Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II Review

Hi friends! Guess who read the new Harry Potter book? This guy!

I got my preordered copy of Harry Potter and Cursed Child on Monday the first, I believe. I halted the book I was reading (Cress by Marissa Meyer) and went straight into this book. If you can show me a person that says they can sit through a book they’re already reading when they have a new HP book sitting on their shelf, I will show you a liar. Harry Potter waits for no one.

For those who don’t know, I am a HUGE Harry Potter nerd. I love it, I have a tattoo for it, I have a painting for it, my life is basically all HP, and my blog is named for one of my favorite lines in the entire series, “Books! And cleverness! There are more important things – friendship and bravery” … I’ll admit, I omitted the latter half because I mean, really, what’s more important than books?

So I sat down a week ago and read the book. Admittedly it took me three days to do so, but I finished it! And oh my god…

This was completely different than the usual HP books, which was both good and bad:

First of all, it’s written like a play is written. For good reason: it’s the book based off of the play that just took stage in London. It’s supposed to be the same story that they’re doing on stage, only they turned it into a book for everyone to read instead of just the lucky few who get to see it on stage.

I am a huge fan of the fact that they released this book. I remember how bummed out I was when they said there was going to be a play but it was in London. I actually considered just going to London to see that play, so having the play in my hands and only paying twenty bucks instead of probably over 2,000 bucks was an amazing feeling.

The story itself is fantastic. I was hesitant at first because I thought, ,”okay, am I really going to sit down and try to feel okay about Harry being a forty-year-old father?” But I thought they did a great job.harry-potter-and-the-cursed-child-poster-461923

This book picks up exactly where we left off at the end of HP and the Deathly Hallows which I thought was a really great way to start the book. Just from the first few pages in King’s Cross Station I could already start to get a feel of the characters and their differences and similarities to the original books.

The plot was fun. It’s about Harry’s son, Albus Severus, who is trying to find his own identity at Hogwarts while everyone thinks he should be just as great as his dad (or the two wizards he’s named after…. Side note: I always thought it was fucked up that he named his kid Albus Severus because it seemed like a pretty heavy burden to put on someone. They’d constantly be trying to live up to the name. But in the book Harry actually asks a portrait of Dumbledore how he feels about having someone named after him and Dumbledore, being the smarty pants he is, says that it seems like a big weight to put on a kid! Ha! I was right.)

Albus Severus then goes on an adventure with his best friend Scorpius (Malfoy’s son) to try to change the past. Adventure ensues. I won’t give it away because I think it would make it much less exciting if you knew the whole story.

Now, while I enjoyed the books I did have a few dislikes:

As much as I love plays (I’m a Shakespeare girl through and through) I really do wish this were in novel format. Not because it wasn’t an amazing story the way it was, it really was an amazing story, but rather because I feel like there could have been so much more detail. I thought there were times where everything felt like it got cut off – because it was.

Because it’s in a play format, you don’t necessarily have all the imagery that you’re used to with Harry Potter books. There were several times that a scene ended and I was like, “no, there has to be more… Right?”

The problem with play format is that its broken down into what the character is saying, a small descriptive action, and then back to what a character is saying (obviously not always in that order). But because it’s broken up that way you almost don’t get as many of the descriptive emotions going on – you just have to identify it for yourself. Part of me is fine with that, but the other part of me wishes there was more meat to these bones.

The other thing I wasn’t crazy about was the portrayal of Ron. I know this is going to sound nit-picky, and it really is. But one of my favorite characters is Ron because he’s so cheeky, sarcastic, and just kind of reckless. Whereas in this book I didn’t get the same feeling from Ron. I got the same feeling from Hermione, from Harry, Ginny and Malfoy, but there was a disconnect for me with Ron.

Ron in this book felt more staged, almost like they wanted to have him say something funny but it just didn’t work. I wish they had more fluidity with his character.

Now, do I think that that’s a deal breaker? No. Do I think that makes the book any less great? No. I just really wish that there had been more “Ron” in Ron’s character in the book.

