Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The House of Kane by Barbara Casey : A Review


BOOK TITLE: The House of Kane

AUTHOR: Barbara Casey

ISBN/ASIN: 978-1595072597 / B0039LMNNY

GENRE: Mystery / Suspense

NUMBER OF PAGES: 224

FORMAT: Digital

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank Laura of iRead Book Tours for this review copy.

SUMMARY:

Aislinn Marchánt, a writer and editorial consultant, is hired by the major New York publishing company, Kane Publishing House, to help determine why several submissions sent to them have mysteriously disappeared only to be published later by another publisher. Are the editors at Kane simply not being diligent enough with the in-coming material, or is there something more sinister going on? Working from her West Palm Beach home, Aislinn quickly becomes involved with the House of Kane as well as with Caldwell Kane, the man who hired her.

As Aislinn works toward uncovering the various layers of truth of her former husband, her elderly neighbor, and Kane Publishing House, she continues to research her own novel, the story of a love between two people that becomes fractured because of the misunderstandings created by two different cultures. Her research takes her to a botanica where a Santerian priest reveals the truth in her own life and a destiny that is joined to that of Caldwell Kane.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

I had already read a work from Barbara Casey, and loved her writing style very much. That, added to the intriguing summary of The House Of Kane, I was only too eager to begin reading. I barely noticed the beautiful cover as I delved into the book, eager to start reading the story which showed much promise.

REVIEW:

Sometimes in life, a single word, letter or phone call has the potential to change one's life completely, unraveling a lot of things and uncovering truths about hitherto hidden lives. Aislinn Marchant receives a call from Kane Publishing House, offering a job in house and something more than that. Her help is required to find the mystery behind how manuscripts that keep missing from the Kane house end up being published by rivals. When she could not deny the request from the charismatic Caldwell Kane, she decides to investigate and ends up uncovering a lot about her ex husband, with whom she shares a good relationship and some more people. Further reasearch leads her to finally find out her true connection with Kane. Aislinn gets more than she is prepared for.

Page after page, the story draws the reader in, casually luring them into the book with the exemplary story telling and amazing twists and turns. Starting from the prologue to the last line, the book is a pleasure to read, with not a single slackening chapter. The language is great and the story is written with a depth that makes it much more memorable than normal books of this genre. The author weaves a story so carefully, with various characters, each having their own level of importance, and all their individual stories woven by different threads into one big picture. The level of thought that has gone behind developing the plot makes this book an interesting read.

The author's experience in the publishing world has clearly reflected on the detailing in the story, something that could be given only by someone who knows their way around the place. Though the content of the story is probably wholly fiction, the theme, setting and scenarios are amazingly scripted, with attention to every little detail. The story itself related with me because I have seen, to some extent, the other side of the publishing industry and I could understand some of the underlying plots and messages form in the story much before they were revealed. Despite having some inside information, most of the things were new to me, and my interest in the story never waned. The romance angle is only a bit of the story, not taking the focus away from the intrigue and mystery of the main plot, but still adding substance to the story. Overall, I take back a lot from this book, both from the story and from the writing.

WHAT I LIKED:

  • The quotes at the beginning of each chapter - a rare collection of gems unto themselves.
  • The insights into the other side of publishing houses was personally helpful to me.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:

  • Certain stories seem tangents and additions that do not further the plot
  • One or two loose ends and abrupt discontinuation of a character line
VERDICT:

Go for this - for the amazing story and to know how one of the largest entertainment industries works.

RATING: 4.5/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Originally from Carrollton, Illinois, author/agent/publisher Barbara Casey attended the University of North Carolina, N.C. State University, and N.C. Wesleyan College where she received a BA degree, summa cum laude, with a double major in English and history. In 1978 she left her position as Director of Public Relations and Vice President of Development at North Carolina Wesleyan College to write full time and develop her own manuscript evaluation and editorial service. In 1995 she established the Barbara Casey Agency and since that time has represented authors from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2014, she became a partner with Strategic Media Books where she is involved in acquisitions and day-to-day operations and oversees book production.

