Saturday, 22 October 2016

Re-reading Harry Potter: 1# The Philosopher's Stone

If you've read my blog before, you might know that I'm going to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the end of November. I'm really excited (and also a bit apprehensive) but it still feels like a way off, so I thought to keep in the right mind-set  I'd build up to the big day by re-reading the books from the very beginning. I just finished The Philosopher's Stone (or 'Sorcerer's' in some parts of the world) so I might not get around to reading all of them - but I'm going to try!

My first experience of Harry Potter was in junior school. My cousin is a high school teacher and had heard about this great new children's book through her kids, read it herself and heartily recommended it to my mum, who then read it aloud to me and my sisters. It's weird to remember a time when 'every child in our world' didn't know Harry's name and couldn't even pronounce Hermione's (I can still remember a strained conversation with a girl in my class who insisted she was called 'Hermy-own') and I've no idea what number re-read this is for me. But I enjoyed this first book as ever. It doesn't grip me quite as it used to, as the plot is too familiar now, but that doesn't mean there's nothing new to get out of the story.

New thoughts this time:

So what struck me this time around? Mostly, how much I love Harry at eleven. Not that I don't like him at seventeen, but I'd forgotten just how lovely little Harry was. There's a bit in Deathly Hallows, I think, where he says that looking back to the boy in the cupboard was like remembering a younger brother he had lost, and I felt that on this re-read. I love that he's just as sassy as ever - more than I remembered in this one (yes, sassy is the word) but also kinder, very loyal and very vulnerable. The Mirror of Erised chapter got me this time around in a way it hasn't before. I teared up a bit at the thought of him going back to that mirror night after night, just to sit and look at the family he never had.

"How long he stood there, he didn't know. The reflections did not fade and he looked and looked until a distant noise brought him back to his senses. He couldn't stay here, he had to find his way back to bed. He tore his eyes away from his mother's face, whispered, 'I'll come back' and hurried from the room. "

Favourite bits:

One scene I really love in this one, is Ron's chess game. I think out of all the books, more even than saving Harry and killing the Horcrux in Deathly Hallows, this is Ron's big heroic moment. People underestimate Ron. He's not stupid (ever met a great Chess player who was?) he's brave and loyal and Harry wouldn't have nearly as good a time without him around. He never really gets his moment in the sun, but this is the closest. I also love Christmas. It's a proper childhood-classic-Christmas scene, up there with your Narnias and your Little Women.

Image result for Ron chess

Favourite Forgotten moment:

Neville taking on Crabbe and Goyle in a fist-fight in the stands at a Quidditch match!

Favourite Quotes:

"Aunt Petunia often said that Dudley looked like a baby Angel - Harry often said that Dudley looked like a pig in a wig."

"'There's no need to tell me I'm not brave enough to be in Gryffindor, Malfoy's already done that.' Neville choked.
Harry felt in the pocket of his robes and pulled out a chocolate frog, the very last one from the box Hermione had given him for Christmas. He gave it to Neville, who looked as if he might cry.
'You're worth twelve of Malfoy;' Harry said. '"

This one made me sad thinking about Percy's estranged years...

"'I - don't - want,' said Percy thickly, as the twins forced the jumper over his head, knocking his glasses askew.
'And you're not sitting with the prefects today, either,' said George. 'Christmas is a time for family.'
They frog-marched Percy from the room, his arms pinned to his sides by his jumper."

and the classic...

"'There are all kinds of courage,' said Dumbledore, smiling. 'It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends. I therefore award ten points to Mr. Neville Longbottom.'"

Have you re-read the books recently? Anything new you noticed, or what are your favourite scenes?

Monday, 17 October 2016

Pride and Prejudice (the play!!)

This week I went into Salford with a friend to catch Pride and Prejudice at the Lowry. I'm a big fan of the book and I must have seen most of the adaptations out there, but I'd never seen a play and I was intrigued. With a new script adapted by Simon Reade and starring Matthew Kelly (who I mainly know as the Stars in Yours Eyes presenter) and Felicity Montagu (Bridget Jones, Alan Partridge) as Mr. and Mrs. Bennet I thought it was worth a look. And I was right - it was a lot of fun.

I don't go to the theatre that often and when I do it's usually to see a musical, so watching a play was a bit of a novelty in itself - but I thought the story was adapted really well. With a 2hr 30 minute run time (including a 20 minute interval) some scenes naturally had to be missed out or compressed (Wickham wasn't in it much and Darcy proposed on the way into dinner at Rosings, which was a bit odd) but overall I thought it was cleverly done. I liked that the script stuck so close to the book's original dialogue and really made the most of the humour - the audience laughed a lot. I also loved that they included some moments that weren't in the film and TV adaptations - especially the stuff with the letters towards the end.

