’s fight.  It’s very realistic – Ron would definitely have gotten jealous of Harry’s attention and it was bound to come out somehow.  I also love that they don’t even really apologize – after the dragon task, Harry realizes how upset it made Ron and they get over it.  Boys are so weird.

Also can I just say that the idea of the Pensieve is awesome.  Of all of the magical objects and concepts J.K. created for this series, that is probably one of my favorites.  The only thing I wonder about is if you put a memory in the Pensieve, would you not remember it anymore?  Or do you have a vague memory of it, but the point of the Pensieve is to save the details?  That would be so cool.  I want one.

From the part of the book when the 3rd task begins, all the way to the end, it’s like a race to the finish.  There’s no stopping!  I remember when I read this book for the first time right when it came out.  This was the first big book I had to wait for and when it finally came, I devoured it.  I’m pretty sure I held my breath when the Triwizard Cup became a portkey.  And when Cedric died!  OMG, it was so QUICK.  I think I reread the section because I couldn’t believe it.  I like that it’s so quick though.  She doesn’t drag it out because Wormtail and Voldemort wouldn’t have taken their time with it.  It’s simple: Kill the spare.  I love the whole last section – Dumbledore’s concern, the confession from Crouch, Dumbledore asking McGonagall to get the dog from the pumpkin patch and taking it to his office, Dumbledore asking Snape to do what he must, etc. etc.  This is the book that sets up the rest of the series.  The entire tone of the series changes once Harry and Cedric are taken from the maze via the portkey.


Now I know it would be hard to adapt a gigantic book into a movie, but wow does this one move fast.  They don’t even really set up going to the Quidditch World Cup, let alone show it.  And if you hadn’t read the book, you probably wouldn’t get the Triwizard Tournament.   I’m still a little unsure about Dumbledore.  He practically manhandles Harry after his name comes out of the goblet.  Not a fan – that’s not what the Dumbledore in my head did.

I do like the casting of Mad-Eye Moody and Rita Skeeter.  Woah, it’s been a long time since I’ve watched this movie apparently.  I totally forgot that they say Ron knew about the dragons and didn’t tell Harry.  But in the book, Ron didn’t know and that’s why he ended up getting over being mad at him!  Ugh.

By the way, did anyone else remember how we met Cedric the first time?  He dropped out of a tree.  My mind instantly made a Edward Cullen joke but it could be because I keep picturing the “Robert is bothered” skits from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.  🙂

– Jill

Recap: HP & the Prisoner of Azkaban

Ahh, Prisoner of Azkaban. I love this book because we get background on Lily & James. Voldemort doesn’t appear in any form, which is also a nice break & help prevent the series from seeming too formulaic.

I remember when I read this for the first time. I was babysitting my cousins, one who is also a big fan. I told her how I loved Sirius Black & accidentally ruined the surprise at the end since she hadn’t read it yet. Oops. Sorry, Katie!

There seems to be at least one thing I’ve forgotten about in each book. This time it’s Cho Chang.

One of my favorite things about this book is the introduction of the dementors.  The idea of the dementors is perfect.  I love when J.K. comes up with ideas for why things happen in the Muggle world.  I read that she came up with the idea after she was clinically depressed.  The concept of the dementors who suck the happiness and positive emotions out of you is fascinating…terrifying…and fascinating.

I just whipped through the last few chapters. There’s so much info you want to know, it’s hard to stop. The scene in the Shrieking Shack is so vivid. I’m not a giant fan of the repeated stuff after they go back in time, but I deal with it. All in all, a great book!


A lot of things are different in this movie, since it’s a new director.  I like the darker tone Alfonso Cuarón took with it.  There are a few things I dislike about it though.  For one, the shrunken heads on the Knight Bus.  I HATE them!

I do like a lot of things about this film though:  David Thewlis as Lupin is great, and I think casting Emma Thompson as Trelawney and Gary Oldman as Sirius was *perfect*.  Michael Gambon as the new Dumbledore is good too, but still doesn’t quite match the Dumbledore I have built in my head.  He’s closer than Richard Harris for me, but still isn’t as playful as Dumbledore seems to be in the books.

The dementors are fine with me in this movie, but I know they change as different directors come in, so I’ll have to remember to compare them with other versions.

