My Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

My Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildHarry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
three-stars
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on July 31st 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 327
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
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Goodreads Synopsis:   Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage.  The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

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.

My Review: 

I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child a few weeks ago and it has taken me this long to decide how I feel about what I read.  Conflicted is probably the best way to describe my reaction.  There were definitely a few elements that I loved, but at the same time, there were a number of things that were rather disappointing.

As with all play scripts, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is clearly meant to be watched rather than just read.  The written text and descriptions are sparse and somewhat bland because they are waiting for the director and the actors to work their magic and breathe life into it.  I actually wish I could see the play because I’m sure it’s wildly entertaining and my review of that would be glowing; however, since I only have the written text to go on, here are my relatively spoiler-free thoughts on the story.

I thought it was very exciting to see a whole new generation of witches and wizards heading off to Hogwarts.  It was especially interesting to follow Harry’s son Albus and see how he fared as he tried to live up to his father’s tremendous legacy.

As much I liked Albus, though, and I NEVER thought I would ever say this, but the character who really stole my heart in this story was Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius.  I can’t really go into details without giving away too much of the play, but the friendship that he forges with Albus Potter when they meet on the way to Hogwarts was just so wonderful to see, probably, in part, because it’s just so completely unexpected to anyone who has read the original books and is familiar with all of the bad blood between Harry and Draco.

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That said, one of my biggest disappointments of the story is how little time was actually spent at Hogwarts. Perhaps the timing/pacing works better on stage than it does on paper, but the play breezed through entire years at Hogwarts in the span of just a couple of scenes.  This bothered me because, for me, it meant that the most enjoyable parts of the Harry Potter series were stripped away.  When I read the books, I always loved all of the normal day-to-day happenings — Harry and his friends going to class, playing Quidditch, their interactions with Hagrid, McGonagal, Snape, the ghosts that roamed the halls, etc.  Pardon the pun, but for me, that’s the magic of the Harry Potter series and what makes it so special.   To be mostly finished with Hogwarts less than a third of the way through the story left me feeling out of sorts.

Speaking of feeling out of sorts, while I felt very nostalgic about revisiting Harry and the gang all grown up, I have to say the experience wasn’t what I hoped it would be.  I don’t know if it was because I was reading a script rather than a novel, but Harry, Ron, and the others just didn’t seem quite like the characters I had grown to love over the years. They just seemed stiff and stilted and several of their personalities, Ginny’s in particular, just seemed off. I know they’re adults now rather than children, and that people grow and change, but it still just seemed a bit off.  In considering the way they came across, I can understand why some have said it reminds them of fanfiction.  And this is probably a bit shallow on my part, but I was also a little disappointed in the career paths most of them were on. I guess I was expecting bigger and better things for them after having defeated Voldemort all those years ago, but as I read what each of them were up to, I just kept thinking to myself: “Really? That’s it?” Ron, in particular, was a disappointment, as he is just working in the Weasley’s joke shop.

With the exception of enjoying watching Albus and Scorpius becoming friends, I was disappointed enough early on that I actually considered giving up on the story around the halfway point. I’m glad I chose to push on though because I really did enjoy the second half much more than I did the first.  It finally started to feel more like a Harry Potter story as the action really picked up and as events from the actual series, such as the Triwizard Tournament from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, were revisited and incorporated into the play’s narrative.  It took me about 4 days to read the first half of the play, but I flew through the second half in just a few hours.

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Overall, I’d have to say that I liked Harry Potter and the Cursed Child but I had some issues with it.  I would still recommend it to any fan of the original series though because I do think it’s an interesting take on where they might be as adults.  I also think if you keep in mind that it’s a script rather than a lengthy and descriptive novel like we’re used to reading and adjust your expectations accordingly, then you’ll have a more pleasant reading experience and can just bask in the nostalgia of seeing your favorite characters in a new way.

 

Rating:  Tough to rate, but I’m going to say 3 stars (1-2 stars for the beginning, closer to 5 stars for the second half).

 

 

three-stars

About J.K. Rowling

From Goodreads:  Although she writes under the pen name J.K. Rowling, pronounced like rolling, her name when her first Harry Potter book was published was simply Joanne Rowling. Anticipating that the target audience of young boys might not want to read a book written by a woman, her publishers demanded that she use two initials, rather than her full name. As she had no middle name, she chose K as the second initial of her pen name, from her paternal grandmother Kathleen Ada Bulgen Rowling. She calls herself Jo and has said, “No one ever called me ‘Joanne’ when I was young, unless they were angry.” Following her marriage, she has sometimes used the name Joanne Murray when conducting personal business. During the Leveson Inquiry she gave evidence under the name of Joanne Kathleen Rowling. In a 2012 interview, Rowling noted that she no longer cared that people pronounced her name incorrectly.

Rowling was born to Peter James Rowling, a Rolls-Royce aircraft engineer, and Anne Rowling (née Volant), on 31 July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, England, 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Bristol. Her mother Anne was half-French and half-Scottish. Her parents first met on a train departing from King’s Cross Station bound for Arbroath in 1964. They married on 14 March 1965. Her mother’s maternal grandfather, Dugald Campbell, was born in Lamlash on the Isle of Arran. Her mother’s paternal grandfather, Louis Volant, was awarded the Croix de Guerre for exceptional bravery in defending the village of Courcelles-le-Comte during the First World War.

