HP & the cursed child

Have you read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? Chances are – if you frequent book blogs – you have. I read it in two sittings and surprisingly, liked it very much! Surprising because it is a play and because most of my co-workers weren’t in love with it. I did not expect to rate it so highly.

Blurb: The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.

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.

cursed-child

As I said, I liked this one (far better than The Deathly Hallows to be honest). Albus grew on me as the story progressed. I saw him as the sullen, “unloved” teenager that we all have inside of us at some point. A phrase kept popping into my head as I read, that children who need our love the most show it in the most unloving ways. This was definitely true of Harry and Albus, who had great difficulty communicating and relating to each other.

One of the other things that I really liked is that The Cursed Child mirrored HP so perfectly without retelling the same story (ahem Star Wars). Revisiting the Tri-Wizard Tournament was fun without becoming repetitive and the most basic motivation of main character Albus was his love for best friend Scorpius (son of Draco Malfoy!) which has echoes of the relationships between Harry, Ron and Hermione.

The similarities between Albus and a young Harry are all the more striking because they are so different from one another. Albus is a Slytherin, has only one close friend and isn’t popular at all. Even his cousins and siblings aren’t close to him. But Harry, for all his popularity, was only close to Hermione and the Weasleys and both boys felt the pressure of being a spectacle to the masses. Each is uncomfortable in his own skin and wonders at the purity in his own heart.

The fact that The Cursed Child was written as a play didn’t take away from my experience. I was fine with that medium and my imagination completely filled in the gaps. Plays generally  have less writing per page than a regular book, so I breezed through the pages very quickly. This helped to create the illusion that the plot was super fast paced and made me feel accomplished. Everyone likes that feeling.

Not to delve too deeply into spoilers, but we do experience an alternate universe in which Voldemort is the ruler of the magical world and Harry Potter is dead. This period was described as hell on earth, but it was great fun to read about and I wish that it had lasted longer, or that we had even gotten to see Voldemort on-page, in this space. For all the talk of Voldemort returning, and the implied threat of evil creeping back into the world, we never really get to see it.

There is also an alternate reality where Ron and Hermione do not end up together. Instead, Ron is married to Padma (unhappily!) and Hermione is a bitter, mean Professor at Hogwarts instead of Minister for Magic. I did not like this reality at all. Ron and Hermione were both caricatures of themselves and this cheapened them a little. I also detest the implication that Hermione essentially turns into a harpy because she didn’t have Ron to love her.

There was one scene which I loved and have been waiting to read for more than a decade. It is between Harry and Dumbledore (through a portrait of the deceased Headmaster). And it reads a little something like this:

Dumbledore: I am no fit person to love … I have never loved without causing harm.

A Beat

Harry: You would have hurt me less if you had told me this then.

Dumbledore (openly weeping now): I was blind. That is what love does. I couldn’t see that you needed to hear that this closed-up, tricky, dangerous old man … loved you.

A pause. The two men are overcome with emotion.

Harry: It isn’t true that I never complained.

Dumbledore:  Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.

Those that we love never truly leave us, Harry. There are things that death cannot touch. Paint … and memory … and love.

Overall, I enjoyed the Cursed Child and would love to see it made into a movie at some point. I would certainly read another book. The final drawback is my impression that the book overall was a little too young and the events too easy for someone my age. The play feels like it was written for youth today, instead of adults like me who grew up with Harry Potter. And while this would be fine, the main audience reading a play are adults, not young children or even teenagers. The events are tied up a little too neatly at the end. Although one character dies, his death brings little gravity to the story and is almost meaningless, because it fails even to bring Albus to an understanding of what his father grew up with, as The Boy Who Lived.

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How kinky are you?

A couple of years ago I discovered this bdsm test online that seems on the up and up. It is found at bdsmtest.org and I think it started out as a research paper of some kind, seeking data. It certainly isn’t your garden variety buzzfeed test!

Check it out here.

So I just re-took the quiz. I don’t know what my results from last time were, but I have certainly grown as an individual, so I was curious what they would be now.

I like that the test responds to your choices and interests. If you indicate that you would like to learn more or reach out to someone in the lifestyle, it provides options for you to do that. I also provided my email address in case they create more tests of this nature, since I would like to participate in them.

To date, more than 100, 000 participants have been involved! It gives you great results based on this data to show how you answered in comparison to other respondents based on gender and age.

So here are my results! **bites nails, hopes not to be judged**  What are yours?

