Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – JK Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

39 - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Rating – 4*

Advanced warning, while I will try and be as spoiler free as possible I can’t promise that will be the case. So, if you don’t want to have The Cursed Child spoiled for you, run now and come back when you’ve read it so we can discuss it. Now that warning is over, I’m going to start.

A quick disclaimer: I was very sceptical about this. I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. I was pretty convinced I would hate it actually. From spoilers I stumbled upon, I was pretty certain I’d read better fanfiction and while that sentiment does hold true, it doesn’t take away the magic of this book in any way. It is incredible. I went to the midnight release, I was sad that some muggle outbid me on eBay for some robes, but I had fun anyway. Harry Potter just brings some of the most amazing people together, and it was an incredible 2 hours. Harry Potter is my childhood, I feel like I am part of something and sharing that joy with others for just a few short hours gave me the warm fuzzies.

Now, this picks up exactly where Deathly Hallows left off – with some overlap. We start in the familiar scene of Platform 9 and 3/4, Harry, Ginny and the kids waiting to send Albus off for his first year. We follow Albus and Rose on to the train and, like their parents, they want to meet a friend for life. This is when we meet Scorpius, and I fell a little in love with this little Snake on his first line. He is just precious and he remains that way throughout. We follow them to Hogwarts, and as is expected, both Scorpius and Albus are sorted in to Slytherin – and immediately Albus faces the repercussions of this. Fast forwarding a little bit, we end up in their 4th year, and the relationship between Albus and Harry is tumultuous – Albus doesn’t fit with the family, is most definitely a black sheep. Without giving too many details away, Albus and Scorpius end up travelling through time, back to the Triwizard Tournament, in an effort to save the life of Cedric Diggory. This is pressured by a young witch calling herself Delphi Diggory, who isn’t all what she seems. Needless to say, this doesn’t go very well!

We end up in several timelines and I loved, loved this. It is contrived, it is convoluted, and it is extremely messy, but I can imagine how incredible it is to watch and it does sort of work. The first is a bit of a dud, but then we end up in a timeline where the dark won, Albus doesn’t exist and the wonderful Scorpius has to figure out how to fix it on his own and get his best friend back. This resulted in what I found to be one of the most powerful moments of the entire script, and that was the appearance of Severus Snape. It was bittersweet, and heartbreaking for me personally, as Snape will always be Alan Rickman in my heart and the thought that there is someone else out there, being him made me pause for a moment. It doesn’t take away from the importance of his role because, once again, he plays the hero and it’s glorious.

I don’t want to say too much more, but how it pans out from that point is a little heartbreaking. Scorpius saves Albus, but they get thrown in the past again and this time without a way to get home – Delphi reveals her true identity and it all goes to hell until Scorpius and Albus, between them, have a genius idea. It reaches it’s peak in Godric’s Hollow, with the Potters, the Granger-Weasley’s, and Draco fighting to preserve the timelines. And it was powerful, contrived, but powerful.

At the end of it all, I’m not sure who the Cursed Child actually is – it could be Albus, Scorpius or Delphi. Each of them is cursed in their own way; all living up to their fathers legacies.

There were a few things I wish could have happened – cannon LGBT being one of the things. Reading this, I could see Albus and Scorpius being an incredible couple and it is just so, so frustrating that this is disgustingly hetronormatitive and completely ignores the blatant written chemistry between the two of them. It wouldn’t have to be explicit, but it could have definitely been something that was there. Also, it would have been an opportunity for JKR to make Dumbledore’s sexuality cannon – but not even a squeak about that.

All that aside,I loved this, and really hope I get the opportunity to see it in the West End in the not so distant future. Honestly, I went in to this with very low expectations but come the end of it I was pleasantly surprised. A few things disappointed me, quite significantly, but those aside this was a really interesting take on something I love so much. I would encourage every Potter fan to give this a go because you don’t have to be a genius to understand this script – knowing the characters and the world make it so much easier to follow.

Overall, I gave this 4* because it was a bit cheesy and contrived but I loved it anyway.

Review: The Muse – Jessie Burton

37 - The Muse

Rating – 3*

Number one, this book is beautifully designed. It is gorgeous. Noone can escape that. It doesn’t really cover much of what is on the inside but it’s beautiful nonetheless. Anyway, this book is beautiful inside and out, and I feel bad giving it a 3* review, but while the premise was amazing, and Jessie Burton can really tell a story, I just didn’t find myself as invested in this as I wanted to be.