Rowling’s sister Dianne was born at their home when Rowling was 23 months old. The family moved to the nearby village Winterbourne when Rowling was four. She attended St Michael’s Primary School, a school founded by abolitionist William Wilberforce and education reformer Hannah More. Her headmaster at St Michael’s, Alfred Dunn, has been suggested as the inspiration for the Harry Potter headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

As a child, Rowling often wrote fantasy stories, which she would usually then read to her sister. She recalls that: “I can still remember me telling her a story in which she fell down a rabbit hole and was fed strawberries by the rabbit family inside it. Certainly the first story I ever wrote down (when I was five or six) was about a rabbit called Rabbit. He got the measles and was visited by his friends, including a giant bee called Miss Bee.” At the age of nine, Rowling moved to Church Cottage in the Gloucestershire village of Tutshill, close to Chepstow, Wales. When she was a young teenager, her great aunt, who Rowling said “taught classics and approved of a thirst for knowledge, even of a questionable kind,” gave her a very old copy of Jessica Mitford’s autobiography,Hons and Rebels. Mitford became Rowling’s heroine, and Rowling subsequently read all of her books.

Rowling has said of her teenage years, in an interview with The New Yorker, “I wasn’t particularly happy. I think it’s a dreadful time of life.” She had a difficult homelife; her mother was ill and she had a difficult relationship with her father (she is no longer on speaking terms with him). She attended secondary school at Wyedean School and College, where her mother had worked as a technician in the science department. Rowling said of her adolescence, “Hermione [a bookish, know-it-all Harry Potter character] is loosely based on me. She’s a caricature of me when I was eleven, which I’m not particularly proud of.” Steve Eddy, who taught Rowling English when she first arrived, remembers her as “not exceptional” but “one of a group of girls who were bright, and quite good at English.” Sean Harris, her best friend in the Upper Sixth owned a turquoise Ford Anglia, which she says inspired the one in her books.

About Jack Thorne

Jack Thorne (born 6 December 1978) is an English screenwriter and playwright.

Born in Bristol, England, he has written for radio, theatre and film, most notably on the TV shows Skins, Cast-offs, This Is England ’86, This Is England ’88, This Is England ’90, The Fades, The Last Panthers and the feature film The Scouting Book for Boys. He currently lives in London.

About John Tiffany

John Tiffany trained at Glasgow University gaining an MA in Theatre and Classics. He was Literary Director for the Traverse Theatre, Associate Director for Paines Plough and a founding Associate Director for the National Theatre of Scotland. He is currently an Associate Director for the Royal Court Theatre. During 2010-11 John was a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University.

Work for the Royal Court includes: THE TWITS, HOPE, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN and THE PASS.
Work for the National Theatre of Scotland includes: LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, MACBETH, ENQUIRER, PETER PAN, THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA, TRANSFORM CAITHNESS: HUNTER, BE NEAR ME, NOBODY WILL EVER FORGIVE US, THE BACCHAE, BLACK WATCH, ELIZABETH GORDON QUINN and HOME: GLASGOW. For BLACK WATCH, John won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Director and a Critics’ Circle Award.

On Broadway, John directed THE GLASS MENAGERIE (also A.R.T.), MACBETH, and ONCE, which won 8 Tony Awards in 2012, including Best Musical and Best Direction of a Musical.

Other work includes: THE AMBASSADOR (Brooklyn Academy of Music), JERUSALEM (West Yorkshire Playhouse), LAS CHICAS DEL TRES Y MEDIA FLOPPIES (Granero Theatre, Mexico City and Edinburgh Festival Fringe), IF DESTROYED TRUE, MERCURY FUR, HELMET and THE STRAITS (Paines Plough), GAGARIN WAY, ABANDONMENT, AMONG UNBROKEN HEARTS, PERFECT DAYS and PASSING PLACES (Traverse, Edinburgh).

John is also working on the stage play of HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD with J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne, which opened in the West End in June 2016.

Waiting on Wednesday – Spotlight on The Blazing Star by Imani Josey

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is The Blazing Star by Imani Josey.  The absolutely gorgeous cover is what first caught my eye with this book, and then once I read the blurb, I knew I just had to read it.  It just sounds like it’s going to be such a fascinating read.

The Blazing Star by Imani Josey

blazing-star-th

Publication Date: December 6, 2016

From Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.

But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?

She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.

Great.

Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.

As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home.

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Here’s an excerpt from The Blazing Star from Imani Josey’s website:

“His words ran together, muffling as if underwater. Enunciate, I wanted to tell him—we had that kind of relationship—but my mouth was the driest sand. My heart raced as needling ripples spread across my palm, tiny pinpricks followed by pulsating heat.

My classmates watched Mr. Pomey, oblivious to my discomfort as the scarab’s shine amplified to painful brilliance, its blue like gleaming waves crashing overtop each other. And in this blazing sheen the tiny figures on the scarab, the ancient hieroglyphs, became comprehensible script. To my beloved, the blessings of Amun, I read, as that uncomfortable heat ignited me from the inside out.”

From The Blazing Star, Chapter One- Lightning Strikes

Source:  www.imanijosey.com

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books I’m Planning to Read this Fall

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR List.  My list is a mix of books that I already own and need to finally get off of my TBR pile, plus some upcoming releases that I’m planning to acquire and read as well.  My goal is to get the five older books off my list first and then reward myself with the five new releases, but we’ll see how that goes. 😉

Top Ten Books I’m Planning to Read This Fall 

 

1. Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

today will be different thumb

I’m a huge fan of Maria Semple and her novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette so I was thrilled to hear that she has a new book coming out in October.  Her writing is just so fresh and fun and this will certainly be a book that I’ll read as soon as I can get my hands on it!

Goodreads Synopsis: The new novel from Maria Semple, author of bestselling Where’d You Go, Bernadette and writer for hit US TV shows Ellen and Saturday Night Live. Meet Eleanor Flood, who wakes up one day determined to be her best self.

