Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

7 Sep 2016

by J.K Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

Released: July 31st 2016 

One of the biggest disappointments in my life this year is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I cannot express just how much it hurt when I read the first few pages and immediately, my excitement, enthusiasm and eagerness to devour the book shattered.

 Cursed child was horrible.

 Absolutely, heart-shatteringly horrible.

There was no substance to the characters - I don't give a rat's ass about Albus. When I think of Albus I think of a perpetually depressed and pessimistic kid with zero personality. All he did was hate his dad, hate Hogwarts and hate the world. What else was there? The Harry Potter books were my salvation and my key to an alternate life when reality became too stressful for me to handle, or when I momentarily lost faith in myself. Harry Potter pulled me out of that state of self-doubt and taught me that no matter how much shit I go through, there would always be light at the end of the tunnel. I mean, if Harry can find happiness in a world previously ruled by dark wizards, the most powerful of which murdered his parents, or continue to walk with his head held high even when he became the most despised/talked about/unpopular/ person in the wizarding world, then I can survive.

But this book? A waste of my time and money.

Harry, Hermione and Ron were also cardboard characters. None of them were consistent with how they were portrayed in the last book. Scorpius was probably the only character with personality but even he couldn’t save the story.

I’ve been trying to wipe all traces of the Cursed Child from my memory; as far as I’m concerned, there is no 8th book and the series ended with the Deathly Hallows.

4 Reasons why you should read The Grown Up

30 May 2016

Gillian Flynn’s books are by far, the most unpredictable, dark, fucked up and psychologically and emotionally draining thrillers I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Yes, I love them to bits. They always make me question my morals, empathise with the villains to the point that when I pointed out Amy’s reasons for orchestrating her own kidnapping in Gone Girl was….understandable on some level, my mate gave me a “you’re fucked in the head” look. So yes, Gillian Flynn’s books are an automatic must buy for me and that’s exactly what I did when I discovered ‘The Grown-Up’ was released.

The Grown Up

by Gillian Flynn
Released November 5th 2015
 Find Gillian Flynn on:
Website FacebookGoodreads
As this was a very short novella, instead of writing a review, I’ll simply give you 4 reasons why you should pick up this book.
  1. It’s written by Gillian Flynn. 
If you liked any of Flynn’s previous full-length novels, then you must pick this one up. It fucks with your head that same way Flynn’s other books did.
  1. It’s a short – around 80 pages – and speedy read!
Worried that you won’t finish your Goodreads Challenge before the end of the year? Getting tired of reading a 350 page novel that was sent for review? Well, definitely give this a go! Not only will this count as 1 book on your Goodreads Challenge, but you also won’t get sick of reading it because you’ll be done in literally 20 minutes.
  1. Nothing is as it seems.
As with the other books, nothing is as it seems until the last 25%. Remember; don’t believe everything you’re told!
  1. You’ll think about the storyline and ending long after you finish reading the last sentence. 
There are books I rate 5 stars but I’ll never think about again. There are also books e.g. Gone Girl, Harry Potter, The Pact, ACOTAR that I will re-read once every few months because they’re just so damn good. The Grown-Up is one of those books where I’m still wondering what the hell happened at the end and if Flynn will release an official statement to clarify the ending.
I don’t know about you, but I’m eagerly anticipating Flynn’s next full-length novel. I’m 100% positive it won’t disappoint :D

