Friday, 20 January 2017

Blog Tour: A Boy Made of Blocks

I also don’t mind telling you that actually I was a tiny bit unsure that I would, at first. I don’t really know why that is, because let’s be real here: look at the blurb. It is entirely up my street. But I was dubious. I think perhaps it was the title? I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter really because I read it and I liked it a whole lot and that’s the best ever isn’t it? When you love something that you kind of really didn’t think you would?

 ‘Daddy, what are you doing?’‘What do you mean?’‘Sometimes I am stuck on a thought and I can’t get off it, not for a long time. It stays and stays. Are you stuck on a thought?’ I stop walking.

It’s OK, don’t mind me, there’s just a branch in my eye. Keep on doing your thing.

It’s just…it’s so damn lovely OK? It’s really kind of special. And it’s a bit of a thing isn’t it, Autism. There’s a lot of people writing a lot of books with a protagonist the places somewhere on the spectrum and it’s important – of course it is – but it’s also important not to get samey, not to write about something just because it’s ‘of the moment’ you know? 
Too much relevance can make a thing irrelevant. Does that make any sense? It makes all the sense in my head. It’s about bandwagons and not jumping on them, about not making something into a trope.

Which this book does not, in case you wondered if that’s where I was going. I’m absolutely not going there. I am going in the other direction entirely. A direction where there is not a bandwagon in sight. A bandwagon free zone, as it were. 

This book is refreshing and honest and all kinds of wonderful, actually. And it left me with ALL THE FEELS. Here I am, feeling all the things and wanting to do it justice and write an intelligent and thought provoking review but unable to come up with much other than THIS BOOK MADE ME MELTY AND I WANNA PLAY MINECRAFT WITH ALEX AND SAM.

OK, let’s back up. Let’s at least try to write a proper review here.

Actually no. Let’s not. I’m just not really that person I'm sorry. I just want to tell you how much I liked it so that’s what I’m going to do, okay?



In a nutshell it’s about this guy called Alex (thirtysomething, like me. High five Alex,) and his relationship with both his wife Jody and his 8 year old son Sam, who is Autistic. 

Alex is estranged from his wife which is super sad times because he loves her and he doesn’t really get Sam, doesn’t know how to relate to him, and actually if we’re going to be blunt here is pretty much shit scared of the kid. Also super sad times because he loves him.

The thing about leaving (or being pushed from) the family home and becoming a ‘weekend Dad’ is that he’s kind of forced to deal with Sam on a deeper level; he has to handle the things that Jody would usually deal with. He has to actually see past the epic meltdowns and work out who Sam actually is and watching him do that, watching him learn about this little boy who lives in a world that is sometimes so overwhelming that he doesn’t know how to do anything other than hide from it,  it’s all kind of tortuous and wonderful.  I swear, watching these two play Minecraft together in separate houses, these two people who love each other so fucking fiercely but have never had the ability to show it, finding a way to actually really communicate is simultaneously the most wonderful and most heart-hurty thing I have read this year. It’s lush writing, absolutely lush.

(& it really makes you want to play Minecraft.)

Heart-hurty. That’s what this book was. It made my chest so tight so many times but in the most wonderful and uplifting of ways. Happysad. Which is totally an actual emotion. This book made me so very happysad. & I loved that it’s based on Keith Stuart’s own experiences with his own children, with Autism (and with Minecraft.) It shone through the pages, that love; that frustration; that whole extreme of feeling, from joy at each milestone to agony when you just can’t reach past the walls. 
It felt honest to me, and whilst I wanted to reach into the pages to hug Sam and Alex SO FREAKING HARD YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW, I also wanted to reach past them to hug Keith. Not out of pity but out of….I dunno. Solidarity? No. That’s not right? Maybe not for any reason other than to say ‘thank-you, for this.’

I have absolutely no expectations that he’ll ever read this review but just in case he does: thank-you Mr Stuart for putting your heart on your proverbial sleeve and sending this book out into the world.

A Boy Made of Blocks is a delight. It’s an absolute delight and I LIKED IT. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Blog Tour: Relativity Review

Things I know, both about myself and about book blogging: I should probably never say no to a book.

Which makes it sound like I said no to this book. 

I didn’t. 