Ms. Casey's two middle-grade/young adult novels, Leilani Zan and Grandma Jock and Christabelle (James C. Winston Publishing Co., Trade Division) were both nominated for awards of excellence by the SCBWI Golden Kite Award, the National Association of University Women Literary Award and the Sir Walter Raleigh Literary Award. Shyla's Initiative (Crossquarter Publishing Group), a contemporary adult novel (occult romance/mystery), received a 2003 Independent Publisher Book Award and also an award of special literary recognition by the Palm Beach County Cultural Council. The Coach's Wife (ArcheBooks Publishing), also a novel for adults (contemporary/mystery), was semi-finalist for the 2005 Dana Award for Outstanding Novel and listed on the Publisher’s Best Seller List. The House of Kane (ArcheBooks Publishing), released in 2007, was considered for a Pulitzer nomination. Another contemporary novel for adults, Just Like Family, was released at Christmas 2009 when it received “Special Recognition from the 7-Eleven Corporation.” The Cadence of Gypsies, a novel written for new adults, was released in 2011 and was reviewed by the Smithsonian Institute for its List of Most Notable Books. Her novel for adults, The Gospel According to Prissy, received a 2013 Independent Publishers Book Award for Best Book in Regional Fiction. In 2016, Ms. Casey’s biography/true crime Kathryn Kelly: The Moll behind Machine Gun Kelly was released as well as The Wish Rider, the sequel to her young adult book The Cadence of Gypsies.

Her award-winning articles, short stories, and poetry for adults have appeared in both national and international publications including the North Carolina Christian Advocate Magazine, The New East Magazine, the Raleigh (N.C.) News and Observer, the Rocky Mount (N.C.) Sunday Telegram, Dog Fancy, ByLine, The Christian Record, Skirt! Magazine, and True Story. A thirty-minute television special which Ms. Casey wrote and coordinated was broadcast on WRAL, Channel 5, in Raleigh, North Carolina. She also received special recognition for her editorial work on the English translations of Albanian children’s stories.

Ms. Casey's award-winning science fiction short stories for adults are featured in The Cosmic Unicorn and CrossTime science fiction anthologies. Ms. Casey's essays and other works appear in The Chrysalis Reader, the international literary journal of the Swedenborg Foundation, 221 One-Minute Monologues from Literature (Smith and Kraus Publishers), and A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation).

Ms. Casey is a former director of BookFest of the Palm Beaches, Florida, where she served as guest author and panelist. She has served as judge for the Pathfinder Literary Awards in Palm Beach and Martin Counties, Florida, and was the Florida Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators from 1991 through 2003. She is a frequent guest lecturer at universities and writers’ conferences around the country including the SCBWI Regional Conference, the Harriett Austin Writers Conference in Athens, SIBA (Southeastern Independent Book Sellers Association), Florida Writers Association, and the University of Auburn, Montgomery. She makes her home on the top of a mountain in northwest Georgia with her husband and three dogs.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle

PRICE $25.99 for Hardcover, $14.95 for Paperback, $5.92 for Kindle

BOOK LINKS: Amazon

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Over Easy by Pamela Ford: A Review


BOOK TITLE: Over Easy

AUTHOR: Pamela Ford

ISBN/ASIN: B01CYV27I0

GENRE: Romantic comedy

NUMBER OF PAGES: 260

FORMAT: Digital

SERIES / STANDALONE: The Continental Breakfast Club, Book One

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank iRead Book Tours for this review copy

SUMMARY:

Allie Parker's had enough. Just because she's a dog groomer, her overachieving family of doctors and lawyers treats her like a child. She's convinced that a successful husband is all she needs to change their attitudes. So when she and her friends come up with a brilliant new way to meet eligible men, Allie squeezes into her sister's stylish clothes and sneaks into continental breakfast at an upscale hotel to find herself the perfect guy.

Before Allie has taken her last bite of syrup-laden waffle, she's met the man of her dreams. But what she doesn't know is that he's a jewel thief who mistakenly thinks she's his contact—and so does everyone else who's after his stash of diamonds.

Suddenly Allie's world is crazily upended. And as she scrambles to prove her innocence and get back to her old life, she discovers happily ever after sneaks up when you least expect it.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

The cover was simple, clearly covering (pun unintended) everything the summary hinted at. It drew me in, as it promised something more than the obvious romantic comedy this book was supposed to be. The summary held my interest because I really had prepared myself to sit and enjoy this genre and not look for logic faults or loopholes or expect any adrenaline rush. The book was a short read. 

REVIEW:

What sort of man would make my parents— I mean, me— happy? “I’ve narrowed it down,” I said. “What I want is an S man. Single, straight, sober, solvent, stable, successful.”

The single sentence that actually begins a wild chase, that went wild beyond all expectations and was a complete laugh riot.

Allie is a dog groomer, from a family of successful people (surgeons and lawyers). She's mostly happy and content with what she has but is sick of being treated like a child with her nearest sibling 14 years elder. Allie is the baby of the family, last to know any shocking news, always getting constant reminders for stuff she ought not to forget (like flossing and wearing sunscreen) and the one who gets to sit at the kids' table year after year during family get togethers. She is desperate to prove to her over-achieving family members that she is an adult - a difficult task. She decides to go about this with bringing a 'keeper' home for her parents' 45th anniversary.