Discussion Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

29 May 2016

Almost 2 years ago, in the midst of exams, as per usual I decided to procrastinate by catching up on my overdue reviews. I had previously asked my mate Lana if she wanted to participate in a “discussion review” with me since we both share the same appreciation and love for books but often our tastes differ. One particular example of this is our opinion on The Fault in Our Stars. I read the book and didn’t like it. Lana read the book and loved it. We watched the movie together; once again she loved it and I hated it. So what is it about The Fault In our Stars that just didn’t resonate with me? And what is it about the book that Lana felt a strong connection to? Well, read on to find out!
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When I first watched the trailer, I felt goosebumps all along my arms- usually an indicator that something is worth watching/listening/reading. I thought maybe the movie adaption would be vastly better than the books, so with my expectations set incredibly high, I watched the advance screening of The Fault in Our Stars on the 23rd May 2014 with a few close friends.
Pretty much the entire cinema bawled their eyes out from the halfway mark, and I, being the black sheep, simply just sat there emotionlessly. I remember thinking “Is there something wrong with me? Their acting’s terrific, the music, dialogue, sequence of events are all perfect, BUT WHY DO I FEEL NOTHING?” I have since officially come to the conclusion that there is probably something wrong with me. Ah well, at least I’ve cried previously in other movies/books. That counts for something right?
Without further ado, here is our discussion review of The Fault In Our Stars.
Shirley: Okay Lana. I know I’ve asked you this a BILLION times, but why do you love The Fault in Our Stars so much? I’m pretty sure you’ve read countless cancer-related books in the past, but why is this particular one the most memorable/the one you talk about the most?
Lana: Well, I know whenever I ask friends about why they loved TFIOS so much, they’d usually just respond with a well-known quote from the book or just tell me how much it made them cry. But it was never about memorable quotes or how the book made me tear up. I’m pretty sure one of the reasons why I loved the book so much had to do with the quote which the title was based off; a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar where Cassius tells Brutus, “the fault… is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings”.  *Shirley: WTF. YOU STILL REMEMBER JULIUS CAESAR FROM YEAR 12? Woman…what are you doing with your life….What some of us fail to realise (or are too stubborn to admit) is that we have faults. We have weaknesses. For me, this book was more about the human condition and the realisation that even the seemingly best of them fall. To me, this was portrayed perfectly in the characterisations of Augustus Waters and also Peter van Houten (<< was that how you spelt that dude’s name? lol). I guess basically why I loved this book so much was because it made me realise we are all flawed in some way. We are all perfectly flawed. And that’s perfectly fine, and we should learn to accept those flaws.
Shirley: Wow...that was very....deep...and...philosophical.

