Archive | August 2016

The Fever – Megan Abbott

“Chloë, why haven’t you done a book review in FOREVER??”

Well readers, the fact is I’ve been super busy (even though it doesn’t feel like it because I am still uNEmployED) and kept reading and not reviewing. But I am here and I am ready to review.

The Fever by Megan Abbott was the very last book I read on holiday (which was 2 months ago now, bad Chloë bad Chloë) but since I hadn’t finished it by the time I got home, I didn’t include it in my holiday reads. It is now completed and ready to be reviewed.

And my Amazon account just reminded me that I bought it on the 30th of November last year. LAST YEAR. But at least I read it, right?

Deenie, Gabby and Lise are best friends – a tight girl-unit negotiating their way through the troubled waters of their teens, a world of sex, secrets and intense relationships.

When first Lise then Gabby falls prey to a mysterious illness, hysteria sweeps their school and, as more girls succumb, Deenie finds herself an outsider, baffled by the terrifying illness and scared that it could all be because of something she has done.

Suffering with Deenie are her dad and her brother, both protective of Deenie, but each with secrets of their own . . .

This was a really interesting read for me. It was quite unlike anything I’ve ever read before, but definitely had elements of The Crucible by Arthur Miller which is one of my favourite plays.

I love the idea of the mass hysteria sweeping a school and girls becoming more and more agitated by the idea of this unknown disease, all the while with parents pointing fingers and become accusatory.

For me, I actually found Deenie (the protagonist) the least interesting character; whilst I was so intrigued to know what was causing the illness, I found the parents and the other girls far more developed and interesting characters, particularly Gabby and Deenie’s brother, Eli.

The many different theories for the cause of the illness are the centre of the novel, from the mysterious dirty lake that has plagued the town for years, to the HPV vaccine administered to the girls. All these proposed theories highlight the hysterical nature of word-of-mouth, rumour, and parental anxiety. As the characters latch onto the various theories, Abbott reveals a commentary not about illness and disease, but about reaction and fear.

Ultimately, though the premise was very strong, I felt that the conclusion of the story was a little disappointing and by the time I had finished the book, I didn’t really care that much about what happened.

I think Abbott really could’ve ramped it up further, like in The Crucible and had the accusations be more dramatic, isolating and incriminating, which would have amplified the theme of female sexuality and the way in which it stigmatises young girls, which if I’m not mistaken, was a key concept of her novel.

It was interesting how Abbott made it relevant for the 21st century, including technology to transmit the drama, but again, this could’ve been emphasised even further.

I do believe Abbott is a strong writer and I am intrigued to read her other works, but for me, this novel didn’t live up to the excitement the blurb stirred in me.

 

 

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Rapid Fire Book Tag

I nabbed this from SnowlyRamble’s page because I love a good book tag and if I’m reading one, I can’t help but answer them in my head, so here goes! Thanks to Leanne for sharing and credits go to A Girl Reading’s YouTube.

 

 

E-Book or Physical Book?
Physical Book. E-Book. Both. I don’t know. I LOVE reading on trains and planes so e-books are easier for me to have a whole library in my bad. But I love the covers on physical books and the way the pages feel and the smell. So both.

Paperback or Hardback?
Paperback. Hardbacks are so heavy and annoying to carry.

Online or In-Store Book Shopping?
In-store. I buy online if I know what I want to read, but browsing is so much better in-store. I get all these kind of endorphins from walking around and looking at books I like.

Trilogies or Series?
I like both – at least with a trilogy it has a defined end and you don’t feel too burdened by book after book after book. But then, Harry Potter.

Heroes or Villains?

I like heroes or anti-heroes. I like underdogs.

A book you want everyone to read?

Asking For It by Louise O’Neill. You seriously need to read this book if you haven’t. Like where have you been??

Recommend an underrated book?

I think I read a lot of mainstream books, so I might not be the best person to suggest these. But oh! One of my favourite books from the last year, which I do not understand why it hasn’t got more praise is The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle.

The last book you finished?
November 9 by Colleen Hoover. Swallowed that up like a hoover. (Pun intended)

The Last Book You Bought?
Hmm, toughie. My mum and I share a household account on Kindle so she’s bought the last few I’ve been reading and the book I’m currently reading was a freebie. So that would make the last books I bought the ones for my holiday and I cannot remember which was the last one. So all of these and these.

Weirdest Thing You’ve Used as a Bookmark?

I am a terrible person, I’m a corner-turner-downer. Hate me now, I’m a monster. But I think I’ve used a receipt before as a bookmark.

Used Books: Yes or No?
Yeah sure! I got used books all the time for studying and they’re usually cheaper. But tbh, I tend to buy new books just because of Kindle.

Top Three Favourite Genres?
YA contemporary, Psychological Thrillers/Domestic Noir (though I count those as separate, but whatever), and Dystopian YA.

