Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Turtles All the Way Down - John Green

'I wanted to tell her that I was getting better, because that was supposed to be the narrative of illness: It was a hurdle you jumpted over, or a battle you won. Illness is a story told in the past tense.'


Heyo!

This is the first book John Green has written since The Fault in Our Stars came out five years ago, and obviously I wanted to check it out! I'm curious and a hipster like that. Gotta read it before the movie comes out. So I went to buy it from Waterstones the day it came out. I read it within a week or so, but... yeah, I've been quite busy with uni and when I have free time, I've been reading, not reviewing. Whoops. Apparently I've not reviewed any John Green books on this blog, but I've read The Fault in Our StarsPaper Towns and most of Looking For Alaska. Obviously, this book has the highest expectations of perhaps anything ever, coming after TFIOS, and while I don't think it was quite as 'good' (more on this later), it was still good.

Previously, I've said that John Green's books are these great epics and stories bigger than life, and that's why they appeal to teenagers who don't normally get to go on these grand adventures. Turtles All the Way Down is... not that. It's big and ambitious in the way life is while not being very grand at all.

Anyway, the basic idea is that sixteen-year old Aza accidentally stumbles upon the case of her childhood friend Davis's missing millionaire father. Aza and Davis reconnect more or less, but they're also both very caught up in their own lives. Aza's best friend Daisy really wants to pursue the missing millionaire part, and Aza finds a kindred soul in the son of the millionaire, whose little brother just wants dad to come back home. Aza herself is suffering from OCD, which is a tightening loop of intrusive thoughts (turtles all the way down) and makes even the smallest things all too difficult.

The biggest downfall of the book is that it just attempts at being way too much, It wants to be a realistic portrayal of OCD, love, friendship, class differences, grief, family and all these other things, but of course it makes the different parts all kind of flat. It's also full of John Green's signature super philosophical no teenager talks like that conversations that sound extremely awkward if you think about it too much. This is really how you'll decide if you'll love or hate John Green's works: do you get put off by teenagers texting about the difficulty of defining self at night?

'Our hearts were broken in the same places. That's something like love, but maybe not quite the thing itself.'

This book is a tricky thing to actually review, because I know all of my friends either really like or really don't like The Fault in Our Stars. And while I don't think John Green is the best author in existence or anything, I have to admit he simply must have done something right to get to where he is.

And I thought Turtles All the Way Down was quite good, really. Not quite Looking for Alaska good, but better than Paper Towns and somehow less annoying than TFIOS. The latter is very 'good' plot-wise but has these super unrealistic and annoying bits that really hindered my experience, while Turtles is almost the opposite.

Turtles is philosophical and wants to be vey mature and all those things, but it also has some moments of genuine wisdom and feelings. Also lots of points for the portrayal of OCD as something that's not nice and desirable. This book leaves a lot to be desired (and I think in some ways that's the point), but somehow I enjoyed it quite a lot, and after I put it down, I wanted to pick it up again immediately.

I ended up giving this a 4/5 on the former grounds, but I acknowledge that this book is defnitely not for everyone, so I didn't put it in my recommendations label. If you think you'd like it, you probably will, but it's weirdly different from John Green's previous works.

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I couldn't shoehorn this in (again). By the way, I just found out what 'shoehorn' means (it's a kenkälusikka :D)

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

It Only Happens in the Movies - Holly Bourne

Hello!


I picked this book pretty much right away when it came out, seeing how impressed I was with Am I Normal Yet? by the same author when I read it two months ago. This book is not a part of The Spinster Club series, but a stand-alone story. Like Am I Normal Yet?, this book also had a really cool feminism aspect that I really appreciated.

It Only Happens in the Movies is a lot of fun. It's the story of Audrey, who's father left her family for another woman, who's mum has been drinking a lot since then, who's boyfriend left her in a traumatic manner and who no longer believes in romance movies. She gets a job at an independent cinema and meets her coworker Harry, who's a bad boy womanizer and everything she doesn't need in her life, and yet...