When the email landed in my inbox very nicely asking if I was interested in taking part in the blog tour for Antonia Hayes' novel Relativity, I absolutely said yes. That's kind of my (long and convoluted) point: that I should always says yes to all the books even if I know little about them because there's always a chance that doing just exactly that will make me vair happy. This book made me happy. It made me laugh and it made me a tiny bit teary sometimes and it made me angry and sympathetic and all kinds of conflicted and pretty much just a whole spectrum of unexpected emotions. I thing that’s A Good Thing though. I like books that do that to me: feelings.

So. Relativity. Lemme talk at you about it for a little minute.

S’about a boy called Ethan. I love Ethan. I want to put him in my pocket and protect him from All The Bad Things Ever. He’s excellent and he has this insane knowledge of anything to do with physics. He’s pretty special and I defy anybody ever to read this book and not wind up loving his intelligent, naive 12 year old self. What a little gem of a character he is.


He lives with his Mum, because Dad just isn’t around. He’s never been around, not since Ethan was v small and Ethan doesn’t know much about him, really. It’s all perfectly fine, until of course it isn’t. At first you kind of feel like Ethan’s dad is a bit of an asshat. Or, if you’re me then you think that, but that’s the beauty of this book. It doesn’t let you just make up your mind and stick to your guns like a guns sticking to person. It lets you make up your mind and then throws a spanner in the works and says AH YES BUT YOU DIDN’T KNOW THIS DID YOU and then you feel like maybe you should change your mind. Excellent skills there Hayes.  I approve.

It comes at you from the perspective of Ethan and both of  his parents and as none of them are particularly reliable narrators, there’s a lot to question; a lot of seeds of doubt that are planted and send you in one direction only to have you going in another in the very next chapter. Which, well it’s pretty clever, the way one minute you’re sympathetic towards one set of circumstances only to be pissed off at the same thing a few pages later. All three characters have very different, very strong voices, which I liked and they all come across really well actually considering it’s written in third person. I was totally invested in all three of them (so invested, you don’t even know): Ethan, Claire and Mark and I was torn, between wanting them to fix things and feeling like they never should.

The story is complicated enough to not be predictable, ever, but still manages to not tie you up in what is even happening here, which again: I liked a whole lot. 
It’s a shining example too I guess of there always being more than one side to a story, but it gets that message across without becoming preachy. Nobody likes preachy. Do they? Maybe they do and I am doing unfair generalising. The point is that I don’t like preachy and this book isn’t preachy. At all.  It lets you make up your own mind and haunts you a little bit with the things it makes you feel that take you totally by surprise. Explains but doesn’t excuse I suppose is the best way to describe it and trust me when I tell you there are things here that are going to get the hell under your skin. Right the way under.
It doesn’t shy away from its more difficult and more darker side either – another plus - and it absolutely does not paint a picture of good and evil even though it so very easily could.  It’s all about the shades of grey this book, and I mean that in the best possible way – that is so definitely not an EL James reference. I promise (I would never.)

It’s a book about actions and consequences and split second decisions that impact on the rest of your forever and the sometimes painful power of uncertainty.  It’s beautifully written and it’s raw and honest and heart-breaking but never ever too heavy, you know? You don’t feel dragged down by it ever and you get totally caught up in the lives of this fractured family and their struggles with blame and guilt and forgiveness and even the science stuff didn’t make my brain hurt too much. That’s a miracle I think because my brain and science? They do not go hand in hand. At all.

In a nutshell, it’s very good this book. I am grateful that I got the chance to read it and I wouldn’t hesitate for even a second in recommending it to anybody. Except maybe my BFF (but only because I know it would make her cry!)

Monday, 9 January 2017

Book Review: Sirens

Joseph Knox’s debut Sirens is a book  I think everybody should be reading. Unless you are a person who values sleep above all else. If you’re that person then maybe this book isn’t for you because I am telling you now: you will not be able to put it down. You won’t. Actually, even if you are that person, read this book. You’ll be immersed but just trust me on this: sleep is so totally overrated anyhow. I was hooked, and not just because it’s set in Manchester and so has that air of familiarity about it. I do so like a book that’s set in my sort-of neck of the woods. I like when I recognise places and names and landmarks.

