Book Review: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

As I finish up the Harry Potter series of reviews, we come to the second last book in the series: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

If you want to read my other reviews on the series, you can find them here:

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Title: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Author: J.K. Rowling
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Page Count: 652

The war against Voldemort is not going well; even Muggle governments are noticing. Ron scans the obituary pages of the Daily Prophet, looking for familiar names. Dumbledore is absent from Hogwarts for long stretches of time, and the Order of the Phoenix has already suffered losses.

And yet . . .

As in all wars, life goes on. The Weasley twins expand their business. Sixth-year students learn to Apparate – and lose a few eyebrows in the process. Teenagers flirt and fight and fall in love. Classes are never straightforward, through Harry receives some extraordinary help from the mysterious Half-Blood Prince.

So it’s the home front that takes center stage in the multilayered sixth installment of the story of Harry Potter. Here at Hogwarts, Harry will search for the full and complete story of the boy who became Lord Voldemort – and thereby find what may be his only vulnerability.


Another Story-less book

This is the second book in the Harry Potter series that really doesn’t have a lot to do with the main story. The other is the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Half Blood Prince has more to do with the overall Harry Potter story, with Horcruxes being introduced and Dumbledore dying.

I feel like without most of this book, the story wouldn’t change too much. The same plot points could have been introduced in other books, and at least 75 per cent could have been removed.


Harry is Still Useless

I will always argue that Harry isn’t a good wizard. He doesn’t really excel at much other than flying on a broom.

He isn’t particularly gifted and he needs a lot of help with pretty much everything he does. Without his friends and mentors, Harry would have been dead half way through book one if it wasn’t for his friends helping him.

He has some interesting moments in the series, but more often that not, he defeats his enemies because of some magical abilities or a plot device.


This World Makes no Sense

There is this job in the Harry Potter world called an Auror correct? They are tasked with being the magic police basically, right? Am I wrong in remembering that?

How is it that an entire world’s worth of Aurors and wizards can’t root out Voldemort’s whereabouts and stop him and his allies?

I get they are infiltrated and you can’t really trust a lot of people, but Death Eaters seem to be fairly well-known. Couldn’t they be arrested?

It seems like there is a lot of plot holes in the world that don’t make a lot of sense.

It doesn’t necessarily make the book bad, but when you think about the rest of the world, it doesn’t add up.


Final Thoughts

This is a mediocre book in the series. The only interesting part of the book is the last 10-20 per cent, where Harry and Dumbledore hunt for the locket.

The series reaches its ultimate finale after this book, and though this one is a bit on the boring side, it’s title is even worse. The “Half Blood Prince” ultimately leads to a pointless conclusion that has zero effect on the story.


What were your thoughts on the Half Blood Prince? Let’s talk about it in the comments or on social media!
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A Collection of Quotes from Signe Pike

Here is a collection of some of the best quotes from The Lost Queen by Signe Pike.

If you are interested in a review of the book, you can find it here.

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“We may not always have the choice we would like. But we always have a choice.” 
― Signe Pike, The Lost Queen

“I have been a drop in the air. I have been a shining star. I have been a word in a book.
― Signe Pike, The Lost Queen

“In prehistoric times, early man was bowled over by natural events: rain, thunder, lightning, the violent shaking and moving of the ground, mountains spewing deathly hot lava, the glow of the moon, the burning heat of the sun, the twinkling of the stars. Our human brain searched for an answer, and the conclusion was that it all must be caused by something greater than ourselves – this, of course, sprouted the earliest seeds of religion. This theory is certainly reflected in faery lore. In the beautiful sloping hills of Connemara in Ireland, for example, faeries were believed to have been just as beautiful, peaceful, and pleasant as the world around them. But in the Scottish Highlands, with their dark, brooding mountains and eerie highland lakes, villagers warned of deadly water-kelpies and spirit characters that packed a bit more punch.” 
― Signe Pike, Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World


“I’d heard people say that as a traveler, you have to be careful not to get attached. Now that I’d felt it, I’d say that’s garbage. If you are lucky enough to find people worth getting attached to, attach yourself with nothing less than all of your heart. Because if you find a companion to walk a stretch of the road with you, a person whose warmth and kindness makes your journey feel much brighter, you have no other choice – you are among the very, very fortunate.” 
― Signe Pike, Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World