Other than that, I really did think this was a great book. It was so exciting to finally read a new HP story with new characters and a whole new generation.

I thought the idea was fantastic, the writing was impeccable (You can always count on Jo), and mostly the feeling of being back in the Wizarding World made me feel as free and welcomed as it always has.

Once again, JK Rowling has done it. She’s made me fall in love with Harry Potter all over again.

Now who’s ready for Fantastic Beasts????

Until next time,

Rachel

P.S. If you have any opinions on the book, have seen the play, or just want to talk to me about everything (because I want to talk to you about everything) leave a message in the comments or shoot me an e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

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Fairy Tale Fails: Hansel and Gretel

In honor of Halloween, I’m bringing back one of my favorite types of posts: Fairy Tale Fails. The story this time? Hansel and Gretel. I figure if ever there was a story that best accompanies All Hallow’s Eve it is the one that has an actual witch in it.

Reading the Grimm’s Fairy Tale version of the classic tale, not a lot is different about the core story: two kids are idiots and try to eat a house made out of candy and a witch lures them in and tries to eat them. But there are parts of the story that I don’t remember ever reading.

In my mind, the story of Hansel and Gretel goes something like this:

One day a brother and sister were walking through the woods. They were wandering around but didn’t want to get lost so they brought a loaf of bread with them to leave crumbs on their trail so they can find their way home. Once they’re ready to turn back around they find that the crumbs are no longer there, most likely eaten by a bird. Unsure what to do, the siblings keep walking until they find a house made of gingerbread and candy. At this point they have been walking all day and are hungry (plus, candy!) so they decide to go up to the house and start picking off little pieces to eat. Hoping there is more food inside, they break into the house only to find a witch ready willing and able to lock them up and eat them. Once she prepares the oven for the kids to cook in, she lets them out and tells them to look into the oven to see if it’s hot enough. The kids somehow trick her into going over first and they lock her in the oven and leave. The end.

To this day I cannot for the life of me remember if anything happened after that point in the story. Or at least, I didn’t know until recently.

You see, I first started reading all of the original fairy tale stories several years ago. But that was always one of those stories that I honestly didn’t give a rats ass about. I never thought the story was entertaining, I thought the kids were idiots and the idea of a candy house was ludicrous – wouldn’t it melt or disintegrate??? And as for the witch, if you’re a person that genuinely wants to eat children, how did you get suckered into letting these kids run around your house with no ties or anything, and then be stupid enough to say, “you know what, maybe I should check, personally, to see if the oven is ready first. I’m sure the kids will leave me alone while I go near the place that they knew I was going to kill them in.” what??

So no, when I read the Grimm’s Fairy Tales I didn’t read the story. I skipped over the entire chapter and moved along to the next story. But as Halloween was approaching I wanted to get back into the Fairy Tale Fails swing of things and realized that it’s actually kind of the perfect story to tear apart via blog. It appeals to all the creepy things we hate: cannibalism, candy-luring creeps, kids lost in the woods, kids in general (HA! Just kidding, only some kids are creepy and I hate them). So I read the actual story. And it was weird.

The story begins with an explanation, one that I hadn’t actually thought about previously. Why were the kids wandering alone in the woods? According to the Brothers Grimm, the siblings live with their father and stepmother. When a famine strikes and everyone is starving, the stepmother (always berating the children and beating them) tells the father that she is going to take everyone on a walk in the morning and get rid of the two kids so that she and her husband can eat the extra food they’d been giving to the children. He doesn’t like this idea but she wears him down and agrees to the plan. Unbeknownst to them, Hansel has overheard their conversation and sneaks out of his room to pick up some white pebbles to leave a trail back to the house.

The next morning, the whole family goes on the excursion. The father and stepmom leave the kids, but to their surprise they’ve found their way home. Pissed that they survived and used the pebble trick against her, the stepmom talks to the father and says that the plan will work and they will do it again the next morning. In order to make sure they don’t go anywhere in the meantime to get provisions, she locks the children in their room.