There’s no denying it, this is an ambitious book. There were a lot of characters, and a plot that spanned decades. Odelle, our primary protagonist, was fantastic; Trinidadian born she and her friend have come to London to make a better life for themselves. She, a typist, eventually finds a job with a Miss Marjorie Quick at The Skelton Institute of art. At her friends wedding, Odelle meets a man who has a painting which needs an appraisal, so he finds her and that’s when we get the story behind the story. The story of the painting, which takes us back in time to Spain on the brink of the Civil War, and our protagonist there is Olive. The story alternates between Odelle’s experiences as an immigrant in London, trying to make her way in a world where her skin colour presents huge challenges and Olive’s story in Spain in, where most of the action takes place.

Don’t get me wrong, this book is masterful in parallels between our protagonists, Odelle and Olive. The writing is beautiful, the imagery is amazing and yeah, I loved so much of this story but, there were just too many unanswered questions and open ends for me, and I found that very unsatisfying. In parts it felt disjointed, and jumpy. I would have liked for it to maybe have slowed down in parts, and sped up in others. For me, the pace was all wrong but that’s a very personal thing. I’d liked to have known for certain what the deal was with Marjorie, and if she was who Odelle thought her to be.

All that being said, Jessie Burton in this book has proved herself to be an incredible writer. Her characters are well developed, her writing is elegant and flows beautifully, and her ability to capture human emotion is second to none. The only downfall for this, in my opinion, is the pacing and in some respects the plot. So yes, a happy 3*, bordering on 4 and I will definitely be picking up her next book!

If you’d like to purchase The Muse, consider supporting me and buying through The Book Depository: here

Review: The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood

36 - The Heart Goes LAst

Rating – 3*

I’m glad I finally got around to this. I picked it up around the time it was released last year, and if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you’ll be familiar with it’s presence on several TBRs since then. It’s just been a book that I’ve been a bit unsure as to whether I want to pick it up, and haven’t quite been in the mood for. However, I picked it as my book club book for May – and finally got around to it in July – so that is at least progress. I had heard mixed reviews about this, and they came from people who usually agreed on books so I was really dubious about if I would like this or not.

It follows the story of Stan and Charmaine in a not-so-distant-future. I love Atwood’s speculative fiction; Maddaddam and The Handmaid’s Tale are among some of the best speculative fiction I’ve read. Naturally, because of that, this book was one I went in to with high expectations and actually, I disliked a significant portion of this. There was an underlying tone which just didn’t resonate with me – for one the gender roles felt very dated.

As for characters, I detested both Stan and Charmaine; given the choice I’d say I preferred Stan. It was Jocelyn I liked most, both she and Stan’s brother (the name of who evades me now, 2 weeks on) but even then, some of the characterisation was so problematic for me.

It’s taken me 2 weeks to review this and I find the more I think about it the less positive I feel about it. As a result of that, this could never be more than a 3* book from my point of view. 

Review: The Tropic of Serpents – Marie Brennan

35 - A Tropic of Serpents

Rating – 4*

I read the first in this series, A Natural History of Dragons, a couple of months ago and fell a little bit in love. My full review of that can be found here. Much like with the first book, I listened to this as an audiobook, I love the narration of these but I do intend to pick up physical copies as I know they’re books I want to have on my shelf.

If you haven’t read the first book, I really suggest you do. While I’ve tried to keep this spoiler free I can’t be certain! So I’ve suitably warned you now, and it’s on to the review.

This picks up a couple of years after the events of the first book. I really cannot convey enough how much I absolutely adore Isabella as a protagonist. She is the literary equivalent of Evie from The Mummy (my not so guilty pleasure) and therefore Isabella, as her literary counterpart, is my hero. There are so many reasons for this, as a character Isabella grows a huge amount in this book, without giving anything away she acknowledges her role at home and her standing in society. I also loved Natalie, and Isabella’s relationship with her; I’m really very happy with the hints that she will appear in future books!

