Tuesday, February 02, 2021

10 Young Adult LGBTQ+ Books To Look Forward To in 2021

LGBTQ+ books young adult 2021
A whole new year means plenty of books to add to our TBR. Expanding our world through literature lets us to experience new and different perspectives as well as find ourselves with characters who reflect our own backgrounds. From contemporary fiction to fantasy, readers can find themselves on these pages and from the unique voice of diverse authors. Mark your calendars! Here are ten exciting young adult LGBTQ+ titles that are set to be released in 2021.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells Welcomes Winter Holidays with Christmas-themed Collection Event

Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells are turning on the festive charm for their players with new magical creatures and social surprises throughout December. A special limited-time collection events invites players to complete the new ‘Christmas in the Wizarding World’ album, to earn a mythical Unicorn as their companion magical creature. 

Later in the month, holiday decor and weather will turn Hogwarts into a wintry, wizarding wonderland, as players encounter falling snowflakes on their gameboard that can be collected to earn rewards. 

Bringing a bang to the festivities, brightly colored ‘Wizard Cracker’ boosts will drop into the puzzles unexpectedly, giving players the gift of an extra gem-clearing blast as they complete puzzles in this magical, Match-3 game.

Zayn Malik Shows Signature Style with Special Avatar and Message for Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells Fans

Bringing style to the season, international artist and known Harry Potter fan Zayn Malik has worked closely with the Zynga team to create new customization elements for the magical Match-3 title. To replicate more life-like features for his avatar in Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells, Zayn worked to create new eyebrow, earring, beard and eye customizations which will be available in-game to all players in the new year. Malik has shared artwork of his in-game avatar on his own social channels in December, with an invitation for his fans and fellow gamers to share images of their own.

“I really enjoyed working with the Zynga team coming up with new elements to the avatar creator,” said Zayn Malik. “I feel like seeing the animated version of myself in the game made it way more fun and with these new customizations that are coming soon, all players will have the opportunity to feel more connected to the game and make their character look more like themselves!”

Additionally, as the calendar arrives at Christmas Eve, players can also visit the Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells social channels for more surprises and holiday cheer during the last week of the year.
Players enter a Match-3 adventure brimming with the spells, humour, colour and characters of the Harry Potter series. Featuring the soundtrack and voiceover recordings from the original Harry Potter films, fans follow an authentic, mobile retelling of Harry’s journey through the wizarding world. 

Earning spells and special boosts as they advance, players solve Match-3 puzzles populated with hopping Chocolate Frogs, fluttering Winged Keys, battling wizard chess pieces and other unexpected obstacles and objects. In the spirit of camaraderie and friendly competition at Hogwarts, players can join or form clubs with other fans to socialise, collaborate on puzzle strategies, share lives and vie for prizes in exclusive Club Events.

“As any fan of the Harry Potter books and films knows, Christmas at Hogwarts is a very special time,” said Yaron Leyvand, Senior Vice President of Games at Zynga. “For the first winter holiday for Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells, we wanted to treat players to a range of new content and seasonal rewards, released throughout December. We’re excited to celebrate the season with players, and also have many more magical Match-3 events and activities in store for next year.”

Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells is playable on iOS and Android devices worldwide, as well as on Amazon Kindle and Facebook. For more information and to connect with other fans, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and visit the game’s website at www.harrypotterpuzzlesandspells.com.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Book Review: This Is How We Fly by Anna Meriano

17-year-old vegan feminist Ellen Lopez-Rourke has one muggy Houston summer left before college. She plans to spend every last moment with her two best friends before they go off to the opposite ends of Texas for school. But when Ellen is grounded for the entire summer by her (sometimes) evil stepmother, all her plans are thrown out the window. 

Determined to do something with her time, Ellen (with the help of BFF Melissa) convinces her parents to let her join the local muggle Quidditch team. Suddenly Ellen is thrown into the very different world of sports: her life is all practices, training, and running with a group of Harry Potter fans. But with her home life and friend troubles quickly spinning out of control--Ellen must fight for the future that she wants, now she's playing for keeps.

Please Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher as apart of the digital book launch and tour. All opinions are my own. I do not receive commission if you click on any of the links in this post. If you'd like to send me a book or product to feature, check out my work with me page. Thank you for supporting my site!

Author Anna Meriano captures the struggles and joys of a young woman trying to become an adult or at least “adult” more. Ellen is only seventeen, but she has the weight of the world on her shoulders as a vegan, feminist, and trying to balance that in-between age of being a teenager and a pre-college student. Her parents want her to be "normal", but like most teenagers, Ellen doesn't know that her interests and beliefs are anything but. Who she is sets the stage of who she will become. With different parts of her life taking off in various directions, only experience and time will help her along to fit all of the pieces together. As her life at home closes in around her, and the post-high school world of possibilities might be too big to venture with, Ellen’s journey is relatable as she takes chances, makes mistakes, and remains someone to root for.

