Book Review (of sorts): Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

I read the first Harry Potter book when my young niece left her copy at my house. She wasn’t keen on it so she didn’t want it back. I didn’t have any new books to read at the time, so I started reading HP – and of course got hooked.

I’ve read all the books (twice), watched all the movies (excellent casting), played both the Xbox Lego games (seriously fun) and rode the rides in the theme parks in both Florida and California (and had a butterbeer in each!) 

You could say I’m a fan.

When The Cursed Child was announced, I was initially excited, but on learning it was a script for a play and not a novel I decided I probably wouldn’t read it. I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy reading a play.

My cousins went to London to see the play performed, they said it was AMAZING! and I was more than a little jealous🙂 that sparked my interest again, wanting to know the story, but again I didn’t think I’d enjoy reading a play. Maybe, eventually I’d get the chance to see it performed.

Then a close friend who also loves to share books, told me he had just finished reading The Cursed Child and passed it on to his wife, and if I was interested they would pass it to me next – of course I had to accept!

So I sat down a few nights ago, after the kids had gone to bed, and started to read…

It took a few pages for me to get into the right frame of mind, but soon I was imagining the story unfold in front of me. The old familiar names were there, and my brain immediately brought forth some familiar faces to say their lines. The new characters are equally interesting.

The next day I was reading through lunch, and again as I waited outside the school to pick up my kids. It’s a very fast read, despite the size of the tome it’s not a heavy story. With great sorrow I was soon reading the ending and closing the book. It’s always sad when it’s time to leave the world of Harry Potter, it’s such a fascinating place.

I can’t really review this book, because as J.K.R. requested and hundreds of fans agreed, you have to keep the secrets.

I will say this, I love Scorpio, and I really, truly hope I get the chance one day to see the play.

JonBenét Ramsey

The 1996 murder of tiny pageant princess JonBenĂ©t Ramsey was such a shocking story that it made the national news over in Scotland. A cute little girl, murdered in her own home at Christmas is not something that is easy to ignore, and I remember watching the news and waiting for ‘the bad guy’ to be caught and prosecuted. Of course that never happened, the crime was never solved. Every so often there seemed to be hints that more information had been discovered but still there was no perp, no arrest, no justice for that little girl.

I was listening to Undisclosed Season 2 recently while out walking my dog and I suddenly realized that the host of the addendum was talking about JonBenét and I had to rewind to make sure I was hearing it correctly. Jim Clemente was investigating the case, and had made a documentary. I had to watch. I had to know if there really was new evidence.

So, I tuned in and sat glued to the show. Now, maybe I’m becoming something of a true crime snob, but I didn’t really like the format of this one. I can’t quite put my finger on the exact reasons, but some of it felt too rehearsed and manufactured, and maybe it was the editing but it seemed like Jim and Laura put words into the mouths of their experts and especially the 911 operator who took the call the night of the murder.

I would have much preferred for them to let everyone say what they thought they heard with NO input from each other, just to see if they could agree without influencing each other. Also I was amazed that they played those loud scratchy noisy recordings and stated that they could make out enough words to form sentences – I was disappointed I couldn’t hear it clearly and obviously for myself before they told us what they/we were hearing. The only thing I can say with a degree of certainty is that I think the 911 phone call audio did have people talking after Patsy thought she had hung up and it did not seem like hysterical panic about a missing child.

I also thought I was going to be watching the team as they worked through the evidence and brainstormed all their ideas, but the show felt more like that had already been done and to a certain extent they were just presenting their conclusions on each point. Maybe the two part show is just to small an amount of time to really go through everything carefully.

I remember at the time thinking the intruder story made very little sense, the ransom note seemed completely fake, and the way the family acted and interacted with the media was definitely off. I still hold the same view on each of those points. Although having lived in America for the past 18 years I have noticed that rushing to discuss your family tragedy on live TV is not the bizarre, unique action I was once believed. Americans seem to enjoy claiming their 15 minutes no matter the circumstance (sorry America.)

Was it normal for them to be awake so early? The call to 911 was placed before 6am on a holiday, aren’t most families worn out after the excitement of Christmas day? I know my kids are usually wiped out after a hard day of opening gifts and running around fueled by Christmas candy. Why was Patsy up so early? If they thought JonBenĂ©t may have been kidnapped, why did they not tear the house apart looking for her? If I honestly thought one of my kids was missing, I wouldn’t think twice about waking the others up to ask if they knew anything and to help me look – after I’d already searched the obvious places myself. And if it was dark out I’d have every light in every room turned on. It would have been dark at that hour in Colorado in December right?

Why did the police not search the entire house as soon as they arrived? I know they’re initially thinking kidnapping, but even if they didn’t expect to find the child, wouldn’t they want to look at all possible ways into and out of the house? The decision not to interview the parents immediately was bizarre, were any of the lead detectives and investigators friends with the Ramsey’s? Was there a feeling they had to go easy on them? Were they intimidated by the Ramsey’s social status, did the Ramsey’s wield actual power in their hometown?

Can any evidence be tested for DNA now?