Borrow or Buy?
Buy. I lent my Malory Towers books to someone in Year 4 (aged 8) and got them back all tattered. NEVER AGAIN.  And ditto wouldn’t want to borrow someone else’s because I’m selfish and want my own.

Characters or Plot?
I think a story needs plot but I have read so many good books where the plot is more a series of events that exposes the characters’ personalities and emotions i.e. The Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye. 

Long or Short Books?

I tend to read more short books because I like to swallow them all in one go. And there’s nothing worse than reading a long book that just drags. Having said that, there’s also nothing better than reading a long epic book like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. 

Long or Short Chapters?

Shortish I think is better. It breaks up the book more easily and is easier to stop and start a book if you’re travelling or busy.

Name The First Three Books You Think Of…

 

Tender is the Night – Fitzgerald (because I’ve been thinking of it all day)

Into the Darkest Corner – Elizabeth Haynes (because my Kindle is open next to me and it was the book I read before November 9)

One Day – David Nicholls (because One Day and November 9 have a similar premise, even though Fallon strictly says in November 9 that their story is different)

Books That Make You Laugh or Cry?

I’ve only ever cried at one book (Me Before You) so books that make me smile. I love reading a good romance and having a goofy grin on my face.

Our World or Fictional Worlds?

Both! I love YA Contemporary, but I also love new worlds or Dystopian futures. I also think the Wizarding World parallel to our world is the best thing ever.

Audiobooks: Yes or No?

Yes! Love them. Only a recent convert and there has to be a good narrator. I find it quite off-putting when there’s an American narrator because I read in an English accent in my head. But I prefer audiobooks of something I’ve already read.

I find audiobooks really soothing because they remind me of being read to as a child. My love-affair with audiobooks began about 5 years ago, when I was really sick and all I wanted was someone to read to me. Since then I’ve listened to Harry Potter (Stephen Fry obvs.) pretty much every night as I fall asleep.

Do You Ever Judge a Book by its Cover?
Yes. Some covers are really cringy. I love David Nicholls covers and David Levithan covers.

Book to Movie or Book to TV Adaptations?

Tbh I haven’t seen many Book to TV adaptations, only really Shadowhunters, and I’m liking that so far. I guess movie, if it’s done properly. Adaptors need to take tips from whoever did The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns because those were two perfect adaptations I think. Also Me Before You was stunning.

A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?

I started reading The Mortal Instrument series after I saw the film and the TV show, but so far I’m preferring the TV show. I find the narration really irritating in the books, and I prefer the character development in the TV Show. The relationships seem more genuine and I love the Clary/Izzy relationship that seems to be missing in the books.

Series or Standalones?

Oh gosh I don’t know. They both have their merits. But a series can be annoying if you’re stuck in it and want to read something else. I think I prefer author collections. Like all of John Green’s books are standalones, but they live in the John Green Collection. I like that.


So that’s my tag! Do join in and tag me if you do, I want to see all your answers!!

Musing Mondays – Monday 8th August

 

 

Wooee, welcome to August! Here’s another Musing Monday, courtesy of Books and a Beat.

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Name a book that you hope to re-read some day.

 

I’m currently reading Foxlowe by Eleanor Wasserberg, which I was lucky enough to receive at an interview last week. Though I didn’t get the internship, I think it was so generous of HC to give me a couple of books just for coming to interview with them.

We were the Family, and Foxlowe was our home.

There was me – my name is Green – and my little sister, Blue. There was October, who we called Toby, and Ellensia, Dylan, Liberty, Pet and Egg. There was Richard, of course, who was one of the Founders. And there was Freya.

We were the Family, but we weren’t just an ordinary family. We were a new, better kind of family.

We didn’t need to go to school, because we had a new, better kind of education. We shared everything. We were close to the ancient way of living and the ancient landscape. We knew the moors, and the standing stones. We celebrated the solstice in the correct way, with honey and fruit and garlands of fresh flowers. We knew the Bad and we knew how to keep it away.

And we had Foxlowe, our home. Where we were free.

There really was no reason for anyone to want to leave.

Make sure to check back in in a couple of weeks and see if I’ve reviewed it. Though no immediate promises as I still have three other books I haven’t reviewed yet. It may end up that they come in another Mini Reads.

Also, slightly cheating but I had to put in a plug for my previous blog post, so this past week I blogged about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Check out my review here and please note, it’s NOT spoiler free.

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Name a book that you hope to re-read some day.

I am a huge fan of re-reading. In fact for great article on re-reading, have a look at this NPR article on ‘The Transformative Joy of Re-Reading.’

So because I re-read so much, I don’t really hope to re-read too many because they’re always there. I think for me books I hope to re-read are the classics where I feel like you don’t get the most out of them the first time.