“Long ago, when faeries and men still wandered the earth as brothers, the MacLeod chief fell in love with a beautiful faery woman. They had no sooner married and borne a child when she was summoned to return to her people. Husband and wife said a tearful goodbye and parted ways at Fairy Bridge, which you can still visit today. Despite the grieving chief, a celebration was held to honor the birth of the newborn boy, the next great chief of the MacLeods. In all the excitement of the celebration, the baby boy was left in his cradle and the blanket slipped off. In the cold Highland night he began to cry. The baby’s cry tore at his mother, even in another dimension, and so she went to him, wrapping him in her shawl. When the nursemaid arrived, she found the young chief in the arms of his mother, and the faery woman gave her a song she insisted must be sung to the little boy each night. The song became known as “The Dunvegan Cradle Song,” and it has been sung to little chieflings ever since. The shawl, too, she left as a gift: if the clan were ever in dire need, all they would have to do was wave the flag she’d wrapped around her son, and the faery people would come to their aid. Use the gift wisely, she instructed. The magic of the flag will work three times and no more.
As I stood there in Dunvegan Castle, gazing at the Fairy Flag beneath its layers of protective glass, it was hard to imagine the history behind it. The fabric was dated somewhere between the fourth and seventh centuries. The fibers had been analyzed and were believed to be from Syria or Rhodes. Some thought it was part of the robe of an early Christian saint. Others thought it was a part of the war banner for Harald Hardrada, king of Norway, who gave it to the clan as a gift. But there were still others who believed it had come from the shoulders of a beautiful faery maiden. And that faery blood had flowed through the MacLeod family veins ever since. Those people were the MacLeods themselves.” 
― Signe Pike, Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World


“I wanted to find something of the beauty of myth that we’ve left behind, carry its shreds before us all, so we could acknowledge it, somehow bring it back to life. I wanted to delve back into that world that cradled us when we were young enough to still touch it, when trolls lived under creek bridges, faeries fluttered under mushroom caps, and the Tooth Fairy only came once you were truly sleeping. I wanted to see if enchantment was somehow still there, simply waiting to be reached. When I felt my loss, I realized that if I could do anything in this life, I wanted to travel he world, searching for those who were still awake in that old dreamtime, and listen to their stories – because I had to know that there were grownups out there who still believed that life could be magical.
And in that moment I decided: I am going to find the goddamn faeries.” 
― Signe Pike, Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World

“I don’t really believe in faeries. But I really want to. Not just for me, but for all of us. Because we are battered by adulthood- by taxes, by loss, by laundry. by nine to five, by deceit and distrust, by the crushing desire to be thin, successful, popular, happy, in love. All the while we are walking on a planet that is disintigrating around us.” 
― Signe Pike, Faery Tale: One Woman’s Search for Enchantment in a Modern World

Pros and Cons of Hosting a Giveaway

Giveaways are a great way for an organization, blogger, influencer, or company to gain followers, boost engagement, and increase brand awareness.

They are generally cheap, and easy to run if your social media platforms are big enough, plus they can help you feature a new product or service.

But, what are the pros and cons of hosting a giveaway? What good and bad things happen when you run one?

Here is a list of pros and cons of hosting a giveaway.

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Pros

  • Grow your following: Hosting a giveaway is a good way to build your social media following on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • Save money: Hosting a giveaway can be inexpensive and a cost-effective marketing channel strategy.
  • Gain exposure: Launching a new product with a giveaway can help generate buzz around your product and your brand.
  • Save time & headaches: Compared to a lot of other marketing strategies, hosting a giveaway isn’t overly difficult
  • Excite your followers: Hosting a giveaway can be a good way to get your followers excited about a new product, and can get them chatting and generating more interest.
  • Earn increased sales: Hosting a giveaway can help attract loyal customers who will potentially buy your product, or at the least, interact with your content.
  • Get to know your customers: What better way to find out what your followers are interested in or want than hosting a giveaway? It gives you the chance to see what types of giveaways are participating in and what strategies work the best.
  • Bank of goodwill: Many people will be upset that they didn’t win, but you can guarantee that the winners will be excited to hear about their prize and will say great things about you for some time.

