T5W – In A Land Far, Far Away

Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Books NOT Set/Inspired By The Western World!

Wow, this one was actually WAY harder than I thought it would be. Getting into the Pop Sugar reading challenges and a few groups on Goodreads has really broadened my book horizons, but I still apparently haven’t read very many books that aren’t based on the Western World. :/ I had to break into my TBR pile to make up the difference!

The Night Parade (Kathryn Tanquary) — Japan

thenightparadeThe last thing Saki Yamamoto wants to do for her summer vacation is trade in exciting Tokyo for the antiquated rituals and bad cell reception of her grandmother’s village. Preparing for the Obon ceremony is boring. Then the local kids take an interest in Saki and she sees an opportunity for some fun, even if it means disrespecting her family’s ancestral shrine on a malicious dare. But as Saki rings the sacred bell, the darkness shifts. A death curse has been invoked… and Saki has three nights to undo it. With the help of three spirit guides and some unexpected friends, Saki must prove her worth – or say good-bye to the world of the living forever. If you like Hayao Miyazaki films, you will love this book!

Wildwood Dancing (Juliet Marillier) — Transylvania

wildwooddancingHigh in the Transylvanian woods, at the castle Piscul Draculi, live five daughters and their doting father. It’s an idyllic life for Jena, the second eldest, who spends her time exploring the mysterious forest with her constant companion, a most unusual frog. But best by far is the castle’s hidden portal, known only to the sisters. Every Full Moon, they alone can pass through it into the enchanted world of the Other Kingdom. There they dance through the night with the fey creatures of this magical realm. But their peace is shattered when Father falls ill and must go to the southern parts to recover, for that is when cousin Cezar arrives. Though he’s there to help the girls survive the brutal winter, Jena suspects he has darker motives in store. Meanwhile, Jena’s sister has fallen in love with a dangerous creature of the Other Kingdom–an impossible union it’s up to Jena to stop. When Cezar’s grip of power begins to tighten, at stake is everything Jena loves: her home, her family, and the Other Kingdom she has come to cherish. To save her world, Jena will be tested in ways she can’t imagine–tests of trust, strength, and true love. This one was really good. I love reading about mystical creatures and faerie tales from other countries and this book managed to incorporate quite a few of them! 🙂

The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (Alexander McCall Smith) — Botswana

theno1ladiesdetectiveagencyThe No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series tells the story of the delightfully cunning and enormously engaging Precious Ramotswe, who is drawn to her profession to “help people with problems in their lives.” Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. But the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witchdoctors. This one is from my TBR pile. It looks pretty good, so fingers crossed!

The Girl From The Well (Rin Chupeco) — Japan

thegirlfromthewellA dead girl walks the streets. She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago. And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan. Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out. This one is cheating a bit, since it DOES start out in the US. But the premise of the book is Eastern and all the characters end up in Japan, so I’m counting it.

The Ear, The Eye, and The Arm (Nancy Farmer) — Zimbabwe

theeartheeyeGeneral Matsika’s children steal out of the house on a forbidden adventure–and disappear. In Zimbabwe, in the year 2194, the children’s parents call in Africa’s most unusual detectives–the Ear, the Eye and the Arm–who have powers far beyond those of other human beings. The children must avoid the evils of the past, the technology of the future, and a motley assortment of criminals in order to return home safely. Also from my TBR pile, I picked this book up at a used book sale last year and it looks really fun!


Anyone have some recommendations for great novels that aren’t set in the Western world? I’d love to broaden my book horizons even more! 🙂

T5W – “A Happy Child is a Child Reading a Good Book”

Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Children’s Books! Now, I love me a good children’s novel, so I’m going to do a bit extra in this post. Instead of just 5 books, I’m going to give you 5 more recent novels and 5 older novels. 🙂 — To keep things a bit shorter, I’ll just give you the descriptions from Goodreads by themselves instead of adding a personal review, but I have read each of these books and would recommend them all highly!

Recent Novels

Circus Mirandus (Cassie Beasley)

circusmirandusMicah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle.

The Island of Dr. Libris (Chris Grabenstein)

islandofdrlibrisBilly’s spending the summer in a lakeside cabin that belongs to the mysterious Dr. Libris. But something strange is going on. Besides the security cameras everywhere, there’s Dr. Libris’s private bookcase. Whenever Billy opens the books inside, he can hear sounds coming from the island in the middle of the lake. The clash of swords. The twang of arrows. Sometimes he can even feel the ground shaking. It’s almost as if the stories he’s reading are coming to life!