At first I had to adjust to the acting style, as naturally stage acting is a bit more OTT than in film and on TV, but overall I really liked the cast. Mr and Mrs Bennet made the most of some great funny moments (I loved Mrs. Bennet climbing up the side of the set during Mr. Collins' proposal) and Mr. Collins was fun too, if a bit mad. I was also impressed by the subtler performance of (unknown actress) Kirsty Rider as Caroline Bingley. She really nailed the character. Lizzie and Darcy did a really good job too, Elizabeth seemed a bit modern at times but I quite liked that. The only member of the cast I wasn't sure about was Charlotte Lucas, although that could have been the fault of the direction. She was a bit dopey and lolloping, which didn't seem very 'Charlotte'.

The costumes were lovely - especially Lizzie's blue coat (so swishy!) and Miss Bingley's pink silky dress - and I was very impressed by the set. It was on two levels and revolved so that the changes between scenes were seamless and things could be going on in more than one place. For example, I thought the dinner scene with Mr. Collins worked really well, as although the family were seated around the table, we got to see all the different facial expressions as the table revolved in the centre.

All in all it was a great little theatre trip and I'd definitely recommend the play. Maybe I'd always recommend anything Pride and Prejudice, but this was a faithful version of Jane Austen's most famous novel and there was a lot to like here. The cast really seemed to enjoy themselves and the audience did too!  It's still touring the UK, so if you wanted to check it out you can find the dates here:

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

WWW Wednesday: Magicians, Kings and Singletons


Happy Wednesday people. WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words (a similar one is 'This week in Books' at Lipsyy Lost and Found.) To join in answer the three 'W' questions below and leave your link. I'm bending the rules a bit this week as I'm not reading anything just now (shock horror!) and including two books I've recently finished instead.

What did you just finish reading?
What are you currently reading?
What will you read next?
I recently finished... The Prestige by Christopher Priest. I love the film and was surprised to discover it was based on a book - but I can sort of see why the book isn't particularly well known. It was a bit dull. The film definitely improved on it, while sticking pretty close to the story. Read my book vs film review here.
I only just finished... The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman, which was really great. To give you an idea of how much I liked this book, The Prestige was a quarter of it's length and it took me months to finish. I read this in a week. As a converted Ricardian (after reading The Daughter of Time) this 'novel of Richard the Third' was right up my street. The ending was pretty devastating but I'd prepared myself for that. And I went and watched his funeral procession on Youtube to give me some closure...
Next I'm planning to read...  Bridget Jones' Baby: The Diaries by Helen Fielding. I loved the first two books, but tried and failed to get enthusiastic about middle-aged Bridget in Mad About the Boy. Especially after I realised that a major character was dead. This new book is a re-jigging of the columns written about Bridget between books two and three, which the new film was based on. And I loved the new film (go see it! It's at least as good as Edge of Reason, even without Daniel) so I'm going to give this a try.

Have you got a WWW this week? Have you seen the new Bridget Jones or read any Sharon Kay Penman? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: What I'm Watching!

This week's TTT is a TV themed freebie. As Autumn draws in the TV always steps up it's game and there's loads of good stuff on at the moment. Here's a few of the things I've been loving. (Only got seven this week, sorry!)


So far this has exceeded my expectations for one prime reason - Rufus Sewell. Sewell plays Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister and supposedly first love of Jenna Coleman's young Victoria. Albert comes in to it next week but I'm struggling to see how he's going to compete. This is a lavish costume drama from ITV, and I'm still smarting over the fact that I COULD HAVE BEEN AN EXTRA IN THIS. I got the call, but I was working :( Devastated.


If Rufus Sewell wasn't enough on a Sunday night, now we've got Aidan Turner to boot. They're spoiling us. Series two of Poldark is based on the second and third books, which are the most drama packed, so we're in for a good series I think. (Also, to my relief, they're making some changes to the events at the end of Warleggan. If you've read the books you'll know what I mean, I think.)

Strictly Come Dancing

I don't know if I'd quite call myself a Strictly superfan, but I've only missed one series since it started, so I guess I'm close. Looks like a good line up this year - favourite pairings so far are Greg and Natalie and Melvin and Janette. And Judge Rinder is going to be hilarious.

Happy Valley

Just finished watching this on Netflix and would heartily recommend. Police dramas are really not my thing but I binge-watched the first series in an evening and the second was good too, although not as tense. The writing and acting is faultless and the characters are very real. It's grim and violent, but there's still plenty of humour. It's also very disturbing to see Prince Andrei/Granchester as the psychopathic villain.


