“My geekness is a-quivering.” // Review of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2” by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2
Author: J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
Genre: YA/Play script
Date Read: 14/08/2016
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

Having not been involved at all in Harry Potter fandom since about 2008, I wasn’t really worried about whether I read this book or not. However, when my partner finally found an outlet in our city that wasn’t sold out and bought himself a copy, I decided to form my own thoughts regardless. To my surprise, I actually got caught up in the nostalgia, and the new characters, and ended up really enjoying it!

Harry Potter is now 40 years old, struggling with his relationship with his son, Albus, and on top of that, his scar has been hurting and he’s been having nightmares leading him to think that someone connected to the Dark Lord may be at large. Meanwhile, Albus and best friend Scorpius Malfoy, decide to try to right some of the wrongs wreaked by Lord Voldemort in the past, only to almost plunge the world back into darkness again.

I totally get why so many people were disappointed by this new addition to the Harry Potter ‘verse. For a start, the play format is not supposed to be read, and if you’re not used to reading plays (I am, I’ve been doing theatre for 15 years), I’m sure that would have tarnished the experience. A script is not written to be consumed en masse; it’s written to give the actors the necessary information to bring it to life on stage. I’ve seen complaints about some of the stage directions, but the thing is, stage directions aren’t meant to immerse you in the world. They’re the instructions for someone else who is going to do that immersing.

The structure of the story is also different to the novels. There is no starting off pre-school-year and then following the characters throughout the year towards a climax in June. It’s all rather more complicated than that and Hogwarts actually doesn’t play a huge role, so I totally appreciate that some readers did not feel that they were “back”.

As for the characters, I actually found myself sympathising far more with Harry in this story than I ever did in the novels (I always agreed with Hermione about his “saving people thing”). Draco Malfoy still has enough of teenage Draco in him to recognise, but he has matured as well, and tends to bring out the snark only when necessary, rather than every opportunity. There is still a lot of simmering tension between him and Harry, and I can see that playing out really well onstage.

I loved Albus and Scorpius’ friendship of epic proportions, though I did feel their motivations within their arc were a little over the top. Their character development through the course of the plot was well done, though, and their dialogue is great. Scorpius is such an unapologetic little geek, and I loved that.

There are some problems with some character development of other characters, but I was able to shrug it off a bit more. In most cases, it was either a side-character, or it was a development which was later addressed, so I was able to let it go.

There are some twists that are probably not a surprise to anyone anymore (unless you’ve been really, really careful to avoid spoilers). The big one is rather cliché and even a bit squicky, though I hope it would play out better onstage than in a dry script.

Overall, I think Cursed Child has the makings of a wonderful play, which I would love to see onstage. If this is the only preview I get for a while, though, I’ll be happy enough with that .


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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 27 July, 2016

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

  • What are you currently reading?

ashalawolfcoverStill going with the audio of Paper Daisies by Kim Kelly. It’s going on a bit, but I’m kind of at that “Well, I’ve committed now” point.

In print, I have started The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina. This is one of my Indigneous Australian author reads for the Australian Women Writers Challenge. I only started it today, but I like it so far and I’m hoping it might be the book that ends my long slew of 3-star reads and gets a four or a five.

  • What have you recently finished reading?

islasinheritanceAs expected, I finished Wonder Women by Sam Maggs, and my review went up on Monday. I do want to go back through it and note down some of the books written by the featured women and bios written about them, because I would love to find out more.

I then proceeded to finish Isla’s Inheritance by Cassandra Page very quickly (less than 24 hours). It was enjoyable enough, but I didn’t feel compelled to continue the series.

melodybittersweetgirlsghostbustingagencycoerAfter that, I finished off Melody Bittersweet and the Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency by Kitty French, which I saw on someone else’s WWW posts in the last couple of weeks. It was cute, though I did not like the love interests at all, which did put a damper on the “romantic comedy” aspect. I did really like the mystery, though.