I do not like when I am driving through Manchester late at night, with this book not quite finished and as such at the forefront of my mind and the road is closed and I am sent on a diversion through dark and dingy back streets that look like they could have stepped right off the pages of this book with Beetham Tower all imposing in the background and I am slightly freaked out. Not at all. Although it’s a testament maybe to how good this book is, that it got under my skin and lingered there; that even when I wasn’t curled up reading it, I couldn’t leave it alone.

It’s about a disgraced detective working undercover in Manchester’s seedy drug underworld which gets all the high fives from me because I do so love a book that’s a break from the usual formula; I like that Aiden is a sort of anti-hero. That he doesn’t tick the usual detective novel boxes. It’s not so much Aiden’s story that makes this book so special though. It’s the way it’s told. The writing. Oh God, the writing.

The writing is as atmospheric as anything I’ve read in a while, and kind of beautiful too: Knox is good at words, he’s good at making them jump off the page and come to life in front of you, at making you see and hear and feel. Evocative. That’s what his writing is, really really evocative. The setting, the story, the people. All of it, it’s so intriguing.  It never lets up either this book, never lags and it stays with you too: I felt unsettled for a while after I’d finished it and I love that . I mean, sure I read for escapism but I also kind of read to experience you know? To get under the skin of a story; to get under the skin of myself. I like a book that makes me think, that has me still thinking even after I’m done reading it. I feel linked to the characters somehow, that’s how much it’s gotten under my skin, like I lived this story, like it’s real and these things happened and these people are real and I don’t know. I don’t know how to explain. It made me feel all the things I guess, in a way that I was not entirely prepared for.

This is not just a whodunit. This is a powerful story about of politics and corruption, of suffering and hitting rock bottom and wondering how the hell you’ll ever claw your way back up. It’s about trying to escape only to find yourself burrowing ever deeper and it’s about the sometimes self-destructiveness of human nature. It unfolds slowly and cleverly, intense and dark and incredibly detailed. And you should read it.

Monday, 28 November 2016

A (Small) Bookish Catch Up

Today we are going to catch up. And by catch up I mean I am going to talk about Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave is Forgiven which I loved more than I have loved anything for a long long time and also Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children which I should have read a long time ago and which freaked me the hell out and the new book by Jennifer Niven which I have mixed feelings about. Get comfortable lovelies.

I love Chris Cleave. Or at least I loved the only other book of his I’ve read (The Other Hand) so I was super excited to get my hands on a copy of Everyone Brave, and the proof is so pretty too, all black cover and red pages and my copy has a signature. Lush.
It’s a really really beautiful book on the inside too this one, it doesn’t just look good, it tastes good too, I’m not even kidding: ‘…a galaxy of seeds that crackled in his mouth like bereaved punctuation.´ well, just seduce me with your pretty words why don’t you Mr. Cleave.
And it’s such an incredible story. It’s set in WWII and follows young socialite Mary, determined to make a difference, Zachary a little boy who can’t be evacuated because he’s black  and nobody wants him and art restorer Alistair who finds himself in the army and it hurts and it’s wonderful and it’s witty and hurty and so freaking smart. It’s just….it’s kind of mind-blowingly good, this epic novel full of love and war and loss and bravery.


The language is beautiful, the dialogue is so snappy, and the characters like people you wind up feeling like you know (the characterisation here is so powerful oh my God and some of these people are messed up and make dubious choices but at the same time they all changed so much, grew up, lost pretty much any and all sense of innocence and made you fall in love with them. Hard.) The characters get under your skin and the setting is so real you can taste it. It took me ages to read partly because I wanted to savour every word and partly because I didn’t ever want it to be over. I got to the end and I just wanted more.  & I wanted to go back to the start and read it all over again. Which, that very rarely happens.

It’s strikingly raw and honest and bittersweet. It’s so damn powerful too, but not in an ‘in your kind of face’ kind of way you know. He’s a master of subtlety this guy and this book is all about the slow build and you don’t realise you’re feeling ALL THE THINGS until you wonder why your chest hurts and realise it’s because you’ve been holding your breath or that actually of course your face is wet  - you’re crying, damn it.