This book is many kinds of lovely. It talks about real issues that come with being young but also about what love and friendship are and when you should or shouldn't give a person a second chance. It was also a surprising book; I thought I knew what was happening, but then there were two separate plot twists that I hadn't anticipated, and it felt like a refreshing experience overall. It was also a very earnest story about what it's like to be young.

I liked Audrey a lot as a character. She's very shaken by what's been going on in her life and even angry about it sometimes, but she didn't get on my nerves too often. I appreciate that. All the side characters were also very much alive - this is one of those books were everyone except her is a side character, really. This is her story.

I liked the themes: there were many important messages I think people often need to hear. What if your parent just doesn't take care of you? What if you have a life planned for yourself and all of a sudden the base it's gone and you let it slip away? We're often told to decide everything as teenagers but in reality I'm in unversity and I still don't really have the answers. That's okay. I think we should talk about that more often.

I decided to give this book a 4/5 because while I did like it a lot, it was not quite as good as Am I Normal Yet? and it was ultimately kind of forgettable. I finished it maybe a week ago but today I struggle to remember what it was even about.

Less importantly: this is kind of unbelievable, but this book is the second British (English, more specifically) contemporary book I've read lately (the first one was Me Before You, and yes, I mentioned this in my review) in which the main character dislikes films with subtitles. Seriously, my not-native-English-speaker-self is so offended that there's a privilege in not wanting to indulge in other cultures like that. Ew. Audrey even states that she's never watched a subtitled film before, but still claims to love cinema???? Please explain.

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I put this in category 18: The are no less than four words in a book's name.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Down the Rabbit Hole - Holly Madison

'In a few short months, I had gone from a friendly, optimistic, confident woman to a confused girl with a nervous stammer who second-guessed every thought that went through her head and rationalized every bad decision she made.'

(The full title of this book is Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny, so I'm sure you'll understand why I wanted to shorten it a little bit.)



Hello! I've been reading too many books and reviewing too few lately, so my apologies if these feel a bit short right now.

So yeah, I totally read a book written by a Playboy Bunny. It was a litle awkward to make small talk about to people. But with Hugh Hefner's recent passing, I started thinking - I don't actually know all that much about life at the Playboy Mansion. I don't think Holly Madison is the best source of information there is, but for my purposes her book was pretty decent. I never watched The Girls Next Door (I must've been too young?) so I'm pretty sure I missed some of the 'while that was happening, this was going on behind the scenes' stuff. That's okay though.

Down the Rabbit Hole is a memoir of Holly Madison, starting before her introduction to the Playboy Mansion and following her through her seven years there, from a visitor to Hugh Hefner's number one girlfriend. Finally, there's her exploits and reinvention afterwards.

Of course, there's many ways in which to view this book. On one hand, she comes across as very likeable and her motivations understandable - she wrote this book herself, after all. But on the other hand, there's a strong undercurrent of why would you do that and why would you stay. Because of that, I had to spend a considerable amount of time justifying her actions while reading the book, just like she did to herself.

Another problem with this book was that since it's an autobiography, there's a lot of 'all the other girls were so mean to me even though I'm nothing but kind!!' which had me thinking there might actually be two sides to the story - but only one that gets put on paper. It's a very gossipy book and almost everyone other than Holly herself gets dragged through the dirt. Hence, it would be really interesting to hear what someone else had to say about all of this...

This book felt a little bit too long, and I have to admit that sometimes I was also confused about the timeline. I'll mark that down as 'there wasn't much to say about that year' but on the other hand I felt like the book didn't tell me all that much of the everyday, which I definitely wanted more of anyway. Ultimately, it was an enterntaining experience I found myself picking up every so often, but it won't change my life or anything.

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I put this in category 48: A book about something which you know only a little bit. Kinda obvious I suppose.

Holly Madison has since published a second book called The Vegas Diaries. I might have to give that one a look at least because I feel like a kind of know her now. I'm hoping it'll be like checking an old acquintance's Facebook or something.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Love & Gelato - Jenna Evans Welch

'"You know, people come to Italy for all sorts of reasons, but when they stay, it's for the same two things."'
"What?"
"Love and gelato."'



Hello!