Once she had set herself this goal, Allie, along with Bree and Megan embark on the quest to find the right man. A lawyer and a high school teacher, Megan and Bree are the perfect mix for the 'girl gang' - funny, goofy, occasional brilliant ideas, a sisterhood spirit and the sense of adventure. They arrive at the erroneous conclusion that a continental breakfast club is the best place to find eligible single men. And with a mistaken identity, all hell breaks loose. What happens after that forms the rest of the story. Does Allie find the man she wanted? Does the search end well for the other two women?

A romantic comedy is hard to pull off (or at least according to me) because of two things. Firstly, it seems easy but is actually hard to get the tone of the book right. It has to be breezy, yet not mushy. It has to hold the interest of the reader with other events that are focused on the central theme of romance. Secondly, most often, even the books that begin great veer towards either being tear jerkers with emotional moments (and losing the 'comedy' part of it) or become a continuous series of pathetic gaffes. But Over Easy is the perfect book as far as Rom-Coms go. Light, entertaining, intriguing and the happy ending.

The author has managed to keep the tone of the book light, mostly with witty one-liners and self deprecating humour. What could go wrong in a story with three friends on a mission to find the perfect man? Apparently everything. From the word Go, the book is funny, light hearted and while it has some groan worthy moments, is mostly entertaining. The adventures of Allie, Megan and Bree (with something telling the reader that one of them will get their own book, a story with them as the central character, very soon) as they go in search of the men who are best suited to their requirements are written down engagingly. The words though, often have a deeper meaning.

Allie has got all the checkboxes for the perfect man - only, the list is something that would satisfy her parents, and not her. While the book clearly outlines that being successful does not only mean dating a good man, it also shows how many young men and women of today have got it all muddled up. The book is, under the surface, a journey of self realisation and has valid lessons for those who want to listen to them. It probably was doubly harder to pull it off with the humour intact, and not sounding preachy. Go pick this one up if you want a light summer read. I finished it in one sitting, but I would of course, remember some words and dialogues from it for some time to come. 

WHAT I LIKED:

  • The overall tone of the book was humorous, with each disaster eliciting a good laugh.
  • The one liners were catchy
  • The book had some underlying message for those who wanted to actually look for them
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:

  • The climax fell flat
  • At times,  Allie's rambling takes the focus away from the story
  • The end is a bit too predictable - not really a fault, especially for this genre.
VERDICT:

A must read for fans of this genre. Those who haven't tried Rom-Coms could start with this book for a good impression and beginning.

RATING: 4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Pamela Ford is the award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She grew up watching old movies, blissfully sighing over the romance; and reading sci-fi and adventure novels, vicariously living the action. The combination probably explains why the books she writes are romantic, happily-ever-afters with plenty of plot - and often lots of laughter.

After graduating from college with a degree in Advertising, Pam merrily set off to earn a living, searching for that perfect career as she became a graphic designer, print buyer, pantyhose sales rep, public relations specialist, copywriter, freelance writer - and finally author. Pam has won numerous awards including the Booksellers Best, the Laurel Wreath, and a gold medal IPPY in the Independent Book Publisher Awards. She is a Kindle Book Awards finalist and a two-time Golden Heart Finalist. She lives in Wisconsin where she is working on her next novel.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback

PRICE $4.01 for Kindle, $12.99 for Paperback

BOOK LINKS: Amazon

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Spotlight! Dancing with demons by Nidhie Sharma




DANCING WITH DEMONS
by
Nidhie Sharma



Blurb

Karan Pratap Singh is on the brink of winning the Amateur Boxing Championship, when in a moment, he loses it all. His fall from glory seems fuelled by ruthless arrogance and an out-of-control anger management problem. That, however is just symptomatic of a deeper issue. Buried under layers of his fractured subconscious lies a childhood secret he cannot come to terms with.

Sonia Kapoor is a beautiful, volatile young woman with a secret that torments her at night but a secret that she feels no guilt for.

When fate throws Karan and Sonia together in Mumbai, their personal demons and pasts collide and stir up trouble in their fragile and uncertain present. But, is redemption possible without forgiveness?

Dancing with Demons is a fast-paced action drama of love, loss and resurrection.

Grab your copy @


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


The Book Club introduces Nidhie Sharma to you

1. Tell us a little bit about your background. When did you start writing?

My journey into the world of storytelling began way before I graduated with honours in English literature and was offered scholarship by the university. The early formative years took me into the world of the Panchatantra and classic English literature while I also watched my mother paint. At the same time, I got introduced to the joys of adventure sports too since my father was in the Armed forces. On hindsight, I think these early influences shaped my storytelling ability, albeit in a visual way.

