WWW Wednesday – February 22, 2017

WWW New

WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words. Three questions, three answers. Let’s go!

What are you currently reading?

This answer has only changed slightly since last week. I read a bit more in RoseBlood by A.G. Howard, which has been a bit odd so far. This is the one that was inspired by the Phantom of the Opera, if you remember. Well, I am very protective of my Phantom stories, more so than any other fandom, so it’s been a bit weird seeing such a different take on it. I’m still not sure what I think, although I’m not even half way in yet. So we’ll see.

Also working on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, although I missed posting about it this Monday. Might try to do that tomorrow.

You might notice something missing from this part. That’s because . . .

What did you recently finish reading?

I finally finished reading The Two Towers!! And I mean just finished, because I literally closed the book about ten minutes ago. I waited to make this post so that I could say that I finished it instead of continuing to plod through it. So yay!

What do you think you’ll read next?

Definitely will be reading The Return of the King, because of course. After that, I think I will stop reading with Mark Reads just for a little while and start working on some of the series I need to try and complete. I challenged myself to complete five of them from my list, so I should probably think about that. To that end, I will say that I will also read Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo, book #2 in The Grisha series. I read the first book, Shadow and Bone, at the end of last year, although it was during my blogging slump, so I never actually reviewed it. I should probably do that at some point.

There are my answers for this week! Please leave yours in comments!

Teaser Tuesday – February 21, 2017

Teaser-Tuesdays-Purple

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Here are the rules if you want to play along:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.

~ Gandalf, The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

I love this quote. It appears in this book, but also in The Fellowship of the Ring, where it was originally spoken.

This book is taking a very long time, I know, but Tolkien is something that tends to go slowly. I do want to try and finish this one this week though.

Please leave your teasers in comments!

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

the-handmaids-taleTitle: The Handmaid’s Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood

Series: None

Edition: E-book

Seasonal Reading Challenge:Task 15.3, Option #2 – Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy in January 1792.

Option 1, Read TWO books, one book 1 and one book 2.

Book 1: Read a book from this list of Popular Feminism Books
Required: State the page of the list where your book is found.

Book 2: Read a book by a female author whose initials are found in MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT. Letters may only be used as often as they appear. All name part initials must be considered. One qualifying author in a book by multiple contributors fulfills this task.

OR

Option 2, Read ONE book that fulfills both option 1 Book A and Book B.

Blurb: Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

Review: Oh. My. GAWD! How have I never read this book before??

I devoured this book in one day. Almost in one sitting. It was that compelling.

It’s really hard to explain what I liked about the book, because there are very few things I didn’t like. The setting took some time to figure out where exactly this was taking place – it was a reveal in and of itself. The characters were wonderfully rich and complex. Offred is a very compelling protagonist, but it was also interesting to see that the people who were in power, who should have been “the bad guys” were also very complicated. The Commander and his wife were part of the system, but neither one seemed very happy about it. I really liked the under culture too, and would LOVE to hear more about Moira’s story.

The pacing in this was great as well. We get constant hints throughout of Offred’s life before, but it’s not until towards the end that we really see the full picture, and see how we got to this point in the first place. And it’s fascinating. The only thing I could even criticize about it is that the final chapter feels really out of place. It takes place long after the events of the book and, well, I don’t know. It felt wrong. I wanted to have more of a definitive conclusion of Offred’s story, and we don’t really get that.

But that was me just being nitpicky. The rest of the book is great. Thought provoking, shocking, but in all the right ways. GoodReads rating: 5 stars.

WWW Wednesday – February 15, 2017


WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words. Three questions, three answers. Go!

What are you currently reading?

Still working through The Two Towers. It’s been my bedtime book, just because I find it very flowing and relaxing. I am also reading RoseBlood by A.G. Howard. I loved her Alice in Wonderland series (Splintered), and this new book is inspired by the Phantom of the Opera.

What did you recently finish reading?

Tonight I finished The Circle by David Eggers. Got this one through my local library’s digital collection, but first heard about it after seeing a trailer online for the upcoming movie staring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson. It looked interesting and, well, let’s just say that I finished it in less than a day’s time.

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Return of the King, eventually. Other than that, I have no firm plans. I have so many books on my TBR, I’m almost paralyzed by it. So many too choose from!! Can’t decide!! Maybe I’ll set up a poll and let you guys pick for me. 

Please leave your WWW posts in comments!

Teaser Tuesday – February 14, 2017

Teaser-Tuesdays-Purple

Happy Tuesday and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker. Here are the rules if you want to play along:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Where now are the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the harp on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.
Who shall gather the smoke of the deadwood burning,
Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?

~ The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

Yep, still working through The Lord of the Rings. Slow going, but such beautiful, beautiful language.

