Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K Rowling

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And so at last I have completed my first read through of Harry Potter…

It’s great, isn’t it!

There may be individual moments of incredulity, but hey, this is fantasy, and having now completed the journey it would seem churlish of me to give this last book anything less than 5 stars. Rowling’s wizarding world is undeniably brilliant, and there is some neat and well thought out world building going on behind the scenes. Add to that great characters, a rollicking story, and emotional depth, and all is WIN!

I don’t think Harry Potter is quite my favourite YA fantasy, though. Garth Nix’s “The Old Kingdom” books were one of my first dips into YA as an A, and they really blew me away on so many levels. If you haven’t read those, I implore you to.

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Now – I said this last time and I’ll say it again. We need someone (HBO/Netflix/STARZ) to make a Harry Potter prequel tv show RIGHT NOW. At least 7 years of Tom Riddle/Voldemort’s time at Hogwarts (with Dumbledore flashbacks thrown in as well), followed by at least 7 years of the Marauders at Hogwarts and the rise of Voldemort.
That’s at least 14 years of tv, so come on, get on with it!

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The Colour of Magic + The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

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I’m reviewing these together as they are two parts of the same story, serving together as introduction to the wonderful story of Discworld. I read the first fifteen or so of these back when they were first being released before leaving the series behind. Since Terry Pratchett has now gone off somewhere with Death, it seemed an appropriate time to restart and gradually make my way through until the end.

The spectacular original artwork of The Colour of Magic by the late Josh Kirby
The spectacular original artwork of The Colour of Magic by the late Josh Kirby

I have seen some discussion that these first two books are not perhaps the best place to start reading Pratchett’s delightful tales, and I think I must beg to differ. What better way to start than at the beginning? This is a funny, thoughtful, and quite brilliant introduction to a world that reflects our own in such a dazzlingly, touching, and thoughtful way, while simultaneously managing to be engaging, escapist, funny, and quite often hilarious.

By the time I’ve reached the end of the series these two first books likely won’t be my favourite of the bunch, but as I’ll take them all as pieces of a whole, re-reading these first two has reminded me what a superb series this is.

4 out of  5 stars. Recommended for everyone.

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The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer

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I sought this out specifically because I was looking for tips and advice about crowdfunding and the art of asking. I first became aware of Amanda through Neil Gaiman, whom I have admired since I first read the wonderful ‘Sandman.’ I followed Neil on Twitter and read his blog, and it soon became clear that he was dating this curious dynamo of a woman called Amanda Palmer, who used Twitter to communicate and collaborate with her ever-growing legion of fans.

It was the essence of her creativity and open way of communicating with her fans that ultimately made Amanda interesting to me, rather than her music or association with Neil Gaiman. I even found myself occasionally dipping my toes into the debate that sprung up about her methods, especially after the controversy that arose after she raised a million bucks on Kickstarter for an album release then called out for volunteer musicians to accompany her onstage during the subsequent tour. The continued debate about the merits and perceptions of crowdfunding and independent creativity is something that is of particular interest to me as a creator attempting to find an audience through social media.

This book: The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help tells the story from Amanda’s humble “beginnings” as street entertainer (as “The Eight-foot Bride” living statue), and how her philosophy of openly giving and receiving has informed and enriched her life. She tells it candidly, eloquently, and while perhaps her gung-ho, seat-of-the-pants, soul-baring attitude perhaps is not for everyone, I found it refreshing and – yes – downright inspiring.

So hurrah for Amanda Palmer and hurrah for her life philosophy. Also: thank you, Amanda, for the inspiration and courage. I see you.