I read voraciously through my teenage years and graduated to Booker prize winning novels quickly. I think reading good literature is hugely instrumental in widening mental horizons and giving the reader an ability to comprehend complex characters, their emotional and physical graphs, along with a unique insight into the geo-political landscape of the times the novel is set in. All of this is a fantastic bedrock and training ground for good writing.

I started experimenting with poetry and short stories initially, and a lot of the early writing during my childhood happened under the open sky in my garden, lying on the grass, dreaming about heroes, action and adventure.

At the age of twelve, I had written what might now be called a Novella. It was about the daily exploits of a girl and her group of friends and how they explored a new part of the nearby jungle every day, in search of wild animals, thrills, and adventure. It was autobiographical of course and my delighted parents had it printed and bound into a small book. They treasure it to this day.

Studying English literature in college helped me enormously in comprehending and interpreting works of literature and soon after, I started to write book reviews for national newspapers. I also wrote short stories every single day during those college years and I think that has helped me hone my craft.

I realize now that writing a drama set in the world of combat sports, which most critics have called visual and action packed, is no accident. Dancing with Demons is a sum total of all my early influences and experiences.


2. How would you describe your book Dancing with Demons? What prompted you to write a book on boxing?

‘Dancing with Demons’ is a gripping romance drama set against the backdrop of combat sports in India. It is the story of two fallen souls who must vanquish their inner demons to become the people they were destined to be. When the story begins, Karan Pratap Singh, an  angst-ridden boxer and the mysterious and volatile Sonia Kapoor are angry and emotionally damaged by their pasts and when fate throws them together in Mumbai, their personal demons and pasts collide and stir trouble in their fragile and uncertain present. "It was some night. Thunder and lightning playing, chasing one another like two furtive, carefree lovers, oblivious to the havoc they were wrecking. Sonia put her hand out of the window as the bus started to hurtle down the highway, to Mumbai. A sliver of lightning fell on the trees just ahead of them, setting a large bush on fire. Then thunder roared again... Perhaps this was an appropriate setting for what was to follow...two tumultuous lives on a head-on collision course.”

This book explores if redemption is possible without forgiveness and also delves into the depth and unsaid connection that Karan and Sonia have with each other. In fact, Sonia’s poems in the novel throw light not only on self-love and forgiveness but also on the passionate and intense relationship that these two anti-heroes share.

“I know I’m not easy to love
On somedays there’s no God above
And maybe it’s a messed up world
Into which we have been hurled
And maybe I remind you of you
So Love yourself darling, to love me too”

Overcoming one's limitations or demons is essential in order to fulfill one's true potential. That is the real core of this story. The good thing is, millions of people find a way to battle and overcome their inner demons. So there is hope for everyone and 'Dancing with Demons' is about that hope. It's about the light at the end of the tunnel.

This novel is a fast-paced story of love, loss and resurrection for both Karan and Sonia.  

3. What prompted you to write a book on boxing?

I was brought up in an army background that exposes you to adventure and the outdoors very early on. Having studied in various army schools across India, I trained in karate, horse-riding and attended adventure camps. Camping, trekking, hiking along with all the unforgettable misadventures shaped my love for the outdoors.

As a teenager, I watched live boxing matches as well. They fascinated me no end. Two men beating the hell out of each other while spectators egged them on. I noticed that every time a boxer bled in the ring, the audience cheered even louder. Human reaction to violence only shows how deep and primal that instinct is and this totally fascinated me back then. I started to watch boxing championships on the internet. Soon I was following the sport like a fan and started going for the big fights to Madison square garden while I was studying filmmaking in New York. I met boxers and coaches out of curiosity and interest. I spent time inside boxing gyms and also started to train and spar.

Personally, I love the raw athleticism in this sport and the fact that it is a skillful craft, needing strategy and forethought . Also, when the boxers fight, it is almost like a dance in the ring, lyrical and rhythmic, and that has drawn me to it visually as well. Given my exposure and interests, I think the stage to write Dancing with Demons, was set long ago.

4. What inspires you to write?

A lot of things actually but my mother’s abstract paintings have been my greatest inspiration. Almost nothing inspires me more than a work of art, even a great piece of music for that matter. The outdoors and the sight of a rising sun sometimes triggers the need to put pen to paper. Since I enjoy observing life and am particularly fascinated by human duality and contradictions, I spend a lot of time creating complex and flawed characters and then throwing them into a world I am familiar with. The writing that follows is automatically organic and un-manipulated. Ultimately for me, it’s almost always about exploring and learning something new through the process of creation.