I picked this up from the library maybe 1.5 weeks ago? I don't know, it had been on my tbr list and honestly, the Aberdeen Central Library doesn't have as great of a range as back home so I just take what I can.

Really though, I have a love for summer books. You know, books about sunrises and grass and adventures and ice cream in which life seems a lot less complex than normally. So this looking a whole lot like a summer book, I gravitated towards it. Fair warning, I convinced Daniel to make both pizza and pasta with me while I was reading this, so it's definitely a dangerous piece of literature. They were both very good dishes though, so it definitely helped me get in the Florence mood and all that.

Anyway, Love & Gelato is set in Italy, where 16-year old Lina has to go meet a father she's never known after her mum passed away. She's still grieving and it's difficult to be so far from home in the States without anyone she knows. It was, however, her mother's dying wish that she gets to know her father, and Lina has her mother's journal so they can experience Florence together. She also makes friends, including the kind Ren who lives in a gingerbread house essentially next door and all of his friends.

Something I enjoyed about this book was how little emphasis there was on the romance aspect. Sure, that is a thing, but moreover it's a book about family and grief and blood ties and moving on. It was a very refreshing read because of that.

The description of location in this book was kind of breathtaking. It made me want to visit Florence so bad, to carry this with me and walk in Lina and Ren's footsteps. That is a sign that the description is well-written, in my opinion; when you can see it in your mind so clearly you can't help wanting to see it for real.

By setting, this book reminded me of Anna and the French Kiss; American girl has to go to a lovely European city for the time of her life, yet is unwilling and feels sorry for herself. However, unlike Anna, Lina had a very real reason to be upset and not want to be there, so this book takes the cake by comparison. On the other hand, Anna was maybe more enjoyable as a read, maybe because of being more laid back and silly. Make of that what you will.

I'll give this a 4/5 because it was different and well-written, especially the description of places, but it wasn't a life-changing experience by any means. Actually, now that I finished it a couple of days ago, I can't really remember what happened in it. Also, I'll read almost any young adult books if they seem decent and are not set in the US.

With this, I finally get to tick off category 30 from the Helmet 2017 reading challenge: There's a word 'feel/feeling in a book's name'! I never thought it would be so difficult to find one of those!

Also, the next book by Welch, Love & Luck, is coming out next year. That one will be set in Ireland and I'll be happy to give it a read once it's out!

Next up will be It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne 'cause I'm nearly finished reading that! Reasons to be excited! :)

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Doctor Who: Shada - Gareth Roberts

'Chris reflected that a horrific place like this, with all the odds so grotesquely stacked against him, was where the Doctor magnificently belonged.'

Hello!


(I read this book because J made me but the timing of this post is pretty rad, check out the teaser for the complete, feature length version they're (finally) making based of the actual episode here. I might post about it when it's out because it's really quite cool!)

 I love Doctor Who but I hadn't read any of the novels before. Shada, though, was a unaired serial of the 17th series of Doctor Who with a script by Douglas Adams. That's pretty exciting, right?

Shada follows the Fourth Doctor and Romana to Cambridge, where a fellow Time Lord, Professor Chronotis, has found a home for himself. Upon leaving Gallifrey, he took with him something that proves to be dangerous. There's also a couple of grad students, Clare and Chris, cutely in love with each other but not able to admit it.

'But where was Chris? Why wasn't he there with her, starting off on this amazing journey? 'Aha!' the Doctor was saying, but she didn't want his 'Aha!' — she wanted Chris's 'Aha!' And where was Chris?' 

Because it's Doctor Who, there's also monster of the week - Skagra, who wants to take over the world with the use of Professor Chronotis's little souvenir. He's a cool villain and I definitely felt the urgency in stopping him.

I listened to this as an audiobook, with the sound effects and all, which was excellent. It was read by Lalla Ward, who plays Romana, and included David Brierley as K-9. What's not to love about that? The world needs more a) female narration b) female everything actually and c) K-9.