I never quite got around to finishing Tender is the Night (Fitzgerald), but I’d like to re-read it/finish reading it. I also think Catcher in the Rye deserves a second reading, because it’s still sticking with me almost a year after I read it and I’m sure I can even more from it a second time.

 


And that closes up Musing Mondays for this week! Check out all the other responses on Books and a Beat’s page!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – The Review #KeepTheSecrets

THIS IS NOT SPOILER FREE. I REPEAT, NOT SPOILER FREE. IF YOU HAVEN’T READ CURSED CHILD, TURN BACK NOW. (and then come back later)

I’m in a difficult place with this review. There are so many wonderful things about Cursed Child and a few not so wonderful things, and above all, I really think it needs to be seen on stage to truly appreciate it and I currently have no idea where I will be next week, never mind next year, when the current tickets are selling for. (You can buy them here if you are interested).

I’m going to try and break it down, and bear in mind that this is my childhood and it’s Jo’s world, we just get to read it.

The General Complaints 

  1. It’s too difficult to read as a script 

Just no. It’s not. You knew it was a script when you pre-ordered it. It says on the cover ‘Special Edition Rehearsal Script’. You knew it was a play in the West End, so what on earth would make you think it’s a novel??

It’s not too hard to read and you can quite easily forget that it’s a script, and if it helps (which I certainly think it does when reading a play) read it aloud.

2. It’s not what I was expecting 

No, and it wasn’t what I was expecting either. But cast your mind back to getting Deathly Hallows in 2007 and your expectations for that. Did any of us expect Hedwig to die? Or Dobby? Or FRED?? Did we expect Snape to be the good guy all along? Did we expect half the things that Jo wrote?

No. But you just have to trust in Jo’s ideas. After all, in 2007 she was the only one who knew what happened 19 years later. We’re just beyond lucky that she chose to share it with us.

3. It reads too much like Fanfiction 

Okay, this I agree with in part. It does feel like its something that ‘iluvRonmione96’ might have conjured up to satisfy their cravings for more of HP. But maybe that’s because reading it in script form doesn’t allow it to fully shine through the way a performance would. I really and truly think that the real magic lies in the spectacle.

Which leads me nicely to…

My Complaints 

  1. Who the hell is Delphi Diggory?? 

Okay, I know that the story needed a BIG BAD so we could have a BIG BATTLE and a BIG ENDING. But Delphi Diggory/Love-child of Voldemort and Bellatrix feels just a little bit ridiculous. When it was revealed that she was Voldemort’s child and there was another prophecy, I just felt a little bit like ‘rly????’.

I trust in Jo completely, and I support this. And I especially support the finding of the Time-Turner and going back in Time, because it’s a really nice way to pay homage to the original series. And we all know that story can work because we’ve seen AVPS.

But there are other ways she could’ve brought it full-circle, by ending it at Godric’s Hollow in 1981. Of course, she couldn’t totally rip off AVPS because that’s plagiarism and very very wrong. But I would’ve liked to see another Death Eater, maybe Rowle or Nott, trying to influence Scorpius, and going back to 1981 to Kill Harry (gasps).

That would’ve made more sense to me, and no need for Delphi Diggory, the most un-Mary Sue Mary Sue. (Does anyone know what the name is of a completely negative Mary Sue, whose purpose is to be the bad guy?)

2. Where are all the other children? Where are all the other characters? 

Seriously, this play needed more Rose. She’s barely in it! Hugo Granger-Weasley doesn’t even seem to exist. And where o where is Teddy Lupin? He could’ve sorted all this trouble out.

If this is a play about the Next Gen, we could’ve seen more of James Potter Jr., Rose Granger-Weasley and Lily Potter Jr.

And we could’ve seen Sirius in the past. And we could’ve seen Professor Longbottom. SERIOUSLY.

Let’s continue shall we?

Things I liked that other people probably didn’t 

1. Emphasis on Ronmione 

This lovely little script proves that Ronmione just make sense. So all you Harry/Hermione shippers, just get over yourselves. They didn’t have an affair in the future, it is and always will be Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny.

2. Albus is in Slytherin! 

Yep. Loved it. For a moment you think ‘But that doesn’t make sense, generations of Weasleys have been in Gryffindor and Harry Potter is the greatest Gryffindor since Dumbledore, how can his and Ginny’s son be a Slytherin?’

Well. Look at Sirius Black. Defied his parentage didn’t he?

And here is the ultimate, definitive proof that not all Gryffindors are good and not all Slytherins are bad. The lines of House Sorting aren’t always clear. Gryffindors can be smart and ambitious as well as brave. And Slytherins can be brave and loyal as well as cunning. Pettigrew and Snape are our Original Canon examples and Albus and Scorpius are our New Gen examples.