5. And do you ever have a writer's block? What do you do to get rid of it?

I am very passionate about the stories I want to tell and on most days I don’t feel the block but when I do, I think discipline helps. I’ve realized through personal experience that showing up in front of that laptop every single day is the only way to beat it.


6. Who are your favourite writers and poets and have they in anyway motivated you to be better at your craft? If so, how?

My favorite writers are Rohinton Mistry, Ian Mcewan, Maya Angelou, Kiran Desai, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Samuel Beckett, John Donne and T.S Eliot, to name a few. The unparalleled quality of their writing is a huge motivation for any young storyteller and I’m no exception. Like I mentioned earlier, my journey into the world of writing began with reading good literature and I strive every single day to better my craft.

7. Apart from writing what are your other interests?

I enjoy the outdoors, adventure sports, photography, watching plays and music of all genres.

8. You are also a filmmaker, how do you juggle between both the crafts?

The first step for a Writer-Director like me is to put an interesting story in place and once that is accomplished, then it’s all about visually interpreting and executing it.

As a filmmaker, I think I  am lucky to have a unique advantage by virtue of being a novelist too. It has given me a deeper understanding of story, characterization, plot, subplots, genres, mood and tone,  all of which are an essential part of building an engaging narrative, be it for a movie or a novel. I also have greater understanding of the source material (the novel) and the training to adapt it for the screen. Infact, I have already finished adapting ‘Dancing with Demons’ into a screenplay and thoroughly enjoyed the process.

Although Cinema and literature are principally two different mediums, both aim at telling an interesting story well and despite their own unique challenges and audiences, I think it is possible to straddle them equally well if one has the talent, passion and training for storytelling.

Personally, I fell blessed that I am able to juggle between these two crafts and I’m having a lot of fun doing so.

9. Finally, what is your next novel going to be about and where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I write every single day and am sure the next story will find me soon enough.

The journey for ‘Dancing with Demons’ is still on and my full focus and energies at the moment are on directing the film.

I am a filmmaker-novelist and that’s all I know, so that’s where you’ll find me even five years down the line.



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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child : A Review


BOOK TITLE: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts I & II (Special Rehearsal Edition)

AUTHOR: JK Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany

ISBN/ASIN: 978-0751565355

GENRE: Fiction / Fantasy / Play (Drama)

NUMBER OF PAGES: 352

FORMAT: Hardcover Special Edition

SERIES / STANDALONE: Harry Potter #8 (Left to reader discretion)

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I OWN a copy of this book.

SUMMARY:

The Eighth Tale in the Harry Potter Saga

Being labelled as 'the boy who lived' for his whole life has not been easy for Harry Potter. In the official eighth instalment of the Harry Potter series penned in the form of a two-part stage production play, J. K. Rowling weaves yet another thrilling and magical yarn featuring the life of Harry Potter nineteen years later in the post-Voldemort wizarding world.

A glimpse into the epic tale

Harry Potter plays the role of a man finally living out the quiet, conventional lifestyle he always wanted to live as a Minister of Magic employee, who is a doting husband and father of three. Yet, he struggles to escape the haunting past, the demons of which continue to consume him. The play also features a grown up Albus Severus Potter following the footsteps of his legendary father and labouring to carry the burden of a family bequest and fortune he hadn't expected. As the past meets the present, the legendary father and son duo strive to come in terms with the darkness that lies within and overcome their inner demons.

The Play

The 'Harry Potter And The Cursed Child: The Play' airs for the first time at the London Palace Theatre on July 30th, 2016. The play is based on the book written by Jack Thorne in collaboration with J. K. Rowling and the book is scheduled to release on July 31st, 2016. On 10th February, 2016, it was declared that the scripts of both the parts of the play would be released in both digital and print formats.

J. K. Rowling promises to take fans deeper into the recesses of Harry Potter's mind as the play showcases the life of Potter when he was an unwanted orphan.


FIRST IMPRESSION:

I have always been a fan of the Harry Potter series (calling myself a Potterhead came naturally). So after being left high and dry for nearly a decade after the last book released, The Cursed Child was everything I was looking forward to read. There is no normal way to put this - Joanne Rowling shaped my childhood with her books. I have grown up reading Harry Potter, and have eagerly waited for the books in the series to release and spent many days discussing what would happen and what did happen in each of those books in fine detail.

For someone who wanted to relive the magic just once more, at least, this was a great chance. Eager to lap up JKR's words, I was very aware of how very childish I sounded as I thanked the delivery man with a handshake and a huge grin that probably confounded the poor soul. Sigh. All in the name of Harry Potter. The book, as is, looked amazing. I spent a good hour admiring it from all angles, the hardcover case, the black with gold combination and the overall effect of the book before beginning to read it. After all, how many more such opportunities will I be getting? 