 Do I get to ask you a question now like… what faults did you find in TFIOS?? (Get it? Ahaha…)
Shirley: Yeah…no.. Lana. NOT funny.For me, reading is a leisure; it’s what I do because I LIKE it. Nowadays I read mainly to procrastinate, de-stress and to escape reality i.e exams. This means that I want a book that I can read easily, without having to constantly go “Oh hey, I did not understand a single sentence —
Lana: Whut
Shirley: -- that was written because the vocabulary was too sophisticated” –
Lana: TOO SOPHISTICATED?! But you came top 10 for English in high school D: Too sophisticated….
Shirley: Woman….that’s called bullsh*ting my essays!
ANYWAY, teenagers don’t talk that way and I know because I was one when I read the book. If I’m going to camp next to a freaking dictionary every time I read something for pure entertainment, then I might as well go read a philosophy textbook. Even law textbooks are easier to understand than this particular one.
Now here’s the domino effect. If I can’t understand what the heck is going on, if I’m constantly either looking up words in the dictionary or re-reading each paragraph to confirm the meaning, then I’m not going to be invested in neither the storyline nor the characters. If I don’t feel a connection with the characters, I can’t understand the book the way Lana does. Whatever impact it’s meant to have on readers, it stopped short with me.
So basically when it was time for me to cry, my brain was still processing what led to whenever was happening in the present time. I just couldn’t feel it, ya know?
Lana: But I have to agree with you about the way these kids spoke (aha, look at me calling them kids… I’m getting so old Shirley… L don’t put this in lol), and this was the main (and only) disappointment I found. Hazel and Augustus are meant to be like what, 16/17/18? I know literally no one who talks like that in real life, and I hang around some pretty smart people.
So since you didn’t like the book, how’d you find the movie? Did you have the same thoughts regarding the movie as you did when you were reading the book? J
Shirley: Honestly, I found the movie MUCH better. I could actually understand what was going on! Shailene was brilliant yet again, and I was so glad I didn’t find the on-screen Hazel annoying. (Did I mention how I every time book-Hazel said something, I would roll my eyes because everything that came out of her mouth was either overly dramatic or just plain annoying to me?) Oh and Augustus was rather charming. I never liked book-Augustus, but hey, I may have fallen for onscreen-Augustus :P
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What about you? I’m guessing you LOVED it based on your fangirling moments during the movie, and how you were crying throughout the last quarter.
Lana: Haha, hey it was a very tear-jerking last quarter!
Shirley: Yeah….I noticed when the chick sitting one seat away from me was crying ridiculously loud… (Sorry to whoever was sitting there! Ahhaa)
Lana:I loved the acting in the movie, especially the portrayal of Peter Van Houten (spelling??) by Willem Dafoe. I thought Shailene and Ansel’s performances were excellent considering the nature of their characters, and I felt that the point in the movie from when they (SPOILERS) visited the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam until the end was just amazing. So much emotion was encapsulated into each scene and you weren’t just watching the movie and comprehending their emotions (that yes, the characters are sad, or yes, the characters are in love), you were actually feeling their emotions within yourself as well. Performances like that are such rare things; for an actor to be able to elicit such a strong response from the audience.
Shirley: Interesting…I did enjoy Willem Dafoe’s performance – I thought he portrayed Peter Van Houten’s dismissive, cynical character extremely well. I thought Shailene and Ansel’s acting were brilliant, but I guess it still wasn’t enough to elicit tears and feelings of heartache from me? I dunno…I’m a walking oxymoron, I loved their acting but I didn't cry. I’ll leave it at that.
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And did you dislike anything from the movie?
Lana: What I probably hated the most about the movie was the soundtrack.
Shirley: O________O
Lana: If anyone knows me, they’d know that as important the acting is to the movie, the soundtrack and music score should be equally as important as the acting, probably even more. Music is supposed to complement what’s on screen. I have to admit, the soundtrack choices weren’t that great. For example, (SPOILERS) when Hazel and Augustus landed in Amsterdam, they played Boom Clap by Charli XCX. Not that there’s anything wrong with the song, but it just seemed weird having a synthpop song playing while they’re in a timeless, beautiful, elegant place such as Amsterdam. I was expecting more of something classical, or even just an instrumental score to go with that scene.
Shirley: Yeah okay, you music prodigy. I wasn’t even paying attention to the music! LOL
Lana: *sigh*Typical Shirley…. Anyways, I know you didn’t particularly love the movie, but did you like it enough to recommend it to everyone?
Shirley: I guess I would? I’ll probably say something along the lines of “If you like a beautifully crafted tearjerker movie, you should give it a go. Hopefully you’ll love it much more than I did.”
But then again, everyone knows about The Fault In Our Stars now! They don’t need me to recommend it – they’ll watch it of their own free will :)
Lana: Haha, true that. Uh Shirley…we’re on 1600 words now. Maybe we should wrap it up?
Shirley: LOL Yeah, we should!
Soooo guys, our question to you is: What did you like/dislike about TFiOS (both book and movie.) Did you cry? Were you left heartbroken? Have you recovered yet? Let us know in the comments!

Review: Come Back to Me by Mila Gray

25 Jun 2014

Come Back to Me
by Mila Gray
Publisher: Pan Macmillan   
Release Date: June 19th, 2014  
Format: e-ARC 

 "Home on leave in sunny California, Marine and local lothario Kit Ryan finds himself dangerously drawn to his best friend's sister, Jessa - the one girl he can't have. 

 But Kit's not about to let a few obstacles stand in his way and soon Jessa's falling for his irresistible charms.