Last night, I read the preview excerpt of Vicarious by Paula Stokes, which is available on NetGalley in the lead-up to the release next month. If I had actually read the listing properly and realised it was a preview, I probably wouldn’t have requested it, but it was interesting.

I also posted my review of Blood of My Blood, the third in the Jasper Dent series by Barry Lyga, on Friday.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I also Am I Black Enough For You? by Anita Heiss out from the library for the AWW Challenge, so it may well be next. I also have a few books of my own that I’m going to try to read soon.

wednesdaybannerAnd now for WIPpet Wednesday. This is another blog hop in which writers share excerpts from their current WIP that somehow relate to the date. Clicking the blue guy on the right will take you to the linkup for this one.

In this scene, Frederick has just told Grace that he shouldn’t teach her any magic, and should instead tell her to go back to her room and never think about it ever again. Seven sentences for the seventh month.

Grace looked at him with a wry expression. “You think you can just tell someone to forget about this sort of thing?”

“No,” he replied. “I know you can’t. No one can. That’s what makes it so powerful. The second you get a taste for it, it has a hold over you.”

Frederick does have his reasons for showing Grace the magic in the first place. I’m not saying they’re good reasons (in fact, they’re pretty weak), but they are reasons nonetheless.

This week I’ve been writing from Frederick’s POV, and that’s been interesting. He’s very private but I’ve managed to needle out a lot of his past, which has been good. I also had an epiphany the other day (after writing the first 16k, of course!) that the whole thing would work a lot better if Grace were the governess to Frederick’s children, rather than a maid in his household. So I’ll have to a whole lot of revision there, but that’s okay.

That’s it from me, as I have a few things I need to get done tonight. I also need to consume the rest of this delicious lemon meringue pie sitting next to me. See you on your blogs!

~ Emily

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“I taught you everything you know, but not everything I know.” // Review of “Blood of My Blood” by Barry Lyga

Title: Blood of My Blood (Jasper Dent #3)
Author: Barry Lyga
Genre: YA/Psychological thriller
Date Read: 09/07/2016 – 10/07/2016
Rating: ★★★

Review:

Hmm. Well, that was a bit disappointing. After such a strong series opener and a really good follow-up, I felt that this book was a bit of a mess. Maybe it’s just that I’m terrible at keeping track of details, but there seemed to be so much going on, and so many POVs, that I ended up lost. It’s never a good sign when you’re glancing down at the page numbers to see how many you’ve got to go, but that started happening with this book.

Jazz is on the run in New York City, suspected of at least two murders and a myriad of other crimes. Meanwhile, Connie and Howie are also both in danger, but both of them realise they will still do whatever it takes to protect Jazz. Eventually, everything converges on Lobo’s Nod again, where a final showdown is about to commence.

This book made a return to the first book’s tendency to focus on Jazz’s angst regarding his upbringing, and whether he might be a serial killer in waiting. While it’s completely logical that Jazz would wonder this, even obsess over it, it gets repetitive for the reader, especially when these thought processes have no evolution or resolution and don’t lead anywhere. Not only this, we also had Connie and Howie going through similar periods of angst. And it took a long time to get to a point in the book where these characters were doing constructive things, rather than just lying in hospital  or in Jazz’s case, road-tripping home.

On top of this, we had scenes from the POV of not only Jazz but Connie, Howie, Detective Hughes of the NYPD, Sherrif Tanner, and a couple of serial killers at times. It felt very busy, maybe even an attempt to make it appear more was going on than what actually was. On top of this was the strange backstory to Billy Dent’s career, and his position within an established serial killer pecking order. It didn’t make a huge amount of sense to me, and it didn’t help that by this point in the series, Billy Dent was starting to become something of a comical villain, rather than the chilling voice in Jazz’s head he started out as.

While I have read series closers that were more disappointing than this one (coughTheRavenKingcough), there is still that “…heh” feeling at the end. Despite that, though, I still recommend this series if you have the stomach for it. Even if this final novel isn’t quite as good, you are still in for a good ride!


