Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

29069989Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne | Goodreads
Release Date: July 31, 2016
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 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.

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

The summary is all you need to know going into the story. Yes, there were some typos. Yes, there was a strange use of punctuation (which I attribute to The Cursed Child being a script rather than a novel).

But this book was freaking intense and wonderful. I LOVE Scorpius Malfoy. And I love that Harry and Draco worked together for their sons. Draco has obviously matured and endured more hardships in the nineteen years since his time at Hogwarts; I appreciated getting to understand his character better. And it’s so cool that Harry and Draco’s sons—the sons of arch nemeses—are best friends. The friendships in this story, both new and old, are amazing. The Cursed Child is a wonderful mix of past, beloved Harry Potter characters and new characters (or characters from the Deathly Hallows epilogue). I also learned through this book that I really hate time travel in the wizarding world. It is a total mind f**k.

Do not hesitate to devour this book. It is worth the hefty price tag, though you can get it for 40% off online here and here.

What did you think of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child?
Let me know in a comment below!

Thanks for reading.

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This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz

13503109-1Novel: This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz | Goodreads
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
Rating: 4 stars

On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness–and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own.

In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”

This Is How You Lose Her is a collection of short stories following characters from the Dominican Republic who have immigrated to the United States. The stories are centered around relationships, love, family, and the idea of being with someone and what that means. The collection is full of manipulation, both by males and females, strife, stereotypes, and foul language. I found it eye-opening.

The first story was by far my favorite. It chronicles the fall of Yunior and Magdalena’s relationship and I thought it was well constructed and well done. Díaz managed to portray the situation in such a realistic way that really reached out to me as a reader. The last story, “A Cheater’s Guide to Love”, was probably my second favorite and also the longest. Most of the stories follow or contain Yunior, but others branch off to follow different characters, all of whom are experiencing the hardships living in America brings and forming connections—both good and bad—with other Dominicans.

Overall, I really enjoyed This Is How You Lose Her. It sparked my interest in Junot Díaz’s other books and gave me new perspective on a facet of hispanic (mainly Dominican) culture and society, especially within the United States. The collection of stories is not beautiful in a happy way; it’s actually kind of a downer filled with tragedy, repeated mistakes, misery, and heartbreak. While some of the stories were dull, I thought the entire collection as a whole was cohesive and illustrious, and I recommend giving it a shot if the premise interests you. I’m glad I did.

Thanks for reading.

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The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Yoon_9780553496680_jkt_all_r1.inddNovel: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon | Goodreads
Release Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: ARC
Source: B-Fest
Rating: 4.5 stars

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

The Sun Is Also a Star is the story of a girl and boy from different backgrounds meeting and falling in love. It’s also about family, cultural identities and assimilation, and the challenges of immigration in the United States. The novel is set in New York City and takes place over the course of a single day. Despite it being a young adult contemporary novel, which is a genre I generally avoid, I found The Sun Is Also a Star to be brilliantly composed, well-researched, thought-provoking, and fun.

Let’s start with the basics.

Natasha is a seventeen-year-old undocumented immigrant living in NYC. She moved to the U.S. with her mother at the age of eight to join her father, who’d been trying to make it as a Broadway actor for several years. She’s smart, cynical, and hardworking—a no nonsense kind of girl who knows what she wants and how to get it. She doesn’t believe in love, fate, destiny, religion, or even dreams; she believes in science, and science alone.

Natasha’s world is falling apart. Her dad is living in la-la land within his own mind—he’s failing as an actor and has pretty much given up on work and the world. He’s resentful of his family and feels he gave up his dream career, his “God-given talent” of acting, for his wife and two kids. One night, he gets a D.U.I., revealing to a police officer the illegal immigration status of his family. The Kingsley family is thus issued a deportation order, which ruins all of Natasha’s plans for the rest of her senior year of high school, college, and a career. The day that her family is supposed to leave the United States—presumably forever—Natasha sets out into the city to find someone, anyone, who can help her get the deportation order reversed. Why should her life be wrecked because her father made a stupid mistake?

Enter Daniel. Daniel was born in America and is the youngest son of Korean immigrants. His older brother Charlie’s suspension from Harvard leads his parents to exert more pressure on Daniel to attend Yale and become a doctor. Daniel’s parents know what it’s like to be poor, and the thought of their sons living in poverty someday haunts them. They think they know what’s best for Daniel and refuse him any room to design his own life and career.

Daniel is a dreamer. He’s honest, self-deprecating, passionate, and funny, and he aspires to be a poet. Daniel believes in God, in fate, and in “meant to be.” Most of all, though, he believes in love. When Daniel and Natasha cross paths, is it purely due to coincidence, or has a string of events caused by fate led them together? Upon first look, they’re polar opposites of each other, but as the day goes on, they discover they have more and more in common: dysfunctional families, problems with their parents, and an undeniable connection with each other. Whether it’s simply chemicals in their brains, as Natasha believes, or a grand destiny, as Daniel thinks, the 12 hour love story of Natasha and Daniel is fascinating, funny, and heartwarming. I found that it was easy to put aside the little voice in my head that likes to chant “unrealistic” at me while reading YA contemporary novels and go with the flow of Nicola Yoon’s story. The relationships, cultures, science, and politics involved make it different from any other novel I’ve read, and I appreciate the personal touches and amount of research Yoon put into her story. The format of The Sun Is Also a Star, which consists of chapters that alternate by POV, sprinkled tidbits of outside perspectives, and short chapters on topics such as love, irie, and scientific theories/studies, was delightful and interesting to read.