The story itself was less focused on dragons and more focused on politics, anthropology and adventure. For me, that was awesome as while I love the dragons I absolutely adored Brennan’s world building. I was fascinated by the different people and cultures, the politics that Isabella and her group get thrown in to. It also focuses heavily on the roles of women in society, especially in academia, more so than the first book I feel. And it wasn’t until I was really in to this book that I realised that while the selling point is dragons, this are actually fictional memoirs about Isabella’s life – and while she loves dragons it isn’t the sole point to her life, just the driving force.

Needless to say I absolutely loved this book, I gave it 4* because for me it just lacked the ‘unputdownable-ness’ of a 5* read. It’s just something so different to read as fiction that it challenges the way I read and, in parts, I was hard pushed to even think of it as fiction as it was just so believable. So I encourage anyone to pick this series up, if only for the fabulousness that is Isabella Camherst, or Lady Trent.

If you want to read it, consider supporting my blog and purchasing the book through The Book Depository here

Review: Animal – Sara Pascoe

34 - Animal.jpg

Rating – 5*

I picked this up because it was the July book for my book club. I went in to it relatively blind, I didn’t know what it was about and I’m not really a massive fan of Sara’s comedy. so it wouldn’t have been a book I picked up if it wasn’t for that push. I chose to listen to this as an audiobook as I had some credits floating on Audible and I would highly recommend that!

So, the thing that surprised me most about this book is I liked it more than How to Be a Woman by Catlin Moran. Going in to it I had no idea that it would be even comparable to that book, but I would say that anyone who enjoyed that book would definitely enjoy this. It is both brutally honest and very funny, I loved that combination. It is also a very light book, in spite of quite dense evolutionary theory in it, it is very easy to get through and because of that I would say it would be a fantastic place for anyone to start with feminist literature (and it is definitely suitable for younger teenagers, something How to Be a Woman definitely isn’t in my opinion).

There are little nuggets of observation, or autobiographical points, which are seamlessly interwoven with facts about the female body and the evolution of it. And, while a little dubious, the evolutionary psychology studies she has used in this book are very, very interesting. It’s not a subject I was even aware of prior to reading this, and while there are significant flaws in some of the studies and most of them are matters of opinion, they are so bloody interesting! I didn’t always agree with the pseudo-science that some of them appeared to be, but they were nonetheless interesting points.

After reading this I have a new love for Sara. I found this book laugh out loud funny in parts. I really wish I could go back in time and give this to my 14 or 15 year old self because I, undoubtedly, would have found it so eye opening and affirming when I was going through a period of significant self confidence issues and I really do think this would have been a bible when put in my hands.

If you’d like to buy this book, support my blog and purchase through the book depository here

 

 

June Wrap Up and July Goals

06 - june wrapup

Hello lovely readers, I apologise for being slack over the past month – it’s been crazy and not very productive on a reading front! So a brief update of things I achieved this month:

  • I finished my degree
  • I went on holiday (and lovely it was too)
  • I got a job
  • I started a job
  • I GOT A 2:1!!!

That equates to very little reading on the whole. Or rather, I didn’t quite get my ambition of ALL THE BOOKS this month. I instead enjoyed a slow and steady approach to reading, and took time enjoying things like board games with my family and watching TV. I don’t feel guilty in the slightest. I had a really, really lovely month and that’s what matters!

On to the reading, my favourite book by a country mile was Chris Packham’s Fingers in the Sparkle Jar. Though I have to say all the books I read this month were very closely rated, but all for different reasons. It was a pretty varied month, with some non fiction, poetry, fantasy, and mythology/history books in the mix. I did start a few books, which you will hear about in the not so distant future all being well. My average rating was 3.3*, but honestly I didn’t dislike any of the books I read and all of them were by authors I will continue to follow.

06 - july goals

Oh July. More than half way through the year and I can’t quite believe what I have achieved in those 6 months! It’s crazy. So in July I want to actually challenge myself. I want to finally have that epic reading month I’ve been harping on about for most of the year! I have 2 new books that I want to read, several audiobooks I want to get around to and generally a shelf full of books that I want to just devour. So, here’s a little pile of the physical books that I’m hoping to get through, alongside some audiobooks:

File 04-07-2016, 21 14 49

My audiobook collection is quite varied, I want to catch up on my book club books primarily, and also catch up with the Robin Hobb readalong! Basically, lots of catching up via audiobook in the near future!

So, hopefully, you shall be hearing more of me this month! If you’ve read any of these, or want me to read any of these, do let me know and I’ll prioritise them! Thanks for sticking with me folks.