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“Jazz felt as though his own life was a minefield, one he’d lost the map for.” // Review of “Game” by Barry Lyga

Title: Game (Jasper Dent #2)
Author: Barry Lyga
Genre: YA/Thriller
Date Read: 07/07/2016 – 09/07/2016
Rating: ★★★★

Review:

gamecoverWhile this instalment in the series took a bit longer to get going than the first book, I still found the it to have a high chill-factor that made me want to speed through the pages.

After the events of I Hunt Killers, Jazz is summoned to New York to consult with the NYPD on a serial killer case there. While he still has concerns stemming from the aftermath of the Impressionist case, he and Connie go along anyway, and soon Jazz finds himself closely linked to the murders in NYC.

This book benefits from spending less time in Jazz’s head. I found the first book started getting a bit repetitive with all of Jazz’s “Will I, won’t I?” about becoming a serial killer like his father. However, it did take a while to get going, as the set-up of Jazz’s visit to NYC and the establishment of how the Hat-Dog murderer was working took some time to cover. This book also spent more time in other POVs, which I felt slowed down the pace a bit, even though in most cases it did need to be done to continue advancing the plot. There is also the fact that you do have to suspend a fair bit of disbelief about the NYPD taking on a 17-year-old as a consultant, but I am pretty good at suspension of disbelief, so I was able to get around that.

I did like the revelation of the titular “game”and how it fitted into everything. It was particularly gruesome, but also rather clever, in a macabre sort of way. However, the revelation that formed the book’s cliffhanger did not come as the slightest surprise to me, as there had been so much effort spent throughout the book to make me think the opposite was true that I couldn’t help but assume this revelation to be the case.

Still, the first book set a huge standard, and this a good follow-up, even if it doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor.


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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 13 July, 2016

Edit: Hey guys. Just letting you know that except in a couple of cases, due to blogging technology being against me, I am having trouble commenting on posts on non-Wordpress blogs. I am not ignoring you, I just can’t get them to post! 😦

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

  • What are you currently reading?

secretrivercoverI will finally start The Secret River by Kate Grenville at some point today. I did listen to maybe the first quarter of it on audio earlier in the year, but I realised it was one that I would get through faster by reading the print version. I’ve actually had this out from the library for over a month, but I kept finding other things I wanted to read first.

  • What have you recently finished reading?

gamecoverI’ve had a much better reading week this past week than the last couple. I finished the Jasper Dent series, reading both Game and Blood of My Blood. I thought Game was a good follow-up to I Hunt Killers, though I did think the story got a bit messy in Blood of My Blood.

verygoodlivescoverI also read Very Good Lives by J. K. Rowling, which is actually just a transcript of the 2008 Commencement speech she gave at Harvard University, but I really loved it, despite the annoying illustrations on every second page. (I also looked it up on YouTube, it was lovely watching her deliver it as well).

I ended up DNFing White Cat by Holly Black. I just wasn’t interested, and Jesse Eisenberg wasn’t the most riveting narrator.

Reviews of two memoirs, The Fictional Woman by Tara Moss, and Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale Jr. went up this week.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

No idea! The Secret River is the last library book I have out at the moment, and I will probably try to get through a few books that I own before I start requesting again. Also, next Monday heralds both the start of the new university semester AND the first rehearsal for a musical I hadn’t intended to audition to, except then I did, and I ended up with a role… so reading might slow for a few months at that point…

wednesdaybannerAnd now for WIPpet Wednesday. This is another blog hop in which writers share excerpts from their current WIP that somehow relate to the date. Clicking the blue guy on the right will take you to the linkup for this one. In this scene, Grace is on her afternoon off, sitting out in the fields with her shoes and stockings off (scandal!) and is about to get caught in a summer storm that has come over very suddenly, when she meets the master of the house, about whom she has heard all sorts of rumours, but who has proved rather elusive up until now. Thirteen lines for the thirteenth of the month.

“Nice day for it!” he called to her. She blushed,  and didn’t reply. To her horror, she realised that he was making his way over to her. She looked down and concentrated on getting her boots done up.  She felt the first splashes of rain on her head, it was going to come on thick and fast any moment.

