Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Never have I ever thought that I would write a 2* review on a Harry Potter play, but as it turned out, one of the most eagerly awaited books of the year is a grand disappointment. First and foremost, it is essential to point out that my opinion of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was by no means influenced by the fact that it is not an actual novel. Amazingly, some of the readers have missed out the Cursed Child is a script, but journalists are quite seriously to blame for this one. They also are to blame for the fact that almost every media outlet mentions something in the lines of “J.K.Rowling’s latest Harry Potter book… etc etc”. J.K.Rowling did NOT write the Cursed Child. The script is based on the original seven novels, and obviously, J.K.Rowling has given her go-ahead for the use of the beloved characters from the series and contributed to the story development together with John Tiffany, but she did not do the writing. Jack Thorne did.

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Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Rachel is a strange kind of narrator. She’s not entirely reliable, likable enough, but at the same time – pathetic. Her marriage disintegrated and she let herself loose, falling as low as a woman possibly can. Tom, the husband, married the mistress, they had a child together and still, Rachel was stubbornly drawn to man that wasn’t hers for years. She became an alcoholic, her behavior was erratic and borderline insane. Every day she rides the train to work she no loner has and daydreams about imaginary lives of families living along the train tracks. Rachel is the girl on the train, finding a form of comfort in the lives of strangers safe at home. Her overactive imagination leads her into a murder web. An interesting note about the other characters – they all are guilty of something – liars, adulterers, emotional abusers, obsessed… They are human, but they also are flawed, very much so…

Ultimately, The Girl on the Train  is a first-class debut thriller, well-written, entertaining and keeping you guessing whodunit till the very last chapters.I would definitely be looking forward to the adaptation.

Overall: 4*

Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

The character development throughout the first half of the novel is almost entirely one-dimensional. The Dragon, the love-intrest/antagonist remains a grumpy wizard, irritated by whatever his young protégée would do. The readers get only a slight glimpse of his real character, and the overall impression is that the only thing he can do is sulk.

 The protégée in question ends up taking one reckless decision after another and her relationship and worry about Kasia seems, at a lot of points, very forced. Kasia is the pretty-girl best friend, all too perfect to be really likable at the very beginning, Kasia and Agnieszka share a very strong bond – which is inadequately introduced and is seemingly one-sided. Agnieszka cares about her friend deeply, but unfortunately I didn’t get to see where the strength of attachment was even coming from.

Some reviewers have mentioned the Agnieszka’s very touching growth throughout the book and called her a relatable protagonist. She stubbornly kept avoiding reasonable arguments, making one mistake after another… Her power grew, and yet her character growth avoided me almost entirely.  With 367 Goodreads ratings, Naomi Novik’s soon to be released novel currently stands at 4.40* average. Just as in the case of the Red Queen I got a feeling that me and the other reviewers were reading two different books.

The original idea is brilliant, the execution – not so much. Character development is lacking, some plot points drone on and on, while others would have sufficed for 3-4 end-of-the-novel cliffhangers… Uprooted is a vivid and would surely look great on the big screen, it is a dark, twisted and very original tale, however, in it’s novel form it left me disappointed.

Release date: May 21.

Overall note: 3*

Review: Little Red Book of PR wisdom

How to build relationships with journalists? How to behave during interviews? How to write a press release and deal with information requests once it’s out in the world? How to use social media vs. traditional media to your advantage? The Little Red Book of PR Wisdom by Brian Johnson is an entertaining guide into the world of public relations. Rich in detail, highly informative and yet concise, it is a near-perfect introduction to the broad range of topics that current and future PR professionals are expected to deal with in their daily lives.

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Review: Red Queen

How did I hear about the Red Queen? I saw the pretty cover with a crown that dripped blood on Tumblr. A book by the cover… all part of the 2015 reading challenge.

I read 2 chapters and stopped to Google review, thinking something so plain cannot be that hype-worthy, moreover, I sensed a theme. Oppressed reds, powerful “superhuman” Silvers, swords and technology. All too similar to Pierce Brown’s Red Rising to feel truly original. While I found the beginning of Red Rising overwhelming, it was so much so, that you could imagine the world of the characters quite vividly, if not completely. Eighty pages through, I couldn’t even remotely say the same of the Red Queen.

 Reds are poor and unexceptional. Those who become apprentices and learn a craft, can help their families lead a decent existence. Those who can’t find their place are set to join the army on their 18th birthday. That’s exactly the reason Mare Barrow gets in trouble in the first place – she doesn’t have an apprenticeship, and she steals. Her friend’s mentor dies, so Mare convinces her sister, the one that is destined to pull the family from financial misery, to help her get into the city of the Silvers (Silvers are a sort of higher-being. The perfect men and women, strong, graceful, smart… They also happen to have X-men style superpowers ) to steal some of their stuff, to help pay the smugglers to get her and the friend out of the city. The plan goes wrong. Very wrong.

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First read of the year: the Golden Son

Thrilling. Gripping. Jaw-droppingly good. Pierce Brown’s Golden Son is a deliciously wild ride.

FATE FAVORS THE BOLD AND THE CUNNING. 

In the second installment of Red Rising trilogy, Darrow is drawn further and further into the lies and cruelty that rules the solar system. He is destined to break the chains and free the reds, his kin toiling in the mines of Mars. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, hell-bent on revenge for the death of his wife and the torment of his family. The wolf that makes a mistake, leaving to his downfall in the eyes of the society and an army of Bellona vultures waiting to devour him whole. The Sons of Ares, the secretive organization working to bring the society down are in complete disarray, their leader sends Darrow on a suicide mission on Luna. Instead, Darrow ignites a civil war.

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