DISCLAIMER

Though I have sincerely tried not to include them, the review below might have some spoilers. They are inadvertent and any true blue HP fan who might resent the accidental spoiler is advised to proceed with caution - I have NOT given line by line warnings.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU PURCHASE THIS BOOK:

Yes, recent furore from fans over this book really warranted this particular section. Not only because I am a JKR fan, but also because I don't want fellow potterheads to be disappointed. Of course it might be too late by now, for those of you who tasted bile and salt when you saw the book was not what you wanted it to be, but for those few others, who are teetering on the edge of buying - give this a read first.

1. This book is NOT a novel

I should think this one was pretty obvious. Though we might not have noticed it in our excitement earlier, to quench our thirst with another Harry Potter book, the summary, not to mention the many tweets on social media by Rowling herself, clearly state that the book is a SCRIPT. As in 'Act One, Scene Three', Character Name: Dialogue, Cue comments, etc.

2. This is not written by J K Rowling alone

Again quite obvious if you only pause to look. This book is a product of an author, a director and a playwright. The end product is, therefore, not what you would expect a pure JKR book to be. It is heavily influenced by the styles of the other two, with JKR just offering occasional story lines.

3. This book is not about Harry Potter or the Golden Trio alone

Though it is labelled as HP #8, this book is not about Harry Potter or the Golden Trio. Of course they feature in this. Of course they play important parts in this. But this book is mainly about the sons of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. Yes. Take a moment to digest that. And yes, they are the best of buddies.

4. This book is not a continuation of the epilogue of Book 7, or even Albus's adventures at Hogwarts

Sneaky this one, to remember and understand. While this does begin with the King's Cross scene, the book is not in any way a continuation of the particular scene or even that particular year. The main location is not Hogwarts (we are kinda used to having Hogwarts as the place it all happens - so prepare to be disappointed there). Yes, it does feature in many pages, but neither Harry, nor Hogwarts take centre stage in this book.

5. Shrug aside ALL your preconceived ideas about the adult Golden Trio, and their kids

If you want to be able to read this comfortably, that is. Shrugging aside your pre conceived notions about how the children of the trio would turn out to be (developed over the years by reading and desperately rereading the epilogue and a lot of head canon, fan fiction and theories over the years) is a MUST if you want to be able to read the book. Want a sample? James is not the rebel. Albus is. Hermione can be and is mean, given special circumstances. Ron is sidelined as a joker in many parts. Harry can be a tyrant of a parent. Phew.

REVIEW:

So after that long disclaimer that actually contained major plot points, I begin my review.

The Cursed Child begins, as expected, where the epilogue left us. That particular opening pleased me so much and I did not mind the slight changes in the dialogues that showed the difference between what I would call the original and the latest, newest, book. We are given a glimpse of Albus as he asks his father about being sorted into Slytherin and thankfully, Harry gives him that solid bit of advice. And then he boards the train, when Rose Granger-Weasley domineeringly asks him to carefully pick friends because they are star kids and they can have their pick. That was the first sign that told me this book was not what I wanted it to be. Call it a bit of an over reaction, but I did not expect this from a child who was born to a man who valued friendship more than anything and a woman who stuck with a friend through thick and thin, going against her instinctive nature to be a disciplined student and helping him by breaking the rules.

And from there, the book rushes through scenes, and the story develops. Albus and Scorpius strike a friendship. Nothing happens for four years except the fact that Albus is shown as the resentful kid who hates his father with all the power of teenage angst because he could not live up to the expectations he thinks his father has. Yes, please do read that sentence again. Scorpius, though facing a grievous situation back home, is still the most sensible and clear character through most of the series, including the adults. One summer evening, the day before Albus is to board the train for yet another year at his school - a place where he is not really popular, Amos Diggory comes to Harry Potter with a strange request. Albus overhears that seemingly reasonable request and thinks (naturally) that his father is a cruel, cold, heartless man and decides to meddle.

Maybe it was his thirst for adventure, or the need to prove something to his father, or his own sense of being neglected, Albus then goes on a wild ride, meddling with time to set things 'right', at least, to his version of what is right. He takes along a reluctant Scorpius, who shows many character traits of Ron (as in loyalty and bravery in friendship) in his madcap adventure. He meddles with time and disaster ensues. How the boys and the trio come out of it forms the rest of the play. Pause. No, really. Take a pause. And now read further.