Please leave your teasers in comments!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Act 1, Scenes 4-6

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Hiya folks! It’s time for my next installment of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Chapter-A-Long read! I really enjoyed doing this last time and hope you enjoyed it as well. I’m moving these posts to Mondays because schedule-wise, that’s easier for me.

This week, we are taking a look at Act 1, Scenes 4 through 6. Let’s jump in!

Scene 4 – Transition Scene

The stage direction of at the beginning of this scene states that “there are no individual scenes, but fragments, shards that show the constant progression of time.” From reading it, I really wish I could have seen how they staged this, especially as someone who has done a bit of theater. It must have been fascinating to design.

First up: Albus’s arrival at Hogwarts, and the hubbub it creates. Everyone is excited to see him and everyone has something to say.

POLLY CHAPMAN: Albus Potter.

KARL JENKINS: A Potter. In our year.

YANN FREDERICKS: He’s got his hair. He’s got hair just like him.

Imagine starting your first year at a new school and having everyone talking about you. Even if they weren’t saying anything bad, it still has to be a lot of pressure!

Moving on to the Sorting. Rose gets sorted into Gryffindor, which she is very happy about. Scorpious gets sorted into Slytherin, which everyone was expecting. And Albus, well . . . he has to face his worst fear as he is also sorted into Slytherin. Everyone is shocked and dismayed, especially Rose. Everyone except for Scorpious, who seems delighted to have a friend. Albus himself seems to have no reaction at all, except for the stage direction that says he is “thoroughly discombobulated.”

By the way, I love the word “discombobulated.” It’s awesome. But I digress. Next scene.

And suddenly a flying lesson is happening with MADAM HOOCH.

I have to admit, Madam Hooch is one of my favorite minor characters from the original books. I don’t know why, but I’ve always wanted to know more about her. Did she ever play professional Quidditch before retiring to teach? Why does she have yellow eyes like a cat? Is it significant that she is described like a hawk? I want to know these things!

But anyway, the flying lesson is a disaster for Albus, as he is the only one in class to have trouble getting their broom to fly up to their hands. Now the rumor is circulating that not only is Albus a Slytherin, but he’s a Squib as well.

(For any muggles reading this, a Squib is a person born of a magical family who does not have any magical abilities. Notable Squibs in the Harry Potter-verse include Argus Filtch, the dreaded caretaker of Hogwarts. Hmmm. Wonder if he’s still around anywhere?).

The scene segues again into what I thought was a dream sequence, but is actually where Albus arrives at King’s Cross before his second year. Albus is afraid that everyone is saying something about how disappointing he is as a Potter, although Harry is quick to tell him that none of that matters.

HARRY: Look, as long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters to me.

I really find it awesome that Harry is such a good dad, considering the fact that he grew up with the worst of examples in the Dursleys. Of course, he also had a lot of influence by the Weasleys, so I guess it evens out. Plus, anyone with half a brain should know not to lock their kids in a cupboard under the stairs.

There is also a weird exchange with Draco Malfoy. He approaches Harry asking for help because the rumors surrounding Scorpious aren’t going away. Harry doesn’t feel the need to do anything about this.

HARRY: If you answer the gossip, you feed the gossip. There’ve been rumors Voldemort had a child for years, Scorpious is not the first to be accused. The Ministry, for your sake as well as ours, needs to steer well clear.

It does make me wonder who else may have been accused of being Voldemort’s child. I imagine there couldn’t be that long of a list (really, who would have gotten THAT close to him??? – don’t want to know  . . .)

Also mentioned is the fact that Astoria is sick.

Next scene is in the Great Hall, where Professor McGonagall is announcing that Rose has made the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Scorpious claps along with Albus, and when questioned, he just shrugs and says that he’s doing it because she’s Albus’s cousin. He also thinks that she’s brilliant, so maybe someone has a little crush? Maybe?

Side note: Minerva McGonagall is life. I adore her more than most things.

Next scene is in potions class, where Albus and Scorpious are partners. The other students avoid them and make snide remarks. Things aren’t going well in potions though – their potion explodes! Hey, something of Harry that Albus inherited!

Next up: third year. We’re moving along at a good clip! It’s King’s Cross again, where Harry is handing Albus his permission slip to go to Hogsmeade. Albus is not interested, even going so far to light the permission slip on fire with a surprisingly good Incendio spell. Harry tells him of his concerns, that Professor McGonagall had been sending owls. Albus responds in a proper thirteen year-old way.

ALBUS: So what would you like me to do? Magic myself popular? Conjure myself into a new House? Transfigure myself into a better student? Just cast a spell, Dad, and change me into what you want me to be, okay? It’ll work better for both of us.