 What starts out as a summer romance of secret hook-ups and magical first times quickly develops into a passionate love affair that turns both their worlds upside down.

 When summer's over and it's time for Kit to redeploy, neither Kit nor Jessa are ready to say goodbye. Jessa's finally following her dreams and Kit's discovered there's someone he'd sacrifice everything for. 

 Jessa's prepared to wait for Kit no matter what. But when something more than distance and time rips them apart they're forced to decide whether what they have is really worth fighting for.

 A breathtaking, scorchingly hot story about love, friendship, family and finding your way back from the edge of heartbreak.

I’ve been a bit iffy about NA books lately, mainly because the majority of new ones are attempted carbon copies of the original titles released during the New Adult fever back in 2012. Once upon a time, I loved books about college students finding love, partying, and ultimately throughout their college life, discover who they truly want to be and what they want to do with their life but nowadays I feel that NA books have lost their purpose. The more recent ones I read went something along the lines of “Girl-meets-guy. Lust. Sex. Talk. Sex again. Drama. Sex again. Break up. Get back together andddd Sex again.” Basically I feel that just because the original ones had a few sex scenes, newer NA books are attempting to replicate this….by adding unnecessary sex scenes to spice up the story.  Obviously there are readers out there who enjoy this kind of plot, but for me? No…just no. 

It’s become increasingly difficult for me to find a decent NA book, and honestly, I’ve stopped searching. Come Back to Me is written by one of my most respected and adored authors of all time, so even though I was still dubious about the new NA titles, I jumped at the chance to read her newly released NA book because I had no doubt she would blow me away. Unfortunately….I was wrong.

Mila Gray (Sarah Alderson) remains one of my favourite authors, and I do love her writing style, but Come Back to Me did not stand out like I expected it to. Only the last quarter had substance and was worth reading, but the other ¾? A waste of my time. It followed the formula that I mentioned above, but in this case the guy and girl have known each other for years. As soon as they kissed for the first time, I suspected the story would spiral downhill from there.

And I was correct. For the first ¾, it was mainly Jessa and Kit making out anywhere and everywhere while hiding from Jessa’s overly protective brother and dad. Yeah…I don’t appreciate having to read 300 + pages of two people making out and/or having sex. There are better things to do in life.

Come Back to Me had the potential to be a fantastic book as Jessa learned to chase after her dreams, but if only the author didn’t make the book centre entirely on the romance! Jessa grew up around a man who was violent, with an uncontrollable temper. Everyday she would walk on eggshells around her father and scurry for shelter at the slightest indication of rage or annoyance on her father’s face.  Her whole life, she’s been submissive and acted the role of a “good daughter”, letting her father dictate her life and never once did she contradict him. However, the only time she can forget about her life, her fears, just everything, is when she’s on stage and acting. Chasing her dream to be an actress could have played a pivotal role in the story, and with Jessa and Kit’s developing romance intertwined, I think I would’ve liked it a lot more. Instead, Jessa’s dream to be an actress wasn’t even important enough to be labeled a “subplot”; it was simply thrown in there a few times, whenever the two weren’t making out.

Having said all that, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t fall for Kit. He was charming, passionate, extremely swoon-worthy – basically my kind of guy. I did like him as a character, but it’s just a shame the book wasn’t my kind of book.

I personally won’t recommend this to anyone who wants to read a decent, well-structured, well-written and well-thought-out NA book but I suppose if you’re simply looking for a book with lots and lots of kissing and sex, then this is for you. I don’t think I’ll be back for more of Mila Gray’s NA books, but I will continue reading Sarah Alderson’s YA titles J
A massive thank you to Mila Gray for providing a copy of Come Back to Me for review! 

Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

16 Jun 2014

by Anne Blankman 
Publisher: Balzer + Bray  
Release Date: April 22nd, 2014  
Format: e-ARC 

 "In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

 Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

 Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews. 

 As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed? 