As much as I agree that Burke acted strangely in some of the video clips shown, I have to also say that some of the conclusions drawn by Jim and Laura felt like they were inferring what they wanted to infer, instead of watching with an unbiased eye.

An angry 9 year old boy, with a history of hitting his little sister with a golf club, is most definitely capable of swinging a heavy flashlight with enough force to do damage. If that’s what he did, I don’t think there was intent to kill. He wanted to hurt her or pay her back for whatever infraction had riled him, but I don’t think he intended to cause her death. Did he show any remorse after the golf club incident?

Did anyone open the blue suitcase in the basement? I know the theory was that it was used as a step up for the intruder to exit through the window, or at least it was placed there to stage the area to look like that’s what had happened. But if Burke had accidentally killed his little sister, might it be possible that he thought he’d get in trouble with his parents and therefor decide he should run away? I babysat a little boy once, who having gotten into an argument with the morning shift babysitter (I was the afternoon shift) decided he had to run away from home. The first thing he did was grab a suitcase from his parents closet, and pack his school books and a sweater. Might it be possible that Burke was the one who had move the suitcase and opened the basement window with the intention of leaving before he got yelled at for what he’d just done?

Ugh this show was gotten under my skin, because I don’t like that the mystery of who killed JonBenĂ©t remains unsolved. I wanted a definitive answer with irrefutable evidence. I bet that’s a plea offered up by police men and women, prosecutors and jury members the world over. All of this of course is just my random thoughts as I watched the show and remembered the news all those years ago. I’m not a detective, I don’t even play one on TV.

Most importantly, I really want justice for that little girl. I want JonBenét to finally rest in peace.



Book review: Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry

I just this moment finished listening to ‘Adnan’s Story’ by Rabia Chaudry via Audible and it’s so good I had to share.
I haven’t listened to an audiobook since I was about 8 years old, when I obsessed over ‘Return to Oz’ which came on two cassettes and had an accompanying picture book. In those days they were called books on tape and I only had two, the other being a Famous Five mystery.

I listened avidly to the Serial podcast and also to Undisclosed, anxiously awaiting each installment and trying to make sense of the story as it unfolded. I didn’t ever check out the associated blogs, but now I wish that I had. 

Rabia’s book covers all the same ground as those podcasts but with more details and a whole other level of emotion. Rabia has a personal connection to this story, and it comes through in the narrative, making the story that much richer. Her amazing hard work over the years in working tirelessy on Adnan’s behalf is also clear, although she never uses her platform for any kind of self promotion.

Adnan Syed was just 19 years old when he was arrested for and convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. 

The state constructed their case against him, and by constructed I mean they focused only on Adnan and bent every possible witness statement and scrap or evidence (of which there really was none) to fit their version of events. 

Adnan’s defense lawyer failed to provide him with any real legal defense, she did not establish his alibi, she did not contact key witnesses, she did not counter the allegations against Adnan in any way.

The entire spectacle was steeped in racism – Adnan was painted as a manipulative liar, a man motivated by religious extremist views, with a network of friends and relatives who would cover up his indiscretions and help him flee from justice if required.

With everything stacked against Adnan, he was denied bail, found guilty of murder, and sentenced to life in prison.

Thanks to Rabia’s hard work, and the amazing team she gathered to join her cause, Adnan’s story was thrust into the public eye and the injustice could finally be addressed.

 Adnan’s conviction has been vacated – meaning he should either be released as a free man, or be granted a new trial. The state is dragging its feet, they don’t want to admit any wrongdoing and because of this an innocent man continues to sit in prison, and a young woman’s killer remains free.

Rabia’s book tells the entire story, and she promises to share any further updates as soon as she can – hopefully the next we hear will be that Adnan is finally free.

Undisclosed Season 2

Like so many, I was addicted to the Serial podcast and to the first season of Undisclosed as Sarah Koenig and then Rabia Chaudry told the story of Adnan Syed’s conviction for the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee.

I’m still devouring every update on the case and can’t wait to read Rabia’s book, ‘Adnan’s Story’ or maybe I’ll download it on Audible and enjoy having  Rabia read it to me.

Season 2 of the Undisclosed Podcast went live on July 11th 2016 and I managed to hold off on listening until last week, with summer behind me and the kids all safely away to school – so they can’t interrupt my podcast listening enjoyment – I popped in my earbuds and took the dog on long, long walks to binge listen.

This second season of Undisclosed deals with the death of Isaac Dawkins, who was shot in the head apparently while driving home from college one evening, and the conviction of Joey Watkins, for his murder.

I’m still 1.5 episodes behind, but I can’t wait and need an outlet for the many thoughts about this story, so I thought I’d put them on my blog and see if anyone else out there has the same ideas.