Season 4 has finally come to the UK and... it's not quite as good so far. But I'm still enjoying it.  Scarlett gets on my nerves nowadays and I can't see where they're going with the Juliette story-line - but the songs are still fab, particularly Layla's stuff.  If I Didn't Know Better (from the first ever episode) is still my favourite though.

The Great British Bake Off

Usually I hate cooking shows, but this is baking, so it's different! Plus the contestants are always so warm and likeable, and I love Paul (flying the flag for the Wirral!) and Mary.

First Dates

I'm not normally big on reality tv, and dating shows make me cringe. First Dates does too, but it's worth suffering for because it's just so sweet. There's no gimmick, it's just ordinary people matched up on honest blind dates that the producers and the audience actually want to go well. They try to match them up properly, with people they'd be suited with. Obviously it doesn't always work out, but a lot of the time it does. I liked the celebrity version too but it was basically the same - none of them were particularly famous.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Liebster Questions

Thanks to Olivia from Meanwhile in Rivendell for nominating me for a Liebster award! Been a while since I did a tag, and I had a lot of fun answering the questions :D

1.) Tell us four names (if you don't know the answer to any, just tell the ones you do know): one that your parents would have given you if you were the opposite gender, one they considered once they knew your gender, one you would choose if you got to choose your own name, and one you would NOT like to have.

If I'd been a boy I was going to be Gerard. Ged for short (feel free to judge my parents.) My favourite girls' names at the mo are Aurelia and Eilis. Least favourite...maybe Doris?

2.) If you were to adapt one of your favourite stories, what story would it be and how would you tell it? (movie, musical, webseries, play, book, etc?)

I have a list of these ten miles long. But I'd like to do My Lady of Cleeves as a mini-series and North and South as a musical - with a clog dancing scene in the mill. Noughts and Crosses (Malorie Blackman) used to be on the list, but the BBC are finally doing it!!!

3.) Tell us four of your favourite words.

Delicious, Lolloping, Calligraphy, Quadruplets.

4.) What is a life lesson you have learned in the past year?

That I'm secretly a morning person.

5.) Who is your favourite secondary character in a book you've read recently?

Charlie Weasley - he deserves more page time. 

6.) What are five of the books on your TBR list right now?

The Girl on the Train, the new Mediator by Meg Cabot and Five Children on the Western Front. I want to finish the fourth Game of Thrones at some point and since my baby sister is leaving us soon for university in Bath, I'm feeling a re-read of  Persuasion...

7.) Tell us one talent/skill you have, and one you'd like to develop.

I can play the piano a bit but I'd like to get better.

8.) What's the best joke you've heard recently? (Awful puns are highly acceptable!)

How do you get Pikachu on a bus? Poke 'im on.

9.) Share a quote from the book you're currently reading.

"I do not think my secret is trivial. It is easily guessed as Angier has apparently done, in spite of what I have written. Others have probably guessed too. Anyone who reads this narrative will probably work it out for themselves. What cannot be guessed is the effect the secret has had on my life."

(From The Prestige by Christopher Priest)

10.) What song is stuck in your head right now? (Or just share one that's been bouncing around recently if you don't have one right now.)

Where you lead, by Carol King. AKA the Gilmore Girls theme tune.

11.) What do you want your life to be like when you're a little old lady?  

I'd like to go on cruises and have a little group of friends to go the bingo with.

I tag anyone who wants to take the questions on - I hope it's not too lazy not to tag people properly, but it will feel too much like procrastination from the huge amount of uni work I have to do in the next few weeks! However, here's some quick questions if you want to give the tag a go:

1 - Favourite Zoo animal?
2 - Favourite season?
3 - Favourite drink?
4 - Favourite Fictional couple?
5 - Favourite song from a musical?
6 - Favourite TV theme song?
7 - First film you saw at the cinema?
8 - First film/book that ever made you cry?
9 - Earliest childhood memory?
10-Favourite quote?
11- First TV/film crush?

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Favourite Sports Films


So I hate sport. I never watch it unless I have to, but for some reason I do like the Olympics. Probably because there are so many different things to get into. I love the gymnastics, and I'll watch a lot of the more random stuff. My hatred of sport also doesn't stretch to Sporting films - competition and an underdog to support always makes for good drama, and the more random the sport the better.  So, in honour of Rio, here are some of my favourites:

Stick it
The writer of Bring it on takes on the world of gymnastics, in this story of a rebellious former gymnast who returns to the sport as an alternative to jail and finds herself in training for the world championships. Good fun, great gymnastics and no pointless love interest.