 From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she's ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

Prisoner of Night and Fog enraptured me from the very first page; we’re introduced to Gretchen a.k.a Gretl, her brother Reinhard and his friend Kurt - both members of the renowned SA troops- as well as Gretl’s friend Eva. (Who we should all know later becomes Hitler’s mistress and wife for less than 24 hours.) We’re exposed to the hatred the Germans feel towards the Jews, evident in the abrupt brawl Kurt and Reinhard initiate after simply seeing an innocent Jew walking on the footpath. We’re also presented with a different side of Hitler; as opposed to the tyrannical dictator responsible for the deaths of over 6 million Jews in WWII, we see a kind, loving and supportive father-like figure that dotes on his niece. But of course Hitler begins to show his true colours as the story progresses.

 The story revolves around Gretl and her quest to uncover the truth behind her father’s death. (Her father was a martyr, who died protecting Hitler during the Beer Hall Putsch – an attempted coup in 1923.) Gretl and a Jew reporter, Daniel have reason to believe that there's a conspiracy behind her father’s death and the story starts from there. Gretl is a character I admired – it’s not easy working together with a Jew and later falling in love with him when every other person of her race is intent on killing his race. She’s a risk-taker, and I loved her for it. Throughout the entire book, I was so worried about the inevitable moment when Hitler and/or her brother discovered her intentions and she was faced with the ramifications of her decisions.

There are books that are thought provoking in the moment and others that continue to haunt you days, months, even years after you’ve put the book down. Prisoner of Night and Fog falls into the latter category. Interestingly, what made it so thought provoking and eternally moving was firstly the hope that perhaps, even during the most desolate, vengeful and hate-filled times, people from two worlds who were taught to hate each other realise that instead of hate, it’s love they feel for one another. I love stories of forbidden love, so even after I finished reading this, the thought that perhaps there were more people who shared Gretl and Daniel’s love for one another existed during WW2 consumed me.

The second thought-provoking aspect of the book, which also forever changed my perspective on the Germany’s most notorious leader, was the portrayal of Hitler. As I’ve learnt in history, there is no “truth” in history – it’s all perspective and stories. (E.g. There are historians who deny the Holocaust ever happened). But for those of us who studied history in school, or did extra-curricular research on him, would most likely consider him inhuman due to what he did/engineered in World War II. I would always be filled with despair every time I read about the number of deaths that occurred, and how they died, but part of me always believed that no matter how wretched and extreme Hitler’s actions were, he truly believed his actions were justified, as he only wanted what was best for his country. However, after reading Prisoner of Night and Fog, I realised that Hitler’s character was much darker and morbid. Psychoanalysts (both in the book and from my personal research that was prompted by the psychoanalysis present in the book) characterised Hitler as “psychotic”, and was neither able to feel love nor be able to relate to others. I always thought that even the most evil of all men(or women) still felt love for his/her family…but as for Hitler? In the book he seemed to pretend to care for those around him, but once they began to question him, his intentions and started breaking through his manipulations, he didn’t give a damn about them.

Basically, ever since reading Prisoner of Night and Fog I became rather fascinated with Hitler’s character and have been reading all these reports/texts on Psychological Analysis of Hitler (basically what Psychology students probably read for their assignments) and honestly, they’re incredibly interesting. This is why I love historical fiction – a good historical fiction will always prompt me to conduct research on the characters after reading about them.

As you can probably tell, I LOVED this book. I would always, without fail, recommend historical fiction to ALL readers of any age and this particular book is no exception. This book isn’t perfect, but for a debut and historical novel, it’s one of the better researched, more evocative and engaging ones. I’m looking forward to more books by this extraordinarily talented author.

A massive thank you to Balzer + Bray for providing a copy of Prisoner of Night and Fog for review! 

