Friday, May 19, 2017

Book Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling

I have a confession to make: I didn't read any of the Harry Potter books until about four years ago, and I didn't watch any of the movies until last month. I know, crazy.

Growing up, I wasn't allowed to read the books until I was in middle school when my parents decided I was old enough to choose my own reading material. But by then, most of the books had been published and the hype was slowly dying down (if you can say it ever "died down"). Simply, I didn't really care about the books. I was well on my journey reading through Lord of the Rings and introducing myself to the YA genre that I didn't think about Harry Potter until the summer after my first year of college. It was then that I was working in a library and had a lot of time to read while at the desk that, on a whim, I picked up the first book and began to read.

The extent of my Harry Potter collection consists of the book on top. I know, sad. 

And I enjoyed it. I could tell Rowling was a good writer, that she had good characters and wonderful world-building. But I didn't get swept away in the story like I did with Narnia or Lord of the Rings. Maybe it was because nobody was talking about it anymore. Or maybe I read them too fast or all at once to truly appreciate them.

It wasn't until Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them released in theaters that I truly got caught up in the "magic" of the Wizarding World. I watched that film, and I was swept away by the world-building, the characters, the creatures, and the magic. Maybe I related to Newt more than Harry or maybe it was because I love time-period pieces or magical creatures. Maybe it's because it wasn't about teenagers that (no offense, Harry) make a lot of dumb decisions. But I was... enchanted by Fantastic Beasts. And now that I've watched the movies and discussed the books with my boyfriend, I feel the magic of Harry Potter carrying me away. Finally.

So there was no doubt that I would read the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay book, even if I knew ahead of time that it was a script and followed closely with the movie. It didn't take me long since it isn't a long book.

I did, however, just order both versions of Fantastic Beasts, the screenplay and the textbook. 

Yes, it's word-for-word, action-to-action the movie. I don't think they added in any of the deleted scenes or anything that may have changed between the script and the final production. (Which is odd since sometimes movies keep improved actions or lines.) But it was still fascinating.

I was swept away by the illustrations by Minalima. The cover, of course, is brilliant but inside, the story is surrounded by the fantastic beasts and other little details that are absolutely gorgeous.

I think there were a couple things I picked up on while reading that I didn't catch during the movie. For instance, it'd been a while since I read or watched anything related to the Wizarding World, so I missed a few jokes that I noticed after watching all the movies and re-immersing myself in the world.

Mary Lou: "Are you a seeker? A seeker after truth?"
A beat.
Newt: "I'm more of a chaser, really."

Overall, the screenplay for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is pretty close to the movie. I probably could follow along with the screenplay as I watched. But the detail that Rowling put into her screenplay to make this story come to life and the beautiful illustrations that decorate the pages definitely make this book worth reading. If you're a fan of Harry Potter or Fantastic Beasts, give this book a try. It doesn't take long, and it's still as magical as ever. (And now I need to re-read the entire series!)

This is the best shirt I own. I've worn it like 10 times in the past two weeks. No regrets. 

Have you seen Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.

~I chose to review Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: the Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling of my own freewill. All opinions are my own.~ 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Series Review: Anne of Green Gables Series by L.M. Montgomery

I have a love-hate relationship with classics. Some classics, like Jane Austen's novels or Little House on the Prairie, are my absolute favorites and I will read and re-read them over and over. Others, not so much. Sometimes the stories don't capture me, sometimes the writing is bogged down by old styles, and sometimes I just don't care to read it. But every once and while, I read a classic that hits home. The Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery are some of these classics.

Years ago, I read Anne of Green Gables and fell in love with Prince Edward Island, Gilbert, and of course the spunky, red-haired main character. But I never read the other books. For one, I was young, and classic books became boring after characters grew up. Another thing, I watched the movies, loved those more (don't hate me), and didn't think I needed to read the rest of the books.

But of course, I decided I wanted to read the other books. I wanted to find out when Gilbert and Anne fell in love, what happened after they got married, if the events in the third movie actually happened. (They didn't, at least not to Anne and Gil. It happened with their children, sort of.) I started last year, making my way through each book, and finally finished all eight last week. I technically still have the final book The Road to Yesterday, which is a collection of short stories, to read, but I finished all the books in the main series.

I was so afraid when I read beyond Green Gables that I would be bored or feel disconnected with Anne, who was growing up and learning to hold her tongue. Anne is such a fun character. She has a wild imagination that I understand, and she speaks her mind, which I can only dream of doing. Plus, there's Gilbert--who is, in my opinion, the best literary gentleman to ever exist--and he's just so sweet and caring. I was afraid when they "grew up," he would get boring and not be the dreamboat and kindred spirit Anne (and I) came to love.

I was wrong, though. It seems that no matter how old Anne and Gilbert are, there is still room for adventures and imagination. Somehow, despite the books being written decades ago and taking place over a century ago, I related a lot to what Anne went through as she learned to grow up. She went to college, watched as her friends got married and moved away; she fell in love and discovered what she loved about life. She dealt with loss and life and change.

I also enjoyed reading about their children. They are a rambunctious and unique bunch. Reading about their births, adventures, and growing up was touching. The last book, of course, deals with heavier topics as World War I affects their lives, but it also holds important truths about life. All the books hold important truths, which is why I think I hold them all in such high regard.

Yes, these books are old. Yes, they take place during a different time. And yes, Anne and Gilbert grow up and have children. But they're still good. They're relatable and profound. I've learned a lot from Anne-girl, and I will treasure these books for the rest of my life. I plan to re-read them in about ten years, then twenty years, and so forth and see what else I can glean from these pages.

L.M. Montgomery's books taught me to have an imagination, to make time for adventures, and to know that I don't need sunbursts or marble halls, just scope for the imagination and dreaming, sweet dreaming.
"I don't want sunbursts and marble halls. I just want you. You see I'm quite as shameless as Phil about it. Sunbursts and marble halls  may be all very well, but there is more 'scope for imagination' without them. And as for the waiting, that doesn't matter. We'll just be happy, waiting and working for each other--and dreaming. Oh, dreams will be very sweet now." -Anne to Gilbert, Anne of the Island (229)

Do you have a classic series you hold dear to your heart? Let me know in the comments!

~I chose to review the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery of my own freewill. All opinions are my own.~