I Wrote An iBook! And You Can Read It!

Guess who’s a published author? Meeeeee!

Leslie Knope smiling proudly
The exact face I made when I called my mom and told her

This past semester I took a course on iPad publishing because I had the prereq and heard good things about it from an upper-year student I asked last year. In this small class, we were each loaned an iPad for the semester, introduced to iBooks Author, and told to write, design, and publish an iBook. It could be on any topic and it could be as interactive as we’d like, as long as we use some design critical thinking and completed the assignment updates on time. I was originally going to write a book on how to start a blog, as that was something I had solid knowledge on, but then I had a better idea. What’s the one thing that people can never wrap their heads around when I tell them about it? Muggle Quidditch.The cover for Muggle Quidditch: Yes, It's Real!

Super nerdy, yes, and I feel like anyone who saw me working on it in the computer lab was hardcore judging me, but I am so proud of this book! It’s called Muggle Quidditch: Yes, It’s Real! and it’s a quick but comprehensive guide to the non-magical version of the sport. And since it’s an iBook, it’s colourful and interactive and fun to read. It is now available for download from Apple’s iBook store and it’s being offered for the low, low price of zero dollars and zero cents! Yes, it’s free! I mean, I thought about selling it for a small fee, but it’s only sixteen pages and I made it for a class, so the school credit and good grade is reward enough. Plus, it’s not like I’d make a living off of it! I’d much rather introduce the amazing sport to new people for free, anyway!

The book is available worldwide and it’s downloadable on iPhones, iPod Touches, Macs, and iPads, but the levels of interactivity make it best experienced on an iPad or a Mac.

Download Muggle Quidditch: Yes, It’s Real! by clicking here

I’ve mentioned my involvement with my school’s Quidditch team on my blog a few times before, and if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll probably see me tweet about it every once in a while, so through me, you may know the sport exists, but this guide really delves into all the smaller aspects that I know people are curious about.

Anyway, since it’s not being sold, whether you download it or not doesn’t really affect me, but if you have an interest in Harry Potter or this sport and want to learn more, please give it a read! I worked really, really, really hard on it and I’d love for people other than my mom and my teammates to enjoy it. If you do download it, I’d also love for you to take a few seconds to rate it on the iTunes store. It’d mean a lot!

Anyway, I’m so glad I can share this with you! I spent months working on it but I didn’t want to share news of it until it was available, so I’m thrilled to be able to tell everyone about it now! This is my first taste of official publication and it tastes super great! I can’t wait to deal with my actual novel at the end of next semester!

If you do download it, thank you so much! I hope you like it! And thanks in advance to everyone who’ll rate/review it and/or tell a friend!

That’s all for now!

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I Think I Need To Stop Reading Celebrity Memoirs

Two weeks ago I read Anna Kendrick’s book Scrappy Little Nobody because I adore her and think she’s funny, so I was interested to see what she had to say in a book. I’ve read a fair handful of books by famous people (Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Jane Lynch, Neil Patrick Harris, Naya Rivera…) and here’s the thing: they’re all the same in terms of content. The exact same. They’ll cover their childhood and career with brutal honesty, highlighting any struggles and emphasising how blessed they know they are, add in some cute anecdotes, and, if they’re known for being funny, describe events while being very dry with their humor in a way that doesn’t really set them apart but attempts to show that they’re ‘just like us regular people!’ and ‘very humble and real!’

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I don’t know what else I expect, but I end up pushing through because they’re light reads and more interesting than reading their Wikipedia page.

The thing about these books is that I end up usually very conflicted in how I feel. I don’t enjoy this confusion, and in the end, I don’t feel like a better person after reading these books.

First of all, my opinion changes on the person a little. I guess in their honesty, these people usually end up talking about something I’m not thrilled about (drugs, sex addictions, ect…) and I end up feeling bad for judging them on their past actions/mistakes. It’s easy for me to judge them, too, because they are just famous people I don’t know, and I’d like to think that if I magically got famous over night next week, I’d be smart enough to avoid any of those bad habits. And I still like these people, it’s just my opinion usually changes a little…

The second thing I feel is jealousy. I know this sounds so stupid but it’s true. Every time I read about a happy or proud moment or consider how great these people’s lives are, I get jealous. And jealousy is not a good colour on anyone. I can’t help it, though. These people are talented, are living their dreams, and wake up each morning with a purpose. They’re attractive, popular, funny, and probably don’t spend their weekends alone.