And how many books have been written about the war? SO MANY BOOKS; do you know how refreshing it is to fine one that’s not at all the same, that’s a step away from anything else you’ve read, ever? Let me tell you: so refreshing. Malta for starters, oh God, Malta. It’s always kind of surprised me, when I read a book like this how there are the things I know about, and then the things i just sort of know about you know. Like how there’s the things you learn about and hear about repeatedly and in depth and then there’s the other things, equally important that yet somehow you only really scratch the surface of. Anyway. Another thought for another day, maybe.

Everyone Brave is also a really interesting look at race, I thought so at least. I mean WWII was a war against Hitler wasn’t it, and his plans for a master race – if we’re going to really simplify it down I mean and I am totally aware that’s what I just did right there so don’t yell please  - and there we were sending our men to fight against that, whilst here at home we’re sending a little boy home from the country, back to the Blitz because his skin is the wrong colour (or because he’s in a wheelchair or she had Down’s Syndrome etc etc) I loved that juxtaposition. Loved it.
‘We are a nation of glorious cowards, ready to battle any evil but our own.’ BOOM. Also, how relevant please. Let’s not even talk about current affairs.

This is a book about love and longing, about loss and discovery, about life and it’s beautiful. This, actually, is the kind of book you dream of reading. I bet I won’t read anything to match it this year.

And then I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children which is entirely different in every way. I wonder actually if I’m the only person left not to have read these books. Am I? And I’m not sure why it took me so long to be quite honest. I liked it a lot. It’s kind of like a more realistic X-Men, if an abandoned orphanage and a time loop and a load of children with extraordinary powers can be realistic. It’s a clever book, a combination of prose and these hauntingly weird photographs – which I loved, it’s such a clever and unique way of storytelling and the fact that these are actual real life photos is just…it’s pretty cool. And so mysterious. It gave me the creeps though, this book, in a major way. That’s the downside of living in your house on your own alone I think, when you have a pretty active imagination. This book creeped me out; I was too creeped out to stop reading and too creeped out to go to sleep and was just sat in my dark house by myself reading this creepy as hell book and then having to spend half an hour scrolling through Twitter to try and fend off the bad dreams. And I’m 33. Imagine if I’d read this when I was 16. Gracious. I was creeped out, but I also figured out some pretty significant plot points way before I think I was supposed to. Perhaps I’m just that smart *snorts* - although I do like to think I’m adept at spotting a little bit of foreshadowing. Mostly though, I really liked it. If you haven’t read it already and you’re looking for another series to get drawn into then you wouldn’t go far wrong starting with this. My copy is lush too, it feels so nice.

And then, after that, I read Jenniver Niven’s Holding Up the Universe which…I didn’t hate it. Actually that’s harsh. I liked it; I gave it 3 stars, but I was massively underwhelmed. That’s better.

I haven’t read Niven’s stuff before, although I’ve heard ALL THE GOOD THINGS. Like all the good things all the time everywhere. People have been going nutso for this book, so, I was hoping to be blown away. I was not. I mean, there’s good writing, Niven can certainly write and her narrative voices are strong and this was an easy read, but it felt like YA romance paint by numbers. Like here is a girl who has been ostracised by her peer group for whatever reason (in this case, her weight) and here is a boy, good looking and popular but with his own set of demons that nobody knows about (in this case he’s face blind, which we’ll come back to, because it fascinated me) and here are some other people that they know, some are nice and some are less so, and now let’s throw the girl and the boy together and see what happens. Well, what was going to happen was obvious from the very beginning. The boy and the girl fall in love.
Is that a major spoiler? No, not so much. It is exactly what you probably expect if you pick up this book. I guess it bugged me a little bit, partly because the whole love story thing happened so fast and that whole insta-love thing, it’s not my thing and also I did feel a little bit like these characters, who are supposed to represent real teens, were being used for the sake of a good old angsty love story and that’s a little bit less than good. & I kept reading Libby Strout as Libby Stout and that bugged me also.
I feel like….I feel like the issues that Niven hints at addressing here, like fat shaming and body image and mental illness and bullying and isolation are all so important and she’s on the perfect platform to really get a really important message out there and instead she uses those issues to help her tell her love story and the whole time I was just aggravated. (& kind of wishing I was re-reading Eleanor & Park again and I’m sorry I’m such a bitch) I felt like Libby’s weight and Jack’s cognitive issues were massively dumbed down and that made me sad because I was so interested and I felt like Libby’s self validation came down to whether or not she had a boyfriend and I felt like there could have been so much more story than there was.  & Libby was so self-righteous too. Although she dances a lot. Which I liked, mostly because – have you seen Whitney: Fat Girl Dancing? The whole Libby dancing thing reminded me of that. I also loved all the TKaM references. High five Jennifer Niven, high five.