Ooh, there are several things different from the book!  Maybe I didn’t read the book before anytime I watched the movie?  I really dislike how in the movie Harry’s most powerful happy moment when he’s learning how to conjure a patronus is his parents talking to him.  Um, no.  Harry’s most powerful happy moment is supposed to be when he found out he’s a wizard and is leaving the Dursleys.  Usually if there’s a change from the book, it’s to cut out a secondary plotline or to speed things along – like how Harry sees Peter Pettigrew on the Marauders’ Map and goes looking, which is how Snape gives it to Lupin instead of getting caught in Hogsmeade.  But the change with Harry’s most powerful memory is just really that important, is it?  So why couldn’t it be the same as the book?  It’s really surprising to me since Steve Kloves adapted the book to movie for the first two movies as well, which were very similar.

– Jill

Recap: Chamber of Secrets

Book 2 is starting off as good as I remembered. I think I like it a little better than Sorcerer’s Stone. There’s not as much obvious exposition- just a little more delving into the wizarding world. I had completely forgotten about Floo powder! And this one introduces Dobby (*sob*) and Colin Creevey.

Ooh… you guys… the vanishing cabinet is mentioned!!!!! Chapter 8- Nearly Headless Nick persuades Peeves to drop it over Filch’s office to get Harry out of trouble! Peeves breaks the vanishing cabinet! OMG I had no idea it was even mentioned far back! I am so impressed with J.K.’s ability to tie these things together.

Another thing I love about this book are the mandrakes. They’re so clever and funny! “…in March several of the Mandrakes threw a loud and raucous party in greenhouse 3. This made Professor Sprout very happy. ‘The moment they start trying to move into each other’s pots, we’ll know they’re fully mature.” Hilarious.

Also, has anyone else noticed how Ron is the one to jump to Hermione’s defense all the time? 🙂

So at the end of the book, Harry kind of takes on Lucius Malfoy. He deals with a lot of adults as an equal- not so much like a adult and a 12-year-old. I guess it’s because his parents aren’t around to take him on for him. I suddenly want to write or read critical essays on HP. (Nerd alert!)

I’m not a big fan of the scene in the bookstore- though I do love the part where Draco tears out a page from a book. The movie as a whole is ok. It’s pretty true to the book, which I appreciate, though at times it’s dumbed down a bit & some things aren’t as subtle as they are in the book.

Good things though? Kenneth Branagh is perfect as Professor Lockhart & this is the book/movie where I really started to love Ginny. Lucius Malfoy is also awesome & I’ve watched some of the extras for HP7.1 & he is SO unlike his character.

Ooh sexual tension between Ron & Hermione at the end of this one. Forgot about that. Book 4 was already out by the time the movie was released so I guess they knew it was coming.


Recap: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I’m working my way through a re-reading off the whole series before I see the final movie.  I decided that was the way to do it right. Unfortunately, my reading will not be as quick or as timely as Jen’s was – with my being on vacation last week – but it’s ok.  As long as I can hold off seeing the movie, I’ll make it.

Re-reading the first book is so interesting after finishing the series.  I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve gone back since Deathly Hallows.  I love all of the emphasis on “you’d have to be mad to rob Gringotts.”  I remember reading Sorcerer’s Stone at some point after Prisoner of Azkaban came out and realizing that in the first chapter Sirius was mentioned.  I love how J.K. dropped hints or planted the seed of things we’d learn later.  That’s just brilliant writing (and planning!).

It’s also fun to see Harry, Ron, and Hermione meet at the beginning.  Ron’s dislike of Hermione is so interesting since we know how that ends up.  🙂

I also love that the first chapter is from the Dursleys point of view.  The first people we get an inside look at in the series are the worst kind of Muggles-really some of the antagonists in the series.  It’s so gutsy.  If that didn’t land, people wouldn’t want to keep reading.  But it does.  I know this is nothing new to all of you who love HP.  Re-reading this one really shows how the series evolved from Sorcerer’s Stone to Deathly Hallows.  Just like Harry, the books grow from middle-grade fiction to truly being Young Adult.  I don’t know any other series that really deepens and matures like that.

As much as I love every book in the series, Sorcerer’s Stone is not perfect.  In fact, I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads…which means I liked it.  Re-reading after ending the series makes me see some holes in the magic or timeline that probably wasn’t fleshed out from the beginning – which makes sense.  The magic and awe is definitely still there, but I guess I prefer my books in the YA area since my favorite HP books tend to be the later ones.  We’ll see if any of that changes as I continue reading.

Book-to-Movie Adaptation

The bad:  I know a lot had to be cut out for the movie, but I’m sad one of those things had to be Peeves.  I honestly forgot he existed until I was re-reading the book.  😦  Another thing that bugs me is the scene at the beginning when Hagrid comes to the little hut to get Harry.  It’s a tiny thing but the dialog goes from “Where did you think your mum & dad learned it all?”  “Learned all what?”  “You’re a wizard, Harry.”  In the book, Hagrid is supposed to get angry and turn on the Dursleys before spilling that out.  It just doesn’t flow to me, and it bothers me everytime, but I know it’s picky.

