Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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Firstly, there are lots and lots and lots of reviews from reviewers who didn’t seem to realise that this is a playscript. As in

REVIEWER:         (says in a stage whisper) A. Play. Script.

I’ve read plenty of plays in my time – I’ve a particular fondness for Philip Ridley and Mark Ravenhill, whose work rarely graces this shores but plays are easily accessible in book form – so I didn’t have a problem with the format.

That said, what I did have a problem with, format-wise, was that JK Rowling had gone on record saying that putting this on stage was the best format for the story, and that it absolutely couldn’t have been a novel.

It really could have, and would’ve made an excellent one. But they chose to make a play, and that’s fine.

I enjoyed both of the plays. I thought the story – which, word of warning, focuses predominately on Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy’s sons, much more than it does on Harry, Hermione and Ron. They’re in it, they have scenes and there they’re throughout, but this is definetly the story of The Cursed Child (Albus, Harry’s son) – was great, and very much its own thing. It’s a tricksy, timey-wimey story that involves time travel, and as such gives a great opportunity for older/dead characters to have their own cameo.

I really enjoyed the story, the new children, and where the characters everyone loves are now. In particular, I loved how Draco Malfoy and his son Scorpius (my favourite new character) and their relationships developed.

I could go into the in’s and out’s of the plot, but frankly, you’re probably going to read it and don’t want to be spoiled, or are not and just have a passing interest.

I really enjoyed the plays, and would love to see it live, although I tried recently, to no avail, to get tickets, as did many thousands of others, so for now, this book is the next best thing.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

5 Winter Warmers to Watch Out For

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We Were on a Break by Lindsey Kelk (6 Oct 2016)
Is it a break? Or is it a blip?

‘You’ve just had a holiday,’ I pointed out, trying not to yawn. ‘Wasn’t that enough of a break?’
‘I don’t mean that kind of break.’

There’s nothing worse than the last day of holiday. Oh wait, there is. When what should have been a proposal turns into a break, Liv and Adam find themselves on opposite sides of the life they had mapped out.

Friends and family all think they’re crazy; Liv throws herself into work – animals are so much simpler than humans – and Adam tries to get himself out of the hole he’s dug.

But as the short break becomes a chasm, can they find a way back to each other? Most importantly, do they want to?

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Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan (20 Oct 2016)
It’s Christmas in the Cornish coastal village of Mount Polbearne – a time for family, friends and feasting. When Polly’s not creating delicious treats in the Little Beach Street bakery, she’s cuddled up with her gorgeous boyfriend, Huckle. But when a storm cuts the village off from the mainland, can the villagers work together to save Christmas for everybody?

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The Boy is Back by Meg Cabot (1 Nov 2016)
From New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot comes the sweetly humorous story of a man who has to face his past in order to find his future.Sometimes to move forward, you have to go back One post. That s all it took to destroy the care free, glamorous life of pro golfer Reed Stewart. One tiny post on the Internet. Then again, it s not like Reed s been winning many tournaments lately, and his uncle isn t the only one who says it s because of the unfinished business he left behind back home in Bloomville, Indiana namely Reed s father, the Honorable Judge Richard P. Stewart, and the only girl Reed ever loved, Becky Flowers.But Reed hasn t spoken to either his father or Becky in over a decade. Until that post on the Internet.Suddenly, Reed s family has become a national laughingstock, his publicist won t stop calling, his siblings are begging for help, and Reed realizes he has no other choice: He s got to go home to face his past . . . the Judge and the girl he left behind.Becky s worked hard to build her successful senior relocation business, but she s worked even harder to forget Reed Stewart ever existed which hasn t been easy, considering he s their hometown s golden boy, and all anyone ever talks about. It was fine while they were thousands of miles apart, but now he s back in Bloomville. She has absolutely no intention of seeing him until his family hires her to help save his parents.Now Reed and Becky can t avoid one another or the memories of that one fateful night.Can the quirky residents of Bloomville bring these two young people back together, or will Reed and Becky continue to allow their pasts to deny them the future they deserve?This warm, thought-provoking book, told entirely in texts, emails, and journal entries, is as much about the enduring bond of families as it is about second chances at love, and will delight as much as it entertains.

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Lyrebird by Cecilia Ahern (3 Nov 2016)
She will change your life forever

In the south-west of Ireland, rugged mountains meet bright blue lakes and thick forests. Deep in the woods, a young woman lives alone, forever secluded from the world, her life a well-kept secret. She possesses an extraordinary talent, the likes of which no-one has seen before: a gift that will earn her the nickname Lyrebird.