The last thing I feel is kind of annoyed. Most of these books have an underlying message of ‘follow your dreams!’ and that drives me insane because like, dude I’m trying. It’s tiring to hear the same speech from accomplished people or people who really don’t understand what it’s like out here. To use Anna Kendrick as an example: at the start of her book she mentions how she kind of wishes she was still a scrappy little nobody (hence the title) but then chapter two literally starts with a line about being nominated for a Tony at age twelve and I kind of had to stop reading for a second to roll my eyes there. These people have set in stone careers by now. They’re not desperate for work and they don’t have to feel guilty for buying a four dollar Happy Meal. And now they’re here telling us to keep at it and work hard because if they can do it so can you! But that’s not true. Think about how many twenty-somethings are in LA right now struggling for a big break. Think about how many never got one. And it’s a different world now. There was no social media twenty years ago. I know these people have to try to be positive and all, but it’s just not want I want from them.

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So between my judgemental attitude, my immense jealousy, and my frustration regarding the privilege these adored celebrities have, I end up not really feeling inspired or even happy at the end of these books. That is the opposite effect books should have.

I know it’s not the celebrities’ intention to have me feeling this way and perhaps the publishers forced them into maintaining such rigid book formats, but I’m getting tired of it all.

And while you may think means I’m never again reading a celebrity memoir, I assure you, it does not. I know myself well enough. If Darren Criss tweeted tomorrow that he’s got a book coming, you can bet that I’ll be at the nearest Chapters faster than you can say memoir. I still adore so many celebrities and would love to read what they say, I just wish the books had a bit more personality and humor and a bit less preachy aspects. I want to know secrets and thoughts and the inside, honest details, not be reminded that I am just a nobody.

I know Ellen DeGeneres has written several books, but her 2011 one Seriously…I’m Kidding is one of my favourite books because the whole thing is just a joke and she’s just writing small essays that make me laugh and really don’t have a theme. Maybe because it was her third book, she didn’t feel the need to share her teenage woes again.

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What are your thoughts on celebrity memoirs? I am just reading them wrong? Is there one that you really love and think I should read?

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Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Book Review: Man, I’m Glad I’m Back

There are some spoilers here. I waited a few days to post this so more people could read the book first, but I couldn’t wait any longer!

Here I am, another Potterhead adding her humble Cursed Child review to the many that already exist on the interwebs. The people of Twitter have spoken and said they wouldn’t mind a post by me on the subject and I really welcomed the opportunity to write about Harry Potter, a subject that I haven’t really touched on much.

Harry_Potter_and_the_Cursed_Child_Special_Rehearsal_Edition_Book_CoverI love Harry Potter. I do. Those books made a mark on me, and every time I read them I’m inspired to write more myself. I never was the hardcore fan. No midnight premiers, no knowledge of every spell ever, no strong I-will-fight-you-over-Snape attitude. But I was in a Harry Potter club in high school, I do play Quidditch now in University, I have been to Universal Studios and I’ve of course seen Starkid’s Potter musicals. And as of July 3oth, I have attended a book release. My best friend and I attended the local mall’s release party, and though it wasn’t the greatest event, I got to nerd out and get my hands on a copy of a book I was psyched to read. Well, fairly psyched. Because The Cursed Child is the script of a play, spoilers were already online. I avoided them, but my friend didn’t and she carefully warned me that she read some disappointing things.

Either way, I spent four straight hours on July 31st tearing through the book and I am pleased to say: I really liked it. Because of my friend I expected worse, but I was surprised at how great it was. Really.

First of all, I loved just going back to that world. I quoted Starkid in my title when I said, “man, I’m glad I’m back,” because I really was so thrilled to read more about these characters. I mean, I love the magical world, but I really adore the characters. I basically grew up with them! So to read this, something that is considered canon, was amazing. I only teared up a few times!

‘Goin’ Back To Hogwarts’ lyrics from A Very Potter Musical

I didn’t even mind that the story was in script form. I prefer regular novel format, but once I got into the story, I didn’t even notice. I’m also glad I read the script before I saw the play. Not that I have an opportunity to see the play, but if a bootleg comes along, I won’t pass it up! But because I read it, I was able to picture the cast my way in my head instead of having to adjust to a whole new cast.

As for the plot, I have to say, I enjoyed it. I have a love/hate relationship with time travel, and while I don’t think this story flawlessly executed it, it was very interesting. I think the Time Turner was a really underused magical item and the theme of time was really unexplored in the books, so to see this in the new story was really neat. I did think that having Cedric Diggory as the one to bring back was kind of dumb, but it made sense plot-wise. I also liked that the story featured the kids. I wish the other kids had a larger role too (and where was Teddy Lupin?) but it still worked well. Just to know they’re all still there and alive is great, really. And the old characters still had a great and large role, so I was satisfied.

So why were some people unhappy with it? One criticism that my friend said she read was that Harry was portrayed as a bad father. And I have to defend that. I mean, first of all, Harry never really had a father figure, so he can’t even emulate from that. This point was even blatantly addressed! Secondly, he wasn’t doing anything wrong, he just wasn’t doing anything really perfect. Like any parent of a teen, it’s hard. Albus was not only a somewhat angsty teen, but he’s also the middle child, and the son of a celebrity. There’s a lot going on and it just didn’t mix well with Harry’s parently style. Harry was seriously trying his best as a father. He really just wants his family safe and happy, like any other normal parent.