The good:  The acting isn’t quite as bad as I had remembered since it’s the first big movie for so many of the kids.  I think Tom Felton wins the award for best acting for the kids.

On to Chamber of Secrets!

– Jill

It All Ends Thursday.

I have spent the last ten days re-reading the Harry Potter books for what is probably the 12th time (at least for the first four books).  I went through a period of many years when I read them at least twice a year, but I haven’t read them in at least two years.  It was wonderful to jump back into one of my favorite worlds and meet up with my favorite characters again.  I enjoyed reading each and every book, but in different ways than I had in the past, which was interesting.

I first read the books back in November of 2001.  That was almost ten years ago!!!  Back then I was an immature little college sophomore frolicking around London and having the time of my life.  But as soon as I picked up that first book, I completely gave up sightseeing and going to the pub to sit and read in my little room.  I remember being on the tube on my way to the theater or a museum and seeing at least half a dozen people reading Harry Potter.  It was funny to see the ones who tried to hide it by buying the “adult” covers and then the ones who blazenly didn’t care and were reading the kids version.

Ah, memories.  I can remember what I was doing when I read each of the books for the very first time.  I can also remember my first experience seeing each of the movies.  Even when the books ended, we still had three more movies to look forward to, so it was not as sad as it could have been.  Now it is really all going to be over and there is nothing left to look forward to.  (Don’t come back and say anything about Pottermore.  Don’t even get me started on that…..that just seems like a bunch of rubbish to me.  She should have spent her time working on the Encyclopedia, not a stupid website.  J.K. Rowling’s on my list now.)

Anyway, I am really excited to see the movie on Thursday at midnight.  I am lucky enough to be going with a huge group of people, and I will be the first person to get there to hold our spot in line.  I am going to pack my bag pretty soon so I will have everything I need.  Pillows, blankets, laptop with movies, books, headphones, cards, and lots of food are all necessary to survive the wait in line.

That is going to be a great day for me because it is the last day of summer reading programming.  I am going to clean up from my afternoon program as quick as a bunny (Oh man, why did I have to do a glitter project on the last day!!!) and skip out of the library waving my hands in the air and singing the Hallelujah Chorus.  I have already warned people that I will be doing this, so it probably won’t be seen as too odd.  After that, I won’t have to go back to work till the next Wednesday, so I am going to be the happiest girl in the world when those first few credits start to roll.

I will be very happy, but I’m pretty sure I am going to cry through the whole thing, so I should probably add a box or two of Kleenexes to my bag.

Here is a little video to catch everyone up on all the movies, and to show just how much those crazy kids have grown 🙂

Anyway, I hope that all my nerdgirls have similar plans to see the movie and get to see it with good friends.  I wish I could see it with you, but I haven’t learned to apparate yet.


Sooo extremely excited about Pottermore? Yes! but…..


I was soooo thrilled when I first saw the tweet about Pottermore for two reasons: 1. obviously new Harry Potter thingy but also 2. I had a reason to go visit all my old friends over at Leaky and Mugglenet and elsewhere to hear their discussions and see their insider theories!

This is what I read at Leaky:

Leaky has seen a preview of Pottermore and it is breathtaking.

Ummmmm really? REALLY?!

That’s it? THAT IS IT?!

Mugglenet said essentially the same thing.

I would compare what I am feeling now to what it is like when your unicorn turns on you.

WHYYYYYY? I am really really upset about this. I can’t blame them for looking at the preview–who would turn that down? Buuuuuut, it just made me sad. I wanted to feel something similar to what I felt in the years and months leading up to Deathly Hallows–where EVERYONE was wondering and hoping and feeling all at the same time. Instead, the Pottermore excitement crashed into the Whomping Willow. sigh.

Yup, I am seriously all frowny over this! And not because I am jealous that they got to see it before anyone else (because actually that kinda takes the fun out of the surprise, right?), but because they got to see it and thus are SWORN TO SECRECY, they cannot talk about Pottermore AT ALL. ummmmm, doesn’t that kind of suck all the fun out of a fan site? I kind of feel like I was pushed away for not being cool enough.

Me with all the fun sucked out of me. (Image via markopolio-stock of Deviant Art)

Okay, so now I have that off my chest, I will try to go back to being really super excited and hoping and wondering and feeling. Magic is real.