The Book of Storms (Ruth Hatfield)

bookofstormsEleven-year-old Danny’s parents are storm chasers – which sounds fun and exciting, and it is, so long as you aren’t the son who has to wait behind at home. And one night, after a particularly fierce storm, Danny’s parents don’t come back. Stranger still, the old sycamore tree in Danny’s yard seems to have been struck by lightning, and when he picks up a fragment of wood from the tree’s heart, he finds he can hear voices … including that of next door’s rather uppity cat, Mitzy. The stick is a taro, a shard of lightning that bestows upon its bearer unnerving powers, including the ability to talk with plants and animals – and it is very valuable.

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse (Chris Riddell)

gothgirlMeet Ada Goth. She lives in Ghastly-Gorm Hall with her father, Lord Goth, lots of servants and at least half a dozen ghosts, but she hasn’t got any friends to explore her enormous, creepy house with. Then, one night, everything changes when Ada meets a ghostly mouse called Ishmael. Together they set out to solve the mystery of the strange happenings at Ghastly-Gorm Hall, and get a lot more than they bargained for.

The Wishing Spell (Chris Colfer)

wishingspellThrough the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, Alex & Conner leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about. But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.

Older Novels

The Children of Green Knowe (L.M. Boston)

greenknowe“Tolly” Toseland 7 is rowed up to great-gran Linnet Oldknow by servant Boggis – there has always been a Boggis at Green Knowe. The real “castle” is over 900 years old. Gran tells old family stories, and songs. Over the generations there have been many who can see, hear, and feel the ghosts, evoked by white-on-black illustrations. Toby 14, Alexander, and Linnet 6 linger after the Plague, as does the cursed topiary Green Noah.

A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle)

wrinkleintimeMeg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

Circle of Magic (Tamora Pierce)

(From 1st novel) With her gift of weaving silk thread and creating light, Sandry is brought to the Winding Circle community. There she meets Briar, a former thief who has a way with plants; Daja, an outcast gifted at metalcraft; and Tris, whose connection with the weather unsettles everyone, including herself. At Winding Circle, the four misfits are taught how to use their magic – and to trust one another. But then disaster strikes their new home.

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Castaways of the Flying Dutchman (Brian Jacques)

7997A boy and dog trapped aboard the legendary ship, the Flying Dutchman, are sent off on an eternal journey by an avenging angel, roaming the earth throughout the centuries in search of those in need.  Their travels lead them to Chapelvale, a sleepy nineteenth century village whose very existence is at stake.  Only by discovering the buried secrets and solving the dust-laden riddles of the ancient village can it be saved.  This will take the will and wile of all the people-and a very special boy and dog!

Canyons (Gary Paulsen)

canyonsCoyote Runs, an Apache boy, takes part in his first raid — the one that will usher him into manhood. He is to be a man for but a short time….More than a hundred years later, while camping near Dog Canyon, fifteen-year-old Brennan Cole becomes obsessed with a skull that he finds, pierced by a bullet. He learns that it was the skull of an Apache boy executed by soldiers in 1864. A mystical link joins Brennan and Coyote Runs, and Brennan knows that neither boy will find any peace until Coyote Runs’ skull is returned to an ancient sacred place.


What are some of YOUR favorite children’s books?

T5W – I Don’t Want Your Love

Ack! I go away for one week and miss my perfect Top 5 Wednesday topic!!!

Today’s T5W topic is: Books Without Romance. (See, told you!)

To be fair, this is actually a hard topic, even for me. Half the lists I’ve seen include children’s books or at least children as the main character. I myself was tempted to include a couple non-fiction books. But I really think all the books listed should be adult (or YA) fiction in order to hold true to the spirit of the topic.

Doctor Sleep (Stephen King)

16130549I’ll admit, it’s been 2 or 3 years since I read this one, so I can’t be 100% sure there WASN’T romance in it. But if there was, I definitely don’t remember it. Doctor Sleep is the sequel to The Shining; it follows Danny into adulthood and depicts a brand-new adventure with horrifying vampire-demon things and a new kid sidekick with mental powers. It was actually REALLY good. If you like Stephen King, I’d highly recommend it.

The Buntline Special (and subsequent Weird West Tales) (Mike Resnick)

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This is a fun series. It pulls in a lot of real-life ‘old west’ characters, such as Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, Geronimo, Billy the Kid, Teddy Roosevelt, and more; but the stories actually take place in an alternate universe, where shamans can do real magic and are holding the border at the Mississippi River. Doc Holliday, the main character, does have an on again/off again with a saloon owner, but it is not AT ALL part of the main plot.