WARNING: spoilers ahead

Where the book captured my heart:

No matter how much I complain, this book offers yet another glimpse into the magical world that I yearn to read about. And for that, and that alone, this book gets major rating points. A prejudiced Potterhead would find everything about this book beautiful, but actually it all boils down to yet another chance to enter Hogwarts.

The plot actually is good. It is a really intricate, detailed plot that could have been moulded into something greater. 

The climax. The ultimate battle, this time in the past and the sacrifice Harry had to make, the one that will alter his own future. While it reminded me of that scene in Prisoner of Azkaban where he has to let Pettigrew escape despite knowing the truth, the concept of not meddling with time was, at least, upheld.

The lessons it imparted. In the words of JKR herself - terrible things have happened to wizards who meddled with time and thankfully, the book, wild ride that it was, clearly emphasises this lesson, yet again.

The subtle ideas on parenting and why even the best of them are sometimes not enough and how teenage is the time to rebel. The underlying emotions running between Draco and his son, or Harry and his son, is clearly outlined and is trademark JKR material that will tug at your heart strings.

The scene where Hagrid safely takes Harry away from Godric's Hollow will bring a lone tear to your eyes. Guaranteed.

What really ticked me off in the book:

That a full grown wizard who worked for the ministry would demand Harry to use a Time Turner that has been illegally confiscated from a known death eater, to reverse death. Despite repeated warnings that no power can bring back the dead so much so that even readers know that logic, there is no sane explanation for an ex ministry wizard demanding this totally unreasonable thing and then throwing a fit when he does not get his way.

While it is only believable that teenage kids are prone to rebellious phases, it somehow does not sit well with me that Albus, son of Harry and Ginny, would grow up to be such a resentful character. Harry grew up with the Dursleys, and he did not let his abused childhood affect his character. To think, even for a moment, that Harry would not have been a good father to his kids, letting them grow up love starved and favoring one above the other, is quite an injustice to his character. The teensy explanation at the end (the father son conversation) is not enough.

Ron, an important part in the original series (yes, I keep repeating that because I feel this is not a part of that) is reduced to a mere joker. I remember the Ron from the movies, sadly, who had to play Harry's sidekick who occasionally also plays the joker. The Ron who thinks giving a love potion to his adoloscent nephew is a good idea. He delivers groan worthy punchlines and I am not even talking about the polyjuice version who really went overboard. As to Dumbledore, who is reduced to a portrait that spews out irrelevant information thoroughly unrelated to the situation. And completely unhelpful. The original was vague, yeah. But this one is a mere echo, a remorseful echo.

Hermione will NOT become mean if she does not get Ron. No matter what alternate reality or timeline, reducing Hermione to a disgruntled, Snape like version who hurts Albus Potter and Ron's son (not hers) just because she did not get to marry Ron is an injustice to her character. In the timelines that come, she is shown as either disgruntled or deranged - both of which are hard to digest. While Snape himself is shown as the HERO in the one alternative timeline he appears in. Sure, yeah. He is a hero. We all get that. But was it really necessary to put down all the others to show this fact, despite that very public tweet from JKR herself that refused to glorify Snape for his sacrifice? Seriously, though, Joanne... is this you?

Albus's ideas keep growing wilder by every scene. But for someone who has been (at least according to himself) starved of love, and wanting to right the wrongs his father did, getting brilliant ideas to insult and publicly humiliate Cedric Diggory is a strict NO. I am really confused as to why he was portrayed as such a mean child. And James, for all the mention he gets here, could be a brick on the wall of the Potters' living room.

Harry - where do I begin? Ministry employee, strict father who, at some point, says Albus that he wished he were not his son. Harry understand what it is to have abusive words thrown at him and how it would affect self esteem and psyche. But he tells these words to his own son, something I find is way out of his original character. I am not even going to talk about Harry in alternate timelines who bosses over Minerva and insists she toes the line to the rules he lays down. The distant echo of the scene where he Crucios the Carrows because they insulted McGonagall fades away in this scene.

Overall, The cursed Child - for a story belonging to one of the most popular series ever, is quite not up to the mark. Read it if you must, but totally at your own risk. If you are happy with the way things turned out so far in the series, but still want more about the magical world, wait for the movie instead. This particularly harsh review stems from all the disappointment I felt while reading the book. It does have its moments, it does talk about the same world. But glaring plot holes and character deviations make this book a must have only if you can't have enough of the HP world. If you have read the books just for JKR, give this a miss. But if you want to read this for the trio, give it a try but be forewarned.

VERDICT:

The cursed child takes you to the same world - only, the hands that lead you there are different, and you might not feel the old, familiar comfort envelop you.