Eleanor Flood is going to clean up her act, only change into yoga clothes for yoga, which today she will actually attend, and be a better version of herself. But then, as it always does, life happens. Eleanor’s husband is missing, and their son, Timby, is wearing eye shadow to school and getting into fashion battles on the playground. (It’s true that it’s Eleanor’s fault: She did put makeup in his Christmas stocking.) Just when it seems like things can’t get weirder or more in the way of Eleanor’s personal transformation, a graphic memoir called The Flood Sisters surfaces, and the dramatic story it tells reveals long-buried secrets and a sister to whom Eleanor never speaks.

With all the artistic madness, genius plotting, and bold social observation that made Bernadette a hit, TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT is a hilarious and heart filled day-in-the-life romp filtered through Maria Semple’s brilliant eyes.   (Read more…)

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2. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

born-to-run

As I shared in last week’s Top Ten Tuesday, I am a huge Bruce Springsteen fan, and while I don’t typically read much in the way of celebrity memoirs, there’s just something about Springsteen that makes me want to read about his life in his own words.  Born to Run actually comes out today, so I’m asking for it as a birthday gift because my birthday is next month. 🙂

Goodreads Synopsis:  “Writing about yourself is a funny business…But in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind. In these pages, I’ve tried to do this.”
—Bruce Springsteen, from the pages of Born to Run

In 2009, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl’s halftime show. The experience was so exhilarating that Bruce decided to write about it. That’s how this extraordinary autobiography began.  Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs.

He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as “The Big Bang”: seeing Elvis Presley’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work, and shows us why the song “Born to Run” reveals more than we previously realized.

Born to Run will be revelatory for anyone who has ever enjoyed Bruce Springsteen, but this book is much more than a legendary rock star’s memoir. This is a book for workers and dreamers, parents and children, lovers and loners, artists, freaks, or anyone who has ever wanted to be baptized in the holy river of rock and roll.  (Read more…)

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3. Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

holding up the universe

I fell in love with Jennifer Niven’s writing and storytelling abilities when I read All the Bright Places, so I am so looking forward to the release of her latest book Holding Up the Universe, which sounds just as fantastic.

Goodreads Synopsis: From the author of the New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places comes a heart-wrenching story about what it means to see someone—and love someone—for who they truly are.

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are—and seeing them right back..  (Read more…)

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4. Swing Time by Zadie Smith

swing time

Doesn’t this book sound amazing? I would be excited to read it even if I wasn’t already a big fan of Zadie Smith.  This one comes out on November 15th, so I’m hoping to have knocked  out a few of my older reads and reward myself with Swing Time.

Goodreads Synopsis:  An ambitious, exuberant new novel moving from north west London to West Africa, from the multi-award-winning author of White Teeth and On Beauty.

Two brown girls dream of being dancers – but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either…

Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from North-West London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.   (Read more…)

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5. Transcendent by Katelyn Detweiler

transcendent

I just received a copy of this book from the publisher and am really looking forward to reading it. I have to admit I’m a little nervous about the bombing Disney World part since that’s one of my favorite places in the world, but it still sounds like a powerful read so we’ll see how it goes.

Goodreads Synopsis:  A beautiful work of magical realism, a story about a girl in the real world who is called upon to be a hero.

When terrorists bomb Disney World, seventeen-year-old Iris Spero is as horrified as anyone else. Then a stranger shows up on her stoop in Brooklyn, revealing a secret about the mysterious circumstances surrounding Iris’s birth, and throwing her entire identity into question. Everything she thought she knew about her parents, and about herself, is a lie.

Suddenly, the press is confronting Iris with the wild notion that she might be “special.” More than just special: she could be the miracle the world now so desperately needs. Families all across the grieving nation are pinning their hopes on Iris like she is some kind of saint or savior. She’s no longer sure whom she can trust—except for Zane, a homeless boy who long ago abandoned any kind of hope. She knows she can’t possibly be the glorified person everyone wants her to be… but she also can’t go back to being safe and anonymous. When nobody knows her but they all want a piece of her, who is Iris Spero now? And how can she—one teenage girl—possibly heal a broken world? (Read more…)

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6. Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

sweetbitter

Sweetbitter was on a lot of the must-read book lists earlier this year and it sounded pretty interesting and is set in NYC, my favorite city in the world, so I had picked it up with the intention of reading it this summer.  I got distracted by other books though, as we bookworms often do, and forgot I even had it until recently. I started it last night actually and so far it’s a good read.

Goodsreads Synopsis:  A lush, raw, thrilling novel of the senses about a year in the life of a uniquely beguiling young woman, set in the wild, alluring world of a famous downtown New York restaurant.

“Let’s say I was born when I came over the George Washington Bridge…”

This is how we meet unforgettable Tess, the twenty-two-year-old at the heart of this stunning first novel. Shot from a mundane, provincial past, she’s come to New York to look for a life she can’t define, except as a burning drive to become someone, to belong somewhere. After she stumbles into a coveted job at a renowned Union Square restaurant, we spend the year with her as she learns the chaotic, punishing, privileged life of a “backwaiter,” on duty and off. Her appetites—for food, wine, knowledge, and every kind of experience—are awakened. And she’s pulled into the magnetic thrall of two other servers—a handsome bartender she falls hard for, and an older woman she latches onto with an orphan’s ardor.

These two and their enigmatic connection to each other will prove to be Tess’s hardest lesson of all. Sweetbitter is a story of discovery, enchantment, and the power of what remains after disillusionment. . (Read more…)

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7. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

cinder

Over the summer, I picked up The Lunar Chronicles cheap at a local book fair.  I haven’t started reading them yet because I had a few ARCs I needed to get through first for review purposes, but I really can’t wait to start this series. It sounds so cool. Plus, once I get through them, I plan to reward myself with Melissa’s newest release, Heartless, which sounds absolutely amazing!