NPCs (Drew Hayes)

22088245Now, I haven’t read any of the other books in the series, but this first book is fairly limited on the “I love you so much” scale. In this first novel, the NPCs (non-player characters) in a role playing game suddenly have to take on the roles of the heroes in order to save their town from a tyrannical king. The characters are much more focused on their adventure than romance, though there IS some foreshadowing that romance might occur in the future.

The Shack (William Paul Young)

1812457This is probably the closest I’ll get to cheating. A book where the main character spends 80% of the time having a face-to-face with God and 10% of the rest has to do with his child being kidnapped? Yeah, not much time for romance in this one.

Welcome to Night Vale (Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor)

51IZUXor7hL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_The creators of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast really outdid themselves on their first novel. They managed to take a bunch of very minor characters from the show and create an entire novel, with those characters coming together to solve a huge mystery that started out as an off-hand comment. It’s amazing! There ARE a few hints to a previous relationship…and of course Cecil can’t ever NOT talk about Carlos, but the majority if this story has nothing to to with romance.


So how about it? Do YOU know any great stories that don’t have any romance in them? I would LOVE to get some feedback on this one, so I can start a TBR list! 😀

T5W – Dopey Grins & Snotty Tears

Hey all! Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Hate to Love Ships.

Since, as you all know, I am not overly fond of romance novels…or romance IN my novels period…this one is a little tricky for me. As such, I’m tweaking it a bit and am going to instead give you Romances That I Actually Loved.

(Edit: Apparently many people are interpreting the topic as ‘relationships that went from hate to love’, so I’m not as off topic as I thought! Hooray!)

The Princess Bride (William Goldman)

17572327Well, I mean…duh. Who doesn’t like The Princess Bride? This is the ultimate romance novel, full of swashbuckling, monsters, and daring-do. The movie version of this book is in my Top 5 movies of all time, so when I finally got around to reading it, I was nervous. Turns out I didn’t need to be, the book was just as great as the film! I loved the extra back stories for my favorite characters and, even though I’ve seen the film probably a good hundred times, still found myself rooting for true love to win the day.

The Fault In Our Stars (John Green)

11870085Not many books can bring me to tears. This one came close. For those of you who don’t know, this is the story of two teenagers who meet at a support group for cancer patients and end up falling in love. Its heartfelt, bittersweet, and completely touching. Just, be prepared for possible gross-crying. Seriously.

Carry On (Rainbow Rowell)

23734628Having loved Fangirl, I was completely ecstatic to find out that the author had published a full-length novel based on the “fanfiction” written by the main character. Yes, it’s basically a royalty-free Draco/Harry slash fic, but it’s got a ton of action, intrigue, and…let’s face it, the boys are super cute together. I highly recommend this one to fans of Fangirl or Rainbow Rowell in general…and definitely to my fellow Drarrys/Harcos. You know who you are. 😉

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend (Katarina Bivald)

23346496This was honestly a really cute book. It’s about a girl named Sara who travels from Sweden to meet her penpal, Amy. Unfortunately by the time she arrives, Amy has passed away. So Sara starts a bookstore using Amy’s old books….Yeah, it’s a bit odd and very bibliophile-y (probably why I liked it so much), but it’s nice little story about finding where you’re supposed to be.

The Rosie Project (Graeme Simsion)

18015965This was a really interesting book. Written from the perspective of someone with autism, this book gives you a slight glimpse of what it might be like to go through life on the spectrum. Don’t expect too much in-depth thought on the subject, though, this book is more of a comedy than a drama…think ‘Sheldon in Love’ rather than something really introspective. It was cute though and I really enjoyed it.

Honorable Mention

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (Multiple Authors)

lbdlogoWhile not technically a book, LBD is a vlog that is BASED on a book, so I feel that it deserves an honorable mention. I am not ashamed to admit, I have a REALLY hard time reading 19th century literature. Is it the garrulous prose? The lengthy scenery descriptions? The tedious plots? ::shrugs:: I dunno, but my brain reads them like they are in another language. And, as I’ve repeatedly mentioned, I’m not a huge fan of romance. So, of course, I’ve had absolutely zero interest in ever reading Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. I’ve never even been able to sit through the movie (any of them).

the-lizzie-bennet-diaries

As such, when I stumbled across a vlog named The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I honestly had NO CLUE it was a spoof of the novel. It took me until episode 5 to realize what was happening (yes, I AM a little embarrassed about that, lol). By then it was too late; I was hooked on the characters and honestly wanted to know what was going to happen. I laughed, I choked up, and I ended the series (each of the 4 times I’ve watched it all the way through) with a giant dopey grin.

T5W – I Don’t Like You, But I Love You

Howdy-Ho! Today’s Top 5 Wednesday Topic is: Favorite “Unlikable” Protagonists!

