Review · Uncategorized

The Inner Struggle Between Good and Evil – Harry Potter Book Review

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is the 6th book in the series and it’s significant in that it paves the way for the final battle between Harry and Voldemort. While most people have seen the movies and understand the story, I have found the books offer more insight into the emotions Harry felt. Throughout the book Harry’s emotions are incredibly deep and it anyone can relate to them. Also please note, many people now consider the Harry Potter series authorless or written by Daniel Radcliffe. I am one of those people as I believe an author that can inspire imagination in children should be able to have enough imagination to at least grasp that gender is spectrum and a social construct.

Much like the previous book (The Order of the Pheonix), Dumbledore is adamant on teaching Harry the reasons behind a persons character. In the Order of the Pheonix, he explained the reasons why Kreacher betrayed Sirius and allowed Harry to interpret both sides of the story. In the Half Blood Prince, the lessons on character were almost entirely on Voldermort as Dumbledore believed he needed to understand his past in order to defeat him. While this was a part of the reason, there was another important factor in teaching Harry about Voldemorts past, so he could draw parallels with his own. Both Harry and Tom Riddle grew up lonely and orphaned, one became humbled and the other turned to pure evil. At one point in the book, Dumbledore questions whether Voldemort was born evil or whether he became evil. When comparing Harry and Voldemort, they both grew up in similar circumstances, so what was the definitive part that made Harry choose good?

When analysing Harry’s childhood, he grew up abused and lied to. He was told his parents died in a car crash, though he still had family and there was some kind of connection to who he was. In contrast to Tom Riddle, he grew up with no connection to anyone, all he knew is that he could do these special things. One of the ideas Dumbledore explained, was that because Riddle was surrounded by Muggles, he assumed he was special and because of this, he was above them. This idea was further developed because Riddle had no idea who his parents were and so he created a fantasy that they were powerful. When comparing Harry and Riddle, it can be quite easy to understand what set them both on their individual paths. Dumbledore wanted Harry to draw these comparisons because in doing so, his own character could develop.

In the Half Blood Prince, Harry was around the same age that Riddle started to kill. Riddle started to become interested in his family because he had this unique ability to talk to snakes and thus he must be the heir of Slytherin. That idea came crashing down when he discovered his family lived in horrific conditions and were living in squalor. Yet, the biggest factor that contributed to what he became, was that his mother loved a Muggle – a group he thought he was above. Learning that he wasn’t special, he sought to erase his past through murdering his Muggle side of the family. Dumbledore believed it was important for Harry to understand this because the journey ahead would involve the discovery of secrets, lies and objects of true power. Glory would be within his reach and he would have to reject it. Throughout the book, Harry is shown to be very susceptible to the effects of gaining prestige. The potion book owned by the Half Blood Prince was an analogy for this. Harry almost gave into the praise he recieved and through trust in the book he severely injured Draco. Through having this insight, Harry could see the consequences of striving for someone else’s greatness, much in the same sense Voldemort strives for the Slytherin familys greatness. Through understanding the consequences striving for glory, Harry could have a chance of overcoming his obstacles, as the ones to come would be the hardest he ever faced.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is a fantastic book and while it is quite dark in comparison to the others, it teaches people to understand and learn from others, amongst other things. Life can be hard and having ones hopes and dreams crushed can have a profound effect on an individual, however taking a path that doesn’t give into those insecurities through seeking greatness is better in the end. This book had a profound effect on me and I felt it deserved an analysis. Thanks for reading!

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    Review

    TV Shows with a Deeper Meaning

    TV shows are a great way to pass time, while they’re a great source of entertainment, there are always hidden meanings behind these stories. I am a huge fan of shows that allow me to reflect on the way society is, so I wanted to list a few of my favourites and explain the messages in them.

    Black Mirror

    While this one is obvious for its comments on the way technology influences society as well as the innate behaviour of it, I must discuss it. Black mirror is one of my favourite shows, it’s incredibly easy to see how technology can influence society in the future, yet it is still able to draw parallels with the present day. One example of this is the episode The White Bear which can show how society follow individuals accused of crimes and how in the end we can put our humanity aside, stooping to their level for their punishment.