Goodreads Synopsis:  Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.   (Read more…)

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8. Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

girl in pieces

I just picked this book up a week or so ago and am trying to hold off until I get a few of the older books on my TBR taken care of, but I REALLY want to read it soon. It just sounds like it’s going to be such a powerful and moving read.

Goodreads Synopsis:  Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.   Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

A deeply moving portrait of a teenage girl on the verge of losing herself and the journey she must take to survive in her own skin, Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.  (Read more…)

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9. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand

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I keep hearing that this is a hilarious read, so I’m planning to read it once I get through Girl in Pieces since that one sounds like it’s going to be so gut-wrenching.

Goodreads Synopsis:  The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.  (Read more…)

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10. A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

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This bad boy has been on my TBR pile for far too long.  I adore this series but the books are so huge that I just keep shoving them aside in favor of shorter, less daunting reads.  I may not make it by fall, but winter is coming!  (Yes, I went there, haha).  Anyway, I am determined to finish this book before the end of the year.

Goodreads Synopsis:  Here is the third volume in George R.R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. Together, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces manoeuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords.  (Read more…)

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Question:  So what books are you looking forward to reading this fall?   Are yours all new releases or are you looking to clean out some oldies as well?  I’d love to hear from you 🙂

‘This or That’ Book Tag

 this-or-that-book-tag

This is the first book tag I’ve ever been nominated to do, so thanks so much to the very kind Birdie Bookworm for tagging me and thanks to Ayunda at Tea & Paperbacks for creating this tag.  I had fun answering these questions and hope that you’ll all enjoy learning a little more about my bookish habits and preferences :).  Okay, here we go…

The Rules of the Tag:

 

  1. Mention the creator of the tag.
  2. Thank the blogger who tagged you.
  3. Choose one of the options, you don’t have to tell the reasons why you chose that but you can also do them if you want to .
  4. Tag 10 other people to do this tag to spread the love!

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The Questions:

 

1.  Reading on the couch or reading on the bed?

My favorite reading spot is actually a comfy chair that I have in my office/library, but my bed is a close second.  Any place where I can be comfortable and where it’s quiet.  The TV and video game systems are too big of a distraction if I try to read on the couch.

2.  Male main character or female main character?

While I definitely enjoy books with both, I’d have to say that as a female, I probably best relate to female main characters.  Looking at my TBR stack, I’d hazard a guess that 75% of the time when I choose a book, I go for one that has a female protagonist.

3.  Sweet snacks or salty snack while reading?

I’ve never met a snack that I didn’t like, haha, but if I have to choose, I’d probably go with something sweet because I am a chocolate fiend.  M&Ms of all varieties, but especially the Peanut, Pretzel, and Crispy ones, are my go-to snack food when I’m reading.

4.   Trilogies or quartets?

I’m sitting here trying to think if I have ever read an actual quartet and drawing a blank on every book series I’ve ever read.  Honestly though, I think I prefer trilogies.  It seems like a good number of books to fully develop a storyline without ending up with too much ‘filler’ material.  With very rare exception, I start to get bored if a series goes beyond 3 books.

5.   First person point of view or third person point of view?

I like both, but I’d say my preference is first person as it feels more personal. I will say though that I am getting a bit tired of the trend of having the first person unreliable narrator because I do prefer a narrator I can trust.

6.  Reading at night or reading in the morning?

I don’t think I’ve read in the morning since I was in college and desperately trying to finish a book in time for  class.  Reading is something that I do to relax and to help me fall asleep, so I’m definitely going to say reading at night is my favorite.

7.  Libraries or bookstores?

If there’s a book I want to read but don’t think I’ll be interested in owning, I’ll definitely go check it out from the library. I also love the Overdrive feature where you can check out e-books from the library.  That said, however, I am a big fan of bookstores.  I love to own copies of books that I enjoy and I love the atmosphere of bookstores, especially the local independent shops as opposed to the bigger chains

8.  Books that make you laugh or books that make you cry?

Looking at my list of all-time favorite books, I’m going to say my preference is books that make me cry.  I’m not sure what it says about me, but I find heartbreaking reads to be more powerful and to resonate more with me more so than funny books do. I still love a good humorous read though.

9.  Black book covers or white book covers?

Hmmm, I can’t really say I have a real preference on this one since I tend to buy paperbacks and those nearly always have bright covers.  I will say though that one of my favorite books that I own is a black leather-bound collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories with gold writing on it. That book is beautiful, so if I have to pick, I’ll say black.

10.  Character driven stories or plot driven stories?

I’m going to say character driven stories because for me, no matter how good an overall storyline may be, I need a character that I can follow along with – watch them grow, agree or disagree with their actions and motivations, etc.

 

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Nominees:

 

If they haven’t already done it, I’d like to tag the following bloggers, and I’d also like to continue the trend of reserving my other 5 tags for anyone else who would like to complete it.  If you choose to do it,  post your link below so I can read your answers 🙂

  1.  Musings of a Literary Wanderer
  2. Chrissi Reads
  3. A Haven for Book Lovers
  4. Rebel Mommy Book Blog
  5. jbelkbooks

Waiting on Wednesday – Swing Time by Zadie Smith

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is Swing Time by Zadie Smith.  I’m super excited about this one mainly because of how much I loved her debut novel White Teeth and because I tend to always enjoy books that explore roots and how we are shaped by where we came from. I also love books about friendships so this one just seems all around like a good fit for me. 🙂

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

swing time

Publication Date: November 15, 2016

From Amazon:

An ambitious, exuberant new novel moving from north west London to West Africa, from the multi-award-winning author of White Teeth and On Beauty.