The strong centerpiece of the book that tethers Ellen with the supporting characters and their conflicts is Quidditch. Fans within the Harry Potter community strive to make the fandom as welcoming as possible, and the use of Quidditch as a network of characters who help Ellen understand her gender, sexuality, and inner strength is satisfying as a fellow Harry Potter fan. 

As a general reader though, you don’t need to have followed Harry Potter to understand how the game is described. This makes the book accessible to fans and non-fans alike. The game is a jumping point to Ellen’s personal growth, and also offers a deeper sense of other characters such as her best friend Melissa, stepmom, step-sister, and a few possible love interests.

As endearing as Ellen and her journey of self-discovery is, where the book could’ve improved upon more was the exploration of Ellen’s identity. It was wonderful to see the diversity of characters, especially with the book led by a vegan feminist and second-generation Mexican American. And the range of her friends offer more diversity as well, so the book highlights a group of young adults who are finding their identities. However, it felt like some of these details could've been cultivated with more exploration. This is somewhat in contrast to how seamless and descriptive Ellen’s voice is as she paints a picture of her self-doubts, participating in Quidditch, and feeling ostracized by her parents. Otherwise, Ellen is still a refreshing central character who can easily become a fan favorite for readers and leave a lasting impression for Harry Potter fans.

This Is How We Fly is a charming coming-of-age tale that explores the traditional growing pains of life after high school. As the story unfolds around Ellen, it’s easy to get wrapped up in her world and finish the book feeling victorious like you caught the Golden Snitch.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Unleashes Iconic Villains in New Adversaries Release

Wands at the ready! Iconic villains and foes from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is coming to Niantic and Warner Bros. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite in an expansive new Adversaries update.

Adversaries is an all-new way for witches and wizards to face off against powerful enemies in the real-world and build up the power and skills to duel some of the most iconic villains from the franchise.

Each monthly update will feature new challenges and increasingly powerful foes to battle against, including Slytherin’s Basilisk, Fenrir Greyback, Draco Malfoy, Bellatrix Lestrange and more. Players will receive a variety of rewards including Wizarding XP, Challenge XP, a chance at Defense Against the Dark Arts Books and more based on how many villains they defeat to continue growing their powers in Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

Additionally, players will have access to Adversaries Registry pages with over 75 new collectibles, even more combat lessons to improve Professions skills and further rewards to advance in SOS Training lessons. 

For the biggest update of 2020, Advesaries is a new encounter for fans to battle against increasingly difficult foes. Battles may not be for the faint of heart, but the victories you earn can bring you great advantages in your game play.

Don’t forget to join the social conversation with #WizardsUnite, make sure to follow along on the official blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram channels for the latest updates, and head over to the Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Community Forums to discuss the game with fellow players!

Everything you want to learn about the exciting new Adversaries addition can be found below with the press release and exclusive images.

The Harry Potter Alliance To Host Its Annual Book Drive: Accio Books!

The Harry Potter series has helped generations of readers cultivate a love of literature that ventures beyond the fantasy genre. To help strengthen literacy and a love of books in needed communities around the world, members with The Harry Potter Alliance have donated over 400,000 books through their annual Accio Books! campaign. The organization - in partnership with; Reading Is Fundemental and Anne Beers Elementary (ABES) in Washington D.C.- is now reaching out to supporters to donate new and used books.

Reading Is Fundamental is the largest children’s literacy non-profit and is committed to serving a literate America through inspiring a passion for reading among all children, providing quality content to make an impact, and through engaging communities in the solution to give every child the fundamentals for success. Anne Beers Elementary (ABES), which is located in Washington D.C., provides its PK-5th Grade students with a rigorous curriculum that focuses on STEM. ABES is committed to providing over 400 students with exceptional educational opportunities. 

The HPA is reaching out to supporters to donate new and gently-used books from friends, family, community members, and even their own bookshelves in support of the partner organizations. 

Supporters can also stop by the HPA’s ever growing Accio Bookshop to purchase and mail books directly to partner organizations.

To donate books, contact a local partner or Anne Beers Elementary, which serves 450+ learners within the general, autism, and special education populations between PreK-5th grade Title-I. 

The organization is looking for a wide range of genres including: multi-cultural books of authors, genres, and characters that build knowledge of different cultures, varying educational and reading levels, and younger child to send home with families. 

In the current pandemic, other guidelines are included on the official Accio Books! campaign site such as collecting books for donation, using disinfectant, and how to mail.

The Harry Potter Alliance (www.thehpalliance.org) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that turns fans into heroes. For more information regarding the Accio Books! campaign, visit the website and happy donating!