'At the woman's side, somehow looking equally concerned, was a metal box about three feet by two feet with 'K-9' emblazoned on its side in what somebody had obviously thought was a futuristic typeface. From the front of the box sprouted what was clearly meant to be a head, with a glowing red screen for eyes, a snout with a nozzle at the end and two miniature radar dishes in place of ears. It sort of looked, a bit, like a dog. It even had an antenna for a tail and, for a campy finishing touch, a tartan collar.'

You've probably figured this out by now, but this book definitely assumes that you know your Doctor Who. It doesn't really give you any general rundown of the background or any of that, but just plunges you in the deep end. Nothing wrong about that of course, but just something to keep in mind. I think no one assumes you pick up one of these and use it as your stepping stone into the wider universe, but the other way around.

All the characters are excellent, which isn't exactly surprising. It's hard to pick a favourite but my top three would be Skagra's ship that was tweaked to shower him with compliments, Clare and Romana. Girl power! Also, I feel like the Doctor was actually the weakest character here. He came across as a bit annoyed all the time (Which may have to do with Lalla Ward having been married to Tom Baker at one point, J tells me).

The writing is also excellent, very fun and smart and kind of tongue-in-cheek. There's a lot of both dialogue and description but it all kind of fits together.

All in all, Shada is an excellent Doctor Who story. It's weird and fantastical and fun and pretty much what you're meant to get. The dialogue and characters are more than enough to make up for the fact that the plot itself may not have been the most innovative out there. If I had to change something, I'd cut out around a hundred pages of nothing really happening, though I understand that could be detrimental to the experience. Still, sometimes I zoned out while listening to this, and I want to mark it down for that.

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I could not find a spot for this. This is getting so tricky!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The Reason You're Alive - Matthew Quick

'That morning I'd been worried I might be scalped, and here I was among the warmest people I will probably ever meet, no matter how long I live.'


Hello!

Daniel got me this book as a gift! It's seemingly becoming a tradition, as he got me Every Exquisite Thing last year. I'm very happy about that, naturally. And since you can't actually see it from a picture, I have to tell you that the letters are imprinted on the dustjacket and the cover is really nice to the touch and I love running my fingers across it. Points for that!

(clears throat) Anyway, you might know by now that The Silver Linings Playbook is my favourite book and I'm fully on board to read everything Matthew Quick writes in the future and the past, so as soon as this book was announced, I was excited! (I've also reviewed Sorta Like a Rockstar on this blog!)

David Granger is a 68-year old Vietnam War veteran who's recently had a brain tumour removed. He's trying to find closure with the war and the awful things he did and trying to live a life without his wife, whom he lost three decades ago. This book is a story he writes for someone else to read, a story about his life.

David is on paper a person I can't imagine liking. He's very politically incorrect, a republican and against gun control. He is, however, very funny and likeable and I found myself really fond of him by the end of the book. This book was very honest and heartfelt, and most of it really did come from David's character. I think there is something to be said there about how we should give people another chance beyond that first impression and not just judge them based on how we think they should be. Hm.

I also enjoyed all of the side characters - David's liberal art-dealer son Hank, granddaughter Ella, Gay Timmy and Gay Johnny, his genetically Vietnamese-American best friend Sue and Clayton Fire Bear. They all had their own stories and lives and it was refreshing to see them through David's politically incorrect eyes.

Unfortunately, I'm quite convinced American readers will enjoy this book more than I did or ever could. This book is about as American as they get, and I just don't have the cultural heritage to understand this in the way someone else could. There's baseball and Republican politics and history of oppression and the Vietnam War itself, all topics I don't really have a personal connection to. And these are just the first examples that came to my mind.

I suppose it would be stupid to ask for Matthew Quick to write something that wasn't so inherently American, especially when it's something that provides a lot of charm for his works, but it's just a shame to realise. Quite possibly this is also the reason I feel like giving it 4/5 instead of 5/5 - my own shortcomings. There was also something about the ending that, even though it made me extremely happy, just worked out a little too conveniently.


All in all though, this book was short and heartfelt and upbeat and that is essentially what I love Matthew Quick's works for. It has a lot of themes I've come to recognise as his, and I think this will be my second favourite work of his so far. I cannot wait for his next book!