“Here, allow me,” Mr Merrow said, and Grace’s heart nearly leapt out of her chest in shock as her boot laces started lacing themselves, far faster than her panicked fingers had been managing. She glanced up at Mr Merrow,  and he nodded towards her second boot. She slipped it on, and the laces once again did themselves up under Mr Merrow’s gaze.

“I can trust you to keep a secret, can’t I, Miss…?”

“Kent,” Grace said, looking up from her shoes.  ”Grace Kent.”

“Well, Grace, we’d best be getting up to the house before we’re soaked,” he said. He held out his hand to Grace,. She took it, and he pulled her to her feet. “I can’t control the weather,  though I might be able to keep us a little drier than the rain would like us to be.”

Just how he plans to do that is a WIPpet for another day. (Any typos in the above excerpt are to be blamed on auto-correct, as I was typing that scene on my tablet at a writing group meet-up. Having said that, I think I caught them all).

That’s it from me, see you on your blogs!

~ Emily

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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 22 June, 2016

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.

wwwwednesday

What are you currently reading?

allthelightcoverI’m only about 40 pages from the end of  All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It’s not really my kind of book,to be honest, but I did stick it out to the end, so that has to count for something, right?

I finally got around to putting the audio of White Cat by Holly Black onto my phone and I’ve made it to about 40% of that today. It’s interesting enough, but not terribly exciting (which is pretty much what I thought about the last Holly Black book I read).

I haven’t had much of a chance to continue with Wonder Women by Sam Maggs, but I’ve got ages to finish that one before a review is due.

What did you recently finish reading?

catchmeifyoucancoverI finished the audio of Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale Jr. and Stan Redding. Frank Abagnale has to be about the luckiest man who ever lived.

I also reviewed Nimona by Noelle Stevenson and Nightshade by Maryrose Wood this week, as well as posting a breakdown of my reading for the first six months of the year.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Technically, The Secret River by Kate Grenville should be next, but I think I need a break from historical fiction after All The Light We Cannot See. I picked up Game by Barry Lyga, the sequel to I Hunt Killers, from the library this afternoon and the third book is showing up on my record as in transit. I’ll probably read those and then get back to Kate Grenville.

And now for WIPpet Wednesday. This is another blog hop in which writers share excerpts from their current WIP that somehow relate to the date. Clicking the blue guy on the right will take you to the linkup for this one. Since I was such an awful WIPpet Wednesday Coordinator last week, please leave me your links for June 30 in the comments  here and I’ll try to double-up this week.

I’m not entirely sure what to share today. I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo but at the moment I’m finding the story a bit boring. Oh well. I’ve found six lines that will do. Grace has just started her new job as a maid at Merrow House. Sarah Holdom is giving her a tour of the house, and Grace has seen photographs of Frederick Merrow’s late wife and is asking whether she died before or after Mr Merrow left England for Australia.

“No, she had already passed away when Mr Merrow left England. I believe it was some sort of illness, though there are those who say…” She looked over her shoulder theatrically to check no one could overhear her. “There are those who say that Mr Merrow got himself and his wife involved in things he shouldn’t have…. dark things… dark magic… and that that’s what killed her.”

“Dark magic?” Grace scoffed, but felt intrigue flair up inside her anyway.

That’s all from me for this week. Don’t forget to check out others’ contributions to these two blog hops! Until next week!

~ Emily


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“You won’t even know you’ve crossed the line until it’s way back in your rearview mirror.” // Review of “I Hunt Killers” by Barry Lyga

Title: I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1)
Author: Barry Lyga
Genre: YA/Psychological thrillers
Date Read: 15/06/2016 – 17/06/2016
Rating: ★★★★☆

Review:

This book was very intense. While it was very hard to put down, there was a time when I had to, because its chilling content was causing a disturbing churning in my stomach, but then the second night I was reading it, I accidentally stayed up past midnight with it. The reason that I knocked a half-star off my rating is that this chill factor did wear off about halfway through, which, while a relief, was also a bit disappointing,

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is the son of one of the 21st Century’s most notorious serial killers, Butcher Billy, whose body count is over 100. As you can imagine, Jazz didn’t grow up in the most normal of environments. He is terrified of turning into his father, and when a copycat murderer shows up in his hometown, he decides to help the police with their investigation, in the hopes of at least proving to them that he should not be their main suspect, and proving to himself that he is better than his father.

