Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – The Original Screenplay

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – The Original Screenplay
Written by J.K. Rowling
Published by Scholastic Books on November 18, 2016
280 pages
Fantasy

30065028Synopsis:

A time and place where the actions of a handful of people… and creatures… will determine the fate of the many. Magizoologist, Newt Scamander, newly arrived in town, intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when Newt’s magical case is misplaced and some of his fantastic beasts escape into the city, it spells trouble for everyone…

My Review:

I loved this movie and this book! Now that’s a strong opening line for a review. But I can’t sugar coat it. My family and I saw the movie last weekend and I finished the screenplay shortly thereafter. Fantastic Beasts continues the wonderful story of the magic world. Ms. Rowling’s imagination has no end and I’m very happy about that.

The magical world in the America is a very different world than in England. I think Ms. Rowling’s opinions shined through into her screenplay (which I appreciate). Witches and Wizards can have no contact with No Majs (muggles). There is some very strong discrimination throughout the story which is pretty prevalent in America today. The American magical community is viewed as very closed-minded and isolated. As I was watching and reading Fantastic Beasts, I kept thinking “Newt, please take Tina, Queenie and Jacob back to England with you and lived happily ever after!”

My favorite characters have to be Queenie and Jacob. I loved their sweetness and acceptance of each other. Jacob’s realization that there is a magical world is so funny and brings a lot levity to the story. Queenie’s use of legilimency would make someone feel uncomfortable; but, she is so sweet and empathic it really didn’t seem untoward. I really loved Queenie and Jacob’s budding relationship. I hope it continues and flourishes in the movies to come.

As I was reading the screenplay, I could vividly see the movie playing out in my head. I really like this format; it makes for fun reading. Like the play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Fantastic Beasts is fast-paced and quick to read. But make sure you see the movie first; it makes the screenplay so much more fun to read.

5bookrating

kendal-12

Review: The Gentleman

The Gentleman
Written by Forrest Leo
Published by Penguin Press on August 16, 2016
287 pages
Received from Muse Monthly Subscription

27876766Synopsis:

When Lionel Savage, a popular poet in Victorian London, learns from his butler that they’re broke, he marries the beautiful Vivien Lancaster for her money, only to find that his muse has abandoned him.

Distraught and contemplating suicide, Savage accidentally conjures the Devil — the polite “Gentleman” of the title — who appears at one of the society parties Savage abhors. The two hit it off: the Devil talks about his home, where he employs Dante as a gardener; Savage lends him a volume of Tennyson. But when the party’s over and Vivien has disappeared, the poet concludes in horror that he must have inadvertently sold his wife to the dark lord.

Newly in love with Vivien,  Savage plans a rescue mission to Hell that includes Simmons, the butler; Tompkins, the bookseller; Ashley Lancaster, swashbuckling Buddhist; Will Kensington, inventor of a flying machine; and Savage’s spirited kid sister, Lizzie, freshly booted from boarding school for a “dalliance.” Throughout, his cousin’s quibbling footnotes to the text push the story into comedy nirvana.

Lionel and his friends encounter trapdoors, duels, anarchist-fearing bobbies, the social pressure of not knowing enough about art history, and the poisonous wit of his poetical archenemy. Fresh, action-packed and very, very funny, The Gentleman is a giddy farce that recalls the masterful confections of P.G. Wodehouse and Hergé’s beautifully detailed Tintin adventures.

The Gentleman is a fun, quirky book that I’m not likely to forget anytime soon. The characters are full of life and wit. I was chuckling all the way through it. I really enjoyed the structure of the book; especially the use of the footnote. Mr. Leo’s use of Lionel’s “cousin” brought out some very funny anecdotes. While reading this book, you can’t take anything too seriously.

First, Lionel is a real piece of work. He thinks he is a poet and he definitely  acts like one. He is so melodramatic and self-absorbed. You just roll your eyes over any of his behavior. His melodrama brings so much humor to the story. He tries to find poetic inspiration in everything he sees which at certain points is truly eye-rolling. His little journey to find his wife reminds me of a madcap treasure hunt with so many kooky twists and turns.

Probably my favorite part of this book is cousin Hubert Lancaster. I loved the use of his footnotes. It made for a fun and unique read. In most books, you would just glance over the footnote. However, Mr. Leo uses the footnote as a literary device to challenge the narrator’s story. If you just glance over these footnotes, you will be missing a quite of few witty quips.

I will also commend Mr. Leo on writing some strong female characters. Lizzie and , even Vivien, are fun, strong, and will not stand in the shadow of a man. They are independent and intelligent. There is nothing “vapid” about these women. You will see their struggle trying to be relevant in a very man’s world. I really loved how the men were completely whipped by these amazing ladies.

If you’re in the mood for a fun, witty, madcap journey, then this book is for you. It is quite the page-turner and it’s something you will not forget.