And there’s Jack. Jack hasn’t told his family he thinks he is face blind. He’s spent his entire life not being able to recognise faces, he doesn’t even recognise his own family and he hasn’t told a soul. A pretty big part of me found that a little hard to believe, but also kind of sad and I feel like if that were true, if that were what he had lived with for as long as he could remember, well, there’d be more of a negative impact than there was. He’s pretty well adjusted, all things considered.  Also I get that he can’t retain the knowledge, that if someone walks out of a room and then walks in again its like he’s seeing them for the first time and that he doesn’t even recognise his own family and that must be the worst ever but there’s a whole lot of ‘the woman in the kitchen’ and ‘the man I assume to be my father’ and WHO ELSE WOULD THE TWO ADULTS IN HIS HOUSE BE IF NOT HIS PARENTS? I mean, I can be sitting in my parents lounge and hear my Dad coming down the stairs and I don’t see him because there’s a wall in the way but I know its him because THERE’S NO OTHER PERSON IT COULD BE. Hashtag minor niggle. 
I did like the whole face-blindness story though and I did like Jack, I found it, and him, really interesting – 1 in 50 people are affected by Prosopagnosia, and that’s a massively high number for something  that’s relatively unknown and God it’s so frustrating when you run into someone and they start talking like they know you and you just can’t place them and how awful must it be if that’s your life, if you wake up in a morning and the person next to you in bed is as unfamiliar as a stranger in the street, if you don’t know you mum or your brother or your best friend. Horrible.

Anyway, this book is an okay book and probably loads of people will love it – hell, take a look on Goodreads, loads of people do love it. It’s just perhaps not my cup of tea. I’ll be giving All the Bright Places a go though.

So there you have it. Come back in a couple of days because before All The Eye Problems I read an exciting new book by and exciting new writer and I am excited to talk to you about it.

Friday, 25 November 2016

In which I am thankful for my peepers.

So it's been a pretty rough two weeks really, which if you follow my Twitter and/or Instagram (or know me away from the internet) you probably already know because I am ashamed to say I have been wallowing in a sea of self pity expressed mostly via social media. I know. I've been That Person. And I'm sorry.

It's been a scary time though. I've had eye problems like I've never known before. A corneal ulcer - or ulcerative acanthamoeba keratitis if you wanna be fancy; I got the eye doc to tell me that yesterday  - which was actually just the physical manifestation of a really nasty eye infection that started on my cornea and worked its way inside my eye. I know, right?
It hurt like a bitch (seriously I never knew my eyes could hurt like that) and my vision was really messed up (is still pretty shit truth be told) and everything was rubbish and for a few days there I was genuinely terrified I was going to lose the sight in my right eye. Genuinely terrified. And not just because I was being a DQ either; it was a genuine possibility.
There have been trips to the eye doctor and all manner of tortuous tests and antibiotic eye drops that I had to apply every hour - even through the night, which, well not so much fun at all  - and other drops which paralysed my eye and it's pretty much been a horror from start to finish.

However, I got the all clear yesterday. The infection has gone and the scarring is only at the edge of my iris which is as good as it can be, really and things are so much better, I just have to wait (and hope!) my vision rights itself over the next few days and I am so relieved, you have no idea.
And the whole thing has just made me realise how lucky I am you know, not just to have my sight (but oh wow, that. I will never ever take my sight for granted again) but that I have the people in my life that I do. I really am the luckiest: my parents who drove me to appointments and sat in on consultations and loved me and made it so clear that actually you're never too old to need your Mum and Dad; and the not family members, the people who called me multiple times a day just to check in and who talked me down when I was verging on hysteria, who made me laugh when actually I just wanted to cry, who drove me to the pharmacy at 9 in the morning on a Sunday, who drove me to the hospital at 9 in the morning on a Wednesday with a one year old in tow, and sat in the waiting room and didn't cry, who took me for brunch and pub lunch and pretty much kept me going, who listened and talked and rationalised and text and who figuratively 'stroked my hair and told me I was pretty.'

