Bonjour! I’ve got a whole bunch of things to tell you about my Florida trip, and a bunch of pictures to put up. If you don’t care then skip right down to the book stuff labelled BOOK! Deal? Okay.
Before we get to the fun stuff, I’d like to give a quick shout out to my awesome little sister Britt. Her twitter account is hilarious, and you should follow her @brittfingland. Tell her I sent you. And I guess if you’d like to follow me I’m @lfings. But you should really follow Britt. Sometimes she tweets embarrassing things about me, so there’s that. Mostly she’s just hilarious without having to make me look like a doofus. I do that myself.
Alright, let’s start the vacation with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Visiting Harry Potter World was one of my life goals. I realize that sounds ridiculous, but Harry Potter is a big deal for me as well as Britt. My sister took all of the pictures from our trip so photo cred goes to her.
Britt and I hanging out at Flourish and Blotts just like any other day. It’s not just for spell books, you know. That’s me on the right if you’re curious. This was in the expansion, Diagon Alley. Every store you could imagine was there, including Ollivanders, Madame Malkin’s, and even Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour. They also have Knockturn Alley, a detail that in my sisters words, “took it from 9 and 3/4 to 10!”. Knockturn Alley features Borgin and Burkes, featuring the vanishing cabinet, from within which you can hear a bird chirping.
That scarf that’s being knit? The needles move by themselves. All of the store windows have moving displays, there were others with cauldrons being stirred and quills writing on parchment. You can also purchase wands (which we did, I got Hermoine’s and Britt got Professor McGonagall’s) which come in either interactive or non-interactive. We got the non-interactive ones, but the interactive ones are really cool. They come with a map that shows where the wands work (pretty much everywhere) and what spells to cast (how to move the wand) in order to make something (like water shooting out of a fountain) happen.
Just hanging out at Number 12 Grimmauld Place, headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix don’t you know. Britt and I went through a lot of work to get this photo as people were sitting on the front steps of the house eating. Don’t you people know where you are sitting?! There’s a whole row of houses with numbers other than twelve for you to eat in front of. Sheesh.
Hopping a ride on the Knight Bus.
The Sorting Hat! I was so excited to see this beauty. He was just hanging out in the castle, waiting for someone to come along and pull a sword out of him. Get your mind out of the gutter, folks. This is a family friendly blog.
So we were in a store and my dad says “Linds, get over here, quick!” So I run over and who do I see? Captain America! I was too late for his picture that time, but I was first in line the next time he came around. He took the time to talk with me for a while about where we were from and if we had gone to both Harry Potter parks, since I was such a huge Potter fan. Let me tell you, I was more excited about getting a picture with a guy dressed up as Captain America than I would have been at meeting an actual celebrity.As a side note, if you’re wondering why I’m wearing jeans and a sweater in Orlando it’s because it was 9 degrees Celsius. Definitely not shorts weather, no matter how Canadian I am.
All week I had been making alligator jokes, and then I found this sign at our hotel. Said hotel was beautiful by the way, the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Orlando, I’d definitely recommend Rosen Shingle Creek, it’s minutes away from Universal and every thing about it is beautiful. None of us encountered a single staff member that didn’t look genuinely happy to be working there, and the food was fantastic. Oh, and there is a Publix just across the street which, as it turns out, is a pleasure to shop at just like they advertise.
Looking for the alligators from the above mentioned sign.
I found one! Not at our hotel though. We went on an airboat ride through a swamp by the Everglades, which was so fun. I love the smell of open water, and the feeling of wind whipping through my hair. After the ride I got to hold an alligator, which I was ecstatic about (almost more excited than when I hung out with Cap). Did you know alligator skin feels rubbery? I always thought it would be scaly.
Busch Gardens had some super fun roller coasters, and some super majestic cheetahs.
This rhino crossed in front of us so close I could have reached out and touched him. I didn’t, because I happen to value my life and don’t want to be impaled by a rhino horn. But I could have.
Okay BOOK! For those of you that skipped right to here, welcome. For those of you who made it through the vacation photos, congratulations. Fun fact: I originally typed BOOP by accident and now I have images of cute kittens booping each other on the head running through my mind.
I read The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss due to a recommendation from a friend who has an eerily similar reading taste in books. I’m so glad he recommended it, because this was one of the best books I have read in a very long time.
The story is about Kvothe, who throughout the book is telling his life story. The story of how he was raised by parents who were the leaders of a travelling troupe of actors and taught by a private tutor that travelled with them. How he was orphaned at a young age and left homeless. How he was admitted to the University as a young teen, how he made enemies of powerful professors and students alike, how he made friends from every station of life, and how he met what he hopes to be the love of his life. Kvothe’s story is fascinating. But what is even more fascinating is that he tells it in his own voice.
This is the story of a man telling his story. Sure, there are parts where we flash back to the present, and don’t get me wrong those bits are just as fascinating, but the majority of page space is spent on Kvothe’s story telling. And he is one heck of a story-teller.
So much of what makes a story good is in the details. The more I know about a character, a place, an event, the better. I want to know everything from what the character eats for breakfast to what kind of grass grows in their front lawn. Maybe it’s just this problem I have where I can never get enough of a good book, but I need to know. And if I don’t know, I make it up. That’s why world building is so important in fantasy stories. The more intricately described a world is the better. I don’t care if the only thing that makes the fantasy world different from our Earth is that it’s now the future and the moon has been exploded into two unequal halves, I just need to know why. And where. And what, when, who and how. Tell me everything!
Some of the best stories I’ve ever read have been the best because the author puts in the time to give me an intricate image of what their world looks like. Harry Potter, for example, has so much information about the wizarding world. And J.K. Rowling releases more pretty often on Pottermore and in interviews. It’s just never-ending Potterness!
Tolkien is another author that creates the most beautifully intricate worlds. He almost pushes the limit of how much detail you can include and still have a readable story. I mean, I love Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but do I really need to read four pages about what a sword looks like? Yes, yes I do. But that’s because I’m a weirdo and normal people don’t want to deal with that.
Rothfuss has created a world of magic and mystery, of unseen evils you can sense creeping in the night. It’s filled with magical guilds and creatures of all kinds, new crafts and trades out world will never see. Crafts and trades that Kvothe just so happens to learn.
Kvothe is good at everything except romance, which would be annoying if he wasn’t so darn likeable. He is educated in magic, the arts, and pretty much anything else you could think of including music. He uses this education to his benefit, it saves his life more than once. He is apparently a pretty good fighter, having defended himself and another from terrifying spider-like creatures that seem to indicate a greater evil approaching. That happens during non flashback scenes though, so I’m not really sure what’s going on there. I’m also confused as to how Kvothe came to be known as the greatest swordfighter, magician, and musician of all time; how he became known as a hero and kingkiller. And why he has to pretend to be an innkeeper named Kote. Hopefully all my questions will be answered in The Wise Man’s Fear, the second book in the Kingkiller Chronicles (this series). It’s sitting on my bookshelf right now, waiting for me to finish rereading the Gentlemen Bastard’s books so I can get to it. I want the next one to answer all my questions, but I also want more of everything. More magic, more music, not drama, more mystery, more drunken bar nights with Kvothe and his friends.
What do you guys think? Have you been to Universal or Busch Gardens? Is world building important to you when reading?
Okay, that’s all I’ve got for today. Have a great week!