I’ve actually read surprisingly few books where the main character is the bad guy (I’m not sure why; I’ve always loved a good villain), so I’m actually going to have to throw a few antagonists into the mix on this one.

Artemis FowlArtemis Fowl (Eoin Colfer)
Protagonist

249747At the start of this series, 12 year old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius, and criminal mastermind. He kidnaps a faerie so he can study magic and wackiness ensues. To be a bit fair, Artemis DOES do some good along the way, but my favorite bits are when he’s being a bad guy. He’s like a tech-savvy Moriarty, only without all the murder. This is a fun series, even for adults. I highly recommend it!

The MasterDoctor Who (Multiple Authors)
Antagonist

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I adore The Master, in all his incarnations. He’s dastardly, clever, witty, and completely unpredictable…everything a good villain should be. And he’s the only antagonist who seems to truly be the Doctor’s equal. His newest regeneration, Missy, is fabulous. She’s every bit the character I remember from previous incarnations and I love her to bits.

Captain HookPeter Pan (J.M. Barrie & Others)
Pro/Antagonist

34262I know, I know, odd choice, right? I’ve just always loved Captain Hook (I blame Dustin Hoffman 😉 ). I am ecstatic that, now that the book is partially under public domain, other authors have started to explore this character more in-depth. There are a TON of good pre-Peter Pan novels out now, including several about how Capt Hook became Capt Hook. I’ve you’re looking for a good one, I’d definitely recommend Peter and the Star Catchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson.

QStar Trek: The Next Generation (Multiple Authors)
Pro/Antagonist

QGambit1-HeaderImage2

Ah, Q. How can anyone not love Q? He’s such a pest! 😉 An all-powerful being from an alternate dimension, the writers of Next Gen brought Q in as an antagonist for the pilot, where he tests the crew’s resolve and worth. He became such a fan favorite that he came back not only for several more episodes, but also appeared on several of the other shows, in books, comics…he even took on Spock himself in an audio drama called Spock vs. Q. Heck, John de Lancie is so well-loved as that character, that they spoofed him on My Little Pony…AND GOT HIM TO DO THE VOICE! Seriously, he’s totally awesome.

The JokerBatman (Multiple Authors)
Antagonist

A vicious (though funny) psychopath hell-bent on destroying Batman, he’s done everything from personally beating one of the Robins to death to letting someone CUT OFF HIS FACE. He’s completely unpredictable because he honestly doesn’t care what happens. And that’s the mark of a really good villain, isn’t it? The Joker is the epitome of chaos; with him in the story…anything can happen.

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Who are YOUR favorite unlikable protagonists (or antagonists, same diff 😉 )?

 

T5W – Ravenpuffs Represent!

Hey all! Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Hogwarts House Pride, in which we are supposed to give you a list of five books that represent our Hogwarts House. But since I’ve always considered myself to actually be a mixture of TWO houses, I’m going to also give YOU a mixture. 😉

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What is a Ravenpuff, you might ask? Well, I tend to describe it as “bookish but friendly”. I enjoy losing myself in a fantasy world, but I also really love hanging out with my friends in this one. I consider myself a scientist AND a believer; as Sherwood Eddy said “Faith is not contrary to reason.” And I like to think I have enough sense to know when being right isn’t necessarily the most important thing…though I do love being right. 😉

So here are a few books that represent both of my houses and the lovely mixture that is Ravenpuff. 🙂

Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell) — Ravenpuff

17286849This one is slightly a cheat, since I’m mainly picking it because the main character, Cath, reminds me so much of myself. 😉 Cath is crazy about books & writing and completely obsessed with her fanfiction. She still makes time for her friends and real life, though, and even if she gets a bit defensive about it, isn’t afraid to admit when she’s wrong. This is kind of a “coming of age” story, showing just how much people can be changed by their first year of college.

A Dog’s Purpose (W. Bruce Cameron) — Hufflepuff

7723542I know, I know, picking a dog to represent one of my houses should be insulting, right? Not if you’ve read this book, it isn’t. “Dog” is one of the most loyal characters I’ve come across. Everything he does is for the good of his people. He doesn’t care about the danger to himself or whether or not he is rewarded, he just wants to make sure his people are ok. This was a very heart-warming tale and I highly recommend it, especially to dog owners.

Strange the Dreamer (Laini Taylor) — Ravenpuff

28449207Lazlo Strange, the main character in this book, is such a good representation of the Ravenpuff mentality. He’s extremely bookish and slightly obsessive about his favorite field of study, but he’s also immensely loyal and fair, even to people he doesn’t really like. By the end of the book, he’s willing to risk life and limb to make sure his loved ones are safe. This one is a duology, folks, so be prepared for a cliffhanger. I can’t wait to read the conclusion!!!