Another criticism that I kind of agreed with was that the famous last line “all was well” clearly was a lie. I guess that as a fan, I just want confirmation that my beloved characters are really okay, and to now find out that there was this big event again makes me feel like I was kind of lied to. I guess it could have been worse, no one important died or anything and there was a happy ending, but still. Is all well now? Will we ever know?

And lastly, people were upset that Voldemort had a child. And while I was kind of surprised, I wasn’t mad. Here’s why that made perfect sense: First of all, Bellatrix was pretty much all over Voldemort, so I can totally see her being open to bearing his child. And two, since this conception happened before the Battle Of Hogwarts, I can see it as Voldemort’s back up plan. He knew he was getting weaker from the destroyed horcruxes, so he probably at least considered failure as a possibility, so this child was probably seen as his very last chance to do his evil bidding.

But enough about criticisms, let’s talk more about what I liked. Before, I never really cared much for Draco Malfoy, but I really enjoyed his role in this story. The parallels between him and Harry were amazing, and how their interactions tied to and mirrored the interactions of Albus and Scorpius was really impressive and cool to read. I also liked how the relationships between Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione developed. They weren’t really too developed in the books, especially due to the 19 year gap, so it was special to see those bonds grow, as well as the bond of the Golden Trio. It was 22 years later and somehow so much had changed as well as nothing at all. I dug that. Hard.

Under all the magic, the morals that Harry Potter has is really important. Love and friendship and life are all valued and respected and it’s great to know that those qualities that everyone loves about the story are still going strong. Stronger, even, I’d say, as Harry learned a big lesson in judgement and trusting gossip. It’s these timeless things that make this beautiful series perfect and adored by all ages and genders. Yes, we all want a letter to Hogwarts but even more I think we all want friendships as strong as Harry, Ron and Hermione’s. I love reading blog posts by adults reading the series for the first time, especially if they grew up in places where the books were banned, because these people are learning that these books are just a crazy story about magic featuring morals that inspire.

All in all, I didn’t know what I was expecting but seriously, all Potter fans will love The Cursed Child. It’s got all the elements to love: humor, romance, magic, suspense, friendship, family, and all within a fairly airtight plot. The new characters were cool, the old characters were amazing, the plot was super and it has that same Harry Potter feel! I can’t imagine that anyone is on the fence about reading this, but if you are and liked any aspect of Harry Potter then you will like this! If I didn’t already have two other books to read, I’d probably be rereading it.

I’m so glad I got to go back to my childhood. I’m so glad this new story was great. I’m so glad that JK Rowling has blessed us with more Potter goodness.

 

What are your thoughts on The Cursed Child? I’m in dire need to discuss the book with people so comment with your opinions!

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Why I Hope The Wicked Movie Is More Like The Book Than The Musical

Unpopular opinions alert, amiright?

Look, I love Wicked. It’s probably my second favourite musical ever and I listen to its songs all the time. I love it. I saw it live two years ago and it was glorious.

That being said, like anyone who reads a book first and then sees an adaptation, I had some concerns afterward. I know people really don’t like the book, but I actually didn’t hate it. Yes, I found it a little dry and sometimes confusing, but overall, I thought it to be quite brilliant.

So with the recent news that there is a Wicked movie finally in progress and set to be released in 2019 (so far away!) I’ve been thinking about how it’ll turn out. While I would in the end be totally fine if the movie was just like the musical, I am hoping that the writers take the chance to change it up slightly and add in some of the book’s features that got cut.

wicked book

WARNING: from here on, there will be spoilers for the musical and book, so read on with caution!

I am a sucker for teams, and one thing I really liked in the book was the partnership at Shiz between Elphaba, Glinda, Boq, Fiyero, Avaric and a few others as they worked to research Animal rights and whatnot. It was a time of peace. Elphaba had friends and a purpose and there was no drama. The Shiz parts of the book were my favourite, and I’m a little sad that the musical glossed over it to some extent. I understand that time is a factor, but I’d really love more Shiz scenes. In the musical, Elphaba was always seen as an awkward solo act, and it wasn’t until Glinda did she have someone else, so to see that portrayed differently would be nice. Think of these extra characters as the Seamus and Dean of Harry Potter: there and accounted for, but not crucial to the plot.

I also didn’t love how the musical erased all ties to the rest of the books. Yes, books…plural. I don’t know how commonly known that is, but Gregory Maguire wrote three other Oz books. Wicked could stand alone, but I really like the idea of there being even more to the famous story. While I can’t say I adored the other three books, and I did have to force myself to finish them, they were kind of interesting. I mean, those books covered three generations of a family and managed to seamlessly tie old and new characters together in a world that was largely unexplored. Even though there is never going to be a musical sequel, it still would have been cool to pay homage to the book/s by at least having an open ending that could have hinted to a future. Perhaps the movie will allow for such artistic choices…?