Also, at mum if you're reading this, I think you'd like this one! I'll bring it with me for Christmas! :)

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I'll put this in category 1: A book's name is beautiful. Funny story, I've actually been saving category 18: There are no less than four words in a book's name for this, but now that I read this... I understand the meaning behind the name and I don't think I'll read anything so beautifully named this year.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon

'"Hello, future wife," he said, his voice bubbling with glee. "I can't wait to get started on the rest of our lives!"'


Hello!

Needless to say, I was super excited to read When Dimple Met Rishi. Why? Not only is there an iced coffee on the cover (important but ends up being mistreated in the actual story), but it is an Indian-American young adult book about Indian-American teenagers battling with issues that come from the melding of these two different cultures. In short-hand; it's not super-American and stereotypically boring like most YA novels! How great is that?

It's also worth noting that in this book, the female main character has a passion for coding! It would be great if I didn't need to award medals for 'girls wanting to do ''''men's'''' jobs in young adult books' but you would be surprised with how rarely that happens. Ew.

Anyway, When Dimple Met Rishi stars Dimple, weirdly-named quirky Indian girl living in America, pressured by her mum to find an Ideal Indian Husband but wanting to do web design and not get married. The other half is Rishi, a traditional Indian teenager who's also living in America but more fond of stability and making his parents proud. They meet at Insomnia Con, a course of sorts for aspiring web designers and the sorts, where Rishi thought they were going to get together and Dimple has never heard of him before. Plot ensues. Also, for some reason, this technology course includes a talent show, winning which helps you win the whole thing? Please explain your logic, book.

As said, I had high hopes for this. But alas, India and web design both take a back seat as Dimple complains constantly about: rich people just because they're rich, perfectly well-meaning parents caring about her, a nice guy being nice and wanting to be strong and independent and not in a relationship. She also takes every opportunity to emphasise that she is definitely 'Not Like Every Other Girl'® because she doesn't wear make-up or love shopping for clothes et cetera. Not only that, but her friend Celia, who does enjoy these things, is described as being less of a decent person because of it? (Feminism PSA: It's okay if you like these things or if you don't, as long as you don't put other people down for thinking differently!)

 Meanwhile Rishi is so ridiculously, over-the-top nice that it just made me doubt if he wasn't secretly trying to be annoying. You know? Like, I may have liked him more if he had some actual character flaws beyond just being painfully nice and extremely polite or whatever.

Talk about over-the-top, this book actually reads a lot like fanfiction, in that it has great representation but big parts of the plot are just too nice and too convenient and no way no one actually does that in real life (looking at you, Rishi). And I love good fanfiction. The book also tries to convince you that it's different from other such works, while being exactly, completely like them.... yeah. Also, what is essentially the main conflict (*insofar as this book has one) is resolved around half-way through. What happens after that, you ask? Nothing, really. Nothing.

Essentially gonna give this a 2/5 just because Indian representation and a couple of cute moments, but I can't really recommend this to anyone with a good conscience.

For the Helmet 2017 Reading Challenge I put this in category 33: A book about India. Yeah, I know, I'm reaching again but hey, Indian characters, Indian author... roll with it.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin

'When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.'

Hello!


I was actually in a very, extremely fortunate position where I was able to read A Game of Thrones (the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series) this before watching the most popular TV show ever inspired by it. Because while this book was excellent, it was also very heavy, and I don't think I would've enjoyed it half as much if I had if I knew every death that was going to come before they did. And yes, a lot of people do die. And yes, they shook me pretty much every time. Even if you have watched the TV show, I still recommend the books, though. It's excellent writing.

Another thing I was in an extremely fortunate situation to do was meeting George R.R. Martin in Worldcon 75 in Helsinki this summer. For real! My hands were shaking for like an hour afterwards but I got an autograph and managed to string together like three comprehensible sentences in the process. Success! 

Future family heirloom etc.
 
Anyway, let's get down to business. I'm not actually interested in talking about this book in all that much length as I'm not that knowledgeable about everything, so take this more as my humble ramblings than some sophisticated High Fantasy Expect Analysis.

