in which i read some books

Hello, world.

It’s been a couple weeks since my last post, so I thought I’d update you on some of my latest reads. And, boy, have there been some good ones.

NATALIE’S READS OF AUGUST 2K16 (THUS FAR)

HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD by J.K. Rowling

Goodreads summary:

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Rating: 2.5/5

*spoiler-free review*

To be honest, I wasn’t at all excited to read the play, which, if you knew me, would be a shock because I am such a devoted lover of Harry Potter. (Like, riddikulusly so.) But I’d heard some of the spoilers beforehand, and they really, really disappointed me. I thought J.K. Rowling (forgive my blaspheme) was off her rocker and that the whole story seemed like a joke. (I still kind of think that.)

I still read it, though, and I will admit–it was better than I thought it would be. I really loved Scorpius (what a little nerd), and I enjoyed the moments between my old favorites, like Ron and Hermione. However, the things that had bothered me before I read it bother me still; even more so, really. I have a lot of issues with the character portrayals, the plot holes, and the overall feeling of the story–it didn’t feel like Harry Potter to me, which was so, so disheartening.

I won’t say too much, for those of you who haven’t read or have read it and enjoyed it. To me, though, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was nothing more than a disappointment. I try not to think about it too much.

*

AS YOU WISH: INCONCEIVABLE TALES FROM THE MAKING OF THE PRINCESS BRIDE by Cary Elwes

Goodreads summary:

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

Rating: 5/5

I adore the Princess Bride. Who doesn’t, really? It’s one of those films that literally anyone can enjoy, and is beloved by all who’ve seen it. It’s 100% quotable, delightful, hilarious, and charming–probably one of the most perfect movies out there.

Here is a thing to know about me: I love trivia, especially movie trivia. There’s an unspoken competition, I think, among my family members to see who can know the most things about movies, pop culture, and pretty much everything else. (I do not win this competition, but I do know a lot of interesting, useless things.)

The point is this: Cary Elwes’s memoir was a joyous, hilarious book filled with funny stories and intriguing facts about the making of the Princess Bride. In other words, it was the perfect book for my family and me. We listened to the audio book as we drove through eastern Canada on vacation, and it was so very delightful. Cary narrated most of it, but pretty much all the other actors and crew members (save those who have passed on) read their quotes and interviews. We all loved it dearly. When the book was over, I almost wanted to cry, as I felt I myself had been a part of the movie, and that a wonderful dream had ended.

I highly encourage those who a) love the Princess Bride, b) enjoy movie trivia, and c) like being happy to read this book–but more specifically to listen to the audio book. It adds that much more joy to the experience.

*

NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro

Goodreads summary:

As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.

Rating: 5/5

I have wanted to read this book for a long time. I heard about it, really, because I love Carey Mulligan. (She is the ultimate #goals.) When I was perusing her IMDB page one time, I noticed she starred in the movie based on this book. It looked lovely and heartbreaking and important–everything I love in a book.

Still, it took me a long to finally get around to reading this book. But I finally just buckled down and checked it out from the library.

It was everything I’d hoped it would be.

Never Let Me Go is often classified as science fiction, as it is, essentially, about clones. However, it’s not really science fiction–not in the traditional sense. Really, it’s about people and what makes people people. Ishiguro has a lovely, minimalistic, and personal voice, which lent itself well to the narration. By the end of the book, I felt really close to Kathy H., and realized that I related a lot to her.

Mostly, I loved its discussion about humanity and time and unfairness and love and heartbreak. (I loved that it takes place in the English countryside.) It’s a melancholy book and left me with a melancholy heart, which I adore.

(Excuse me while I finally go watch the movie and cry over how beautiful it is.)

*

So there are my recent reads! Have you read any of them? I’d love to discuss!

Also, if any of you have ideas about what sort of content you’d like to see from me in the future, I’d love to hear! (aka I need ideas haha)

yours, Natalie

 

in which things get a little strange

Hello, world.

I can’t believe it’s day thirty of the reading challenge!

I honestly didn’t know if I would be able to stick with it. I may have missed a few days, and this post is a day late (oops), but I always caught up and that’s what counts, right??

And let me tell you, I’m really excited about today’s post as, naturally, I saved the best for last.

DAY 30: MY FAVORITE BOOK

Goodreads summary:

At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England’s history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England–until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.

Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell’s student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.

I LOVE THIS BOOK. I LOVE THIS BOOK. I LOVE THIS BOOK.

(Most of you reading this are probably thinking, I’ve never even heard of this book.)

That’s okay. I forgive you.

Like with the Night Circus, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a descriptive, slow-building novel centered around magic and odd characters and setting. It’s careful and precise and so very, very lovely that I can’t even stand it.

I first read this book in high school. I checked it out from the library because I heard Maggie Stiefvater raving about it and I trust her entirely (of course). From the moment I read the first page, I knew this book would always hold a dear place in my heart. Unlike most books I love, I’ve only read this novel once, that one first time. This is entirely because the book is so long–it literally took me a month to read, and not for lack of interest. It’s just a dense book, one that deserves to be savored. Aside from one thousand and six pages, the book is filled with footnotes detailing the history of magic in this alternative reality. To me, though, these anecdotes and asides add such a character and atmosphere to the novel and allow me to further delve into the world.

I read a blurb about the book that described it as a the lovechild of Austen and Tolkien (two of my favorite authors), which is actually really accurate. The myth and magic feel as ancient and mysterious as Tolkien’s, but the style and voice are so reminiscent of Austen’s clever narration–a proper fantasy.

But in the end, I don’t really know how to articulate why I love this book. It’s more than its literary devices and style and prose (even though I love all these things). It’s the myth of magic, it’s the love of England, it’s the strange and delightful characters. All the elements of the book come together so wonderfully, turning it into an odd treasure of a book.

bbcamerica:“Too right, Mr Norrell. ”
me when i read this book
I love it so very much. I hope to read it again soon.

(Also, the miniseries is super super good and is done so well.)

yours, Natalie

My thirty day reading challenge is now complete! If you missed any days, or want to start over, here is day one.