4bookrating

Review: Hekate’s Chalice

Hekate’s Chalice
Written by Teagan Kearney
Published on August 15, 2016 by Teagan Kearney
91 pages
Urban Fantasy
Received from author in exchange for an honest review

31614187Synopsis:

A stolen artifact. An imminent deadline. A tenacious investigator.

JB runs a private detective agency for the magickally challenged, but if business doesn’t pick up soon, he’ll have to close the doors for good. When someone steals Hekate’s chalice, JB and his maverick team jump at the chance to track down the supernatural object. They’re resourceful and determined, but can they outsmart wizards, witches, and daemons before the client’s deadline expires?

If you like gripping mysteries interwoven with generous doses of magic and humor, then you’re going to love ‘Hekate’s Chalice’, the first volume of the ‘Adept Solutions’ series.
Enter this imaginatively creative world today.

Hekate’s Chalice is a very good start for a new urban fantasy series that has a lot of potential. It is a short novella (only 91pages); but, Teagan Kearney gives the reader plenty to pique one’s interest.

We are introduced to the main character, JB, who runs a supernatural detective agency. When I read the synopsis, I immediately thought of Harry Dresden. JB is not a wizard; instead he is a hybrid of daemon, elf and human. That, to me, is an interesting mix. His associates in his agency are also varying degrees of supernatural creatures: imps, fairies, and I’m not sure what else. I liked the mix of the supernatural creatures in the story and that gave the book a lot of texture and potential story lines.

Since this is a short novella, I’m hoping the upcoming novels will have more world-building and character development. This story was just a quick glimpse into this world. I’m looking forward to learn more about Tropolis. Where is this city and how was it created? How was the world created? Were supernaturals always known to humans or did some event trigger the supernatural appearance? I have lots of questions and I’m looking forward to the answers.

The main characters have a lot of potential as well. JB seems to be tall, dark and handsome who wears the white hat. Nikki seems to be his work partner and back up. Gemma is his would be love interest. Zhanna is the wild and crazy fairy. Finally, there is Jason, Gemma’s twin brother. I’m not sure what to make of him.  It should be very interesting how all these characters interact and develop.

Overall, I found this novella to be a very intriguing introduction to a new series. I’m really looking forward to upcoming sequels to learn more of this supernatural world.

4bookrating

 

Review: Pride and Prejudice – A Graphic Novel

Pride and Prejudice – A Graphic Novel
Adapted by the original novel by Jane Austen
Illustrated by Robert Deas and Text Adapted by Ian Edginton
Published by SelfMadeHero on March 15, 2015 (first published in 2011)
144 pages
Purchased from Amazon

10239347Synopsis:

Jane Austen referred to Pride and Prejudice (1813), the earliest-written of her published novels, as her “darling Child” – and generations of readers have taken it to their heart ever since. The irresistible attraction she portrays, between the sparkily independent Elizabeth Bennet and the solemnly austere Mr. Darcy, counts among the greatest, most romantic – and funniest – love-stories ever told.

As a HUGE Jane Austen, I will pretty much read anything pertaining to her and her perfect novels. So, when I came across a graphic novel version of Pride and Prejudice, I had to give it a try. I’m so glad that I did; I really enjoyed. It is a very fun adaptation and captured a lot of the essence of the original novel.

I thought the illustrator and writer did an admirable job capturing Lizzy’s wit and strong-willed personality and Mr. Darcy came across as his usual conceited self. I think my favorite parts of the book included the outlandish and over-exaggeration of Mrs. Bennet. I thought she was portrayed perfectly.

If I did have one criticism, it would the facial illustrations. I found them to be a tad harsh and a little. However, I loved the colors and costumes. Mr. Deas captured, I think, the essence of that time period with the dress, the parlor rooms, hairstyles and mannerisms.

I’m hoping to introduce my 11-year old daughter to Jane Austen with this book. She will pretty much only read graphic novels and I hope this one will pique her interest. I believe could be a good first attempt into the Jane Austen universe.

4bookrating

 

 

Review: The Little Stranger

The Little Stranger
Written by Sarah Waters
Published by Riverhead Books on May 10, 2010
512 pages
Suspense
Purchased for October book club

7234875Synopsis:

The Little Stranger follows the strange adventures of Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. One dusty postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifFirsyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.

First of all, there were many times I just wanted to stop reading and not because I was scared. I felt this book was about 150 pages too long. I never felt any pangs of fear or anxiety. It was incredibly slow-moving and I got caught in all the minutia of clothing descriptions.

Was Hundreds Hall haunted? I have no clue. I don’t it was developed enough to really care about the house or its characters. The Hall was in a very sad state; but whether a ghost or something resided there, it just wasn’t that clear. It was sad seeing the Ayres slowly losing their way in life; but it wasn’t really scary or suspenseful. I keep waiting for that “holy crap” moment, but it never really came.