When Solomon stumbles into Laura’s solitary existence, her life is turned on its head. Pulled from her peaceful landscape to the cacophony of Dublin, she is confronted by a world desperate to understand her.

But while Solomon knows the world will embrace Laura, will it free her to spread her wings – or will it trap her in a gilded cage? Like all wild birds, she needs to fly free…

Lyrebird is a thoughtful, deeply moving love story; a story of the wild heart in us all and the quiet that lies underneath the world’s noise.

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Virgins by Diana Gabaldon (17 Nov 2016)
FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED BEFORE JAMIE MET CLAIRE IN THIS BRILLIANT NEW OUTLANDER SHORT STORY.

1740: Young Jamie Fraser has left Scotland and, with his best friend Ian Murray, is running with a band of mercenaries in France.

Both men have good reason not to go back to their homeland: both are nursing wounds, and despite their best efforts to remedy the situation, both are still virgins.

So when a Jewish doctor hires them to escort his granddaughter to Paris, they readily agree. Both men are instantly drawn to the beautiful young lady.

What neither know is that their lives and their friendships are about to become infinitely more complicated – and a lot more dangerous …

(A note from Ballyroan Reads –  I love that they call this 256 page novel a short story!)

 

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

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In this novel, the inventor of the World’s First Clock is punished for trying to measure time.

The character Dor becomes “Father Time” after he creates the first ways to measure time. Dor is banished into a cave to be bombarded with all of Earth’s obsession about time – to get more, to stop, to slow down…

Dor is finally granted his freedom, along with a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time.

The two people he must help are Sarah Lemon, a seventeen-year-old with way too many problems, and Victor Delamonte, a man dying from cancer who also happens to be the fourteenth-richest man in the world.

I’m can’t say this is a brilliant read as it does have several flaws: there are a lot of flash-backs, flash-forwards and time freezes. Plus Albom uses a technique of bolding some sentences throughout the book –for no apparent reason! Also, the female character is a bit one dimensional.However, I love the overall message in the book – live in the moment and enjoy what is happening here and now.

Albom writes, “Man alone measures time… and, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.”

Despite its shortcomings, The Time Keeper is a quick read with an inspiring message.

You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

RELEASE DAY REVIEW: My Cowboy Freedom by Z. A. Maxfield

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Z A Maxfield is one of my favourite romance writers. She manages something that so many don’t – believability. Her work just rings so true, so genuine, so authentic that it’s impossible not to love it, especially since it’s so well-written, above and beyond most romances.

My Cowboy Freedom is the fifth book in her Cowboys series. The first two were set around the J-Bar Ranch (I liked the first book, My Cowboy Heart, but the supporting characters from that book who really irritated me, got their own book in My Heartache Cowboy which I skipped) whilst the remaining three are set around the Rocking C Ranch.

I haven’t (yet) read the third book, My Cowboy Homecoming, although I will. The first book in this series that I read was the fourth book, My Cowboy Promises, which I loved. I will say that although you could read My Cowboy Freedom without having read Homecoming or Promises, it would definitely benefit have read them, at the very least Promises whose characters feature heavily (props to ZAM for having one of my favourite characters steal one of the chapters with his scene! Declan and The Joy of Gay Sex!).

Enough preamble. Freedom tells the story of Sky(ler) who after eight years in prison has gotten a job at the Rocking C, following in the footsteps of his cowboy Daddy. He’s been given a few grand by his prison lover, ‘Nando, who looms large throughout this book, having provided so much security and affection for Sky throughout the years, something he is now bereft of on the outside world.

Rock is a big guy, but he was hit by lightning and now has seizures and a watch dog called Maisie (and ZAM characterises her so well, I felt like giving her a Best Supporting Actor Oscar). His family are super-religious – touring tv pastor religious – and they’re not happy with him being gay, at all. Given his special needs, since being hit by lightning, he’s treated like a child by everyone at the Rocking C and by his parents. He has little autonomy and despite his boss Sterling, a vocal homophobe, knowing he’s gay, he’s not allowed to be how he is at all. He is trapped by his parents’ wishes and by his condition, despite being in his twenties and a fully-grown man.

This book is, in a lot of ways, about how other people see you, and what that can do to people’s impressions of you; Sky, the murderous ex-con and Rock, the ‘retard’ that was hit by lightning, as one character calls him in the book. As such, Sky and Rock’s romance are against all the odds, and is beautiful, tender and heartfelt. It’s a slow burn that when it gets together throws certain things on its head (for example, Rock, the guy who has seizures and needs a dog being, well, Sky’s Rock, the warm pair of arms around him).