Friday, November 20, 2020

Universal CityWalk Introduces “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Sweets & Treats" for the Holidays

With California enforcing strict prohibitions and curfews in an attempt to decrease the spike of cases, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has to make concessions for the Coronavirus pandemic for the holiday season. 

Universal Hollywood's gates to the theme parks remain close for the time being as California enforces strict curfews and guidelines in an attempt to decrease the number of Coronavirus cases. 

However, that doesn't mean that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter can't conjure as much magic as possible. Universal CityWalk is introducing "The Wizarding of Harry Potter - Sweets & Treats" to guests and fans to enjoy magical confections and snacks.

Starting Friday, November 20th, 2020, Butterbeer favortes and more will be served at Universal CityWalk's newest seasonal walk-up location "The Wizarding of Harry Potter - Sweets & Treats" - which will be open for a limited time during the holiday season.

The menu includes traditional, cold, and hot Butterbeer along with Butterbeer-flavord hard pack ice cream, Chocolate frog confections, Gilly Water and classic cinnamon Churros. The Butterbeer beverages will be available for purchase in a cup or souvenir stein. 

"The Wizarding of Harry Potter - Sweets & Treats" will be open on the weekends from Friday through Sunday during CityWalk's operating hours noon to 8pm. Free self-parking is available to all-guests during the initial re-opening phase.

This attraction is currently only available at the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park in California. With Florida having re-opened most of its travel destinations, fans and guests can visit Universal Orlando Resort during the pandemic while maintaining the physical distance.

New health and safety protocols are now implemented at Universal CityWalk. Before you go, it's best to know that the location controls the capacity enforce physical distancing - so parking and entry may be limited. Additional guidelines includes:

  • Temperature checks for all Guests upon arrival. Temperature checks for all Guests upon arrival. If temperatures exceed 100.4° Fahrenheit / 38° Celsius or greater, Guests will not be permitted to enter.
  • Face coverings required for all Guests throughout their visit. Face coverings also will be available for purchase.
  • Controlled occupancy at all CityWalk venues to help enforce physical distancing. Some areas and programs may remain temporarily closed.
  • Physical distancing practices at all locations throughout CityWalk.
  • Cashless payments and “no touch” policies wherever possible.

For more information about Universal CityWalk and Universal Studios Hollywood is available at the official website with regular updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Friday, November 13, 2020

Johnny Depp Exits "Fantastic Beasts" Franchise; Warner Bros Set to Recast

Actor Johnny Depp, who is presently in the throes of legal battles, will no longer be apart of the "Fantastic Beasts" franchise.

In 2016, his ex-wife and actress Amber Heard filed for divorce from Depp citing domestic abuse. Since their contentious split began, Depp continuously denies accusations of domestic violence. He recently lost a defamation case against a UK newspaper publisher who described the actor as a "wife beater." 
Depp's exit from the Harry Potter spin-off comes on the heels of a judge ruling against Depp.

While Depp maintains his innocence and plans to appeal - studio’s film chief Toby Emmerich at Warner Bros. requested Depp to resign from the role of the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald for the upcoming Fantastic Beasts films. The actor confirmed the news on his instagram page.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, after filming one scene for the third Fantastic Beasts film, Depp will still be paid under a "pay-or-play contract, which requires that he be fully compensated whether or not the film is made and even if it is recast."

For those who followed the heated trial that spilled out over summer 2020, evidence brought against both Depp and Heard drew lines in the sand over Depp's innocence versus Heard's guilt and vice versa. Fans for Depp and the Fantastic Beasts series are taking a stand over his departure with passionate pleas social media support and possibly boycotting the series until or if he returns.

A majority of the cast has yet to make announcements regarding the move. Jude Law, who plays a younger Albus Dumbledore and is romantically linked to Gellert Grindelwald, spoke with Entertainment Tonight and remained neutral on the subject saying, "In a franchise like this, it's the studio and the company that make the big decisions...And you have to go along with those, because we're just a member of the team."

With the role of Gellert Grindewald vacated, rumors began for Depp's replacement. MuggleNet cites exclusive news that actor Mads Mikkelsen will take over, however, Warner Bros has not confirmed.

Depp's resignation is not the first bump in the road for the Fantastic Beasts series. The film franchise, which began production on the third out of five films in September 2020, was previously delayed in 2019 before the Coronavirus outbreak due to creative setbacks.

J.K. Rowling is once again writing the screenplay, however, she has gained backlash from fans and the LGTBQIA+ community for her controversial and harmful views on sex, gender, and transgender individuals. Rowling, with producer David Heyman and director David Yates, previously defended Depp's casting in 2016 when his divorce and the allegations of domestic violence were first publicly coming to light. So far, they have not spoken out in favor or against Depp's legal pursuits and casting removal.

Fantastic Beasts 3 is set for theatrical release July 2022 until further notice.