The musical really only covered about 40% of the book, and as far as adaptations go, that’s pretty bad, even if the result was a stunning musical that I love. The whole plot at Kiamo Ko was really interesting but completely cut out. Again, I understand the time constraint, I do, but I’m hoping the movie will be able to use some movie magic and tell more of such a rich story.

However, there is one thing from the book and musical that I could do without, and that is the concept of the Wizard being Elphaba’s father. The musical made it a lot more obvious than the book did. I seriously forgot that it was even in the book until I was doing research for this post. I just think that it’s a really cheesy and cliché thing, and overall, it doesn’t affect the plot too much so it could easily be removed for the movie.

The last reason I’m hoping the movie is more like the book is because the musical was essentially Glinda’s telling of the story. The musical starts with her telling the Munchkins that she and Elphaba used to be friends. And while it wasn’t really biased or anything, I just think that having a more neutral and open telling through the movie medium would allow for more character development that the musical didn’t really touch on. I’m realizing as I write that the book was more Elphaba’s story while the musical was more of everyone’s story as they exist around Elphaba.

wicked musical

Honestly, I’m so excited for the movie. 2019 can’t come any sooner. There’s no casting news yet, but I’d love to see Lea Michele or Anna Kendrick as Elphaba and I’d also quite enjoy Darren Criss as Fiyero. And then put the original cast in as other characters…Like have Norbert Leo Butz play the Wizard and Idina Menzel play Madame Morrible! I’m also hoping they keep the steampunk-esque costumes from the musical because those are so funky and fun. In terms of Fiyero, I’m praying they use the blue diamonds, because I feel like that should have been in the musical. But all in all, I’m just excited to see such a cool story immortalized on film. Movies can show so much in a minute that isn’t possible on a stage, so I feel like Wicked is a brilliant thing to film.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Did you like aspects of the book/s?

 

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (Book & Movie)

With school over, I was eager to finally have time to read for fun, and so the first book I picked up was one suggested and loosely explained to me by DaleyDowningThe Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. I had heard the name but knew nothing of the classic story, so I was excited to give it a try.

The book sounded like a sci-fi novel and I was admittedly a little worried to get into that genre, as I know it’s quite vast and I really don’t have a huge interest in it, but this book was really fun and light, which was perfect!

The book tells of the destruction of Earth and its sole survivor, Arthur Dent, who managed to hitch a ride to space with the help of his extraterrestrial writer pal Ford Prefect.

The writing of this book was very interesting. It was quirky and captivating and the narration style was very different, which made it easy to keep reading. The characters were just as quirky as well, though I assume everyone identified the most with Arthur…I sure did! The interesting writing style therefore made the book incredibly quotable; there were so many clever and memorable lines!

What I didn’t like about this book was that it took a lot of chances to unnecessarily explain the very wide universe it was set in, so I often found this distracting from the plot. Sometimes whole chapters would be some random story about some weird alien race on some weird alien planet, and I didn’t care much for it, as it was already made clear just how vast and diverse the galaxy is. I just think that the book had a really cool chance to tell this fascinating story through the perspective of average and relatable human Arthur but instead the story was too concerned with packing readers with information and new names.

Luckily, is was just that kind of blabber that was cut out of the movie, by the same name. While I can’t say I loved the book, I did really enjoy the movie. It was concise, funny, and it, for the most part, followed the book very well. Not to mention the great casting and voicing. Even though the CGI isn’t anything extraordinary, it’s pretty good for 2005, and it works well with the quirkiness of the story. Plus there was a really catchy song at the beginning and end of the movie that I had stuck in my head all day. I’d recommend the movie even if you haven’t read the book and/or have no plans to.

Arthur, Zaphod, Trillian and Ford. Their facial expressions pretty much sum up their characters.

All in all, really cool world. The series isn’t even science-y enough to be sci-fi, and I was very amused for both the book and the movie (though more for the movie). So now I have to decide whether I want to keep reading the series. There’s actually four more books but I’m on the fence. Four more books is a commitment, especially since there’s no more movies and like I mentioned, I didn’t love the first book. That being said, if you’re looking for something light, nerdy and unlike anything you’ve ever read, then give The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy a shot. In fact, as I’m writing this, I think I’ve decided to continue on with the series. The books aren’t too long, and it’s not like I have a bunch of other books to read instead…

Has anyone read this book or the rest of the series? I’d love to hear your thoughts! And I’d also love to know any other similar books you recommend.

That’s all for now! (Or maybe I should change my closing line to “so long, and thanks for all the fish!”)