I thoroughly enjoyed Nicola Yoon’s sophomore novel, The Sun Is Also a Star, and I recommend it to the non-believers and those who enjoy a bit of whimsicality in their contemporary reading. It hits shelves November 1st, so be sure to grab yourself a copy!

Thanks for reading.

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

15507958Novel: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes | Goodreads
Release Date: January 5, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Books
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Rating: 4.5 stars

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

Me Before You is a beautiful and thought-provoking novel filled with seemingly real characters, realistic problems, and British humor that I’ll openly admit I didn’t always follow. The story is set in a small tourist town in the English countryside. It’s told mostly in first-person from Louisa Clark’s perspective, with a few single chapters told from minor characters’ perspectives sprinkled throughout. And just as a warning before you read Me Before You: it’s not really a romance. It is an adult contemporary novel about all sorts of complicated issues and the interconnected lives of characters; a bit of romantic love develops slowly, but it isn’t what the novel is about. Rather, it’s a marketing tool that’s been abused as a selling point for Me Before You.

Louisa and I didn’t get off to a great start; I found her whiny and contrary in the first three chapters and actually put the book down for about a week. However, when I picked it back up I got right into her perspective and the story, so maybe I was just having a bad night initially. I really enjoyed Louisa’s wry voice, which is filled with humor, compassion, self-deprecation, and blunt honesty, about both herself and the world. I liked reading about her family dynamics, her lackluster relationship with Patrick, and her growth over the course of the novel. The one thing I found a bit disappointing with regards to Louisa is the way Moyes addressed her history with sexual assault. I thought it could have been dealt with more thoroughly and in a more impactful manner.

Our other main character, whose perspective we only see in the prologue from third-person, is Will Traynor. And he is a character. Will has a big personality; before his accident, he did everything big, with passion and intensity. He had designed a life he loved living, and now that his dream life is gone forever, he wants to commit suicide. He tries to, which is why Louisa is hired to watch over him. I really want to leave it at that, because the rest is for the reader to discover while reading. But I loved Will and found his life before the accident to be exciting and his life afterwards to be eye-opening. His perspective and philosophy on living is inspiring and he made a mark on my heart.

I’m always wary of hyped up books when I am late on the hype train. They’re almost always spoiled for me in some sense, and my reading experience and overall opinion of a book is altered—for better or for worse—because of its hype. If I had read Me Before You when I’d originally planned to—back a few years ago when my mom did, before all the movie hype—I think I would have been shocked by it. Its ending would have swept me off my feet and face-planted me into a pool of my own tears. That being said, it still made me said and my eyes did water a bit (I finished it at a swim team banquet and thus held in the tears that otherwise would have spilled down my cheeks). But my prediction of why everyone says it’s such a sad book and that “omg” they cried at the end was right. And I knew it would be right (without actually looking it up). So in that sense, Me Before You’s hype took away from my experience reading it, although I still found it fresh, heartbreaking, and wonderful. I would give it 4 stars based on my own experience and know I would have given it 5 had I not known what would happen. So I settled on a solid and, in my opinion, fair 4.5 star rating.

I highly recommend reading Me Before You. There is also sequel out for those interested; I felt very content with the first book’s ending because it is a complete story with no loose ends, but I may check out the second installment and review it. Let me know what you thought of Me Before You (or After You) if you’ve read either, but please keep any comments spoiler-free!

Thanks for reading.

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The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

11510533Novel: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss | Goodreads
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Publisher: DAW (Penguin Group)
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Rating: 4.25 stars

In The Wise Man’s Fear, Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, forced to reclaim the honor of his family, and travels into the Fae realm. There he meets Felurian, the faerie woman no man can resist, and who no man has ever survived…until Kvothe. Now, Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.

Overall, I thought The Wise Man’s Fear was a good book. It’s a very long book, so a lot happened and Kvothe travels around much more than in The Name of the Wind. That being said, I preferred the first book to the second in The Kingkiller Chronicle.

I think pacing was the biggest issue for me in The Wise Man’s Fear. The book is nearly 1,000 numbered pages, so each part is at least 100 pages. It got tiresome and boring, and actually put me in a bit of a reading slump in April. It took me around two weeks to finish this book because I refused to read it on many occasions. Personally, I found the events in The Name of the Wind more interesting; in The Wise Man’s Fear, my favorite scenes were those at the university in the first 300 pages or so. I thought the sections with Felurian and the Adem were too long and dragged out, especially when nothing really happened. And we really got no resolution with Denna, which I’d been hoping to find after the first installment.

I am eagerly awaiting the third (and final) installment to The Kingkiller Chronicle, as I think it is a unique and interesting adult fantasy series. The books are well-written and Kvothe is an entertaining protagonist and narrator. Overall, my problems with the pacing in The Wise Man’s Fear did not detract enough from the story for me to give the book a lower rating. I highly recommend this series to hardcore fantasy lovers and those who wish to delve into adult fantasy. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Thanks for reading.

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