Jo has always been adamant that good and bad aren’t as clear as people think: Dumbledore did some awful things in his time and Draco was not always terrible.

Albus being in Slytherin keeps this narrative alive and proves that being Harry and Ginny’s son doesn’t mean he isn’t his own person.

3. Ron as Comic Relief 

Anyone who thinks that just because Ron went through all the struggles of his teenager-dom means he must have changed by middle-age is just wrong. These characters might be 20 years older but they are still inherently themselves. Ron is still loyal and humorous just as Hermione is brilliant and strong-willed and Harry is the hero. Plus, now Ron’s a Dad so he’s bound to be even funnier and in an even more embarrassing way. Ron Granger-Weasley is peak Dad Jokes.

yay dad jokes

Other things I liked 

1. Albus/Scorpius relationship 

Anyone who didn’t love this (Scorbus? Is that what we’re calling it? I approve) is just being ridiculous. It’s Harry/Ron all over again except with less jealousy and more homoeroticism. I’ve always said that the most important relationships in Harry Potter are the friendships, and Jo continues this in Cursed Child. Yes, I see the homosexual undertones as well as you do. But to be fair, the boys are 14 and might not be comfortable expressing their love for each other yet.

Let it flow, what will be will be. And all those people that were crying for Rose/Scorpius at the end of Deathly Hallows (you know who you are, I’ve seen the fanfics), got a little bit of what they were hoping for. Though I’m sure a solid 80% have jumped ship to the Good Ship Scorbus now.

2. Scorpius himself 

Scorpius is such a loser. I LOVE IT. Malfoy thought he was all that and a bag of chips, but his son is a total loser. Which proves that people are made not born. In a world where being a Malfoy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, Scorpius ended up at the bottom of the food chain. But he still managed to be a hero.

Scorpius is the Neville of Cursed Child. And we all know how great Nevilles are.

3. The characters are not perfect 

Because Jo’s characters never are. Those people who are complaining that (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT, LOOK AWAY NOW, IN FACT WHY ARE YOU STILL READING???) Harry told Albus that he wished Albus wasn’t his son are forgetting that Harry is one of the most imperfect characters in literature. He often gets in rages and says things he doesn’t mean. He is an angry and impulsive character. Remember all those times he screamed at Ron and Hermione? His best friends? His only family? That horrible way he spoke to Lupin, when he said he’d be ashamed of him if he were Lupin’s son.

This actually makes sense for Harry, especially because he allows himself to get wound up so easily. This is the boy that was so wound up by Malfoy that he went off on a midnight mission round Hogwarts aged 11 and nearly got eaten by Fluffy.

Of course his own son is going to push his buttons. But part of Harry Potter is about owning your mistakes and correcting them. Which he does. Parent/child relationships aren’t always easy and they are rarely perfect. And in a Next-Gen story which is about this kind of relationship, Jo deals with it ideally.

Also, Rose is a little bitch at times and really needs to sort her act out. But again, not perfect. Lord knows Hermione could be a bitch at times, especially to the ones she loved. Poor Ron never got over the bird attack.

4. Its themes and heart are true to the Harry Potter narrative 

At its core Cursed Child deals with what it means to be a hero. Or the son-of-a-hero. Or the son-of-an-evil-little-shit.  Throughout Harry Potter Harry dealt with the pressure of being James and Lily’s son, the Chosen One. Here, Albus deals with the pressure of being Harry’s son.

The lines of good and evil are blurred, just like in Harry Potter and always, always, in HP love was the heart of the narrative. And Cursed Child maintains these themes and ideas until the end.

Also this bit:

Harry Potter in a nutshell.

Even post-Voldemort (2020 PV) Harry still has the burden of being the Chosen One, and in one single line Jo encapsulates what it means to be Harry Potter.

Reading it I was like:


So who is the Cursed Child? 

I know sources say that the Cursed Child is Albus, but I think arguments can be made that the Cursed Child could be Harry, Albus, or Scorpius.

All three were burdened with names and expectations that they felt they couldn’t live up to. They never asked to be a Potter or a Malfoy or the Chosen One.

You could even say that Delphi was the Cursed Child.

Maybe Jo herself is the Cursed one, because she’ll never satisfy everyone.

Jo, John, and Jack’s story isn’t by any means perfect, but that doesn’t stop it from being nostalgic, complex, and iconic.

I, for one, am just grateful that Jo gifted us with the Eight Story and a play that will hopefully run for many years on the West End, a play which is ‘easily the most wizard piece of theatre to hit the West End in years’.

I think it needs to be seen to be believed.

So I just need to get my hands on some tickets.

Oh, and I totally cried at the end. It was just beautifully heartfelt and emotional at the end. I’m positive there will be buckets in the theatre.

And remember: #KeepTheSecrets