Two brown girls dream of being dancers – but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either…

Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from North-West London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.

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Check out this advanced praise for Swing Time!

“Agile and discerning…With homage to dance as a unifying force, arresting observations…exceptionally diverse and magnetizing characters, and lashing satire, Swing Time is an acidly funny, fluently global, and head-spinning novel about the quest for meaning, exaltation, and love…This tale of friendship lost and found is going to be big.”—Booklist (starred)

“The narrative moves deftly and absorbingly between its increasingly tense coming-of-age story and the adult life of the sympathetic if naïve and sometimes troubling narrator…A rich and sensitive drama highly recommended for all readers.”—Library Journal (starred)

“A keen, controlled novel about dance and blackness steps onto a stage of cultural land mines…Smith is dazzling in her specificity, evoking predicaments, worldviews, and personalities with a camera-vivid precision…Moving, funny, and grave, this novel parses race and global politics with Fred Astaire’s or Michael Jackson’s grace.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“As ever, Smith plies her signature humor and sensitivity as she traces the contours of race and lived experience.”—ELLE.com’s Must-Read Books for Fall

“[A] powerful and complex novel…Rich and absorbing, especially when it highlights Smith’s ever-brilliant perspective on pop culture.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Favorite Albums of All Time

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is an All About Audio freebie —  aka top ten audiobooks you should listen to, 10 books I want to listen to on audio, 10 bands you should check out, 10 podcasts you should be listening to, 10 of my all time favorite albums, 10 songs I love, really whatever you can come up with.

I have to confess that I almost didn’t do this week’s topics since I couldn’t really come up with a bookish angle, as I don’t really do audiobooks or podcasts.  But once I read the topic in more detail and saw the musical options, I decided I could easily go that route since after books, music is my next biggest passion.  And just as with my taste in books, my taste in music is quite eclectic.  I’ve listed my top 10 favorite albums of all time this week, and they seem to be mostly classic rock, pop, and alternative hits, but I also very much enjoy R&B, a little rap, and even a few country and classic albums.  Aside from listing them and talking about why I love them, I’ve also included links to Amazon for each. If you click those links and scroll down, you can sample tracks from each album. 🙂

My Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Albums 

 

1. Bruce Springsteen – Greatest Hits

 

01

Why I love it:  He’s the Boss, enough said, haha! Seriously though, I just love everything about Bruce Springsteen. He plays a mean guitar, writes incredible lyrics, and probably puts on the best concert out there. I saw him perform live when he was 62 years old and couldn’t believe his energy and stamina. 3 1/2 hours of nothing but Bruce and the E. Street Band. It was musical heaven! I love every song he’s ever written so I just had to go with the Greatest Hits Album. It’s hard to pick favorites but if I have to, I’d go with My Hometown, Hungry Heart, The River, Thunder Road, and Secret Garden.  (Listen to The Boss…)

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2. Best of Bowie

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Why I love it:  David Bowie was pure genius, truly one of the most innovative artists in all of music.  His death this year really broke my heart because I just know he had so much more music in him to share with the world.  Again, it’s so hard to pick favorites so I had to go with a greatest hits album. Some of my favorites are Changes, Young Americans, Rebel Rebel, China Girl, Modern Love, and Let’s Dance.  (Listen to Bowie…)

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3. The Lumineers

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Why I love it: I love The Lumineers because I think they have such a fresh yet simple sound, and I love the acoustic vibe.  My favorite songs on this album are Stubborn Love, Flowers in Your Hair, and Ho Hey.  (Listen to The Lumineers…)

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4. The Essential Heart

04

Why I love it:  Just as I love strong female protagonists in the books I read, I also love badass female musicians and it doesn’t get much more badass than Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart.  If you’ve never heard them before, check out tunes like Barricuda, Magic Man, and Crazy on You for a small taste of just how amazing these ladies are.   (Listen to Heart…)

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5. Dave Matthews Band – Under the Table and Dreaming

05

Why I love it:  I got into the Dave Matthews Band originally because they are from my home state of Virginia and they come back home all the time to perform.  This album is my favorite of theirs, so far anyway, because of awesome songs like Ants Marching,  What Would You Say, and Typical Situation.  I love these guys so much!  (Listen to Dave Matthews Band…)

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6. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Beat the Devil’s Tattoo

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Why I love it:  B.R.M.C. is just a fabulous rock band with a classic sound.  My favorite tracks on this album are the title track, River Styx, and Long Way Down.   (Listen to B.R.M.C…)

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7. The Cure – Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me

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Why I love it:  This one is a sentimental favorite because it was the first alternative record that I purchased for myself and the first record I purchased when I went off to college, so aside from it being chock full of amazing tunes, it also brings on waves of nostalgia every time I hear it.  My favorite tracks are Just Like Heaven, Why Can’t I Be You?, and One More Time.   (Listen to The Cure…)

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8. Tracy Chapman – Greatest Hits

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Why I love it:  I just love Tracy Chapman’s gorgeous vocal and her moving lyrics. My favorite tracks are Fast Car, Give Me One Reason, and Talkin’ Bout a Revolution.   (Listen to Tracy Chapman…)

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9. The Very Best of Prince

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Why I love it:  I’ve loved Prince since I was 14 years old and first listened to the Purple Rain album.  I adored him so much that I even had a huge Purple Rain poster hanging over my bed when I was in high school.  I believe that Prince was truly one of the most unique and gifted artists of our time. His untimely death earlier this year was such a tremendous loss.  I love absolutely every track on this greatest hits album.  (Listen to Prince…)

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10. Imagine Dragons – Night Visions

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Why I love it:  I just love their sound and I think they put on such an amazing live show. My favorite tracks off this album are Radioactive, Demons, On Top of the World, and It’s Time.  (Listen to Imagine Dragons…)

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Question:  Are you a music fan too?  Do we share any favorite musicians or albums?  What was your TTT topic this week?  I’d love to hear from you 🙂

ARC Review: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

ARC Review:  The Wonder by Emma DonoghueThe Wonder by Emma Donoghue
four-half-stars
on September 20th 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 304
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Goodreads Synopsis:  In Emma Donoghue’s latest masterpiece, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child’s life.  Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale’s Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels–a tale of two strangers who transform each other’s lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.