    Another example of how well this show comments on society is Nosedive. It demonstrates how people can get so caught up in social media that it becomes a hierarchy. Those with more followers or more likes are richer, more influential and powerful. It also demonstrates how attemping to reach that level will not make people happy, which is what a lot of people search for in social media.

    Attack on Titan

    This show is a japanese anime, despite this it still does a fantastic job at commenting on society. To quickly summarise, this show is about giants called titans that eat people and inorder to survive humanity builds a huge wall to prevent them from getting eaten. The wall itself it very symbolic in the functioning of society.

    There are layers to the wall and these layers can correspond to the social class of the person living within this area, with the richer people having the most walls between them and the titans. So far, we can visualise how this wall demonstrates the social system in society. When disaster strikes and the titans penetrate the wall, its the pooer class who is the first to be effected. This is also seen in our everyday lives, one example is global warming, people living in poverty are the ones getting most effected right now, with higher classes being unaware of the effects. The wall is important to understanding class, yet there is much more to social class within the show.

    Tokyo Ghoul

    Tokyo Ghoul is another japanese anime that about a boy name Kaneki who becomes a ghoul and needs human flesh to survive. He tries to restrain from giving into this survival instinct but eventually succumbs to it. One theme that in particularly interesting is the idea that the ghouls are only doing what they need to survive and that happens to be eating human flesh. Some ghouls like to obtain their food by a more ethical means, yet no matter what, the humans hate and hunt them. In relation to society, it demonstrates how humanity can be unwilling to find alternatives and would rather discriminate and alienate, pushing people to do what they need to in order to survive. While there are many others themes, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

    The X Files

    While the X Files is a sci fi show and quite bizarre at times, it often comments on themes relating to social groups. Mass hysteria is one example in which people will go crazy due to fear and panic. Another interesting point is how people tend to group together to fit their needs and interests, even if it leads to extreme behaviour. This show does an incredible job on showing human psychology and how it works at a societal level. It also has an overall scary or isolated feel at times which adds to these themes. Despite having quite serious episodes, they always throw in a comedic one and its great.

    These four shows are some of my personal favourites, they do an amazing job at showing the human condition. Of course there are many more out there and these are just a few of them. I’d love to hear any shows that you’d recommend. Thanks for reading!

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    Review

    Book Corner – Lessons Learned from The Order of the Phoenix

    This post isn’t going to be on the book as much per sae. I enjoyed this book as much as I enjoyed the rest of the Harry Potter series, however; one character stood out to me, Dumbledore. So, I’m going to discuss why because it almost brought a tear to my eye, and I don’t cry over books.

    It wasn’t until the end of the book that we finally got a glimpse into the kind of character Dumbledore is and he is one I really admire.

    At the end of the book, after losing his godfather, Harry was distraught, angry and just in a horrible mental state. He was yelling, smashing things and being destructive in Dumbledores office. Yet, Dumbledore showed no objection, he merrily let Harry let it out and listened. I want to discuss a bit about this. Throughout the book Harry was being toxic to his friends because he repressed a lot of his emotions. Finally it came out and by offering Harry a safe place to yell, scream and smash things was the best possible way Dumbledore could’ve reacted to this scenario.

    Now, I’m not saying smash things, at least not anything that is valuable. What I am saying is that allowing someone to let it out and free themselves from repressed anger is an amazing thing to do. Not casting blame on them, or offering excuses and listening. I really admired this about Dumbledore, because in no way did he try to repress or down play Harry’s feelings and instead provided an outlet.