Jazz is a really unique character among YA protagonists. Lyga has clearly done his research because the effects of Billy Dent’s brainwashing on Jazz are clear, as are other parts of Jasper’s psychology, such as his occasional moments of sociopathy. He is a charmer, he can manipulate people to his will, and if he forgets to remind himself that all people are real and deserving of a life, he does start viewing them as expendable. He also has some repressed memories starting to rear their ugly heads, and isn’t entirely sure what to make of them.

The book is structured in such a way that Jazz’ flashbacks to his father’s bragging after kills, and other awful memories are woven seamlessly into the main murder plot. Billy Dent is terrifying; it was one of these flashbacks that made me have to close the book for the night because I was feeling spooked. It also deals with some of the other harsh realities of being the son of such an infamous figure, such as parents of Billy’s murder victims tracking him down and wanting to talk to him to find some kind of closure.

Jazz is accompanied by some really great side characters, particularly Connie, his girlfriend, and Howie, his best friend. Both of them supported him despite knowing who his father was, and keep him grounded when he starts going off the rails.

Overall, this is an incredibly strong series opener, which I recommend, though it is definitely not for the faint of heart!


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#WWW and #WIPpet Wednesday – 15 June, 2016

It’s time for WWW Wednesday! This is a blog hop hosted by Sam over at A World Of Words. Link up with us by commenting on Sam’s post for today, and just answer the three questions.

  • What are you currently reading?

wwwwednesday.Nothing, actually, as I finished two books today and I am yet to start a new one.

  • What have you recently finished reading?

I finished Edge of Darkness by K. L. Schwengel on a bus on Friday. It was a good conclusion to the series!

I followed this up with Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine. I’m glad that it’s only a few weeks until the sequel comes out! I want to spend more time in this world. I also want a book about Scholar Wolfe and Commander Santi as young men, but I don’t think that is likely, and that is a shame.

I also finished the audio of The Lost Life by Steven Carroll and good lord, I’m glad it was short. It had some pretty language and the story could have been really interesting, but it didn’t really go anywhere and it got quite repetitious at times. It’s kind of awkward reading a love scene where the two characters are described as having their mouths “glued together” multiple times in a few minutes.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Sadly, I have not been able to read a book a day on my week off like I had intended, but that is because I have been preoccupied with other things I wanted to do, so there’s that. My next read will probably be I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga to see what all the fuss is about. 😛 Then I’ll probably read Nightshade by Maryrose Wood.

Borrow Box tells me that the audio of The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer will be available for me tomorrow, so I’ll make a start on that, too. Hope the audio is good!

wednesdaybannerAnd now for WIPpet Wednesday. This is another blog hop in which writers share excerpts from their current WIP that somehow relate to the date. Clicking the blue guy on the right will take you to the linkup for this one. This week, we’re back with Eli, who is getting some bad news that could land him in a lot of trouble.

“What is it?” Eli asked.

Maisie caught her breath and then said, “It’s the Princess, sir. She’s… she’s gone, sir.”

“What do you mean, gone?”

“She wasn’t in her bed, sir. I looked in some usual places, the library, and her parlour, but I couldn’t find her anywhere.”

“Is there anything else to suggest she’s disappeared? Maybe you’re just not looking hard enough.”

Maisie nodded her head, as if agreeing with his assessment, but then she added, “She’s taken clothes with her sir. And the secret door at the end of the passage, the one behind the tapestries? The one you never let her remember? It was open.”

Sometimes, Eli thinks this Princess might be more trouble than she’s worth. 😛

That’s it from me, see you on your blogs!

~ Emily