RATING: 3.5/5

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

J .K. ROWLING

J.K. Rowling is the author of the seven Harry Potter novels, which have sold over 450 million copies and have been translated into 79 languages, and three companion books originally published for charity. She is also the author of The Casual Vacancy, a novel for adults published in 2012, and, under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith, is the author of the Cormoran Strike crime series. J.K. Rowling is making her screenwriting debut and is a producer on the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a further extension of the Wizarding World, due for release in November 2016.

JOHN TIFFANY

John Tiffany directed Once, for which he was the recipient of multiple awards both in the West End and on Broadway. As Associate Director of the Royal Court, his work includes The Twits, Hope and The Pass. He was the director of Let the Right One In for the National Theatre of Scotland, which transferred to the Royal Court, West End and St Ann's Warehouse. His other work for the National Theatre of Scotland includes Macbeth (also Broadway), Enquirer, The Missing, Peter Pan, The House of Bernarda Alba, Transform Caithness: Hunter, Be Near Me, Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us, The Bacchae, Black Watch, for which he won the Olivier and Critics' Circle Best Director Awards, Elizabeth Gordon Quinn and Home: Glasgow. Other recent credits include The Glass Menagerie at ART and on Broadway and The Ambassador at BAM. Tiffany was Associate Director of the National Theatre of Scotland from 2005 to 2012, and was a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University in the 2010-2011 academic year.

JACK THORNE Jack Thorne writes for theatre, film, television and radio. His theatre credits include Hope and Let the Right One In, both directed by John Tiffany, The Solid Life of Sugar Water for the Graeae Theatre Company and the National Theatre, Bunny for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Stacy for the Trafalgar Studios, and 2nd May 1997 and When You Cure Me for the Bush. His adaptations include The Physicists for the Donmar Warehouse and Stuart: A Life Backwards for HighTide. On film his credits include War Book, A Long Way Down and The Scouting Book for Boys. For television his credits include The Last Panthers, Don't Take My Baby, This Is England, The Fades, Glue, Cast-Offs and National Treasure. He won BAFTAs in 2016 for Best Mini-Series (This Is England '90) and Best Single Drama (Don't Take My Baby), and in 2012 for Best Drama Series (The Fades) and Best Mini-Series (This Is England '88).


EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Kindle, Paperback

PRICE Rs. 878.41 for the Kindle version, Rs. 575 for the Hardcover. Go figure.

BOOK LINKS: Amazon

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Guest Post by Aaron Safronoff, author of Sunborn Rising

Guest post on Readers’ Muse? Heck yeah! It’s on. Thank you, Dhivya, for inviting me to stop at your site on this virtual tour.

Today, I am writing. No hashtag required. I’ve walked a couple of miles on train tracks, over a bridge, and through the woods to arrive at this cafe, Not Grandmother’s House. Several routes exist between here and home, and one passes near enough to the Pacific to hear the waves crashing as I go. It’s a great way to start the day, and wonderful way to work. And I do mean work, because most of writing - well, my writing anyway - doesn’t happen while I’m hunkered down in front of my keyboard. Sure, the necessity of words filling pages drives schedules, so I force myself to sit down in front of these 192k pixels, interrogating each to determine which should be black and which white, but if I haven’t had time for some preprocessing (Carlin’s deriding me from his grave) then I’m not writing; I’m staring.

I’ve actively pursued a career as an author for 20 years, and I don’t think there is any way around that initial, unknown time investment. I worked in kitchens in another life, and one of my favorite chefs used to say, “It’s done when it’s done.” He didn’t have more than a rough estimate of cook time because he frequently created new dishes, as experiments or to compensate for changes in produce. To be clear, the writing like the dish isn’t complete once all their respective ingredients have been selected and arranged. At some point, you have to put everything together, cook it, and see what you’ve got. Sometimes more salt and pepper, and sometimes wine. Sometimes a favorite character has to die, and sometimes, I need to start over. I like to think that my experience helps me make better decisions, to start over or throw out bad ideas sooner, but that’s not always the case. Anyway, the point is that both processes are required. The open-minded, freeform exploration of an idea is just as important as the writing, including editing the poop out of it. (Keep it together, Safronoff, this is a family blog.) Both require time and effort. Both are work. One looks a lot more like work than the other, but as far as I’m concerned they’re the same.

So the next time you’re on a walk, or you wake up in the middle of the night, or you stay in bed all day like an eagle hunting prey, remember, you’re on your way to becoming an author. ;-) Seriously, if you want to write give yourself the time to think. You still have to put words down in a particular order at some point, but finding your rhythm, knowing when to follow your thoughts, and when to lead them, is key.


I hope something in there is helpful! Experiment with your rhythm, figure out what works best for you, and keep going. Thank you for reading!