I am SO lucky. So lucky. I have amazing people in my life and I haven't lost my sight and actually, my life is pretty damn good and I am so grateful. So very grateful.

I guess my point is be grateful for the little things, appreciate the people that are there for you - even when times are hard and you're not at your best. Especially then - and look after your eyes. Please look after your eyes. And for the love of all that is good, don't sleep in your contacts because corneal ulcers suck.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Review: The Cursed Child

Holy Smokes but this review has taken all of time to write. Seriously, I cannot actually remember the last time I found it hard to put my feelings about a book into words. I mean I know I flail sometimes and I have kind of made the incoherent keysmash into an art form of my own (and I am eternally sorry for any and all posts that are basically just READ THE DAMN BOOK) but I hardly ever sit and just think ‘well then.’

Thing is, ‘well then’ is pretty much what I did think when I got to the end of The Cursed Child and now I don’t know quite what to do or say. WHAT SHALL I DO OR SAY?

I’m not going to talk about it lots. I could, and maybe I should. But I’m not going to, partly because see above and partly because I know some people haven’t read it yet and I don’t want to be SPOILER GIRL. I’m basically going to say that I have feelings and they’re mixed and a lot of that might be down to what Harry Potter means to me, and how despite myself my expectations for The Cursed Child were unrealistically high. So high though, you don’t even know. They were always going to be. Harry Potter owns a part of my soul, my love for this franchise knows no bounds. For all of time I have – for all of time I will – make grabby hands at anything new that JK Rowling and her cohorts want to throw at me. I will grab it all and I will want it all and I will devour it all, and I will expect it all to fill me with the same wonder that the books did the first time around.

And when it doesn’t, I will feel sad about it.

I think that’s perhaps what I’m feeling now. Sad. Because you see, I remember so well the last time a new Harry Potter book arrived on my lap. I remember Deathly Hallows release day so well. I remember how it was so very very worth the wait. I wanted to love The Cursed Child, believe me I did. & I read part one and made myself stop for the night because I didn’t want it to be over too fast – who knew when (if ever) I was going to get this again, I didn’t want to rush it. & it felt good to be back at Hogwarts, it did. So good. I giggled, and I rolled my eyes and I thought ‘yeah, of course he said that’ and I snorted at Draco and Harry and I was mildly irritated by Ginny and I felt strangely calm and settled and like as JKR promised me, Hogwarts was still there to welcome me home. It just….wasn’t entirely the Hogwarts I was expecting. 

& still, I don’t want to say too much, I don’t want to spoil and I don’t want to bias and to a point I don’t actually want to say anything negative about a part of something that I love so hard (writing this review is hard, dammit. I feel like a house elf.)

I’ll tell you a few things though and the main one is, is that it’s glaringly obvious that a JK Rowling piece of work this is not. Jo very kindly agreed to let somebody play in her sandbox and that’s fine because it’s nice to share your things, but it’s not Harry Potter in the way I know Harry Potter. It doesn’t feel to me to be Jo Rowling’s Harry Potter and I have feelings about that, because it kind of should be, you know? Jo’s Hogwarts is also my Hogwarts and this, this is something else. I didn’t want something else.

It was weird to read too, in some ways, perhaps because it was a script and not prose. We lost a lot there, a mon avis, because a lot of Harry Potter is in the storytelling; the world JKR built; in the way she used her words. So much of what made me fall in love with the whole damn thing in the first place was lost, and I missed it and it was so obvious to me that it wasn’t Rowling’s writing and that made me sad. You don’t get the same level of description in a script, the same level of detail. The detail is what made Harry Potter and without it, at the risk of sounding like a poor and broken record, it just wasn’t the same.

Also, there were flaws in the plot: things that really bugged me and things that felt too convenient and things that needed explaining and things that made me facepalm so hard and there were some pretty major issues with characterisation, such as (sometimes) Hermione (holy feminist issues batman do not let me get on that soapbox because I was a little bit ragey) and Ron (who albeit had some excellent lines) coming across like he was a caricature of himself.
& then there was pretty much everything about Harry as a parent. I felt like some key issues from the books had been conveniently cast aside in order to try to make the story work. Anyone else remember Sirius, and Remus and how thanks to them Harry sort of did have a father figure? Ok, good. Because all of that stuff, the Harry as a father stuff… actually, no. Let’s not. Don’t get me get on the Sirius Black train, it won’t be pretty.