    Then, when Dumbledore was discussing why the house elf lied to Harry about Sirius (Harry’s godfather), ultimately leading to Sirius’s demise, he explained his motives again never casting blame. Dumbledore is incredibly good at understanding the reason behind why people do the things they do. He understood the mistreatment of the house elf by Sirius and how it could’ve effected their behaviour. But he also understood that Sirius’s mistreatment arose due to a belief that house elves are slaves in Wizarding society. He didn’t show blame on one or the other, he simply stated both sides of the story to allow Harry to make his judgement as to whether he blamed the house elf. For me, presenting the story in two ways allows me to understand to a greater extent. Even more, he didn’t show which side he blamed for Sirius’s death, he did understand that the house elf had been treated poorly by Sirius, but he didn’t show whose side he took. Albeit, in some situations it’s incredibly obvious which side you should take (ones support human rights) and I am referring to the cause of Sirius’s death but he allowed Harry to draw his own conclusions and to decide whether he blamed the house elf or not. Doing this doesn’t guilt trip someone into coming to a certain conclusion. And that is why I admire Dumbledore in this book, he showed how to react when someone reaches out to you and how to see a situation; from both sides of a story.

    Thank you so much for reading, I hope this post was somewhat thought provoking. I really enjoy books that have a fantastic story and message so if anyone has an idea as to what book I should read next, let me know!

    diary · Inspiring People · Review

    The Outer Worlds And Asexuality

    Lately, I have noticed that representation of different cultures, orientations, etc have become more prominent in the media. In my opinion there is still much stereotyping going on, however; it’s good to see that wider representation is happening. This brings me to the topic of this post. Recently, I have been playing the video game, The Outer Worlds and I was taken aback by the asexual character that was presented. For those who don’t know, asexuality is an orientation in which an individual lacks sexual attraction to anyone. That’s the definition in its purest form and by no means excludes people who don’t have sexual attraction, yet still have romantic attraction or sleep with their partners. I have been asexual for as long as I can remember, all those natural instincts never clicked. The Outer Worlds portrayed my situation perfectly. First I want to explain a bit about what the game is about and then delve into the character which changed the game for me.

    The Outer Worlds is a role playing game set in a colony in another star system. This colony is poorly run by a cooperation and you are tasked with saving the colony before its demise. Not only does this game have an asexual character, it also explores social hierarchy and the power of cooperations. The social commentary present in this game is incredibly in your face and it really allows you to reflect, drawing comparisons. In saying this, I shouldn’t have been surprised when I discovered the level of depth they gave Parvati (the asexual character). The writers never failed to show the anxiety that had arisen due to her sexuality.

    During the game, Parvati meets someone she idolises and they start hitting it off. When I went to interact with her, I could feel her anxiety. She confided in me about how she has was never into ‘physical stuff’ and worried that her romantic interest wouldn’t accept her. And to personalise your gameplay and story even more, the writers added an option where you can admit that you weren’t into physical stuff either. Parvati looked completely surprised. For me, it captures the anxiety with meeting potential romantic partners and even the shock of finding someone like you to a tea. When you meet someone you like, anxiety takes hold, some might argue even more so if you’re asexual. Countless times I have worried, ‘what if they only want one thing?’ and it stop you from pursuing relationships. It’s also amazing that they didn’t make her an aromantic (someone who doesn’t experience romantic attraction) asexual. I’ve found when people find out someone is asexual there’s a lot of ‘so you don’t want to date anyone’, so it’s good to get a wide variety of asexual representation out there. Every asexual is different.

    On quick side note, I also like how she wasn’t labelled as asexual within the game, which I know might sound a little strange. For me, it’s normal, it doesn’t need a label. Yes, a label can help us understand what we experiencing, though I’ve always let it create anxiety about how different I am. Labels help some and don’t help others, it’s a matter of preference.

    Thanks for reading everyone! Let me know what you think about representation in the media today. Is it getting better? or is it full of stereotyping?

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    Bujo · Review

    March Reading List

    Recently, I have been trying to read on a daily basis and while I have been able to achieve that, I have only been reading Harry Potter. I am currently up to book four, which is pretty good since I went from one book a year to three. Despite this, I want to expand and read different genres because books contain great insight into the world and every book offers something different.