I also interviewed Anne Blankman last year. You can read the interview HERE

The Book Blogger Test

11 Jun 2014

This post is looonnnnggg overdue, but I've finally managed to finish answering the questions! I was tagged by the lovely Joy@ Thoughts by J and Jaz @ Fiction in Fiction in Fiction.

You can check out their tags HERE FOR JOYS'S and HERE FOR JAZ'S

1.What are your top three book pet hates?
- An infuriatingly indecisive main character who simultaneously leads on two guys and goes back and forth between them. A character that does that doesn’t deserve either guy. So basically, I can’t stand love triangles.
- Books that haven’t been taken care of e.g. dog-eared, creased and especially when I see someone just shoving a book (even textbooks) in their bags.
- Books with grammatical errors/spelling mistakes (yes a lot of published books have mistakes and it pisses me off. Even an abundance of too-short sentences in a paragraph tends to annoy me.…
2.Describe your perfect reading spot
I read anywhere and everywhere! Dining table, on the living room floor, couch, kitchen counter, bus, train, bed. But I guess my favourite would be in bed where it’s warm and comfortable J   
3. Tell us 3 book confessions
- I’m a huge hypocrite with my book pet hates. I say I hate love triangles (AND I DO!!!!!) but sometimes there are love triangles that I can tolerate/accept. I say I hate books centred entirely on romance (AND I DO!!!) but there are certain books that I like which tends to focus more on the romance than plot. I say I think main characters who can’t decide between two guys shouldn’t end up with either one of them, but more likely than not, I’ll still ship her with one of the guys. So yeahhh….
- Romance books are my guilty pleasure. I imagine myself as the female characters and live happily ever after with the ruggedly handsome, astonishingly caring and loving men who would move mountains to be with the girl they love. (i.e. me hahahaa)
- I read a billion books at once…because for some odd reason, ( especially the past few months) I tend to get bored with a lot of the books I start reading, so I'll begin reading another book…then one day I’ll feel like it’s time to resume/finish offthe first book. At the moment, I’ve started Eleanor & Park, The Statistical Probabiltiy of love at First sight, The Geography of You and Me, Take Me On…
4. When was the last time you cried at a book?
I can’t remember O____O For most books that I “cry” in, it’s more I shed a few tears/become slightly teary but I don’t full on cry or bawl my eyes out. The only book that pops into my head is Adeline Yen Mah’s “Falling Leaves” which I read more than 5 years ago….
5. How many books are on your bedside table?
Currently The Statistical Probability of Me and You, The Geography of You and Me, Take Me On, How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You, Down London Road. (And several magazines haha!)
6. What is your favourite snack whilst your reading?
ICE CREAMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!! And Chocolate. Or just food. hahah!
7. Name 3 books you would recommend to everyone
- Harry Potter (all 7 books), because if you haven’t read Harry Potter, we legit cannot be friends.
- The Pact by Jodie Picoult – My mind still wanders to the ending and everything that lead to the heartbreaking truth in The Pact. I suffered a severe book hangover after reading this.
- Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles– I believe deep down, every girl has a soft spot for the typical good-girl-meets-bad-boy book. It’s been overdone; the plot and characters have been recycled a billion times but I strongly believe every girl should read at least one book with this storyline and characters during their lifetime. 
8. Show us a picture of your favourite bookshelf on your bookcase
Yes, it's messy, but so is every other shelf and space in my room. 

9. Write how much books mean to you in just 3 words
More than ice-cream.
10. What is your biggest reading secret?
Despite having lived in Australia (almost) my entire life….I haven’t read many Aussie books.  I’ve never even touched Melina Marchetta’s books, never read Looking for Alibrandi nor Raw Blue, NOT EVEN THE BOOK THIEF or any of those highly regarded and exceptionally awe-inspiring Aussie books that everyone seems to love L

11. Tag 5 people
I tag:
1. You
2. Book Bloggers
3. Anyone who loves books and is willing to answer the above questions
4. Anyone who wants to do this
5. Anyone who has time to do this :)