Oh, and I missed people that I thought should have been there – where was Hagrid please? Where exactly was Hagrid. Perhaps Jen was right (and I don’t mind telling you that our live texting of this was a world away from our live texting of DH) and they just didn’t know how to stage him, ha, but still. WHERE WAS HAGRID???

It’s just….I was from the fanfic era you know? I read a lot of fanfiction back In The Day. A lot. And some of it was out of this world excellent. I read fix-it fic, which essentially is what this play was and whilst I was totally a Marauders fangirl, after Deathly Hallows I also read a fair amount of Next Gen fic and that’s kind of what this felt like to me. Next Gen Fix-It Fanfiction. I already knew this version of Albus and Scorpius because I’d met them – they felt like they’d been lifted straight from the internet.  (& if you want to tell me that Scorpius has a thing for Rose then sure, go right ahead, but that’s not the play I read.)

On the flip side, the Voldemort storyline made my skin crawl in the way I imagine it was supposed to and there was also a scene with Harry that ripped out my heart in a way that I was not prepared for, fuckety fuck and also ouch.
There was some excellent and very moving Snape stuff (good God is anything to do with Severus Snape ever not going to destroy me?) and, there was Scorpius. Oh, Scorpius Malfoy, how I love you. If JKR wanted to write an actual book about that kid, I would so totally be down for reading that thanks.

& despite my misgivings I can totally see that it would be pretty impressive on stage, and I really want to see it. I also loved the little bits of JKR that shone through – I mean look at Albus’s initials and tell me she hadn’t already sorted him when she wrote the epilogue. There are zero coincidences in Harry Potter and I have always loved Jo for that. Those little bits, the blink and you’’l miss it foreshadowing, the ‘fuck yes’ moments of realisation, the seemingly insignificant details that turn out to be epically important, the things. Those are what I love. This play was lacking in things. I WANT ALL THE THINGS. 

TL;DR: If you want to read some really excellent fan fiction then start here. For the love of God if you’re going to read The cursed Child because you’re a Harry Potter fan, then read this because wowzer.
If you want to read something that’s been for actual real published then read this and then read this because Rainbow Rowell is a genius. 

& you know what, read The Cursed Child. Let’s be honest, you’re a HP fan so you’re going to anyway. Just, just remember that it was never meant to be read like this, it was supposed to be seen and remember that JK Rowling didn’t write it, and don’t expect it to be like the books, and make your own mind up afterwards.

(Sad Jo is still sad about this whole damn thing.)

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Quick Quick Catch Up

People of the blogosphere, dance with me: it’s pumpkin spice season. Or autumn, we could just call it autumn if you’d like. Either way, it is the season of joy and delight. The season of the Pumpkin Spice Latte (Starbucks I love you *other coffee shops are available) and leaves underfoot; of conkers and so many colours; of fingerless gloves and woolly jumpers and delightfulness. The colours of autumn though, are they not just lush!? Last October my pal and I walked through St James’s park and the colours were so stunning they took my breath away a little bit. I went a bit snap happy because I am totally girl of the instagram generation, today (for work related purposes I hasten to add) I photographed my socks. Anyhow. That’s another story.

Autumn is my favourite I think, partly because of the PSL which may well be the most delicious coffee related beverage in the history of time. There’s a pumpkin spice Bailey’s this year, did you know? DID YOU KNOW? Oh, but I am excited to get my little hands on a bottle of that. I also love autumn because it’s perfect for reading. The nights start to draw in and you find that you feel deliciously melancholy somehow and so you (and by ‘you’ I obviously mean ‘I’ and I am so sorry for projecting) feel less guilty for curling up under a blanket and shutting the world away. A blanket, a cozy spot, a cup of coffee and a good book. Is there a pleasure in the world that is equal to that? NO THERE IS NOT. It’s totes a cliché, but it’s a freaking excellent cliché and I am all over it. LET ME BE THE GIRL IN THE OVERSIXED JUMPER WITH THE AUSTEN NOVEL PLEASE.