Yikes. What a change from the soft, sensitive kid who got on the train two years earlier! Even though he’s kind of being a brat, I feel really bad for Albus. He’s had a rough, rough time of it, and I’m watching right now with my own kid how bullying at school can completely change a person. It’s really, really sad, especially since Albus is isolating himself from his family.

He still has Scorpious though, but Scorpious has his own issues to deal with. When Albus finds him on the train, Scorpious tells him that his mother has died. Albus doesn’t know what to do or say. Scorpious is quick to tell him that he doesn’t need much.

SCORPIOUS: Come to the funeral.

ALBUS: Of course.

SCORPIOUS: And be my good friend.

The last little bit of this very long, very complicated scene is the Sorting for this year. And guess what – it’s Lilly’s first year at Hogwarts. She is sorted into Gryffindor and Albus is, well . . . I’m not sure how he feels about it.

ALBUS: Great.

SCORPIOUS: Did you really think she’d come to us? Potters don’t belong in Slytherin.

ALBUS: This one does.

So in two years, Albus has become completely different that anyone else in his family. Rebellious, in trouble with the school, with an attitude that will not quit. In fact, it feels like he is rejecting his family, even though it is clear from Harry’s responses that his family is not pushing him away. Some of that could seem like typical early-teen behavior, but this is Hogwarts, and nothing is that simple.

Scene 5 – Ministry of Magic, Harry’s Office

Yes! I’ve always wanted to know what Harry & Co. did after Book 7! It appears that Harry is indeed an Auror working at the Ministry. Harry arrives, bleeding, to find Hermione going through stacks of papers.

HERMIONE: How did it go?

HARRY: It was true.

HERMIONE: Theodore Nott?

HARRY: In custody.

I remember the name Theodore Nott from the original books, but don’t know anything about him other than the fact that he was a Slytherin student who was there during the same time Harry & Co. was. Turns out Nott had a Time-Turner. This is illegal, as all Time-Turners were destroyed, but even before that they were kept under lock and key at the Department of Mysteries. Back in Prisoner of Azkaban, it was very, very, VERY rare that Hermione was given permission to use one – a really big deal. It does make one wonder what Nott was doing with one in the first place.

Harry asks Hermione what she’s doing there, and she responds that she is checking to see if he is keeping up with his paperwork. Of course, he is not. This seems to be a reoccurring discussion with the two of them.

HERMIONE: You know, there’s some interesting stuff in here . . . There are mountain trolls riding Graphorns through Hungary, there are giants with winged tattoos on their backs walking through the Greek Seas, and the werewolves have gone entirely underground –

Okay, here’s what I want. You know all those cop procedural shows on TV? Criminal Minds, CSI, Law & Order, etc? I want one of those, but featuring the Auror department. Can we do that? How awesome would that be!!

Harry gets irritated that Hermione is getting on his case about paperwork, when he is the one going out in the field and getting results. He doesn’t need to read anything – he hears about things going on while he’s working. That’s how he found out about Nott in the first place. Hermione offers him a piece of candy and tells him that she’s not upset, and doesn’t mean to come off that way.

HERMIONE: I just need you to look at your paperwork every now and again, that’s all. Consider this a gentle – nudge – from the Minister for Magic.

Wait a sec.

Does that mean what I think it does?

HERMIONE IS THE MINISTER FOR MAGIC??!!??

Okay, that’s brilliant. Who else would be better! Heck, she was better for the job than Fudge was back when she was sixteen! This is awesome!

Hermione asks after his family, but Harry is clearly worried. He doesn’t know what to do about Albus. Despite getting on Harry’s case for not getting his work done, Hermione urges him to go home and spend time with his family.

Scene 6 – Harry and Ginny Potter’s House

This scene opens with Albus sitting at the top of the stairs listening in on a conversation below. Harry has just gotten home, but has a surprise visitor – Amos Diggory. This is Cedric Diggory’s father, for anyone who didn’t remember. He is very old at this point and is in a wheelchair. He seems very frustrated because he has been trying to get an appointment to speak to Harry and keeps getting that appointment rescheduled.

Harry is very put-off by the fact that Diggory just showed up in the middle of the night when he’s supposed to be dealing with family matters. Personally, I agree. He should be allowed to leave his work at the office. I don’t know what Diggory wants, but these seems like it’s crossing a line.

Oh, and Harry isn’t just an Auror. He’s the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. So he’s THE Auror.

AMOS: There’s plenty you’re responsible for.

HARRY: Sorry?

AMOS: My son, Cedric, you do remember Cedric, don’t you?

HARRY (remembering Cedric hurts him): Yes, I remember your son. His loss –

AMOS: Voldemort wanted you! Not my son! You told me yourself, the words he said were, “Kill the spare.” The spare. My son, my beautiful son, was a spare.