This book is from the point of view of nine different characters, and concerns three main plots that are intwined: The Wall, The Seven Kindgdoms, and that of the Dothraki. My favourite is probably the latter, but all of them are extremely good.

A lot of the characters in this book are very complex. There were many I disliked originally that later earned points and vice versa, and it helps that you get to see these people through their own eyes as well as someone else's. Actually, everything about this book and the world is very complex, but I don't suppose I need to tell anyone that. What can I actually say about this that hasn't already been said? In a work of a lesser quality it would probably feel crowded, but in this book I would definitely not have taken anyone out or put anyone else in.

This book was also quite dark. After I gave her a vague plot description, my mum (ever the humanitarian) asked me how I could read it, isn't it just too depressing? I'd say that in a work like this, while the balance is definitely on the darker side, it makes up for a lot when you get even a little spark of happiness. And I never felt actually depressed while reading this, because it had enough of those sparks to make it work. That being said, there's a lot of violence, sex and rape. Though I'd like to contest that the sex scenes in this are more tolerable than those in the show, because they're less graphic and often over very quick and not at all the focus of it.

Rape, though? I suppose it's a necessary evil rather than anything. It's never made to seem romantic or sexy, and it's clear that these people are doing awful things. It's hardly ever used as a plot device, which I also had to appreciate (few things are worse, to be honest). But yeah, I know some people don't like that, and I don't blame them. They didn't bother me though.

This book is full of really, really cool scenes and good quotes. Appreciated.

The language of this book is excellent. It's flowing and detailed, and no word seems to be there unnecessarily. Sometimes (oftentimes) I had to go back because I spaced out for just a few seconds but felt like I had missed something important. Sometimes that felt a little tedious, but the book was definitely worth the attention it demanded.

Also, did you want to hear about my favourite characters? No? Well, anyway, I loved Arya and Daenerys the most. And Bran. Can I just comment on how much it tells about the characters how they named their direwolves, by the way? Bran's is called Summer. Let that one sink in. Also, let's just say my favourite scenes had to do with Dany towards the end as well.

All in all, this book was so good and deserves all the love ever, but I do acknowledge that it's not for everyone. It really is a new staple to which I wish to hold any other high fantasy books I read after it, but at the same time I want us to talk about how it's really not always good to say 'this book is totally for fans of Game of Thrones!!' because...  well. You're just doing everyone a disservice there, mate.

For the Helmet 2017 Reading Challenge I put this in category 43: A book you have planned to read for a long time! Kinda obvious again, I assume.

I'll be reading the second part when I get around to it, but it's even longer than this one and I... think I need a moment to let this one settle in.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - J.K. Rowling

'SCORPIUS: The world changes and we change with it. I am better off in this world. But the world is not better. And I don't want that.'

Note the super cute matching bookmark from Hel-Ya!

Hello!

Oh boy. This is a book that's difficult for me to review, because I want to do it right and actually get quite deep into why I didn't like it, not just saying 'oh no it's new and it's not a novel so it sucks'. And am I the right person to talk about this? Probably not, because although I read all the books within the last year and some other stuff, there's so much more on Pottermore and this whole fandom that I'm not really into. The books are the canon to me, really. But I do read books and I wanted to give this one a proper review (outside of the whole Harry Potter curse) so here we are! Of course, I didn't see this in the theatre, in its intended form, so I can only really criticise what I read, not what it actually is.

Also, if you're super picky about your spoilers, maybe skip this one. I'll warn you before the actual spoilers, everything else is just the first 10%... but some people are really careful when it comes to Harry Potter so just in case!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth installation in the Harry Potter series. For real, that's what it says on the back cover. It's not a side adventure or an extra, but the eigth story, according to itself. And really, this is a terrible disservice to the story, isn't it? It's not a full-length novel, but a play, and it's not actually written fully by Rowling herself. I only put her down as the author because that's how it's on the cover, with letters the size of a cat, but it's quite clear she had little to do with this book.  So how could it probably be on the same level as the seven books before it? I think this book would have received much less hate if it was marketed differently, perhaps as a semi-canon what-if fanfiction. As it is, Rowling has stated that this is indeed canon.

