Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Script Book Edition)

When I first heard that a play would be hitting the stage in London telling the “8th story” of Harry Potter, I was both excited about the prospect and sad that I wouldn’t be able to see it. When I heard that the script of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child would be published as a book, I may or may not have almost cried with happiness.

I’ve kept this review spoiler-free, so if you haven’t read/seen the play yet, no worries!

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Mini-Review: Confess by Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover’s Confess is told in the alternating viewpoints of Auburn and Owen, two people who meet when Auburn enters Owen’s Dallas-based art studio in search of a job. The two find themselves immediately attracted to each other, but they soon learn that Owen is guarding secrets that could keep them apart.

I’ve read other books by Colleen Hoover before (see my review of Maybe Someday), and by now I pretty much know what to expect from her. I’ve enjoyed the previous books by her that I have read; the way she plays up emotion and pulls you into the complicated lives of her characters make for satisfying reads. With Confess, Hoover once again attempts to create a relationship that will pull you in and have you compulsively turning the pages. But, ultimately, the story falls flat.

Hoover usually has a knack for writing male leads that you fall in love with right along with their female counterparts, but Owen is simply very hard to like. I didn’t really start to feel for him until probably halfway through the book, and even then I found him annoying. Owen is a talented artist who apparently cares a lot for Auburn, but his point of view, especially in the beginning, comes off as kind of creepy. I found myself wondering why Auburn liked him so much, aside from the physical attraction. I liked Auburn as a character a lot more, and I felt more for her and her problems in the novel than I did for Owen.

Confess is a quick read. It definitely feels too rushed at times, which I think ads to that feeling of “why do these two characters like each other.” Still, the plot that Hoover sets up is interesting and kept me engaged enough to want to finish it. The book improves a lot toward the end as more layers of complexity are revealed. The ending is way too tidy in some ways, and not wrapped up enough in others, which makes me think there will be a sequel, though I haven’t been able to find anything online to confirm this. If there is, I will probably read it. Just maybe not on release day.

Overall, Confess is a book that had a lot more potential than it ultimately delivered. The interesting plot and the inclusion of real art and confessions aren’t quite enough to make up for the rushed and oftentimes weak writing. If you are already a fan of Colleen Hoover, then you will probably still enjoy it. But, if you are new to her work, Confess isn’t the best choice to start with. Try Maybe Someday or Slammed if you want to get a real taste for what she is capable of.

Book Review: The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

The Summer Prince is Alaya Dawn Johnson’s first young adult novel. Set hundreds of years in the future in the imagined city of Palmares Tres in Brazil, the novel follows seventeen-year-old June Costa, a girl who calls herself “the best artist in Palmares Tres.” When June meets Enki, the newly elected Summer King and a fellow artist, they work together to create works of art the likes of which no one in their city has ever seen. Meanwhile, tension grows as more and more people push back against the government’s severe restrictions on new technology.

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Book Review: The Museum of Intangible Things

The Museum of Intangible Things is the second young adult novel by author Wendy Wunder. The novel follows best friends Hannah and Zoe, two teens living in a small New Jersey town divided neatly between the seemingly perfect haves and the desperate have nots. Both Hannah and Zoe are on the wrong end of this divide, and their desperation is palpable. Finding herself in need of an escape, Zoe convinces Hannah that they should go on a road trip together, and most of the story takes place on the road.

When first looking at this novel, it seems to promise a fun, lighthearted tale of two friends taking a road trip and finding themselves. Everything from the brightly-colored cover to the summary on the inside flap supports this idea. But the book does not deliver on this promise. It is unquestionably dark at times, and while Hannah and Zoe do take a road trip of self-discovery, it’s more erratic and dangerous than spontaneous and fun.

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Mini-Review: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

 

Bad Feminist is a collection of essays by Roxane Gay that covers an array of topics, including her personal thoughts on the feminist movement and why she calls herself a feminist, what it is like growing up as a woman of color, the way sexual violence is viewed in today’s society, and issues of race and politics. This book covers a lot, but Roxane Gay handles the topics with skill and intelligence.

I hadn’t read much by Roxane Gay before I picked this book up, but I had heard about her and the book sounded interesting, so after reading the free preview available on my nook, I downloaded and read the rest. I’m glad I did, because not only did Gay open my eyes to things that I hadn’t given much thought to, she articulately expressed opinions and ideas that I have had in the past, but have never been able to put into words the way she does. I especially appreciated her chapters in the beginning where she explains her idea of feminism and why she chooses to identify as a “bad feminist.” Gay writes,

I openly embrace the label of bad feminist. I do so because I am human. I am not terribly well versed in feminist history. I am not as well read in key feminist texts as I would like to be. I have certain…personality traits and opinions that may not fall in line with mainstream feminism, but I am still a feminist.”