Infographic from Easy Promos Blog.

Cons

  • Drama, drama, drama: There is always the potential to receive backlash from contestants that don’t win the giveaway. Be prepared for some backlash and be sure to respond to them in a kind and respectful way.
  • Time and money: Though giveaways aren’t large marketing campaigns, they will require some time and money to properly execute them. Be sure you are aware of the costs and the time that it will take to plan it all.
  • Frustration: There’s nothing worse than a perfectly planned strategy that doesn’t get off the ground like you hoped. If that’s the case, make sure you learn about what went wrong and improve on it in the future.
  • Long-term following: The followers you gain from hosting a giveaway might not lead to the long-term following that you hope. You will see a boost in numbers initially, but that number may dwindle slightly over time.

What are some pros and cons of giveaways that you have experienced in the past? Let’s talk about them in the comments.

Book Review: The Lost Queen by Signe Pike

I received the second book in this series as an eARC, so I had to rent this one from Amazon. I liked the premise of the second book, but after reading this one, I have lost a bit of hope for what is to come.

If you enjoy this review, or are interested in other bookish content, make sure to follow my blog and social media channels.

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Title: The Lost Queen
Author: Signe Pike
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Genre: Historical Fiction
Page Count: 527

In a land of mountains and mist, tradition and superstition, Languoreth and her brother Lailoken are raised in the Old Way of their ancestors. But in Scotland, a new religion is rising, one that brings disruption, bloodshed, and riot. And even as her family faces the burgeoning forces of Christianity, the Anglo-Saxons, bent on colonization, are encroaching from the east. When conflict brings the hero Emrys Pendragon to her father’s door, Languoreth finds love with one of his warriors. Her deep connection to Maelgwn is forged by enchantment, but she is promised in marriage to Rhydderch, son of a Christian king. As Languoreth is catapulted into a world of violence and political intrigue, she must learn to adapt. Together with her brother—a warrior and druid known to history as Myrddin—Languoreth must assume her duty to fight for the preservation of the Old Way and the survival of her kingdom, or risk the loss of them both forever.

Based on new scholarship, this tale of bravery and conflicted love brings a lost queen back to life—rescuing her from obscurity, and reaffirming her place at the center of one of the most enduring legends of all time.


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A Tough Genre to Write

I’ve read some historical fiction in my time, but I wouldn’t say it’s up there in my most common genres. That realization was pretty surprising to me because I am a big fan of history. It was one of my favourite classes in school, and I like researching different historical periods whenever I watch or read something that falls in that time period.

The Lost Queen takes place during the time when Christianity was overtaking a lot of belief systems in Western Europe. It’s a great period of time, but it also brings a bunch of complications to a lot of people’s histories.

We have lost so many stories and histories because of this time period, but we got so many at the same time. There is so much we don’t know about these people and their lives, but I like that there is so much potential for storytelling.

I would argue that The Lost Queen also falls into the King Arthur re-telling genre, which I have not become a fan of lately.

A King-Arthur story is one of the most well-known stories that I know of. There are so many different version of it in books, movies, anime, and who knows what else. I don’t need more versions of how King Arthur came to his throne, or the different versions of his story before he became king.

The Lost Queen doesn’t focus as heavily on Arthur per se, but his likeness is present in the book. I guess technically it is more of a loose origin story for Merlin and how he became who he is; the most famous wizard of all time.

I wish authors could create their own legends and not focus so heavily on other stories, but I understand the need for it, and its importance in literature.


Slow Crawl

The Lost Queen is never amazing. There’s never a moment where I was blown away or willing to stay uppitiest all night reading.

At the same time, it was never bad. It was never uninteresting and boring. I never regretted reading it.

The protagonist is an interesting character. Seeing her navigate the world around her is one of the better parts of the story because she is in the middle of a great divide happening in her world, but hers is probably the least interesting story of them all. She is a background character in these world changing events, and there are so many more interesting POV’s we could be following.

