Posted in Blogging, Book, Review

7 Things I Love About The Cursed Child

Sure, yeah, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has quite a few plot holes, out-of-character Harry, Ron & Hermione and a questionable villain, but for me, it’s the underlying themes that count. In this play, it’s the ever-present (in the HPverse) themes of love, friendship and overcoming hardships with the people you care about. These are the things that made it enjoyable for me, and many others.

Anyway, SPOILERS ahead in the list of things I loved about The Cursed Child.


  1. The Amazing Duo

ALBUS: Albus. Al. I’m — my name is Albus . . .

SCORPIUS: Hi Scorpius. I mean, I’m Scorpius. You’re Albus. I’m Scorpius.

And so, the two main characters, Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy, become friends. Their friendship is great. Realistic. Tender. Beautiful. I enjoyed how the two interact, and I loved each of them on their own. While Albus is in his brooding, angsty teen period, Scorpius goes through quite a lot of trouble himself, which makes his mostly positive attitude seem heroic.

What I absolutely adored is the mutual understanding between the two; when misunderstanding happens (Albus is being a little too self-centered, no surprise), Scorpius says the following:

So I’m sorry if I’ve ruined your life because I tell you — you wouldn’t have a chance of ruining mine — it was already ruined. You just didn’t make it better.

They talk, they reconcile, and the interaction is, most of all, believable and relatable. I’m glad these two are friends, but of course, it wouldn’t have happened if Albus wasn’t in…

  1. Slytherin

Harry Potter’s son, in Slytherin. In Hogwarts, it turns out to be a pretty big deal, and bullies instantly show their ugly, miserable selves.

I’m glad, though, that the writers decided to make it this way and showed Albus and Scorpius fighting the prejudice together. And although it isn’t the root of the problem, I’m sure Albus being in Slytherin contributed to…

  1. The imperfect relationship between Albus and Harry.

ALBUS: I didn’t choose, you know that? I didn’t choose to be his son.

Aka, Harry is sort of a lousy dad to Albus. It is understandable, at least for me. He has Lily and James, who are just… normal, and Albus, who very obviously stands out.

Albus’ mother, Ginny, does a better job of understanding his son, while Harry needs to work at it. I’m glad they showed this relationship because, like in reality, nothing is perfect. Harry and his son go a long way before trying to make amends, and I loved reading about their journey.

  1. Severus Snape and Scorpius vs. Dementors

In an alternate reality, where Harry (therefore, Albus as well) doesn’t exist, Voldemort rules and Snape is part of a resistance against his regime, Scorpius from the Voldemort-free world and Severus are cornered by Dementors. This ensues.

SNAPE: Listen to me, Scorpius. Think about Albus. You’re giving up your kingdom for Albus, right? One person. All it takes is one person. I couldn’t save Harry for Lily. So now I give my allegiance to the cause she believed in. And it’s possible — that along the way I started believing in it myself.

SNAPE sends forward a Patronus, and it’s a beautiful white shape of a doe. SCORPIUS: A doe? Lily’s Patronus. SNAPE: Strange, isn’t it? What comes from within.

*crying like a baby*

  1. Headmistress McGonagall…

Says to Hermione:

If I could also give a detention to you, Minister, I would. Keeping hold of a Time-Turner, of all the stupid things!

Yeah, I think she should have just said “Go to hell” and given all of the parties involved detention. Due to McGonagall’s imposing demeanor, even the Minister wouldn’t have minded.

  1. Draco and Harry

Making amends! Talking! Being in the same room several and dueling each other only once!

They have more things in common now that they have kids and, well, father-son issues, and seeing them undo the mess Albus and Scorpius had made is pretty cool.

  1. Who is the cursed child?

Voldemort’s daughter? Albus? Scorpius? Harry? Maybe Draco? I love how this is left an open question, all things considered, and I think it’s something to ponder.

Final rating: 9/10. Highly recommend.


Actually, the eighth thing I love about the series could be this: it exists. Honestly, I’m glad Rowling chose to create this little masterpiece, imperfect on the surface but beautiful beneath.

Other (more elaborate) reviews on WordPress I enjoyed reading:

Review + Discussion: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling — Ellie’s Bookshelf

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — DaniellaWrites

Book Review: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child — BookishKirra

What do you think about The Cursed Child? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Posted in Blogging, Book, Reading, Review

Review: The Cursed Child (Spoiler-free)

Back when it was announced that there would be a Harry Potter play, a sort of eighth instalment in the HP series, I didn’t care much about it. I literally started looking forward to it only in the beginning of this summer, and even then, I was skeptical. Though Rowling was one of the writers, I feared a new story would ruin the previous books. And let me make it clear, the first few pages reinforced this idea in my head.

I kept reading, though, and soon, I was drawn into a mess of a plot, with all its flaws, out-of-character behavior and moderately predictable villain (though it took me a while to see this particular twist) and I…

LOVED IT.

Reviewers are divided, it seems, some claiming it reads like a fanfiction and others pointing out the amazing emotional parts of the play and the great characterization of the two main characters: Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy.

I’m leaning more towards the second camp; I laughed and cried on the journey with the brand new characters, and did the same as we met the (unfortunately deceased) characters we know and love. It involves several impossible (according to Einstein and common sense) scenarios with alternate realities, but I was able to ignore these inconsistencies because, as I’d mentioned, there was great characterization (the lovable duo Albus the Reckless and Scorpius the Dreadless). I also particularly enjoyed the Relative (’cause I’m heavy on Einstein today) Redemption of Slytherin (and Draco), Harry Potter’s Great Fear of sort of spoiler, sort of funny (I can’t even), Ron Weasley the Most Chilled and McGonnagal the Badass Troublemaker-Sponsor. Oh, and Fathers and Sons. That’s a great theme, one that I didn’t expect to be explored in such a way, but it was done nicely, in my opinion.

Spoiler-free is so hard, I hope I’m not doing it wrong.

I’ll give the play a proper rating in the spoilery review, but it’s definitely a firm 8.5–9 out of 10, and I have no regrets.

This is it for the quick spoiler-free review. I couldn’t hold it in.

Anyway, have you read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? If not, would you like to? If yes, did you love it/hate it? What were the enjoyable parts for you and what did you dislike about it?

I’d love to discuss this so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

Posted in Blogging, Book, Literature, Poetry

Book Review: Paradise Lost

A masterpiece. Rating: 100 out of 10.

Me 

My review could have ended there but I’ll expand on this. It is a masterpiece of literature, the lines of which, in my opinion, would greatly inspire anyone, regardless of their world views and religion.

Though of course, Paradise Lost isn’t for everyone, that’s true. As I’d mentioned before, it took me several tries to get into it. However, if you want to read a piece of classical literature which is not only full of beautiful metaphors, engaging characters, and intriguing subtext, but also encompasses one of the greatest varieties of spiritual and philosophical themes that everyone, and I mean everyone, can relate to, then I strongly suggest you give it a try. Or two. What helped me is rereading the very first page of the book over and over again until I got used to Milton and actually understood what was going on; then my reading pace increased and I became fully immersed in the text.

But what is the text about?


Wikipedia, my old friend, says this:

The poem concerns the Biblical story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

Ah, but it is so much more. (Sort of spoilers but come on. You’ve heard this before.)

We start with the fall of Satan and follow him right after he and the angels he led into rebellion find themselves in the pits of hell.

We hear him and his lackeys plotting how they may best disrupt God’s actions, and first the idea to corrupt or bring destruction upon mankind comes to Satan’s mind.

We follow him through abysses and oblivions leading to Eden, where he is awed at the pair of humans he finds.

We ascend to Heaven and see how God fortells the fall of man, and how the Son of God offers to die himself for the salvation of humanity.

We are told by the Archangel Raphael what happened during the War in Heaven, and his tale literally made me see a CGI motion picture in my mind.

We see how Eve, then Adam, disobey God’s direct command and Paradise Lost ends just how it’s supposed to end, according to the Bible and common sense.

But what I loved most was how Milton managed to tell the story.

I’ll admit, sometimes I found myself getting bored, but mostly because I couldn’t understand the references Milton was making. If you’re reading this with links that explain things like this in the text, you won’t have the same problem. Say, 90 percent of the time I found myself bombarded with awe-inspiring wording, not at all cliche or too sophisticated, but rather original and simplistic.

E.g.

Mercy first and last shall brightest shine.

Me miserable! which way shall I flie
Infinite wrauth, and infinite despaire?
Which way I flie is Hell; my self am Hell…

So dear I love him, that with him all deaths
I could endure, without him live no life.

When I stumbled upon such descriptions/dialogue, it made me all warm and fuzzy inside. I felt so happy that such beauty existed in this flawed world of ours, and I came to the very unlikely but just conclusion that yes, I’ve found someone who can rival Shakespeare’s poetry in my eyes. Milton uses the iambic pentameter just as skilfully, believe me.


Check out my other posts on Paradise Lost (there are several, yeah, I really loved it).

If you decide to give it a try/have already read it/liked it/didn’t like it, regardless, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Posted in Best Quotations, Blogging, Book, Literature, Reading, Review

Best Books: To Kill a Mockingbird

So yesterday, while thinking about what to write in the review of To Kill  Mockingbird, I seriously considered taking my average review word count (600 words) and writing perfect perfect perfect perfect… you get the idea.

Because really, what can I say about this masterpiece? It’s an amazing book that I think everyone should read at least once. It’s tender and beautiful, heartbreaking and joyful, hopeful and thought-provoking. Aka, everything a book should be.

Instead of doing a proper review, I’ll recount the lessons I learned after reading this book and share some of my favorite quotes. Here goes…


You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

Atticus

The most important lesson in the book, in our lives, in the multiverse. I’m guilty of often being stubborn and unable to view things from other people’s perspectives (I need a lesson from Tyrion Lannister, it seems) though I’m working to improve on that. The book opened my eyes to how this is, essentially, the core of all interpersonal relations. If you lack this understanding, it inevitably leads to conflict.

And we have far too much conflict in our world already so we can’t afford to disregard others’ feelings.

Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.

Miss Maudie

In my view, Tom Robinson was a mockingbird who was killed for no reason. He wasn’t guilty, that much is clear. All he did was feel sorry for a white woman and helped her practically every day, he literally sang his heart out like a mockingbird, and what did he get in return? Hate, anger and death all because he was unfortunate enough to be born black in a segregated society.

The sheriff points out that dragging the reclusive Arthur Radley into the limelight after he killed Bob Ewell would be a sin, and he is, of course, right. Arthur, too, did nothing but care for the kids, saved their lives in the end and as Scout points out in the end of the book, “We had given him nothing, and it made me sad.” But they did give him something—the opportunity to be part of their family, if only for a few minutes as he acquaints himself with Scout and says goodbye to Jem. His storyline in the book ends on a happier note that Tom Robinson’s, yet he returns to his isolated existence. Which brings me to another point…

I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in the house all this time… it’s because he wants to stay inside.

Jem

Let’s look around. Orlando. Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, Dallas. Nice. That’s not all of the tragedies that took place and that’s, what, only the two past months?

Hate and anger surround us, creating a nightmare out of what can be a happy world. Discrimination still persists although it’s the twenty-first century. AD. After thousands of years, we still cling to prejudice and refuse to see things from others’ perspective. If Jem is right and Arthur isn’t inclined to be social because the bigotry, segregation and injustice in Maycomb County is too much to bear, who’d blame him? It’s a scary planet, a scary country, a scary city, etc. to live in.

But let’s hope. I’ll never get tired of saying this, even when things are downright terrible. Let’s hope that someday, discrimination will be eliminated and nothing close to what happened to Tom Robinson will take place in the real world. Let’s hope that people learn to be kinder to each other. Let’s hope that those innocent souls who do nothing but good won’t become victims of injustice. Through all the tears and laughs this book evoked, I retained this feeling of hopefulness and serenity, that not all is lost and humanity will change.


I did a review of the movie To Kill a Mockingbird yesterday, and I’d like to thank everyone who commented on the post. I loved reading your insight on both the book and the film!

Feel free to comment below and share your favorite quotes from this book.

Till next time!

Next Sunday Review: Paradise Lost by John Milton

Posted in Blogging, Movie, Review

Movie Masterpiece: To Kill a Mockingbird

I’ve decided to keep all reviews of movies/plays/TV shows for Saturday so I’m going to review the movie and tomorrow, the book. Oh, and spoiler alert, obviously.

To my shame, I’d only got around to reading the classic To Kill a Mockingbird a few weeks ago. So 18 years of my life were spent in total ignorance of such a beautiful, heartbreakingly sweet story. Today, I watched the movie, and though it isn’t as perfect and complete as the book story was, it is an amazing work of art.

