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[Review] Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

[Review] Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

[Review] Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildHarry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling
Published by Little Brown on July 31st 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 330
ISBN: 9780751565355
Goodreads
three-stars

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Let me start by saying, I’m not outright dismissing The Cursed Child with my less-than-enthusiastic rating. I still really want to see the play.

Prologue: Of course I had already preordered the book at a local book store but when the publication date was there, I contemplated waiting a few days and picking it up after work. The weather on the release day was nice however, so I set out and picked up the book on July 31st.

I got home, put the book aside and continued reading Robert Galbraith/J.K. Rowling’s A Career of Evil. After all, I am hoping to get my hands on theatre tickets for the play and why would I read the script for the play if I could see it on stage? Reading plays is such a hit or miss anyway.

But the book was staring at me, people around me had started reading it, and would I really be able to wait nearly a year (if lucky!) before knowing what it was all about?

In the evening I caved. I opened the book, flipped to the first page, and started reading “just to check to see how script-y/readable it was”.

Conclusion after I finished 100 pages (aka act one): it was highly readable, and holy shit I was loving it! Had I not been a responsible adult who had to start work at 8am the next morning and really needed her sleep, I definitely would have finished it there and then.

Clearly this ‘book’ is a script. Scenes are short, there isn’t much depth (except perhaps for one recurring theme, View Spoiler »), because it’s a play. As a book it was a nice read nonetheless, much better than what I was expecting from a script. It wasn’t hard to imagine the scenes at all, as the dialogues were quite straightforward. Quite funny at times (I didn’t feel the serious parts as much though) but all in all I think it will be much better to see in action.

As for the actual story… After finishing, and without even reading any other reviews, my first thought was ‘well, this felt like fanfiction’. Turns out I’m not alone in this.

The thing is, I absolutely adored act one. Adored! And from there it went downhill.

Warning: minor spoilers ahead! (Large spoilers have been hidden)

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[Review] Welcome to Night Vale, by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

[Review] Welcome to Night Vale, by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

[Review] Welcome to Night Vale, by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey CranorWelcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor
Published by Harper Perennial on October 20, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, LGBT+, Science fiction
Pages: 401
ISBN: 9780062351425
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.

Let me begin by saying I adore Welcome to Night Vale… the podcast, that is. It is wacky, and cute, and warm, and creepy, and I love it. And if you aren’t listening to it yet you should give it a try. Last year the WTNV crew also did a live tour and visited Amsterdam, and I went. And it’s hard to describe how much that night meant to me. Before that, I was going through a period where I had trouble connecting to the world. But that night gave my life a little bit of shine and (although I don’t think WTNV was single-handedly responsible for this) after that everything got sort of better as far as the disconnectedness goes.

So yes, I love WTNV, and as a result I was really looking forward to this book. Preordered it the moment I heard about it. Went so far as to get a signed edition from the US.

And… ah. I won’t say the book is a disappointment, but it also didn’t live up to expectations. I hate it when that happens.

The book isn’t great, but it also isn’t bad. It was just sort of meh? I know the book had big boots to fill what with the podcast being a piece of perfection, and it seems Fink and Cranor might have overestimated their abilities. Now I sound mean, I don’t mean it in a bad way, the book wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t the podcast. Ouch.

I had two three problems with this book: Firstly, it was unnecessarily slow. I don’t need the book to be a wild roller coaster ride and move too fast, but the story and descriptions just went on and on. Getting through the first 300-or-so pages felt like a big task. This brings me to my second problem: the style that works for the podcast just doesn’t work for a book. The beginning was too random, too quirky, and all that is fun, fantastic, in the podcast, but apparently not for a 400-page book. If anything its quirkiness made the book feel kind of unfinished? And then my third problem (which was also a cause for my first problem?) is that I didn’t care about the characters all that much. I just didn’t care about their problems, and the book also didn’t make me feel curious to find out how they were going to fix everything. This got better in the last 100 pages, and I ended up liking the characters quite a bit by the time I finished the book. But still, that’s not good enough.

I guess I was secretly hoping to learn more about the characters that we know from the podcast. Cecil, Dana, Carlos, Steve… but they all play minor roles. I think the book at least managed to introduce some sort-of-new characters and now that I finished the book I am happy to have gotten to know these characters. So yes, for most of the book I was considering giving it three stars, but it deserves an extra half star for the fact that I ended up caring for the characters after all. Hope to see them back in the podcast, I suppose?

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I’d Love To See As Movies/Tv Shows

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I’d Love To See As Movies/Tv Shows

Top Ten Tuesday This week’s prompt is Top Ten Books I’d Love To See As Movies/Tv Shows. Personally, I prefer TV shows. I just love watching them and I think many books would be better off as TV shows rather than movies. In the end, some of my picks still ended up as movies because I guess it sometimes just works. Anyway, I had a lot of fun thinking about this week’s topic!