Oh oh oh. Oh no. You don’t blame Harry for that. Cedric’s death was an awful, awful thing, but Harry certainly didn’t want it to happen. He had nothing to do with it. Cedric was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and sure, if Harry hadn’t been involved Cedric would probably still be alive (or not – he could have died at any point, it’s not like Voldemort was picky), but you can’t blame Harry for Cedric’s death. He didn’t kill him!

Amos’s grief goes even deeper than that though. He has heard about the Time-Turner the Ministry has confiscated. He wants to use it to go get Cedric back.

That is one of the most depressing things I’ve ever heard.

Harry is quick to tell him that the story about Nott and the Time-Turner is not true, that all the Time-Turners were destroyed and they haven’t found any others. At this point, we switch our attention back to Albus and his eavesdropping because he suddenly gets a visitor.

ALBUS jumps a mile as DELPHI – a twenty-something, determined-looking woman – is revealed, looking through the stairs at him.

This is Delphi Diggory, Amos’s niece. Albus is quite taken aback and Delphi jokes that she’s there to steal everything he has (especially the Chocolate Frogs!) She asks who he is and, unlike most everyone at Hogwarts, seems genuinely pleased when she finds out that he is Albus Potter. She asks if it’s awesome to have the famous Harry Potter for a dad, but at Albus’s unenthusiastic answer, she realizes that she has made things uncomfortable.

DELPHI: Ah. Have I just put my foot in it? It’s what they used to say about me at school. Delphi Diggory – there isn’t a hole she couldn’t dig herself into.

Okay, I already love Delphi, and I just met her. Albus seems to like her as well, or at least, sees her as something of a kindred spirit. He mentions that people make fun of his name too. Delphi mentions that she takes care of her uncle at St. Oswald’s Home for Old Witches and Wizards and invites Albus to come visit. He doesn’t have a chance to respond before Amos yells for her to come down so they can leave.

AMOS: Meet the once-great Harry Potter, now a stone-cold Ministry man. I will leave you in peace, sir. If peace I the right word for it.

I think there are many things that Harry has had to deal with that he has not, and may never, make peace with. Cedric’s death has to be one of them. I feel sorry for Amos – losing a child must be the most terrible thing in the world. I can’t imagine the pain that he feels. But this is a low blow, and you can tell that it hurts Harry a great deal. Albus watches all this “thoughtfully.” Maybe he’s starting to realize that being the famous Harry Potter is not always such a good thing. It will probably take a while for that fact to get through all his teenage angst, but maybe it’s a start.

Next review will cover scenes 7 through 13. Seems like a lot, but they are fairly short. See you then!

 

Book Review: The Miniaturist

the-miniaturistTitle: The Miniaturist

Author: Jessie Burton

Series: None

Edition: Paperback

Seasonal Reading Challenge: Task 25.1 Book #2 – Read a book in which the First letter of the First word is the same as the Last letter of the Last word in the title. Titles may contain any number of words including one.

Blurb: On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office–leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist–an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand–and fear–the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

Review: This will be a tricky review to write, not because I didn’t enjoy the book, but because there are so many things I can’t discuss because of spoilers.

I first picked up this book at Barnes & Noble. I had never heard of it or the author. I just liked the cover art. Something about it just really spoke to me. I know the saying goes that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, but in this case, I’m glad I did. This was an excellent book. The writing is beautiful and captured this time period and city that I will never experience, but now deeply want to.

Nella is a very interesting character, but not a very complex one. She is very young and very naïve, essentially sent into marriage because her mother wanted her to have more opportunities than she would ever find in their poor, small town. She’s a very straightforward character – what you see is what you get – which makes all the other things going on around her in the story seem all the more off kilter.

I also really enjoyed her relationship with her sister-in-law, Marin. Marin is a VERY complicated character with all kinds of secrets and watching those secrets unfold is very satisfying. I was completely blindsided by it all. Nella and Marin go from antagonists, to barely tolerated roommates, to hesitant allies, which shows off the complexity of Marin’s character and the growth of Nella’s. Really well done.

Ugh, I wish I could say more! But it would totally ruin things if I did!

There is this sense of trepidation that goes throughout the novel, in many different aspects. The reader spends a great deal of time knowing that something is not quite right, but not knowing exactly what it is. One is, of course, the miniaturist. There is a slight supernatural element to this novel, but it’s slightly ambiguous. They never come out and confirm anything about how the miniaturist is able to do their work. That is a slight complaint about the story because there are many threads that are never fully resolved, and the story just sort of drifts to a close. I wish there could have been a bit more about it, especially about the miniaturist themselves.

But overall, this is a beautiful and haunting book. I definitely recommend it.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars.