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.

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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.

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.

Me Before You – A Review

Before my new book club picked this novel, I had heard the buzz EVERYWHERE. 

I despise spoilers, so I hadn’t read any detailed articles or reviews but it seemed that every time I went online, I saw friends, friends of friends, and complete strangers recommending ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes to anyone who would listen. So it was on my radar, and I added it to my mental TBR list.

I haven’t been to any meetings with my new book club (maybe it’s a little forward of me to claim it as my own, I should wait and give them time to meet and reject me first) but the friend who invited me forwarded the book choice email to me and I thought yay! Everyone is liking this book, I won’t be stuck reading some rubbish just so I can join in the discussion with my soon-to-be new best book buds.

That same day, another friend shared a link to a video and before I realised which movie it was related to, I clicked on the link and found myself watching the ‘Me Before You’ movie trailer. Oh, now I knew what the book was about… and honestly that premise seemed like something I’d seen before.

Undaunted I immediately bought the book for my Kindle so I could get started reading while the idea was at the front of my brain. If I’d put it off ’til later it would no doubt get lost under “buy stamps” and “swipe that cobweb at the top of the stairs.”

First the positive stuff: I really like the way Jojo Moyes writes. It’s easy to absorb, funny, and the story just carried me along. The main character, Lou, is great. Hugely likeable, and highly relatable.

The story itself, while an enjoyable enough read, was nothing new. The entire time I was reading I could not shake the feeling that I’d read this whole thing somewhere before.

SPOILER ALERT

The main character, Louisa, is a strange but lovable young woman who has never left her hometown and doesn’t think she has much going for her. She’s seemingly happy to accept her small life despite being jealous of her own sister, and having acknowledged the lack of passion, or even interest, in her own love life.

When Lou loses her job at the local cafe she almost accidentally finds herself hired to be the companion and caregiver to a young man who suffered a terrible injury causing him to be paralyzed from the chest down.

Will, the dashingly handsome quadriplegic, that Lou is hired to hang out with, does not want to live the rest of his life in a wheelchair and so very dependent on others for his every need.

Lou discovers that Will had previously attempted to end his own life, that he has a deal with his family that he will be allowed to do so at an already set future date, and that she is the last effort to change his mind and show him he still has a life worth living.

Line up the cliches!

  • Will used to live a very active life.
  • Will used to be a bit of a dick.
  • His parents are rich, so money is no object while trying to change his mind about death.
  • Lou’s family is the opposite of Will’s family – poor/rich – silly/snooty – express emotions/stick up their arse
  • Will’s sister doesn’t like Lou.
  • Will’s parents don’t have a happy marriage.
  • Lou has a scary event from her past.
  • Lou’s boyfriend doesn’t understand her.
  • Lou’s attempts to make Will enjoy his life leads to her seeing the potential in her own.
  • They fall for each other.

There were no plot twists that I didn’t already see coming from three quarters of a mile away.

I’m convinced that this story has been done before, and because of this, even though it was nicely written and not awful to read, I’m seriously disappointed.

What the Little One and I are reading.

Last school year Little One’s teacher read “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” aloud to the class and then they had a Blue Party to celebrate getting through the entire novel.

As a result Little One has been obsessed with Percy Jackson ever since 🙂 so for her birthday this summer I bought her the Percy Jackson and the Olympians boxed set.

I hoped she would love this gift and enjoy all the other stories in the series. She surprised me by wanting to read the first book again because I hadn’t read it and she wanted to share the fun with me. What a cool kid!

Through the start of the new school year, we read Percy together in 20 minute chunks every day – that’s the required amount of reading homework for her grade – but occasionally we’d manage a little bit more, especially on rainy weekends.

She also had ‘Gregor The Overlander’ to read for her class reading group – which she occasionally read aloud to me. I encouraged this, but honestly it kind of addled my brain to have her reading two different books to me at the same time.

When we finished ‘The Lightning Thief’ I thought Little One would want to take a break. I thought the boxed set might sit and gather dust now, the initial fascination over, joining all those unread Rainbow Fairy books in the crammed bookshelf.