On the way out the next morning Hansel grabs a slice of bread for the walk and begins leaving a trail behind. Again the parents leave the children. But when Hansel and Gretel go back to follow the bread crumbs they find that a bird has eaten them and that they are lost. This is when the story is the same:

They wander, find a gingerbread house and eat it’s roof. A witch comes out and lures them into her home with candy and the promise of comfort and sleep. She locks them away. She uses Gretel as her slave and decides to fatten up Hansel so there’s more of him to eat. When she’s finally ready to eat, she lets Hansel out and decides to kill Gretel as well. Still her slave, Gretel is told to go into the opening of the oven to see if the fire is burning well, but pretends that she doesn’t understand the command. Frustrated that the kid isn’t getting it, the witch goes to show her what she should be doing. As she leans forward, Gretel knocks her into the stove and locks it.

She and Hansel find out that theres a large pot of jewels and valuables. They take the jewels and leave. The only problem? Where are they going to go? Well, miraculously, a swan agrees to let the children ride on it’s back and swims them back to their father’s house. Going inside, they realize that the stepmom has died, and that now (with the riches they’ve acquired) they can live happily ever after as a family.

Okay. Where do I begin? Oh, right, I know: the step mom is a total dick and the dad is no better! What the fuck? I can understand the dad being lonely and getting into a relationship with a new lady. I also understand that that lady was a dick to the kids, but the dad is still lonely and maybe doesn’t care much about the kids. But what I don’t understand is how your wife can say, “I don’t want the kids anymore. I’m hungry, let’s drop them off somewhere to starve to death and we’ll live happily again.” and for the husband to say, “you know what, it’s been a tough year, I think you’re right. Let’s drop them off tomorrow.” What??

I don’t know, maybe I’m old fashioned, but I feel like the dad – the biological father – should maybe not want to give up the kids that easy? I know in the story they say that he wasn’t okay with it at first, but that begs the question, what made him change his mind? I just don’t get it.

Second, if Hansel is so smart that he knows to bring small items with him to leave a trail to get home, why is he not smart enough to know he shouldn’t eat a random house in the middle of nowhere made out of candy?

Third, and possibly most importantly, WHERE DID THIS MYSTICAL SWAN COME FROM AND HOW DOES IT KNOW THERE IS A GIANT LAKE GOING FROM THE GINGERBREAD HOUSE TO THEIR PARENTS HOUSE? AND HOW DIDN’T THE KIDS KNOW ABOUT IT? That seems like the perfect landmark to get the kids to know where they are so they don’t need stupid pebbles!

I don’t know, man. This story is just weird and gives me too many things to pick apart (and the majority of the story was the same as what I’ve grown up hearing!)  But thanks to the spirit of Halloween, I can now sleep easy knowing that I understand the original, classic tale of Hansel and Gretel and never have to read it again.

If you like Fairy Tale Fails, or if you have a story you want me to analyze or read, leave me a message in the comments to let me know or send me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com. 

Happy Hall-ow-eeeeen! MANIACAL LAUGH, MANIACAL LAUGH…

Rachel

A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness Review

I’ve done it! I’ve finished Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches! After more than a month of reading one single novel, I’ve finished it. And it was good.

Some background in case you’re new here: All last month I was extremely busy with three jobs and moving house. So just based on that alone, I didn’t really have much time to sit down for five minutes, let alone read. But also, the book is almost 600 pages long. I’m generally a mid-to-fast reader, but 600 pages takes a while even in the best of circumstances.

So I started reading this book (which is the first book of a trilogy) after months of having it in my possession. It kept being on the top of my reading list – number one priority – but for whatever reason, when I’d finish a book I’d immediately choose a different book on my reading list. Last month I had read The Fault in Our Stars and had bawled my eyes out so much over that book that I needed to read something more lighthearted and adventurous. I picked the perfect book.

I have to admit that the first couple of chapters I was really confused. I had no idea what was going on, and the author switched up the point of view for a chapter about three chapters into the book, which was kind of weird. But once you get past the initial shock of what you’re reading and get used to learning all the new words and terms, like “daemons,” it gets much more fun. Like I said, she switches up the point of view from first person to third person three or four times throughout the novel, for a single chapter each. It was really weird, but those chapters were so informative because the narrator of those chapters gives you the information the main character, Diana, doesn’t know.