* * * * *

My Review:

Emma Donoghue is fast becoming one of my all-time favorite authors.  She is such a master of weaving together compelling stories that ask tough questions and that you won’t be able to stop thinking about for days, even weeks,  after you’ve finished reading them.  I first fell in love with Donoghue’s writing style and storytelling abilities when I read her immensely popular novel, Room.  Even though it has been nearly six months since I read and reviewed Room, Donoghue’s writing is so powerful that I still think about that story all the time and it’s probably one of the books that I most often suggest to anyone who asks me to recommend a good book.

Needless to say, when I heard she had a new book coming out this fall, The Wonder, I immediately rushed over to Netgalley to request a review copy.  Thanks so much to Netgalley, Little, Brown and Company, and of course Emma Donoghue for granting my request and allowing me to preview The Wonder for my blog.  I’m thrilled to say that upon reading The Wonder, my love for Emma Donoghue and her gorgeous writing has only continued to grow.

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So, what did I love about The Wonder?

First of all, I loved that it features a strong female protagonist. I was immediately drawn to Donoghue’s protagonist, Englishwoman Lib Wright.  Widowed at the age of 25, Lib decides to become a Nightingale Nurse.  We learn that she actually trained with the famous Florence Nightingale and worked alongside her caring for soldiers during the Crimean War.  When she returns home after the Crimean campaign, Lib expects that her career as a nurse will take off but instead finds herself relegated to doing little more than menial work at the local hospital.  Dissatisfied, Lib jumps at what sounds like an exciting opportunity to travel to Ireland to provide care at a private residence for two weeks.  I felt sympathetic towards Lib right from the start, both for the loss of her husband at such a young age and for the frustration she was experiencing in her career.  At the same time, however, I greatly admired Lib’s sense of independence and her determination to find more fulfilling work even if it meant packing up and traveling to another country to do so.

When Lib arrives in Ireland, she learns that she and another nurse, Sister Michael, have been hired to watch eleven year old Anna O’Donnell around the clock for two weeks. Anna is said to not have taken a bite of food for four months, but yet appears to be remarkably healthy.  While there are many in her devout Roman Catholic town who believe she is a miracle child, there are some who believe it is a hoax. So Lib and Sister Michael are to observe Anna and document whether or not Anna actually eats any food. Because of her background in science and medicine, Lib is very skeptical of Anna and makes it her mission, so that this trip is not a complete waste of her time, to find proof Anna and her family are frauds.  I particularly loved the fierceness Lib displays as she basically dismantles Anna’s room looking for any place where food could possibly be hidden.

Mystery and Suspense.  You wouldn’t think a book that is primarily about sitting and watching a young girl to see if she is eating would be such an exciting read, but by having Lib so determined to get to the bottom of what is actually going on, Donoghue successfully weaves a sense of mystery and suspense into her tale.  We follow Lib each shift as she attends to Anna and as she continues to search for any clues that Anna and her family are perpetuating a grand hoax.  With each passing day that no evidence is found, however, more and more questions arise, both for Lib and for the reader by extension. Is Anna eating or is she not? If she is eating, why can’t any proof be found?  If she’s not, how is that even possible and how long can it possibly go on?  Is she really a miracle or are these seemingly simple people really somehow managing to outsmart everyone around them?

Conflicts and Tension.  Even though the bulk of the story takes place in Anna’s tiny bedroom, Donoghue infuses the story with several major conflicts – that of England vs. Ireland, Protestantism vs. Roman Catholicism, and Science and Medicine vs. Religion and Local Superstition.  These conflicts not only add weight to the overall story, but they also create momentum by effectively ratcheting up both the tension and the drama as we move further into the two-week observation of Anna.  Because Lib is English and a Protestant, she is perceived as an outsider and the O’Donnells and the townspeople do little more than tolerate her presence in their lives. When she then expresses skepticism of their religious convictions and of the strange superstitions that many in the village seem to embrace (a belief in fairies, for example), their opinion of her only goes downhill from there and thus any scientific arguments Lib uses to express her concern that Anna is harming herself by not eating are immediately rejected as ‘You just don’t understand the way we live here.’

It’s especially frustrating, not just for Lib, but for the reader as well, that not even Anna’s parents seem to have their daughter’s best interest at heart, which leads to what is perhaps the primary conflict of the novel:  the moral and ethical dilemma that faces Lib  — how can she just sit back and simply observe Anna starve herself as she has been hired to do when every fiber of her being is screaming at her to take care of this child and get her the nourishment she needs, even if she has to resort to force to do so? Donoghue does a phenomenal job of portraying the frustration that Lib feels as this decision weighs on her mind every time she looks at Anna.

The Bond between Lib and Anna.  In a novel that is oftentimes disturbing because of the way everyone just sits back and lets Anna refuse food, there is a lovely and moving element to the story as well and that is the bond of friendship that forms between Lib and Anna.  At first Lib is filled with dislike and distrust for Anna because she’s so convinced the girl is a fraud, but Anna quickly wins her over with her kind spirit, her piety, and her quick wit.  As we move through the novel, Lib grows more and more fond of Anna, and often comes across as more of a parent to Anna than Anna’s own mother and father do. There’s what I would call a healing or restorative quality to their relationship and both Anna and Lib benefit from their interactions.