But instead Little One demanded an immediate start to Book Two! So together we read ‘Percy Jackson and The Sea of Monsters’ and not just in 20 minute bursts. Little One would read to me while I brushed her hair, and when I made her breakfast. She would hand the book to me while she ate, and again when she had to brush her teeth. She asked for my company while she took her bath, so I could continue the story 🙂 and she read to me while I drove her home from school.

She is LOVING these books!

We sped through book two and last night started book three, ‘Percy Jackson and The Titan’s Curse.’

Thank you Rick Riordan, we have a winner!

Little One just noticed that one of the shelves on MY bookcase contains the first three ‘Heroes of Olympus’ novels – I think I’m going to have to share.

Awesome YA is awesome.

A while back I read and LOVED the wonderful and amazing ‘The Archived’ by Victoria Schwab and then last November for my birthday I was gifted the second book in the Archived series, “The Unbound” which is JUST AS WONDERFAB!

It’s taken me forever to get around to writing a review for ‘The Unbound’ because life and also thieving children, but finally and with much fanfare, here is my review:

‘The Unbound’ picks up pretty much where ‘The Archived’ left off. After a crazy summer of chasing down Histories, working with and finally trusting Wes, and fighting to save both the Archive and her own life, Mackenzie Bishop is ready to try something resembling a normal life. A new school and a new group of friends gives her the chance to start over, but Mac is haunted by the events of her past and when dreams start to feel more like reality, she knows she’s in trouble. When people start to go missing, Mackenzie realizes that there is something bigger going on, and all the evidence points straight at her. If Mac doesn’t figure it out fast, she’ll lose her place as Keeper, her friendship with Wes, and the most precious parts of her memory.

With ‘The Unbound’, Victoria Schwab delivers AGAIN!  Mac and Wes are wonderful characters (yes fans, there’s lots of Wes in the 2nd book) and the story is unique, rich and engaging. A little darker in tone than ‘The Archived’ be prepared for a rather thrilling adventure.

Why did I mention thieving children? Well, my eldest daughter occasionally moans and whines that she has nothing to read, and I sometimes (rarely) dare to recommend to her something from my own bookshelf. I’ve been trying to push books her way since before she could read (hehehehe) but when she was around eight years old I realized that her stubborn streak was so incredibly wide, that if I was TOO enthusiastic with my suggestions she would refuse to have anything to do with them. I did recommend ‘The Book Thief” and that was the last I saw of my copy, she later bought me a replacement copy, having fallen so in love with the story that she couldn’t part with it.

But I digress.

In passing I suggested that my daughter might enjoy ‘The Archived.” She didn’t bite. I walked away. Then one evening,  I was cooking dinner one handed while reading ‘The Unbound’ and she asked me if it was really that good.. I told her yes, and that she should read the first book. After dinner I handed her my copy of ‘The Archived’ and went back to reading ‘The Unbound’ and the following morning she explained how she had stayed up MUCH later than she had intended because she simply could not stop reading!

Two days later she asked if I had finished reading ‘The Unbound’ because she “needed it” – if that’s not a glowing recommendation for a YA book, I don’t know what is!

My daughter has since informed me that ‘The Archived’ and ‘The Unbound’ are now HER books, she is never giving them back, and that I should contact the author and make sure the third book is published ASAP.

Victoria Schwab has written quite a few other books including “Vicious”  and her brand new release “A Darker Shade of Magic” which I really think my daughter should buy for me.

A review: The Reluctant Detective by Sinclair MacLeod

‘The Reluctant Detective’ is the first book in the series by the same name, written and published by Indie author Sinclair MacLeod.

The first thing I love about this book is the title – you know how some things just appeal to you? Well, ‘reluctant detective’ appealed to me.

The less than enthusiastic sleuth in question is Craig Campbell – insurance claims investigator. He steps outside the boundaries of his usual line of work when an elderly lady approaches him with the tale of her dead son. She’s convinced that the police missed something and when she begs Craig to look into things, he can’t turn her away.
As Craig digs into the case he soon finds himself knee deep in a world of deceit and corruption, with more mystery to untangle than he’d ever expected.

Set in Glasgow and it’s surrounding landscapes, with fantastic authentic patter (dialogue) ‘The Reluctant Detective’ is excellent both as a crime novel and as a teleportation device transporting me back to my homeland.