A great, great supporting cast with welcome returns for Andi, Ryder and Dr. Declan from Promises. I wonder if there will be any more books in this series, as this feels like a concrete and definitive end to the story of the Rocking C. Perhaps, if there’s a book six, we will return to the J-Bar, or go to another ranch [Update: I’ve just noticed that Andi is getting her own book next year, an m/f romance that is billed the start of a new series] . Either way, Sky and Rock were the most beautiful romance out the five books, written with a depth and heart rare in the field of romance. Here’s to ZAM and her cowboys!

 

Brilliant Book Titles #62

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
Modern dating is hard. Whether you’re falling for that man-child for the 57th time or text messaging your way to stalker status, dating can make you want to find a nice, roomy hermitage on Airbnb and live a solitary, monk-like life. Luckily, that frustration ends now. This Is Why You’re Single breaks away from your traditional dating guide by taking a page from Aesop’s playbook with hilarious modern-day dating fables paired with advice, entertaining quizzes, graphs and illustrations. Dating will feel a whole lot more doable, a little less weird, and, well, actually pretty fun.

Brilliant Book Titles #61

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
tsundoku: (noun, Japanese) buying books and not reading them; letting books pile up unread on shelves or floors or nightstands tartle: (verb, Scots) to hesitate while introducing or meeting someone because you have forgotten their name hoppipolla: (compound verb, Icelandic) jumping into puddles Discover these and many other words to surprise, delight and enamor. Terms for the particular grace of mended things, for the urge to peer into other people’s windows, for the sunlight that filters through the leaves of trees. Terms for dancing awkwardly but with relish, for hating endings, for the look shared by two people who each wish the other would speak first. An irresistible gift for lovers of words and those lost for words alike.

Still Life by Louise Penny

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Although this review is for Still Life, this is really a review of the whole series of Chief Inspector Gamache novels by Louise Penney but we may as well start at the beginning.

In this novel, the body of an elderly lady, Jane Neal, is found in the woods beside her home in the small village of Three Pines, south of Montreal.  Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his team of investigators are called in, to the consternation of the locals who are convinced that the death of such a beloved resident could only be an accident.

And so we are introduced to a cast of characters who recur in all of the following novels.  I must admit that I was expecting a somewhat cosy mystery and that was more or less what I got.  However, something about this town and the characters who live in it stayed with me and after the second novel, A Fatal Grace, I was completely hooked.  I make no bones about the fact that I want to live in Three Pines.  I put on a stone while reading this series because the descriptions of food are amazing and I felt that eating croissants and drinking chocolat chaud was probably as near as I was ever going to get to Quebec.  The novels increase in complexity and ambition as the series continues and are as dark and compelling as any I have read.  Definitely recommended.

You can reserve a copy of Still Life from South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

5 New LGBT Books

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Murder in the Closet: Essays on Queer Clues in Crime Fiction Before Stonewall edited by Curtis Evans (30 Nov 2016)
Analysis of LGBTQ life before the Stonewall Riots of 1969 traditionally has been dominated by the powerful negative image of the closet, the metaphorical space where that which was deemed “”queer”” was necessarily sheltered from hostile, heteronormative public view. Literary studies of queer themes and characters in crime fiction have tended to focus on works published in the freer environment that has existed in the years since Stonewall, queer material, so the traditional belief runs, having been, for the most part, only negatively or obliquely presented in crime fiction of the closet-bound pre-Stonewall era. This book tempers this traditional view, offering readers a groundbreaking collection of twenty-three essays, in which the authors investigate queer aspects to crime fiction published over eight decades, from the corseted Victorian era to the unbuttoned Swinging Sixties, on the very eve of Stonewall. “”Murder will out,”” so the saying goes, and this is true as well of queer material in pre-Stonewall crime fiction, if one but follows the clues.

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Willful Machines by Tim Floreen (1 Dec 2016)
The closeted son of an ultra-conservative president must keep a budding romance secret from his father while protecting himself from a sentient computer program that s terrorizing the United States and has zeroed in on him as its next target in this socially conscious sci-fi thriller to shelve between “The Terminator “and “Romeo and Juliet” (“Kirkus Reviews,” starred review).
In the near future, scientists create what may be a new form of life: an artificial human named Charlotte. All goes well until Charlotte escapes, transfers her consciousness to the Internet, and begins terrorizing the American public.
Charlotte s attacks have everyone on high alert everyone except Lee Fisher, the closeted son of the US president. Lee has other things to worry about, like keeping his Secret Service detail from finding out about his crush on Nico, the eccentric, Shakespeare-obsessed new boy at school. And keeping Nico from finding out about his recent suicide attempt. And keeping himself from freaking out about all his secrets.
But when attacks start happening at his school, Lee realizes he s Charlotte s next target. Even worse, Nico may be part of Charlotte s plan too.
As Lee races to save himself, uncover Charlotte s plan, and figure out if he can trust Nico, he comes to a whole new understanding of what it means to be alive and what makes life worth living.