& so because it’s autumn and it’s a time for reading and because I have been awfully lax of late (my last post was in June and I hate myself a little bit for that) here are some books I’ve read recently that I feel like should be on reading lists everywhere right now, along with some exciting looking autumnal releases.

What have I been reading, then; what do I think you should all read now that it’s September?

The Ship by Antonia Honeywell is a book I was super excited about because when it was released last year it was everywhere and I was hearing All The Good Things. All of them.  & I liked it. It starts of in dystopian London (I love me a good dystopia. Everybody knows it) where everything is bad: Oxford Street burned for week, people are homeless and desperate and squatting in the British Museum and not having an identity card doesn’t only mean you don’t exist, it means you’ll be shot. Lalla is 16, her dad is a (really creepy) visionary and thanks to him she gains passage on The Ship which is kind of like Noah’s Ark for humans – 500 humans, one ship and no talk – ever- of a destination and nobody seems to think that’s weird, except Lalla. It’s good, and interesting and a pretty unique twist on the whole dystopia thing. I liked it. It’s also a pretty cool coming of age story and you cannot get enough of those am I right? I’m right. Anyway, it’s worth a read.

Robin Wasserman’s Girls on Fire is good. It paints a terrifyingly accurate picture of how crazy and passionate and intense female friendship can be. It’s like, imagine your late teen self (some of us have to imagine that ok, for some of us it was a while ago) and then exaggerate it by some and you have Hannah and Dex and even though it’s really extreme you kind of relate to it because it can be like that, female friendship more potent and intense and under-your-skin emotional than any romance and this book gets that. It’s also super pretty, which, I am always all about the pretty words, and mindblowingly observant, there’s ordinary and also extraordinary all tangled up as one and the same and ain;t that just how life goes sometimes? And it’s set in the nineties. THE NINETIES.  Fascinating, gripping, different. It’s messed up and it’s addictive and full of fucked up characters and destructive relationships and completely unreliable narrators. All those excellent things.

I read Sarah Pinborough’s The Death House last year and adored it so I was ridic excited when I saw she’d got a new book out there: Thirteen Minutes. Totally different to The Death House but still quite, quite excellent. AND SO DAMN CLEVER. So clever. Natasha is pulled from a freezing river. She was dead for thirteen minutes. She has no idea how she got there, what happened or why but the more she tries to figure it out the more it looks like perhaps somebody tried to kill her, and perhaps that somebody is a person she loves. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer and all that, but what if you can’t tell them apart? Reading this made me question why I don’t read more psychological thrillers because I do love them so.

You should also look at Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours which I read last week and plan to come back and review properly because I have feelings. It freaked me out.

As far as new (and upcoming) releases go I feel like you should keep an eye out for these babies. I haven’t read any of them, yet (although Today Will Be Different is next on my list) but I want to, because they all sound marvellous.

Today Will Be Different – Maria Semple who wrote Where’d You Go, Bernadette (which I haven’t read but feel like I should) is about a day in the life of one woman, about tackling the little things, and about life often gets in the way of doing just that.

Holding Up the Universe from Jennifer Niven who wrote All the Bright Places because would I be me if I didn’t hit you with a YA rec? It sounds a little Eleanor & Park.

Here I Am, the new novel from Jonathan Safran Foer sounds interesting and relevant and rather excellent and I really liked Extremely Loud so you know, fingers crossed.

The Wonder is the latest from Emma Donoghue which I shall likely read even though I am mad at her because I watched Room recently and my heart broke a little bit.

Ali Smith’s Autumn because hello, it’s called Autumn.

And, GARY OLDMAN and Douglas Urbanski’s BloodRiders. GARY OLDMAN. COWBOYS. VAMPIRES. VAMPIRE COWBOYS. Do I need to say more. It will either be incredible or awful. Or incredibly awful. Frankly, I don’t even care.

So there you have it. I’m back, I think. I have Only Ever Yours to talk about, and I’ve been trying to get my thoughts about The Cursed Child in order for weeks so expect to see me talking about that at some point and I’m reading the new Chris Cleave right now (and I love it, don’t wait for my review: read it now) and my BFF’s baby is one now and is making me want to talk about picture books so that might be a thing and I feel like I might be back to having Things To Say. Hurrahs.