* * * * *

Anything I Didn’t Like?

I liked the overall pacing of the novel and the slow buildup of tension and suspense, but I have to say there were a few moments just over the halfway point where my interest started to wane a bit.  Thankfully after a few more pages, the action really started to pick up and I sailed right through to the end.  Other than that minor lull in the story, I thought everything else about it was beautifully done.

* * * * *

Who Would I Recommend The Wonder to?

If you’re looking for a light and fluffy read, this is definitely not the book for you. However, if you like a compelling read that will make you think and that poses tough questions when it comes to ethics and morality , then The Wonder might be a good fit for you.

Rating:  4.5 stars

Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder is due out on September 20, 2016.

four-half-stars

About Emma Donoghue

emma donoghue

Emma is the youngest of eight children of Frances and Denis Donoghue. She attended Catholic convent schools in Dublin, apart from one year in New York at the age of ten. In 1990 she earned a first-class honours BA in English and French from University College Dublin, and in 1997 a PhD (on the concept of friendship between men and women in eighteenth-century English fiction) from the University of Cambridge. Since the age of 23, Donoghue has earned her living as a full-time writer. After years of commuting between England, Ireland, and Canada, in 1998 she settled in London, Ontario, where she lives with her partner and their son and daughter.

Need a Good Laugh? Here are 10 Reads to Tickle Your Funny Bone

funny-bone

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I don’t know about you, but all my life I have considered books to be my therapy.  There are certain books that I go to when I’m feeling happy, certain books I turn to when I’m feeling sad, or even if I need a good cry.  I’m definitely what you would call a mood reader and, fortunately, there are plenty of books out there to fit pretty much any mood I happen to be in.

Since I’m sure I’m not the only mood reader out there and definitely not the only one out there who enjoys a humorous read, I thought it would be nice to share my go-to list of books for when I need a good laugh to cheer me up. Some of these, like the Stephanie Plum series, are just pure comedic gems with guaranteed laughs from start to finish, while others like The Help tackle serious issues but still manage to infuse their stories with plenty of humor so that the overall impact is very uplifting. I even threw in a Roald Dahl book, The B.F.G., because its pure whimsy is guaranteed to make you smile no matter how old you are.

Ten Reads That Will Tickle Your Funny Bone

1. The Stephanie Plum Series by Janet Evanovich

01

Goodreads Synopsis: Pestered by her close New Jersey family, Stephanie Plum offers to catch high-school crush Joe Morelli, cop turned bail jumper, for her cousin Vinnie’s company. She questions “working girls” to find the missing girlfriend of vicious prizefighter Benito Ramirez while Joe secretly watches her back. Ranger mentors her and supplies vehicles when hers explode.  (Read more…)

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2. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

02

Goodreads Synopsis:  Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.  (Read more…)

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3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

03

Goodreads Synopsis:  Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.  Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.  Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women–mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends–view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope,The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.  (Read more…)

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4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

04

Goodreads Synopsis:  Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.   (Read more…)

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5. My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

05

Goodreads Synopsis: Who can forget our beloved gentleman’s personal gentleman, Jeeves, who ever comes to the rescue when the hapless Bertie Wooster falls into trouble. My Man Jeeves is sure to please anyone with a taste for pithy buffoonery, moronic misunderstandings, gaffes, and aristocratic slapstick. (Read more…)

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6. The B.F.G. by Roald Dahl

06

Goodsreads Synopsis: Captured by a giant! The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It’s lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, the Fleshlumpeater, the Bonecruncher, or any of the other giants-rather than the BFG-she would have soon become breakfast.

When Sophie hears that they are flush-bunking off in England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!  (Read more…)

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7. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

07

Goodreads Synopsis:  Winner of the 1933 Femina Vie Heureuse Prize, COLD COMFORT FARM is a wickedly funny portrait of British rural life in the 1930’s. Flora Poste, a recently orphaned socialite, moves in with her country relatives, the gloomy Starkadders of Cold Comfort Farm, and becomes enmeshed in a web of violent emotions, despair, and scheming, until Flora manages to set things right.   (Read more…)

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8. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

08

Goodreads Synopsis:  Meet Bridget Jonesa 30-something Singleton who is certain she would have all the answers if she could:

a. lose 7 pounds
b. stop smoking
c. develop Inner Poise

“123 lbs. (how is it possible to put on 4 pounds in the middle of the night? Could flesh have somehow solidified becoming denser and heavier? Repulsive, horrifying notion), alcohol units 4 (excellent), cigarettes 21 (poor but will give up totally tomorrow), number of correct lottery numbers 2 (better, but nevertheless useless)…”

Bridget Jones’ Diary is the devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud daily chronicle of Bridget’s permanent, doomed quest for self-improvement — a year in which she resolves to: reduce the circumference of each thigh by 1.5 inches, visit the gym three times a week not just to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult, and learn to program the VCR.