  1. Does everyone in a small town just date everyone else, including their ex’s siblings? The web of exactly who is linked to whom and in what way is pretty tough to keep straight in those opening episodes!
  2. Brianne sounds like the kind of girl that just loves to be involved in the drama, and if there’s none really going on she’s happy to start some. Her favourite pastime seemed to be stirring up trouble between her ex and current boyfriends.
  3. I didn’t believe the someone-shot-at-Brianne-and-Isaac-at-Brianne’s-house story at ALL until episode 7 when the details of the other roadside shootings were mentioned – now I’m wondering if there’s more “random shots fired at people” stories out there for around the same area and time period that have never been collected. The gang initiation sounds like a possible motive, what if there were multiple potential new gang members all given the instruction to shoot someone who is driving a car, maybe specifically a white truck, and these gang wannabees all head out to what they believe is a good location to achieve this goal and that why there were multiple incidents of trucks being shot at, but not all on the exact same stretch of road?
  4. I believe the statements made by the tow-truck driver regarding the position of the truck, the timing of the police presence, the state of the window etc. I think since he is the one tasked with moving the truck and cleaning up any accident related debris, he would be accurate with his account of the accident site (I’m saying accident because initially thats what they believed it to be and therefor the tow-truck driver was doing his job as it would relate to a car accident.)
  5. I don’t think the photographer who was contracted by the police department was ever at the crime scene. I think this was an oversight on the part of the police, someone was supposed to contact him and they didn’t or there was a miscommunication. The photographer was not there and it wouldn’t have mattered too much had it just been a traffic accident as initially thought, but when it turned out to be a crime scene and a possible murder then it became a bigger issue and rather than get their fingers rapped for the mistake, one or more of the police officers involved told the lie that the photographer was there – the photographer himself doesn’t remember being there right? but its a small town, they all know each other and he usually was called for all the crime photos so he kind of assumes he must have been and its just as puzzling to him that he cant find the damn photos, or he’s part of the lie and at this point you can’t come clean with the truth so the lie continues, and he continues to search for all those hundreds of photos that don’t actually exist.

Okay. This has gotten way long. And I have those last couple episodes to listen to to get up to date. Anyone out there who is also living with their ear glued to this podcast and has some thoughts to share, please feel free!

Go-gurt rant


The kids and I have been on summer break for so long that I have officially lost my mind. Things that would usually not even be on my radar are suddenly very important because there’s too many kids in the house for too many days.

It has come to my attention that Yoplait have teamed up with Disney Pixar and are now advertising ‘Finding Dory’ on the go-gurt packaging.

It’s cute, it’s colorful, it catches the eye of small children who then must beg and plead because they NEED to have the go-gurt with the picture of Dory.

I’m cool with that. If you’re gonna eat weird sugary yogurt from a plastic bag, why not get the one advertising the big summer movie?

We buy the go-gurt. My kid is happy.

We take the go-gurt home. My kid is happy.

I tell her she can eat a go-gurt while I’m making her lunch. My kid is happy.

There’s a joke on the go-gurt wrapper. My kid is happy.

My kid reads the joke aloud. My kid is happy.

I think up two stupid answers to the joke which are bound to be completely wrong. My kid is happy.

My kid excitedly looks for the real answer to the joke. It’s not where she thought it would be. My kid spends more time looking for the punchline to the joke than it took to go to the store, put the go-gurt in the cart, pay for the go-gurt, drive home, load the go-gurt into the fridge, decide to get one back out to eat immediately, cut open the wrapper  and eat the go-gurt.

There is no answer to the joke.

I look at the box. I look at a handful of the other go-gurts. I cut open the wrapper and completely wash it clean, searching for the punchline. There is no answer to the joke.

My kid is not happy.

I’m going to have to assume that the answer to the question “why did the diver bring a telescope underwater?” is “to find the answer to this bloody joke.”

Book Review: The Husband’s Secret


I went to NYC over Memorial Day weekend and spent a wonderful 3 days trekking around the city.

At JFK airport waiting for my flight home to Austin, I headed off in search of crisps (potato chips) and instead bought myself a book – ‘The Husband’s Secret’ by Liane Moriarty. 

I started reading while waiting at the gate for my plane to board and it pulled me immediately. 

‘The Husband’s Secret’ is a wonderful tale of what lies beneath the surface of the lives we present to the world.

 Happily married mother-of-three, Cecilia Fitzpatrick has her life completely worked out. She runs a successful business and manages her family life with grace and precision, and still finds time not to just be involved in the affairs of her small community but to play an important role in all school, church and civic events.

One evening, while her husband is out of town on business, Cecilia finds a letter amongst some old receipts. The envelope is addressed to her, to be opened only after her husband’s death. Should she open it? 

John-Paul Fitzpatrick has a secret, one he has kept for many years. If anyone found out his whole life, the life he has worked so hard for, would be turned completely upside down. One emotional night he confessed this secret in a letter he intended to be read only after his death. He had forgotten about the letter until his wife discovered it in an old box in the attic.

The letter will change everything, the repercussions will spread out to touch many other lives.

‘The Husband’s Secret’ is a juicy tale of love, lies and life. The characters are people you know, their day to day struggles so very real. The impossible situations they find themselves in, so painfully easy to envision.

Well written, with good measures of humor and drama. I will happily recommend this fast paced read to all my book loving friends, and to some random strangers.