Of course, there's also people who are going to say that this 'ruined their headcanon', and I can't really blame them. This book comes nine years after the series originally ended (I'll personally never forget how J.K. Rowling said in an interview that she doesn't want anyone continuing the story after that) with the words 'All is well.' And then it turns out all is not, in fact, well.

Anyway. Harry and Ginny's son Albus gets sorted into Slytherin, surprising everyone. He befriends Scorpius Malfoy and is pretty much shunned by his peers for not being worthy of the Potter name, as he's a Slytherin and not a very great wizard to boot. He decides to do something his father couldn't to prove, mostly to himself, that he too can be good. This is really all I can tell you without heavy spoilers.

Scorpius Malfoy is the best thing about this book. He almost made this worth the read just because of how great he was as a character. Albus was okay too, but he just acted so annoyingly most of the time, it was a bit difficult. The older generation, however, get little to nothing to do in this book, as do the other kids, Rose, James and Lily. I feel like they could have as well been cut out and I wouldn't have even noticed.

One of my least favourite things with this book was the fact that oftentimes, it made me feel uncomfortable. For real, sometimes the humour (I assume these scenes were meant to be funny?) made me vince, and I don't appreciate that in my books. Particularly when * (scroll down or CTRL+ F to find this under the spoilers). Seriously though, Harry Potter books have sometimes had the awkward joke or two, but this thing had far too many.

Before the spoilers, I'll let you know I gave this a 3/5. That's on the scale of normal works, of course - as a Harry Potter book I'd give this 1/5.

To the Spoiler-mobile! (???)

The worst thing this book does is getting the Time-Turners back. Oh yes, those are back. These are the Harry Potter way of time travel, in a universe where they honestly never really found their place. I hope you'll agree when I say that time travel is kind of monumental, and therefore it's really strange if the only 'normal' use for it in a series is so that one of the main trio could make all of her lectures. Of course, there's also the question of 'why didn't they save character X if they had a Time-Turner?' Because of this, all of them were destroyed in The Order of the Phoenix. Of course, in this book they find one that wasn't destroyed (surprise), only to find in the book's climax that there's one more, and this one is, like, golden and not riddled with any problems of the first one. Deus ex machina to the finest.

The plot with the Time-Turners is that Albus overhears Cedric Diggory's father asking Harry to go back and revive him and decides 'hey I'll go save that random guy because why not!' and so him, Scorpius and Delphi (gonna get back to her) travel through these multiverses trying to save him with the Time-Turner.

And really, you can't expect people to be happy when a badly written play comes along nine years after the much-loved story got its conclusion and goes back and changes things. People have had nine  years to imagine whatever they wanted to follow, because there wasn't meant to be any more. Rowling must have been paid a ludicrous amout of gallions to go through with this.

This book also portrays Harry as a bad father, which didn't really resonate with many people. He's absent in Albus' life and when he is there, he cannot really connect with him. This seemed strange to me, because the book portrays it as Albus having a complex by not being Harry Potter, but anyone who's read these books knows that Harry's life wasn't always all that rosy. So why don't they ever even attempt to have this conversation? It's just odd. Also, having grown up without a father but with many great father figures in his life, it's odd that Harry can't figure out a way to be that for Albus, who's actually a lot more like Harry than his other two kids, James and Lily. He even mentions that he didn't have a father figure himself. What do you mean, what about half of the male adult characters in the books...???

Also, the villain was, to me, incredibly lame. For real, I could have told you before this book came out that it will be alright so long as it doesn't try to imitate Voldemort as a villain. Of course, he was the most menacing villain in the series because he had seven book's worth of development. But he was killed, for real, he's done now. And what does this book do? Well, Delphi, who's Albus and Scorpius's accomplice in getting Cedric Diggory back, turns out to be Voldemort and Bellatrix's daughter [Voldemort's daughter are you kidding me] with a plan to revive Voldemort. Yeah, like I said, lame. It's clear that the new villain they should have given this wouldn't have been as interesting as Voldemort, but it still would have been better than this half-baked rehash. Delpi's motivation is also a quite flimsy and quickly developed 'I wanted to see my father' -complex.