    In order to make sure I try to read more variety, I am going to share my reading list for March and hopefully at the end of the month – there will be book reviews. Since the four books on my nightstand are quite lengthy, I am going to aim for three, so here they are:

    Sapians

    This book was on my January reading list and it just didn’t happen. However, I am determined to get it finished even if it kills me. My issue with reading this book is that I watch a lot of informational videos and documentaries, therefore, I have heard some of this information before. Regardless, I will give it my best shot as I find it explains a lot about society which I find interesting.

    Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire

    I am ready to get into this book because I loved the Prison of Azkaban. I enjoyed the first two books a lot, though it didn’t pick up for me until the third. For me, I really love the world building more than the actual writing and storytelling because the all the books are just a vibe. Prisoner of Azkaban changed that because I thoroughly enjoyed that story and cannot wait for the rest of them.

    Illuminae

    This book is quite different to any book I’ve ever read. It tells the story in the form of case files. I don’t know much about the story currently, though it is described as a mix of ‘space opera, romance, zombies, hackers and political thrills’, and of course this is right up my alley.

    Thanks for reading everyone! I hope to share my thoughts on the books.

    diary · Review

    January Reading List

    Hi everyone,

    This year, I have decided to make reading a habit. Currently I have been attempting to read everyday and although it doesn’t always work out, I am getting there slowly. In order to begin reading I had to make a reading list for the month and there are two books on it. I don’t think I’m capable of reading more than two books a month, however; if I am able to, I will increase it to three.

    Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone

    I’ve always wanted to read the Harry Potter series, though I was never motivated enough. I had the privilege to see the play; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and it was my motivation to read the book series.

    I’m around half way through the book and I absolutely love it. It has a whimsical and magical vibe to it. I really enjoy books with these kind of ambiance and it’s great to see the differences between the movie and the book. Personally, I do prefer the book because it has more in it than the movie does.

    Sapians – A Brief History of Humankind

    Sapians – A Brief History of Humankind is written by Yuval Noah Harari and it looks at the the history of socoety from the Stone Age to the twenty-first century. I have only read a few pages of this book and it’s very slow for me, however; it is my goal to finish it in January.

    I chose this book because there was a lot of hype around it and I also am quite interested in history and evolution. I hope I will be able to finish it as so far it is very history heavy and I mainly read fiction.

    Thanks for reading everyone! I hope to post reviews for the books at the end of the month so stay tuned.

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    diary · Review

    Why I Love Frozen 2 – Pt. 2 (spoilers)

    Watching the first Frozen movie, I was amazed by Elsa’s transformation. She went from a character who isolated herself because she was afraid to hurt people, to someone who was able to express her feelings and let others in. Frozen 2 allowed for further character development, progressing from a highly anxious individual to one who becomes free of anxiety and lets herself be free.

    During the first song ‘Some Things Never Change’, the characters sing about how time is moving forward, yet they all remain the same. For Elsa she keeps hearing a call and has great anxiety that ‘somethings coming’ and how she’s ‘not sure she wants things to change at all’. These lines show the fear Elsa has in regards to the future and the uncertainty that awaits. Suffering from anxiety myself, the ambiguity that the future has can be terrifying and make you want to hold onto the present tightly. Elsa describes how the ‘days are precious’ and she cannot ‘let them slip away’, however; she ‘can still go out and seize this day’. Despite Elsa’s anxiety, she isn’t allowing dread to hold her back and is continuing to go about her day seizing every moment. This ability to not let anxiety stand in your way displays Elsa’s progression from the first movie, allowing us to see her journey. Yet at this point, she still has far to go due to her constant overthinking.

    Throughout the Frozen franchise, we get to see Elsa’s progression in overcoming her anxiety. The song ‘Into the Unknown’, is very much about ignoring the voice in your head. Elsa is refusing to listen to the ‘siren’ as she fears ‘what [she] is risking if [she] follows’ it. The use of ‘siren’ demonstrates how the voice is enticing for her and it compels her. It isn’t until the movie progresses, that we see the voice was her own. For Elsa, the idea of pursuing the call gives her great anxiety because she’s afraid to risk what she has. The voice even goes so far as to ‘keep her awake’, which shows the constant thinking about whether to listen to the siren. This song analyses the overthinking of an individual when something new or scary makes an appearance. Which is further evident when she states ‘there’s a thousand reasons to go about my day’. It shows the compulsion to think about reasons why something should or shouldn’t happen. This is a classic symptom of anxiety, the constant overthinking and reflection. The song demonstrates Elsa’s thought process as it progresses from blocking the siren out, to thinking why is it here? To then accepting it and making a decision. This inability to make decisions is something many of us can resonate with because fear holds us back. Elsa was able to move forward and finally let the siren in, it’s only after she does this that she can become who she was meant to be.

    In the song ‘Show Yourself’, it displays how the voice inside Elsa’s head was her own the entire time. She sings ‘I can sense you there, like a friend I’ve always known, I’m arriving, and it feels like I am home’. Elsa set out looking for someone like her and in these lines, she suggests she feels like this is where she is meant to be. She then explains how she’s ‘always been a fortress, cold secrets deep inside’. It demonstrates how Elsa never felt at home and how her anxiety and dismissing the voice in her head held her back. Throughout the song, Elsa thought she was looking for someone like her, when the entire time she was looking for herself. It isn’t until her mother sings ‘there’s a river…full of memory…come, my darling, homeward bound’ that Elsa realises ‘[she] is found’. When Elsa finally finds the truth about her past through the memories of her ancestors, she is ‘homeward bound’, meaning she is finally finding where she belongs. She confirms this through singing ‘I am found’. The entire time she wasn’t in search of anyone else, she was looking for herself. There’s no longer any fear or sadness towards being alone, she has found herself and can finally be who she is. This is further confirmed when her mother sings to her ‘you’re the one you’ve been waiting for’. I think this is an idea a lot of people can understand, we tend to ignore our own voice and as a result we look for other voices to guide us. We overthink, trying to read signals and signs to figure out who we should be. This leads to that fear and anxiety of being alone, then at some point we need to realise the only one we’ve been looking for is ourselves. Our own voice is the only one that can guide us, and that idea is something that is very hard to come to. This song is a fantastic example of how we have to understand ourself to find ourself.

    Thanks everyone for reading my analysis of Elsa’s character, her message is one that really hits close to home and I just wanted to share it with everyone.

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    Review

    Why I Love Frozen 2 Pt. 1 (spoilers)

    Warning: spoilers. For those of you who just want to read my interpretation of the second movie, skip to paragraph four as the first few paragraphs is what the first Frozen movie meant to me.

    When the first Frozen movie came out, I remember seeing all the hype about it. So naturally, I gave in and watched the movie. I remember feeling emotional every step of the way when it came to Elsa’s and Anna’s relationship. Having a sister myself, I resonated with the idea that I would do anything for her, including shut her out when life got tough, I could relate to Elsa.

    Elsa’s signature song ‘Let it Go’ was an amazing piece in which you could feel that after all the pain and suffering she went through, telling everyone finally let her be free to a certain extent. That pivotal scene in which she transformed into her new self after being free of her constraints and letting her power flow gave me chills. It showed how freedom from your constraints can allow you to transform. Yet, despite releasing all the pain of her life, she was still unable to let those who love her in (a feat I too have only recently came to discover is difficult) because she was still isolating herself. She was able to let go of the past and embrace her power, however; fear of letting others in was still ingrained in her. By refusing to let anyone in she hurt those she loved even more and almost lost Anna through freezing her heart. By the end of the movie, when Anna was frozen and Elsa was finally able to show her love, it was only through that release of emotion that she was able to unfreeze her.

    My love for the first movie stems because of my own childhood and how my sister and I can relate to both characters. Elsa and Anna were the only ones who knew the isolation they both experienced. I could draw parallels with our own childhoods. I resonated with Elsa as I had to be strong and put up a wall and my sister was Anna trying to figure the world out alone. Despite drawing similarities with my own life, I could only relate to Elsa and couldn’t relate to any other character. Frozen 2 changes that, most characters are relatable in one way or another and it’s commentary is outstanding.

    Anna’s Character Development

    The start of the movie opens up to an upbeat song titled ‘Some Things Never Change’, which sings about well… things never changing. In the song she describes how the world around her is changing, yet the loved ones who surround her remain the same. She sings how the way she is ‘…holding on tight…’ to everyone around. Anna is a very family oriented person and would do anything for the people she loved because she grew up in perpetual loneliness. She is afraid to lose the ones who she now holds so dear which is why she holds onto them so tightly. These actions are something a lot of people can resonate with as we often go through life losing the people we hold dear in one way or another. Anna’s character is very much relatable because she has so much fear in losing the ones she loves and compares her will to hold onto them as strong as a ‘old stone wall that will never fall’. This idea is one that many people can draw parallels with, I for one have often fought for those I love/value even to the point I will hold them as close as possible, however; this doesn’t always work.

    Holding on tightly to others doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to. Anna tried to keep Elsa close to her throughout the entire movie so she wouldn’t lose her again and have to experience the loneliness she felt throughout her entire childhood. At the end of the day, she couldn’t stop Elsa from adventuring alone to find herself. After that pivotal scene where Elsa strays too far and drowns, Olaf fades away and Anna realises that her sister is gone. The song ‘The Next Right Thing’, is a song that Anna sings coming from pure despair. The first line of the song explains how she’s ‘seen dark before’, suggesting that Anna has gone through depression in the past, yet nothing can compare for the darkness she is in now. She explains hows what is feeling is ‘cold…empty…numb’ and the ‘lights are out’. Anna is finally ready to ‘succumb to the darkness’ because ‘the life [she] knew is over’. The first lines of this song display how reliant Anna is on Elsa because without her there, only darkness remains. This is further evident with the next lines of the song in which she says ‘I have followed you around, I always have, but you’ve gone to a place I cannot find’. Elsa is Anna’s older sister and she is a role model to Anna. She later sings ‘the only star that guided [her] was [Elsa]’, further supporting that idea that Elsa has always taken care of Anna and has always been held on a pedestal by her. Without Elsa there she has no guidance or ‘reason’ to rise up, she only allowed herself to be guided by others to rise up for them in order for her to keep them held so tightly. This is something a lot of us can resonate with as sometimes we don’t act for ourselves, but for others, so they can see us in a good light. ‘The Next Right Thing’ produces a fantastic message which is to not rely on others or their guidance to rise up.

    The idea of not relying on others to feel validated and develop yourself as a person is one that many of us can relate to, and its not until we listen to the voice inside our own head that we can do that. In the second verse, Anna sings ‘a tiny voice whispers in my mind, “you are lost, hope is gone, but you must go on and do the next right thing”‘. This is the crucial moment in which Anna starts to listen to her own voice. The use of the word ‘tiny’ shows how small her own voice is inside her own head because its been pushed back so many times. The voice doesn’t use the word ‘I’, instead it uses ‘you’, demonstrating the disconnect from that voice inside her head. Anna doesn’t picture the voice as her own because she’s never listened to it and its only now that she is starting to. And in darkness, the voice is telling her ‘to do the next right thing’, to ‘not look too far ahead’ and ‘break it down to this next breath, this next step’. This process that the voice inside Anna’s head is telling her really resonates with me because in those moments I suffered with depresssion, just getting through the day, one day after another, life slowly was able to get better. Frozen 2 brought a whole new side to Anna that wasn’t present in the first movie. In the first movie she was always bubbly and determined, and in this move, her mental health issues are demonstrated incredibly well.

    I didn’t plan for the section on Anna to be this long, it wasn’t until I started reading and writing that I felt the need to express how I saw Anna’s character. So I will divide my analysis up into parts and continue to write about the other characters I could draw parallels with.