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Room for Milk: Doodles by Cole Escola (1 Dec 2016)
If “The Far Side” had a gay little brother with borderline personality disorder, it might look something like this book. Sometimes absurdly funny, sometimes just absurd, Room for Milk by Cole Escola will take you on an acid trip through children’s books that don’t exist and other weird illustrated fever dreams.

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In the Eyes of Mr Fury by Philip Ridley (6 Dec 2016)
On the day Concord Webster turned eighteen, the Devil died. The Devil’s real name was Judge Martin, but Concord’s mother called him the Devil. She said he boiled babies for dinner and made lampshades out of human skin. So why did she, who hated him so venomously, have a key to his house?

The key will unlock more than just Judge’s front door. It will also unlock a multitude of stories – where magic children talk to crows, men disappear in piles of leaves, and James Dean lookalikes kiss in dark alleys – and reveal a secret history that will change Concord’s life forever.

Philip Ridley’s second novel (following the sexually charged tour de force Crocodilia) was an instant cult classic when originally published in 1989. Now, for this new edition, Ridley has reimagined the story, expanding the original novel into the world’s first LGBT magical realist epic. A vast, labyrinthine, hall-of-mirrors saga, its breathtaking imagery and stunning plot twists – covering over a hundred years – reveal Ridley to be one of the most distinctive and innovative voices in contemporary fiction.

‘Philip Ridley’s stories compel attention.’ – The Times (London)

‘Ridley is the master of modern myth.’ – The Guardian

‘Ridley is a visionary.’ – Rolling Stone

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Pathogen by Jessica Webb (13 Dec 2016)
When a deadly virus surfaces in the small, wealthy town of Hidden Valley, British Columbia, Dr. Kate Morrison and Sergeant Andy Wyles work together to uncover the source of the outbreak. As the two women navigate their new relationship, Kate and Andy are also forced to navigate a highly political and increasingly panicked community. Still bearing the scars of her recent abduction, Kate is driven to discover how this virus attacks her critically ill patients while Andy investigates suspicions of bioterrorism. As the death count rises, Kate struggles with a crushing sense of helplessness, the pressure to keep the residents of Hidden Valley alive, and Andy s growing concern that maybe Kate hasn t yet dealt with her troubled past.

Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett

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I recently reviewed another Adam Haslett book Union Atlantic and I’ve just finished his more recent and newly published, Imagine Me Gone.

This has been without question the best book I have read this year. It centres on a family, John, Margaret, Michael, Celia, and Alec and how they are affected and deal with anxiety and depression. Now that is bound to put off some people who will think, Oh No, I couldn’t read that it sounds miserable however It is anything but! This a novel just bursting with love. Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of a different family member. Haslett works this seamlessly and develops and layers his characters so brilliantly that he gives us a wonderful insight into how they struggle with guilt and finding their own happiness. He asks us how much would you sacrifice to save those whom you love?  How much is it possible to?

It took Haslett 5 years full time to write this novel, and it shows. The writing is exquisite, the insights, painful, honest and relevant. He avoids all the possible pitfalls, making his characters unbelievable, laying it on too thick etc. I felt that I knew his complex sympathetic family. I wanted them to find peace, to succeed, to find their own solace. I reread many passages, I started to read more slowly to absorb his words. I cried. I will definitely read it again. This was not a depressing novel, It was abundantly rich with love.

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

 

 

Brilliant Book Titles #60

LOVE me some RuPaul, and have gotten some of my colleagues completely addicted to RuPaul’s Drag Race!

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

Blurb:
More than just a style guide, this is a navigation system through the bumpy road of life. Let RuPaul teach you the tried, tested and found true techniques that will propel you from background player to shining star!

No more playing small, your time is now!

“Workin’ It!” will provide helpful and provocative tips on fashion, beauty, style and confidence for girls and boys, straight and gay – and everyone in between! No one knows more about life, self-expression and style than RuPaul! With photos by Mathu Andersen from the new season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and a fresh look at style and inner beauty, “Workin’ It!” will pick up where the show leaves off. The book will be as colourful, fun, and intriguing as RuPaul, with insights into makeup, clothing choices and the illusion of drag. Fans of RuPaul will get piece of Ru’s philosophy on style and attitude – and how it’s more than the clothes that make the man, or woman! With four colour photos throughout and a fresh, funky design “Workin’ It!” will be the perfect guide to RuPaul – part style guide, part confidence manifesto, and entirely fabulous!