== Results from bdsmtest.org ==
98% Rope bunny
97% Submissive
75% Experimentalist
75% Brat
74% Masochist
48% Girl/Boy
45% Voyeur
45% Primal (Prey)
42% Slave
27% Ageplayer
27% Exhibitionist
22% Vanilla
11% Pet
11% Degradee
6% Daddy/Mommy
5% Sadist
5% Non-monogamist
4% Switch
3% Rigger
1% Dominant
1% Primal (Hunter)
1% Master/Mistress
1% Brat tamer
0% Degrader
0% Owner

If that gets you hot and steamy, some of the kinkiest books I have reviewed are located here:

His Witness by Vanessa Waltz – A review

Alexandr’s Cherished Submissive by Ann Mayburn – a review

Twist Me by Anna Zaires – book review

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The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me is a sports romance novel featuring football star (Aiden) and his personal assistant (Vanessa). I took a big chance with this novel since I was unfamiliar with the author and rarely enjoy sports romances. They seem (to me) to all have the same plot and characters; eager-to-succeed, mild-mannered, well-behaved female assistant to a cocky superstar asshole in need of reputation rehab. Not this time!

Aiden and Vanessa at least partially reinvent this stereotype and the plot proceeds without the usual shenanigans splashed across the tabloids.

winnipeg

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

—              —

Oh my goodness, I freaking loved this book. It is such a sweet romantic story. The main characters exhibited incredible emotional intimacy with each other. I appreciated the honesty and lack of drama in their relationship and the fact that both felt like “normal” people to me. The characters were not overdone, larger than life personalities or unrelatable. Yet Zapata’s writing was compelling and moved forward at a good pace. I could not put this one down!

When I was a kid, I learned the hard way how expensive the truth was. Sometimes it cost you people in your life. Sometimes it cost you things in your life. And in this life, most people were too cheap to pay the price for something as valuable as honesty.

I like that the author went deeper than most with this one. Vanessa is a complicated person who is trying to balance many balls… debt repayment, twisted family ties, strained friendships … and doing the “smart thing” (aka working for Aiden and making good money) at the expense of her personal and professional goals… the cost of fulfilling her responsibilities is not following her dreams.  Sound familiar? It should. Because it is the life story of every new graduate in our generation. 

I loved that Vanessa had a silly little crush on Aiden, but that it in no way guided her actions. She offered him friendship and then a distant professional assistant when he remained aloof. Sure she thought that he was attractive, but otherwise can’t stand the man and his unappreciative, mono-syllabic attitude towards her and everything she does for him. She is much friendlier with his room-mate (the stereo-typical partying superstar jock).

I wasn’t shooting for the stars or aiming to become a billionaire. I didn’t want to be a celebrity or anything close to that. I just wanted my own small business doing graphic design work that could pay my bills, keep me fed, and still have a little extra left over for other things. I didn’t want to have to rely on someone else’s charity or whim. I’d had to do that for as long as I could remember, hoping my mom would come home sober, hoping my sisters would make me food when my mom wasn’t around, and then hoping the lady with social services could at least keep me and my little brother together…. Why was I even thinking about that?

After Vanessa quits and disappears back home, Aiden tracks her down and begs her to come back to his life, proposing a startling question: Will you marry me [so I can become a US citizen]?

I love that she says no a few dozen times and that Aiden has to keep coming back to her [shitty] apartment to come at her from different angles. Vanessa isn’t a pushover and has not intentions of going back to work for Aiden in any capacity.

Despite what some people thought, the defensive end of the Three Hundreds, Dallas’s professional football team, wasn’t really an asshole or hard to work with. For all his faces and grumbling, he never cussed and hardly ever lost his temper without good reason. He was demanding; he knew exactly what he wanted and how he liked every single thing in his life. It was honestly an admirable quality, I thought, but it was my job to make those requests come true, regardless of whether I agreed with his decisions or not.

I can’t tell if the author wrote Aiden to have an undiagnosed disorder or if he is just a little odd. The characters never wonder if he has a mental illness. At the end of the day, I supposed it is left for the readers to decide, and I prefer to think that Aiden is an independent, driven, goal-oriented individual with little need or desire to rely on emotional connections to add purpose to his life. He loves football, is the best defensive-end in the league and is perfectly content to be alone.

Of course, once Vanessa moves in and become his “paperwork” (I think their terms for each other are the cutest!), the walls start to break down and Aiden undergoes a slow but recognizable period of self-realization. He acknowledges how much Vanessa did and how poorly he treated her when she was his assistant and starts to pay attention to her as a person, instead of someone who makes demands come true.

Neither one of us said a word as he climbed onto my bed and under the covers as if it was no big freaking deal, like this wasn’t the first time he’d done it. I didn’t let myself get all shy and prude-ish, or anywhere near it. Desperate times called for desperate measures, and I wasn’t going to say no to the other half of my paperwork getting into my bed when I’d rather not be by myself.

The only drawback to The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, IMHO, was the [American} author’s misunderstanding of the Canadian “eh”. Aiden is Canadian born and raised but he uses the term incorrectly throughout the novel. It isn’t over-used but it isn’t used how we would either. A reader from another country may not even realize this though so it probably isn’t an issue in those cases.

Mariana Zapata has written the best slow burn that I have ever read. If she ever wrote a sequel, I would pick it up in a heartbeat.

Even though this book was outside of my normal comfort zone it has skyrocketed to one of my favourite romance novels, and I have actually read it twice this summer. I need to go find some other books by this author!

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