In the final acts of the story, the protagonist’s events get more interesting. She puts her life on the line and puts herself in a position that could ruin everything she has built in the rest of the book.

This is the only point where I found any real interest though.

Ultimately, there is minimal build-up to a climax, and when the apparent climax does come, it’s hard to distinguish from the resolution. It’s not an overly captivating read, but it is interesting enough that I think it is worth the read.


An Unbelievable Love

Even though the book was a bit dull for the most part, my least favourite part was the romance between the protagonist and her love interests.

She doesn’t want to fall in love, because that limits her. In her world, love brings a cage that she can’t escape. She wants to be free to make her own decisions, but when love comes her way, she accepts it.

What I find most creepy is getting in to some intimate details of her love life, when she barely hits puberty.

Boys and girls that young can fall in love and have physical and mental connections with people, but I don’t want to read about it.

I don’t want to read about a young teenage girl having intimate relations with a young-adult man. I was half tempted to end the book there because of how creeped out I felt during it all.


Final Thoughts

Overall, The Lost Queen is a good book. It’s a good historical re-telling of one of the most important eras in human history. I definitely do not regret reading it, and it made me want to read more historical fiction, but I definitely didn’t need the not-of-age sex scenes.

Social Media Image Sizes 2020

It seems like every other day there’s new rules and best practices to follow on social media.

With the world dealing with Covid-19 right now, companies, influencers, youtibers and bloggers are looking to maximize their online presence and reach more people. This means that there is even more competition in the digital markets than there was before, so now is more important than ever to make sure you are paying attention to every element you can control on social media.

This includes the images you post. There’s dozens of images, banners, templates, and even phone sizes that you might need to take into account whenever you post something online.

And that’s where this infographic can help you – the team from AgencyAnalytics have put together an updated, platform-by-platform overview of optimal image sizes to help keep your content looking its best.

Make sure to follow Word Forge on social media for more posts to help you grow your online platform!
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Quote of the Day: New Beginnings

Here is a small collection of book quotes about new beginnings.

I have plenty of Quote of the Day posts about books and different topics, so if you enjoy, please make sure to follow me on social media.


“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been” 
― Rainer Maria Rilke

“No, this is not the beginning of a new chapter in my life; this is the beginning of a new book! That first book is already closed, ended, and tossed into the seas; this new book is newly opened, has just begun! Look, it is the first page! And it is a beautiful one!” 
― C. JoyBell C.

“I used to dream about escaping my ordinary life, but my life was never ordinary. I had simply failed to notice how extraordinary it was. Likewise, I never imagined that home might be something I would miss.” 
― Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

“The chief beauty about time
is that you cannot waste it in advance.
The next year, the next day, the next hour are lying ready for you,
as perfect, as unspoiled,
as if you had never wasted or misapplied
a single moment in all your life.
You can turn over a new leaf every hour
if you choose.” 
― Arnold Bennett


“I guess it’s going to have to hurt, I guess I’m going to have to cry, And let go of some things I’ve loved to get to the other side
I guess it’s going to break me down, Like fallin when you try to fly, 
Sad but sometimes moving on with the rest of your life starts with goodbye” 
― Carrie Underwood

“A bridge of silver wings stretches from the dead ashes of an unforgiving nightmare
to the jeweled vision of a life started anew.” 
― Aberjhani, Journey through the Power of the Rainbow: Quotations from a Life Made Out of Poetry

“[T]hat old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air … Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year’s mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.” 
― Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose

“One can begin so many things with a new person! – even begin to be a better man.” 
― George Eliot, Middlemarch


“We all want to break our orbits, float like a satellite gone wild in space, run the risk of disintegration. We all want to take our lives in our own hands and hurl them out among the stars.” 
― David Bottoms

“But there’s a beginning in an end, you know? It’s true that you can’t reclaim what you had, but you can lock it up behind you. Start fresh.” 
― Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds

“All great beginnings start in the dark, when the moon greets you to a new day at midnight.” 
― Shannon L. Alder

“Set fire to the broken pieces; start anew.” 
― Lauren DeStefano

“It hurts to let go, to say goodbye for the final time and remain distant in your closure, it may even tear your heart out to the point of insanity; but somehow in it all you find the pieces of your worth and you start creating yourself again, and in that journey of transformation you find the essence of what truly matters, inner happiness. It’s life, we all fall at some stage but it’s up to you, to decide how long you want to stay there.” 
― Nikki Rowe


Are Promotional Giveaways Getting “Boring”???