The book is centered around a woman named Diana Bishop, who comes from a long line of very powerful witches. She happens to come across an enchanted book in a library that will tell the secret of all the three creatures we know about: witches, daemons, and vampires. It also says how they can be killed. Diana does not open the book, though. She puts it back with the librarians. That’s when the creatures come out of the woodwork. They all want to unlock the secret of life. A vampire named Matthew Clairmont takes an interest in the book, but also an interest in DIana. And thus the book spirals out of control.

When I started the book I wasn’t sure I liked it. As I said, I was having a hard time understanding it, and the main character kept irritating me because she was so naive at first. But soon you begin to understand her naivety and really start to root for her. So if you do read this book, which I really recommend you do if you like supernatural stories, don’t give up on it the first few chapters in. It gets so so good. And holy crap, the ending! The ending!!!! My interest level was at an all time high after I finished the book. It was very good.

Which brings me to the second novel of the trilogy, Shadow of Night. I finished the first book two days ago but didn’t have time to write about it. In those two days I began reading an entirely different book because I didn’t own the second of the series. That book is called The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. I made it through I’d say 20 pages before I just got bored. I’m sure if I really sat down and read a hundred pages of it I’d get hooked. But really I just couldn’t do it. I kept falling asleep and I find that to be a bad sign when you first start reading a book.

So instead I drove to Barnes and Noble today and picked up the second book. I can’t even tell you what it’s about just yet because I don’t want to give anything away on the first book. But I will say this: time travel!! It’s also about the same length as the first novel, so it might take me a little bit to read it, but I think I’ll go through much more quickly than the last.

With that said, I’m going to leave and read because I can’t stand waiting any longer! If you have any suggestions for my next book or just want to say hi, leave a message in the comments or shoot me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com.

Until next time! Happy reading!

Rachel

A Discovery of Witches – Brief Update

Hi blog friends! Well, it’s been about five days now and I’ve finally started to get into Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches. Formal warning: it is going to take me a while to read it. As I’ve mentioned before the font size is so tiny and takes up so much of the page that my poor eyes can’t read more than about 20 or so pages per night without getting a headache. I’ve JUST exceeded the 100 page mark… Today. I’m ashamed with my slow reading; I take so much pride in being a quick reader!

Also, in less than two weeks my boyfriend and I are moving into a new apartment! Which means a lot of packing. Which means this book will take me even longer to finish. It’s about 600 pages, and if my packing escapades of today are any indication, I will be far too exhausted to read for a long amount of time each night. However, The good news is as follows:

I have found a ton of books that I’ve completely forgotten about, both books I’ve read and books I haven’t read but always wanted to read. So that post will be coming up soon! Some of these are books that made me truly love reading, and want to be a writer, so I can’t wait to tell you about them! (Exclusive insight into the next post: Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren. One of the most exciting books I’ve ever read!)

Back to A Discovery of Witches: the first couple of chapters are slow. It’s just this woman telling you her backstory of why she doesn’t use magic even though she comes from a long line of experienced and powerful witches, and how she decides, against her better judgement, to use magic on a certain manuscript in the library and is suddenly overcome with creatures following her. The excitement doesn’t settle in until chapter four or so, when she begins to interact with a very old, possibly very dangerous vampire. Not the sparkly vampires either – the rip your throat out vampires!

It took me about three nights before I started to actually get in to the book. A lot of the time with a new book I’m just waiting for it to be nighttime so I can snuggle up in bed and read. But I didn’t really care to do that the first few nights, which was really surprising for me. I’m currently reading chapter ten, and now I’m just itching to read more during the day!

So on that note, I’m going to go get some reading done!! Until next time,

Also, I want to wish my dad a very happy birthday! Thank you for reading me bedtime stories and sparking my love of books (Goodnight, Gorilla) at an early age. My old man.

Rachel