This book never left me wondering what happens next and it wasn’t a page-turner for me. I was difficult to get through. I found it really hard to want to figure out what was happening at Hundreds Hall. It never piqued my interest or curiosity.

I guess, this book really shouldn’t considered “horror” or “suspense.” It’s more historical fiction and a look into post word war II England. It did give an interesting portrayal of the upper class losing their ancestral homes and their position in society. Maybe that is the heart of the book: that loss contributing to the psychological break of the family. The slow crumbling of the Hall mirrors the slow decline of the family.

I do have my own theories of what happened at Hundreds Hall for the author never gives any real answers or hints for that matter. I don’t want to give away any spoilers; but I think Dr. Faraday’s obsession with the Hall could have played a big party of the tragedies that occurred there. I’m looking forward to my book club to hear what the others have to say about this book. I didn’t like it; but I know others did.

2bookrating

 

Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Written by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on July 31, 2016
327 pages
Fantasy
Purchased at Barnes and Noble

29056083Synopsis:

It was always difficult to be 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 the 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.

I had mixed feelings about this play when I first heard of it. I was excited about a new story from Ms. Rowling; but at the same time nervous that it wouldn’t rise the level of her other books. I should never have been nervous. The eighth story is a fine addition to this amazing series. We are given a glimpse of Harry and his family years after the death of Vordemort. However, we are given glimpses of how important our choices are and how they can affect our lives.

Harry is still our fallible hero. He is still trying to move on from the Battle at Hogwarts and at the same time having to raise three kids with his wife, Ginny.  It seems Albus is having difficulty dealing with Harry’s past as well. Harry is not doing a great job helping Albus deal with his problems. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but Albus is a little different, house-wise, than the rest of his family. It does cause some angst as well.

I think the heart of the story is the friendship between Albus and Scorpius (Draco’s son). I think their relationship is really special and has the possibility of bringing three families together. For it is my opinion, that Albus and Scorpius will marry later on down the road. Their relationship will finally bring an end to hatred and animosity between the Potters/Weasleys and the Malfoys.

Also, in The Cursed Child, our choices can make or break our world. Albus and Scorpius made some serious bad decisions that gave us a glimpse of what would have happened if Voldemort won the Battle of Hogswart. First, Albus wouldn’t even been born. Second, Scorpius had to find a way to right his mistakes. Enter Severus Snape and all I can say is “Always.” Snape is still the questionable hero that we all either love or hate.

In the end, love is what is matters. Love will bring acceptance and forgiveness. Love will unite. Love will bring families together. Love conquers all.

5bookrating

 

Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One
Written by Ernest Cline
Published by Broadway Books on June 5, 2012
372 pages
Science Fiction
Purchased for September Book Club

12600138Synopsis:
It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of the ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune – and remarkable power – to whoever can unlock them. For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved – that of the last twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig. And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle. Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt – among them certain powerful players who are willing to comment very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life – and love – in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape. A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize. Are you ready?

To start off, I haven’t read a lot of science fiction novels. It is not much usual go-to genre. However, Ready Player One was the September selection for my awesome book club, Books, Babes and Booze. This is one amazing book! The book has review on its cover that states it’s a mix of The Matrix and Willy Wonka which us a perfect description. Ernest Cline pulled you in from the very first page and kept you there until the very last. I couldn’t put it down.
Mr. Cline created a very dark and depressing real world where it made it very easy for the reader to believe that the virtual world was better alternative. Wade Watts’ real world was located in Oklahoma City, OK (I live just 20 miles south of OKC) and that really piqued my interest. He shaped together a bleak real world that included a trailer park where homes are stacked twenty high. Climate change has made the atmosphere almost unlivable. It’s dark, dirty and depressing.
However, OASIS is want makes living bearable for Wade and his friends. I found OASIS to be an amazing but at the same time a terrifying world. There is no human contact; each person is alone in the real world playing on their own system. I found it very sad and kind of scary. I can see how very easily our world today could turn into something like OASIS. Each person alone and only connecting via a virtual reality; which to me is not a real world. After stating all that, I was completely immersed in this world. I was pretty much enthralled with it.
As a 80s kid, I loved all the references Mr. Cline used throughout the book. The WarGames reference was perfect. I won’t give any spoilers; but this movie really showed how obsessive Wade and the other players were with James Halliday. Halliday seemed to be a difference breed of cat; a mixture of Jobs, Gates and through in some Willy Wonka. You only get glimpses on him, but he makes a big impact. OASIS was his chocolate factory.
In the end, the notion of actual human connection was what made this book really incredible. In order to defeat “the bad guys”, Wade and his competitors had to come together in real life and work together. Having them discover who that actually were was pretty priceless. But no matter what each person held secret; they still accepted one another as friends, and maybe more. Great book! Highly recommend!

5bookrating