Ten Books I’d Love To See As Movies/Tv Shows

  1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
    I love the movies, don’t get me wrong. But more out of sentimentality than because they are actually good (some of them are ok, some are downright disasters). But imagine the books as a TV series! Every book would be a season and it would be amazing and squeee.
  2. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
    I love these books and I think they’d make a fantastic fantasy series. No more than two seasons though.
  3. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
    Same as Seraphina! But perhaps three seasons, a season per book.
  4. China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh
    This book is still one of my favourites ever and I think it would be amazing as a movie. I imagine it a bit along the lines of (the dystopian parts of) Cloud Atlas, somehow.
  5. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
    Please let someone turn this into a movie!
  6. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
    I’ve obviously only read the first book, but this would make an A+ sci-fi tv series.
  7. The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox
    Yes, yes, I know there’s already a movie. But it was puke-worthy in so many ways (removing the romance between Xas and Sobran, letting everyone speak English with a French accent, etc.). I want a new movie that does justice to the book. I also want the director of the old movie to step on a Lego.
  8. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
    Just imagine this as a movie! Best thing ever yes/yes?
  9. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
    THIS ONE’S COMING AS A TV SERIES AND I’M SO EXCITED YESSSSHHH
  10. Quidditch Through the Ages by J.K. Rowling
    If Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (yayyy) can become a movie, I don’t see why this one can’t. *grabby hands*

Congrats, self. You made a list of nothing but science fiction and fantasy books. *pats self on shoulder*

[Review] Shadow Scale, by Rachel Hartman

[Review] Shadow Scale, by Rachel Hartman

[Review] Shadow Scale, by Rachel Hartman

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
Series: Seraphina #2
Published by Random House Children's Books on March 10, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 608
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
five-stars

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself, €”for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

Let me begin by saying: Shadow Scale, the second and final book in the Seraphina duology, was my most anticipated read of 2015. I absolutely adored Seraphina and I kid you not if I say I pre-ordered Shadow Scale back in 2013.

And now I finished Shadow Scale and oh, Rachel Hartman is a cruel woman. By which I mean to say: Shadow Scale was absolutely wonderful, but I need a serious talk with Ms. Hartman.

But let’s begin at the beginning. I was ecstatic to receive the eArc for Shadow Scale and started reading it almost right away. It opens with a very clever flashback to Seraphina… and right away I realised I’d have to reread Seraphina first before continuing with Shadow Scale. And so I did, and Seraphina was every bit as wonderful (and more) as the first time I read it. It is still one of my all time favourite books and if you haven’t read it yet we must reconsider our friendship you’re missing out.

Then I went back to Shadow Scale, and I’ll be honest and say I just wasn’t feeling it during the first 20-or-so % of the book. I missed something (I can’t quite pinpoint what) that I found readily in every single page of Seraphina and I got a bit worried. The storyline just seemed a bit bland? I am not sure.

Hartman was clearly tricking me though, as the story then did a 180 and I was sucked in and didn’t want to put it down (oh, to be an adult with silly responsibilities such as work and a household and food and sleep). Hartman added the intrigue I had been longing for. Just like the first book in the series, there were so many plot twists and turns it was dizzying, and it was amazing. The plot was perfection.

The colour returned to the story and Hartman managed to expand the world we knew from Seraphina even further. I loved the mythology, folklore and religious aspects and I couldn’t get enough of that, and oh the philosophy! What I also loved about Shadow Scale is that we meet so many new characters and I feel so strongly about all of them. I just want to embrace most of them. And I feel conflicted about certain others, in a way that I want them to step on a Lego and then embrace them. Hartman has proven something that we already knew from Seraphina: that she is a master at world building and bringing characters to life.

The ending though… My poor heart. It was both extremely satisfying and a bit saddening, in the way real life also works, I guess. I really only have complaint about this entire book View Spoiler ».

But then after the ending, there is the epilogue. Thankfully some natural defence mechanism kicked in and my imagination filled in the ending quite satisfyingly. But honestly, Ms. Hartman, we need to talk.

So in case this review ever reaches Ms. Hartman:
Dear Ms. Hartman,
In response to your epilogue: I can offer you a kidney, my first-born or my soul. You know what to do. Please contact me and I am sure we can come to a satisfying agreement.
Kind regards,
Carola

2014 Top Ten

2014 Top Ten

So after last week’s Top Ten Tuesday, where I featured my favourite science fiction books of 2014, my initial idea was to make separate Top Ten lists featuring my go-to genres. And then I figured that would just get tiresome for you all to read, so change of plans!

Here is first of all my overall top 10 for 2014. It was incredibly hard to put together, as I read so many amazing books this year. Many more 4 and 5 stars than last year (in 2013, when 3-star-average books seemed to reign…). I can recommend all these books wholeheartedly!

Harry Potter China Mountain Zhang Daughter of Smoke & Bone The Bone Clocks Rebecca

Top Ten of Books Read In 2014

  1. Harry Potter(series) by J.K. Rowling
  2. China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh
  3. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
  4. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
  5. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  6. Krabat by Otfried Preussler
  7. More Than This by Patrick Ness
  8. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
  9. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
  10. Revenge by Yoko Ogawa

Krabat More Than This The Miseducation of Cameron Post Hogfather Revenge

And now, here are all my genre Top Tens for 2014 together.

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