The Mermaid in the Basement (Gilbert Morris) — Ravenclaw

1964325The main character in this book, Lady Serafina Trent, is definitely a Ravenclaw. She is one of the most logic-based characters I’ve ever read. Almost a female version of Sherlock Holmes, Lady Trent uses science and method to try to save her brother from the gallows when he is accused of murder. She does get swayed a bit into the more emotional side of life by some of the characters, but she never loses her logic.

And speaking of Sherlock Holmes…

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Arthur Conan Doyle) — Ravenpuff

The ultimate Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff match-up. Holmes is super methodical and logic-based; virtually his entire life is devoted to improving his mind. Watson, on the other hand, is much more focused on the personal side of their cases, the people and their woes. They balance each other perfectly.
Book Illustration Depicting Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in a Train Cabin


What books do you think best represent your house?

 

T5W – So Long Old Friend…

Hidy Ho! Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Fandoms You Are No Longer In. “But isn’t it only Tuesday?” you say. Well, yes, but I’m going on vacation tomorrow, so you get to enjoy this post a day early. 😉

I’ll be honest, I don’t really consider myself to have abandoned ANY of my fandoms, but there are a few that I was really intensely into and have since tempered my feelings for. So while I still consider myself to be IN those fandoms, I’m not the rabid fan I used to be.

Uh, also, these are almost all tv/movie fandoms…though I DO own at least one book from each, so that counts right? 😉

SeaQuest DSV – Does anyone even remember this show except me? This was actually my SeaQuestDSVMainTitlevery first fandom (and my first celebrity crush; you are missed more than you know Jonathan Brandis 😦 ). Not only did SeaQuest kick off my love of sci-fi (and science in general), but it is the series that introduced me to fanfiction! I still really like the show and watch it from time to time (Yea Netflix!), but I’m not as obsessed with it as I was when I was a kid.

Rise of the Guardians – This was a short-lived fandom for me. The movie 6-reasons-why-rise-of-the-guardians-is-still-the-best-holiday-movie-of-the-decadewas WAY more amazing than I thought it was going to be, and since I was really hung up on Pinterest at the time, it was extremely easy for me to fall into the fandom. The artwork that came out of this fandom was completely astounding and there are a TON of fanfics out there with some really great writers. Unfortunately, I fell out of the fandom as easily as I fell in. I think there just wasn’t enough story to keep me enthralled for very long.

Merlin – If you haven’t yet watched BBC’s Merlin…DO IT. It’s a wonderful show. It manages to be both a serious drama and a hilarious comedy, without looking like it’s trying too hard. I really enjoyed the fandom too, the fanfic was fun and some of that artwork was AMAZING! I was devastated when the series ended (Especially like that! What were they thinking?!?), but I’ve since calmed down and mostly moved on to new obsessions. I still watch the show sometimes and occasionally get on Merlin fanfic kicks, but I’m not AS angry about it ending as I used to be…maybe…kinda… 😉

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Random: This picture has always weirded me out. Doesn’t it look like Arthur is about to kill Merlin? Think that was intentional?

Sherlock – I have actually always loved Sherlock as a whole, but when I discovered BBC’s Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in BBC Sherlock Season 1 Episode 3 The Great GameSherlock during the hiatus between series 2 & 3, I fell HARD. The show was SO GOOD and it had been a LONG time since I stumbled across something that I fell in love with. So I went with it. I followed all the Pinterest boards I could find, read all the crazy conspiracy theories, bought the dvds and watched them over and over again for clues…I went a bit crazy. 😉 I still love Sherlock, but I have calmed down enough about it that I have completely accepted that it might end. In fact, I think series 4 was a wonderful conclusion to the show and probably SHOULD be the last season. Is this what growing up looks like? 😉

Harry Potter – Man, I was so far gone down the Harry Potter rabbit hole when I was in high school & college. Don’t get me wrong, I STILL love Harry Potter. I still read the fanfic (in fact, I’m re-reading one right now), am collecting the Illustrated editions, went ballistic when The Cursed Child & Fantastic Beasts came out, and still to this day have a giant poster ad for Book 5 that my friend snagged me from her job at Books A Million hanging in my book room. But…I’m definitely not still insane about it. I think I burnt myself out a bit. Harry Potter will always hold a place in my heart, it just doesn’t consume my life like it used to.calling_all_harry_potter_fans__you_can_now_enrol_at_a_real_life_hogwarts


 

What fandoms are you no longer a part of?