Oh, and this is a minor thing, but the Trolley Witch, like, climbs on the roof of the Hogwarts Express and tries to prevent Albus and Scorpius leaving and apparently her pumpkin pastries are grenades and her hands transform into spikes and stuff... This bit was played for comedic effect, I think (?), but it didn't really work for me.

Overall, this book did pretty much all of the things I didn't want it to do. The only way it could've been worse if it rehashed the 'Voldemort trying kill Harry as a baby' -scene too.... Oh, wait, it did! Altogether, this book doesn't create or add much into the whole Harry Potter universe, and it was very lackluster. I really do hope there won't be any more after this.

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I put this in category 39: A book about aging. It's a bit of a reach maybe, but this book is about the new generation and we also see Albus grow a lot as he ages, so... that's what I'm going with.

* Particularly when Albus was Polyjuice Potion'ed into Ron and kissed Hermione (his aunt) 'firmly' and said that he wants to make another baby. Ew? Who thought I would want to read something like that? Let alone see it play on the stage?

Friday, 1 September 2017

Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding

'9st 2, alcohol units 0 (v.g. Have discovered delicious new alcohol substitute drink called Smoothies - v. nice, fruity), cigarettes 0 (Smoothies removes need for cigarettes), Smoothies 22, calories 4265 (4135 of them Smoothies)'



Hello!

Bridget Jones's Diary is a novel by Helen Fielding that is, in essence, one of the chick lit books that defined what chick lit is. It came out in 1996 (a lifetime ago) and was probably a very new and fresh work at the time. Unfortunately, I think it's safe to say that time has not treated it well.

Bridget Jones is a 30-something single trying to find love in London, struggling with her weight, alcohol consumption and smoking. The book comprises of her diary notes over a year, starting with her New Year's promises. She's determined to make a change in her life this year, like all of us.

The book is often fun, but perhaps even more often it felt kind of uncomfortable. Whether it was men stepping over Bridget like she was thin air or her complaining about her weight while consuming 10 units of alcohol every day, the book was often giving me a sense of 'I'm not sure if I'm actually rooting for this'.

Bridget's mum was also an actually horrible human being, yet the book never states that she'll get what's coming for her. The acknowledgement in the book even says 'to my mum, for not being like Bridget's', so clearly the author realises this. And yet the story itself doesn't. Bridget's mum doesn't care for anyone but herself and yet expects everyone to love her. Ew.

Bridget herself doesn't get a super amount of character development, but I suppose, being a very comical book, it's not really aiming for that either. And she does, well, get a little bit better about her weight and stuff, I suppose...

The weight thing is crazy and honestly kind of repulsive. Bridget's weight teeters on both sides of 9 stone (that's 57 kilograms for those of us who don't understand this), which is really not much. She's definitely not fat. And I still understand Bridget wanting to lose weight, since most people do, but even those around her keep commenting on how fat she is. Fat, at 57 kilograms? This is absolutely not a healthy message to give to anyone, especially not the people who might relate to Bridget but weigh 10, 20 kilograms more than her. I know the beauty standards are not healthy for men either, but it's dangerous how we constantly tell women they can only be beautiful when they are starving, their ribs showing (all the while still retaining D-cup breasts).

On the other hand, it must be said for this book that it kept me reading, like chick lit at its best should. I never considered stopping it just because it was somehow so catchy. Maybe I also kept hoping the end would be so good I'd forgive the rest. It wasn't; the end was very rushed and when all the things I had wanted to happen happened within three pages and then the book ended, it just wasn't the emotional payoff I had been expecting from this.

Mark Darcy was one of the only things I actually, honestly and wholeheartedly liked about this book. He was precious the whole way through, awkward but charming. Also, I suppose I must mention that I enjoyed how English this book was. It makes me feel at home, every time. But yeah, this was a 3/5, wouldn't read again and probably won't read the next ones. Watch the movies instead. This time, I think they're actually superior.

Also, I couldn't place this in the Helmet 2017 reading challenge? What's going on? Have I actually... started to reach the end...?