A common promotional tactic for bloggers, influencers, and many companies all over the world is to use giveaways to gain followers and sell more products.

There are pros and cons to giveaways, which I will get in to in a later blog post this month, but I personally am not a big fan of them.

They often don’t lead to long-term growth in followers and engagement, but many people do see some growth in their channels while the event is running.

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My question is…are giveaways old and boring now? Are they still as interesting and exciting as they once were?

I would argue they are outdated and no longer exciting….hear me out.


Graphic by Canva

Giveaways Don’t Equal Growth

Giveaways, like I mentioned, go for more of an immediate reward — followers, shares, likes, etc. They involve people sharing the post on their social media feeds in order to spread the word and company name to more and more organizations.

Obviously this will lead to some growth. Not all of the followers you gain from the giveaway will stick around long term, but a good number will for a while.

But this approach doesn’t necessarily lead to the engagement you want. With more followers there will be more engagement, but if you gain followers that were only interested in the giveaway, they may not be interested in anything more that you have to say.

This could lead to them unfollowing you, or never interacting with your content which may not be worth your time after all.


Giveaways are Mindless

Hosting a giveaway isn’t that difficult. All you need to do is find a prize or prizes that people will want to win, write up a few basic social media posts, and then let nature take its course.

Most of the time, assuming your organization is semi-competent at social media and picking a prize, this will lead to a good number of participants.

Obviously the bigger your following before the giveaway the more people you’ll likely reach.

But competing in a giveaway is also mindless. I could scroll though my social media apps right now and find five giveaways with no problem.

Photo from Pexels

Of those five, four of them will only require me to like and share the post to be entered. The fifth might ask me to leave a comment.

It really is not that difficult, and that’s the point. They’re designed to be as simple and mindless as possible so that more people can enter them just by moving their fingers half an inch to the left.

They’re not designed to be a brilliant way to gain thousands of followers, they are designed to cost you a bit of money for the prize, but the followers and the increase in sales you get at the end will make the small investment worth it.


Giveaways are Getting Old

I see giveaways almost daily, and I enter a good number of them just for the one in a million chance that I actually win.

I’ve entered giveaways for companies that I didn’t even know existed before seeing someone share their content.

I don’t give a damn about half of these organizations, but who wouldn’t want the chance of winning a prize?

Because of how easy it is to compete in giveaways, I have found myself ignoring them lately. I find that I just don’t care anymore. I have become numb to the thrill of a contest, because my world is bombarded by them day in and day out.


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What’s the Alternative?

I haven’t seen it often, but instead of hosting a giveaway, I have seen some success when people hold contests on their platforms.

They create a challenge, or a project, or anything for their followers to compete in, and then a winner is chosen.

YouTuber and Photographer, Peter McKinnon has hosted a few competitions for his followers to make short videos, and he gets tremendous success from it.

A contest won’t give you the reach that a giveaway, because it is more targeted to your followers, but reports show that it does still lead to some growth.

What contests are great at is getting more likes and comments, which leads to a more loyal following.

23 Mind Blowing Statistics On Giveaways and Contests in 2020


There are benefits to a giveaway, and there are benefits to contests. Each blog, company, influencer, etc. will have a preference and a better idea of what their followers will interact with more.

I am not saying giveaways are bad, and contests are the way of the future. What I am saying is that giveaways are old news. They’re overdone and mindless. They don’t interrupt my usual scroll through the apps on my phone. They take no thinking and require no second thought.

A contest is much more beneficial to creators and followers in the sense that it creates a connection between the two parties.

The creators make a challenge, and the followers submits something to be reviewed by the creator. A relationship is built and this will lead to more of a loyal following in the future.


Do you know of any good or bad examples of a giveaway or a contest in your area? Maybe this is more of a North American trend than a European one. Let’s hear what you think in the comments below!

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