Fast Girls
This is a kind-of-terrible-but-enjoyable film about a fictional girls relay team at the 2012 London Olympics (or not, as they weren't allowed to mention the year or the word 'Olympics' due to copyright reasons.) Starring Lily James, Mickey from Doctor Who and Arthur from Merlin.

Chariots of Fire
Oscar winning true-life story about two different Olympic runners, one Jewish, one Christian. Don't google the outcome of the games before you watch! Stirring and enjoyable if a bit old fashioned.

Cool Runnings
Disney are renowned for their animated films, but some of their live-action stuff is great, this being one of my favourites. Based on true events, Cool Runnings is the story of the first Jamaican bobsled team. Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up it's bobsled time! 

The Greatest Game Ever Played
Another Disney film, true life story and a new discovery. Also a period drama which I can never resist. Stannis from Game of Thrones plays Harry Varden, a famous golfer and all-around nice guy from the Isle of Man, while Shia LeBouf is the American amateur who finds himself competing against his hero in the American open. I never thought I'd like a film about golf but this ticks all the right boxes.
The Karate Kid
Is it blasphemy to say I prefer the re-make? I like Jackie Chan as Mr. Miyagi, the Chinese setting makes it more original and exciting and the bullies are much scarier. And Jayden Smith is great in this. Definitely worth watching, and the competition at the end is nail-biting stuff.

In a pre-Andy Murray world, a Brit winning Wimbledon seemed like a distant dream, which is part of the reason why this film worked so well - we all love an underdog. Paul Bettany plays an English tennis player, who finds himself doing better than expected in what will be his last shot at Wimbledon. But when he falls for Kirsten Dunst's American rising star, things get complicated.

Bend It Like Beckham
You don't have to know anything about football (Soccer in some places...) or David Beckham to enjoy this film. Fun, smart and feel-good, this is the story of a British-Indian girl who wants to be a footballer, although her parents disapprove.

Remember the Titans
I really don't know the first thing about American Football (and I'm none the wiser after watching this film) but I do know whenever it's on TV I will sit down and watch it to the end. Starring Denzel Washington and featuring a young Ryan Gosling and Hayden Panetierre, this is another true story, about a school football team and race relations in America in the 1970s.

Two estranged brothers, one ex-army, one a teacher struggling to cope financially, enter a mixed-martial-arts cage fighting competition. I don't quite know why I like this film, I think it's because it's so hard to call which brother I want to win out.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

WWW Wednesdays: A Town Like Alice, After You, Harry Potter, The Prestige

WWW Wednesday is a link-up  hosted at Taking on a World of Words. To join in just answer the three W's (What have you been reading, what are you currently reading and what are you planning to read next) and post your link.

What I've been reading...

A Town Like Alice - by Nevil Shute

I had no idea what to expect from this book, all I knew was that Australia or Australians featured in some way. But I really enjoyed it - Jean Paget is my new hero. Based very loosely on a true story, this is quite an old-fashioned novel about an English girl who finds herself a prisoner of the Japanese in Malaysia during World War Two, along with a number of other women and children. It's an easy read, there's romance and the characters are good. Only problem was the racist language and attitude towards the aborigines - which was odd, considering the book wasn't racist towards the Japanese or the Malaysians. There's also an old black-and-white film - it's on my to-watch list.

After You - by Jojo Moyes 

The sequel to Me Before You, this follows Lou Clark after she returns from her travels. I could have done without this book, to be honest. Although the original sounded miserable in theory, I didn't actually feel miserable while reading it. Also, it had a plot and a point, whereas this just meandered. Lou was likeable as ever and I suppose it's realistic that she would still be struggling. But After You was just depressing on every level. The ending was okay and it was a quick read, but I don't think I could recommend.

What I'm currently reading...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K Rowling

This is the Harry Potter book I've re-read the least, so I thought I should refresh my memory a little (who am I kidding, I don't really need to) before I go and see Cursed Child. I'm not going to read the play first but if someone gives me spoilers before November I swear... Anyway I'd forgotten how exciting Deathly Hallows is. There's so much action! It might even be my favourite if it wasn't for a couple of things.

What I'm reading next...

The Prestige - by Christopher Priest

I bought The Prestige for a pound in a charity shop last week. I didn't know there was a book, but I liked the film so hopefully it's just as good.

What have you been reading lately? Anyone know if The Prestige is worth reading? Have you read A Town Like Alice or After You? Let me know in the comments :D