Gay understands why some women may shy away from the term feminist, and that, like anything else, feminism has its flaws. Still, she points out that, “In truth, feminism is flawed because it is a movement powered by people and people are inherently flawed.” She reminds us that feminism is often “[held] to an unreasonable standard,” because when it does not live up to people’s expectations, they decide that “the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement.” This is something that I think we could all be reminded of. I certainly needed to be.

Gay also writes deftly on the topics of gender and sexuality, and part of me feels like every essay in her “Gender and Sexuality” section should be required reading in high schools everywhere. Her essays, “The Careless Language of Sexual Violence,” “Blurred Lines, Indeed,” and “Some Jokes Are Funnier Than Others,” stand out in my mind as particularly smart looks at the ways we treat sexual violence as a society, and the detriment this has.

Of course, like any book dealing with the topics that Bad Feminist does, not everyone is going to agree with it. Nor should they, necessarily. As Gay herself writes in the first section, “I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I’m right. I’m just trying—trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world.” While Bad Feminist is by no means the final word on any other the topics it covers, it is a smart, accessible addition to the conversation. I look forward to reading more from Roxane Gay in the future.

Book Review: The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

The Ruby Circle is the sixth and final installment in Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines series. It picks up about a month after where Silver Shadows ended. Sydney and Adrian are living in the Moroi court, the only place where they can be assured protection from the Alchemists, who are still intent on punishing Sydney for her marriage to Adrian. Meanwhile, everyone is searching for Jill, who disappeared without a trace at the end of Silver Shadows.

Like the previous two books, The Ruby Circle is told from both Adrian and Sydney’s perspective, and Mead continues to handle the dual perspective well, staying true to the inner voices of the characters that we have come to know over the past five books. We also see how Adrian’s continued hallucinations of Aunt Tatiana speaking in his head are affecting him, and how much he continues to struggle with his use of Spirit.

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Book Review: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Tell the Wolves I’m Home is Carol Rifka Brunt’s debut novel, and what a debut it is. I picked this book up on a whim—I was intrigued by the title and wanted to know what it meant. What I got in return was a book of such beauty and heartbreaking emotion that I will be recommending it to anyone who will sit still long enough to listen.

The novel centers on fourteen-year-old June Elbus, who lives in New York City in 1987. June is something of a loner, a girl who spends her afternoons wandering in the woods, imagining that she is living in medieval times. Nobody understands her quiet like her uncle and godfather, Finn. But when Finn dies, a void is left in June’s life that she thinks she will never be able to fill. That is, until she receives a package from Toby, a man she has never met. The two strike up an unlikely friendship, and June soon discovers that she isn’t the only one who cared about Finn.

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Book Review: Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover’s Maybe Someday delivers all of the elements that I have come to expect from this bestselling author—a likeable protagonist, rounded characters, and heartbreaking conflict—as well as compelling twists that kept me hooked from start to finish. Maybe Someday begins with 22-year-old Sydney finding out that her boyfriend has been cheating on her with her best friend and roommate. The novel opens with a scene of Sydney, who finds herself to be a “purseless, crying, violent, homeless girl,” sitting in the rain with nowhere to go now that she has to leave the apartment she shared with her traitorous friend.

In the same apartment complex lives Ridge, an attractive musician who plays his guitar on his balcony almost every night, and someone that Sydney has noticed from afar. Soon, their lives are intertwined in complicated ways that neither of them could have anticipated, and they find themselves having to make some tough choices.

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Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

In his book, The Book Thief, author Markus Zusak does what many writers can be hesitant to do: tell their story through an omniscient narrator. Luckily for readers, Zusak’s choice of narrator pays off. The Book Thief begins in 1939, and follows the life of young Liesel Meminger, a German foster child living under Hitler’s reign, whose desire for knowledge leads her to steal books any chance she gets.

The omniscience of the narrator gives an original perspective on the events that unfold in Nazi Germany. Rather than tell the story through Liesel’s eyes and risk creating a biased or narrow point of view, Zusak is able to use the more unbiased omniscient narration to simply lay out the “facts.” Zusak uses the narrator to invite the readers: “If you feel like it, come with me. I will tell you a story. I’ll show you something.” And that’s exactly what happens. The reader is shown Liesel’s story, the story of one small girl, living her life amidst the greater context of the evil happening around her.

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