Over the course of the year, Bridget loses a total of 72 pounds but gains a total of 74. She remains, however, optimistic. Through it all, Bridget will have you helpless with laughter, and — like millions of readers the world round — you’ll find yourself shouting, “Bridget Jones is me!”  (Read more…)

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9. High Fidelity by Nick Hornsby

09

Goodreads Synopsis:  It has been said often enough that baby boomers are a television generation, but the very funny novel High Fidelity reminds that in a way they are the record-album generation as well. This funny novel is obsessed with music; Hornby’s narrator is an early-thirty-something English guy who runs a London record store. He sells albums recorded the old-fashioned way-on vinyl-and is having a tough time making other transitions as well, specifically adulthood. The book is in one sense a love story, both sweet and interesting; most entertaining, though, are the hilarious arguments over arcane matters of pop music.  (Read more…)

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10. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

10

Goodreads Synopsis:  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the best chronicle of drug-soaked, addle-brained, rollicking good times ever committed to the printed page. It is also the tale of a long weekend road trip that has gone down in the annals of American pop culture as one of the strangest journeys ever undertaken (Read more…)

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Question: Are you a mood reader too?  What are some of your favorite funny reads?  I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Waiting on Wednesday – Spotlight on The Bear and the Nightingale

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.  I have to admit that the comparison in the book blurb to Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, one of my all-time favorite books, is what initially drew me to The Bear and the Nightingale. But then I had the opportunity to preview an excerpt from the book and became more excited than ever. I think this is going to be a truly exciting read and I wish I didn’t have to wait until January to get my hands on it!

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

bear-and-nightingale-th

Publication Date: January 10, 2017

From Amazon:

A magical debut novel for readers of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman’s myth-rich fantasies, The Bear and the Nightingale spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent with a gorgeous voice.
 
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles nearer, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

* * * * *

 

Check out this advanced praise for The Bear and the Nightingale!

“An extraordinary retelling of a very old tale . . . A Russian setting adds unfamiliar spice to the story of a young woman who does not rebel against the limits of her role in her culture so much as transcend them. The Bear and the Nightingale is a wonderfully layered novel of family and the harsh wonders of deep winter magic.”—Robin Hobb

“A beautiful deep-winter story, full of magic and monsters and the sharp edges of growing up.”—Naomi Novik

“Haunting and lyrical, The Bear and the Nightingale tugs at the heart and quickens the pulse. I can’t wait for her next book.”—Terry Brooks

The Bear and the Nightingale is a marvelous trip into an ancient Russia where magic is a part of everyday life.”—Todd McCaffrey

“Enthralling and enchanting—I literally couldn’t put it down. A wondrous book!”—Tamora Pierce

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Fantasy Reads

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Books Of X Genre.  I had a hard time with this topic because I have an impossible time trying to narrow down to my all-time favorites when it comes to books.  I decided to go with Fantasy mainly because that’s the genre I’m just really getting into which meant fewer titles for me to waffle back and forth between, haha! I’ve not tried to divide this out into subgenres or anything fancy like that. Maybe I’ll do that some day when I have more titles under my belt to choose from.

As of this moment, this is my Top 10 All Time Favorite Fantasy Reads.  Quite a few of these are favorites from when I was a kid that have really stuck with me over the years, but there are also several  newer favorites though as I’ve been delving more and more into Fantasy lately.  If you have some MUST READ fantasy titles you think I might like, post them in the comments below because I’m always looking for new fantasy novels to read and you guys always give me the BEST recs. 🙂

Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Fantasy Reads 

1. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

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Goodreads Synopsis: 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!   (Read more…)

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2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

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Goodreads Synopsis:  ‘They say Aslan is on the move. Perhaps he has already landed,’ whispered the Beaver. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delightful strain of music had just floated by. And Lucy got that feeling when you realize it’s the beginning of summer. So, deep in the bewitched land of Narnia, the adventure begins.

They opened a door and entered a world–Narnia–the land beyond the wardrobe, the secret country known only to Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. Lucy is the first to stumble through the back of the enormous wardrobe in the professor’s mysterious old country house, discovering the magic world beyond. At first, no one believes her. But soon Edmund, Peter and Susan, too, discover the magic and meet Aslan, the Great Lion, for themselves. And in the blink of an eye, they are changed forever.  (Read more…)

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3. The Once and Future King by T. H. White

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Goodreads Synopsis:  Once upon a time, a young boy called “Wart” was tutored by a magician named Merlyn in preparation for a future he couldn’t possibly imagine. A future in which he would ally himself with the greatest knights, love a legendary queen and unite a country dedicated to chivalrous values. A future that would see him crowned and known for all time as Arthur, King of the Britons.

During Arthur’s reign, the kingdom of Camelot was founded to cast enlightenment on the Dark Ages, while the knights of the Round Table embarked on many a noble quest. But Merlyn foresaw the treachery that awaited his liege: the forbidden love between Queen Guinevere and Lancelot, the wicked plots of Arthur’s half-sister Morgause, and the hatred she fostered in Mordred that would bring an end to the king’s dreams for Britain–and to the king himself.  (Read more…)

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4. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R. Tolkien

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Goodreads Synopsis:  Frodo Baggins knew the Ringwraiths were searching for him—and the Ring of Power he bore that would enable Sauron to destroy all that was good in Middle-earth. Now it was up to Frodo and his faithful servant Sam to carry the Ring to where it could be destroyed—in the very center of Sauron’s dark kingdom.   (Read more…)

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5. Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

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Goodreads Synopsis: Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne. (Read more…)

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6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Goodsreads Synopsis: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.

Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves.

Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way–a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.

As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved–the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them–are swept up in a wake of spells and charms.

But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.

Both playful and seductive, The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern’s spell-casting debut, is a mesmerizing love story for the ages. (Read more…)

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7. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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Goodreads Synopsis:  Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.   (Read more…)

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8. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

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Goodreads Synopsis:  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. Its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.  (Read more…)

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9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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Goodreads Synopsis:  The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.  (Read more…)

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10. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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Goodreads Synopsis:  When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.  (Read more…)

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Question:  Are any of these fantasy reads your favorites too?   What was your TTT topic this week?  I’d love to hear from you 🙂