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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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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Mini Reviews | 2

I slacked a bit near the end of the school year with writing full reviews (and wrap-ups) of the books I’ve read. Rather than break my pledge to review every book I read this year, I figured I’d compromise and write mini reviews of the books I read in April and May, complete with my general thoughts on each. This post is the second of a two-part mini review series. You can view the first part here. Enjoy!

61kqENa2G0L._SL300_Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale | Audible (5/5 stars)
The Chamber of Secrets has always been my least favorite Harry Potter book, but obviously I still love it. Listening to it on audiobook was so much fun, as the story comes to life more than I would have thought possible with Jim Dale’s lovely narration. There’s not much more to say about it, but you can read my full review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone here. I highly recommend checking out the HP audiobooks as they are relatively inexpensive via Audible and can make mundane tasks like driving or cleaning more enjoyable.

16000044Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes | Goodreads (3/5 stars)
Rebel Spring is the second installment to the Falling Kingdoms series. The series follows a cast of characters and perspectives and has been described as a “YA Game of Thrones.” While I do see some similarities, the writing in this series is definitely lower-level and the characters are often unlikeable. I found this sequel tedious and hard to get through until late in the book, where it picked up for me.

17342700Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes | Goodreads (3.5/5 stars)
The third book in the Falling Kingdoms series, Gathering Darkness was pretty good. It’s my favorite of the series so far, as I found the characters more complex and interesting and the plot deeper and thickening. Morgan Rhodes loves to do plot twists and put her characters through the ringer, which I find entertaining and, thus, appreciate. I got into the romantic tension that builds in this novel and cannot wait to pick up the fourth installment, Frozen Tides, if only to find out what happens next. While I don’t think the Falling Kingdoms series is amazing, it has become addicting and definitely keeps the reader on his or her toes. I’d recommend checking it out if it interests you, or if you’re a younger reader looking to delve into young adult fantasy.

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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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

61clY6n-0UL._SL300_Novel: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Jim Dale
Release Date: November 20, 2015
Publisher: Pottermore from J.K. Rowling
Format: Digital Audiobook
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Pottermore | Audible

Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard! The first book in the “Harry Potter” series makes the perfect introduction to the world of Hogwarts.

I could not for the life of me find a decent description of this amazing book, so I provided the usual Goodreads one above. Regardless, everyone should have read Harry Potter by now, so in terms of content, you already know it’s magnificent. (If you haven’t read or didn’t like Harry Potter… Well, I’m quite sorry for your loss. Perhaps this review will inspire you to give it a go!)

So I’m going to be discussing the audiobook version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and the pleasure I got from listening to it this month. Until this March, I hadn’t listened to an audiobook in ages. I think the last time had to have been 8+ years ago; I have The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis on CD, but I don’t think I ever finished it. I’m not an auditory learner, so I’ve always avoided audiobooks, and I’ve had my doubts as to whether listening to a book can really be considered reading. Regardless, I want to re-read the Harry Potter series this year (it’s been far too long) and my trip to Harry Potter World in Orlando in mid-march had me on a time crunch to start. I ended up checking out Audible again (I’ve browsed here and there over the past two years) after watching Christine’s review of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. She re-read the series via audiobook and completely sold me on trying out the experience. ANYTHING FOR HARRY POTTER.

Let me just say, I loved it.

Plot/Language
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and the entire Harry Potter series for that matter, is such a good story. I never quite realized it until I listened to it, but it’s as though this book was made to be heard. Reading it is magical; listening to it brings it to life. I felt like a little kid listening to a bedtime story, and it was hard to turn it off when I had to go to class or leave my car. The plot, characters, and narration of the novel make it prime material for read aloud narration. Brilliant!

Narrator
Jim Dale is an artist. I know there’s a lot of debate as to which narrator is better—Jim Dale (American editions) or Stephen Fry (British editions). I listened to several samples of both, and I think they’re both excellent—you really can’t go wrong either way. However, due to copyrights and all that, my only option was the Jim Dale versions and I am so happy with his narration so far. He has a lovely British accent and narrates the story wonderfully. His particular strength is his character voices; he does a different, yet distinguishable voice for each character, which makes following the book really easy. Yes, sometimes he makes Hermione sound too whiny, and he also made Firenze’s voice much higher-pitched (and Scottish?) than I imagined. But after adjusting to his interpretations, they’re fine. He also narrates the Quidditch matches really well! I want to listen to other audiobooks narrated by Jim Dale now, especially Peter Pan and the Peter and the Starcatchers series.

Length
The audiobook version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is about 8 hours and 15 minutes long. Additionally, it includes a bonus 16-minute sample of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I think Jim Dale’s pacing is perfect; Stephen Fry reads slower, and though I didn’t notice it much (it didn’t bother me at all), when it comes to the longer books, the time adds up! Dale reads at an easy pace: not so quickly that you’ll miss anything, but not so slowly that you want to speed it up. I’d describe it as a leisurely stroll. The pacing really helped me absorb the story; I felt like I was watching the book as a movie, with no changes, or actually living it.

In summary, I really loved listening to the audiobook of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I enjoyed Jim Dale’s narration and voices, and the story seemed more magical than ever before. The audiobook truly brings the story, characters, and wizarding world to life in a way I’d never imagined—and for Harry Potter, which is already so real to so many of us, that’s really saying something.

Thanks for reading.

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