The two main storylines in the film are these:

Jeremy “Jem” and Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, as well as their new friend Dill, become interested in the recluse Arthur “Boo” Radley and try to lure him out of his house.

Atticus Finch, a lawyer, is appointed by the judge to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, who was charged with raping the daughter of Bob Ewell, Mayella. The actual case is that she kissed him (unacceptable in her society) after inviting him to her house, and by accusing Tom is trying to “destroy the evidence of her offense.”

The two storylines end very differently. After a sequence of events, including the children’s frightening trips to the Radley house yard, Bob Ewell’s accusal of Atticus believing Tom’s story against his, tender scenes between Atticus and Scout, Tom Robinson’s trial begins. This scene in particular wasn’t changed much from the book, kudos for that. Atticus’s speech to the jury was filmed masterfully and Gregory Peck’s acting was top-notch. Unfortunately, the prejudiced jury finds Tom guilty as charged and he ends up dying in an escape attempt.

After the despicable Bob Ewell tries to harm Jem and Scout on their way home. Ewell breaks Jem’s arm, but before he can inflict more harm, Boo saves them, killing Ewell in the process. In the end, Atticus agrees with the sheriff that dragging Arthur to court would be senseless—he would be in the limelight, which would be damaging for him with “his shy ways.” Scout points out that would be like killing a mockingbird (they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us). She leads him home and finally, he ceases to be the a scary monster in childish games, becoming a man who has observed them from a far, cared for them in his own way and ultimately saved their lives.

I cried when the courtroom scene was on screen. It was depicted with so much emotion and the unfairness of it all, just like in the book, was driving me crazy. And Tom died, as the sheriff pointed out, for no reason, although he, like a mockingbird, like Boo Radley, brought love and kindness into a dark world. Tom felt sorry for the unhappy Mayella, Boo left the children little tokens in a tree hollow. Tom is dead, and Arthur returns to a life of seclusion (thankfully after a positive episode in his life).

tumblr_nr2vc4Jyr11uyth69o9_1280.jpg

I must admit, both the movie and the book changed not only the kids’ perspective of life, but mine as well. The racism, prejudice, discrimination and indifference, unfortunately, still ring true in our society. And it is these movies (and books) that give insight into the human psyche, which is especially effective if shown/told from a child’s perspective.

Overall, a firm 9.5/10 rating, the 0.5 points taken because there was one omission from the book that essentially killed a character for me.

In the books, Dill is very much like his movie counterpart, making up stories, bragging, etc., but after the kids are in the courtroom and he witnesses the people’s treatment of Tom Robinson, he cries, and that it made him “sick, plain sick.” That was the moment his character became likeable while in the movie Dill seemed very flat to me. Then again, as a whole, the motion picture is a masterpiece.

Have you watched the movie? If so, did you like it? If not, do you plan to? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Previous review: Iolanta (opera)

Posted in Blogging, Review, Theatre

A Trip to the Big Theatre: Iolanta

The Place: I’ve lived in Russia for six years and had never been to the Bolshoi Theatre (Big Theatre) up until recently. I don’t know what stopped me—the big hype about the Bolshoi being all ballroom grace and pomp or the fact that operas and ballets interested me less than Hamlet: Cumberbatch, maybe both. But once I went to the opera Iolanta, written by Tchaikovsky, I decided to frequent the Bolshoi more. It’s an amazing place, the interior all red and gold, the stage spacious, the lighting and decorations flawless.

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The Opera: Iolanta follows the journey of Princess Iolanta, who is blind (hence she’s in the dark part of the stage) and distressed at the beginning of the opera.

Her father the King never told her of her defect, and she perceives the world and her many companions in her home with her other senses, thinking that all humans are this way. Once the truth is revealed to Iolanta by Count Vaudémont, who falls in love with her, she is overwhelmed with the desire to see the light, and this desire conquers her blindness and enables her to find peace.

Vaudemont

So deep in your heart there is no desire
To see Light the glory of the Universe?

Iolanta

What does it mean “to see”?

Impression: What I most liked about this opera was its pure, candescent light. It was almost tangible; the word light was present in the text, half of the stage was illuminated, then the whole (the dark half was Iolanta’s abode before she regained her sight), and most of all, the powerful voices of the actors were rich, deep, full of passion and beauty—the music literally lit up my soul. After reading passages of A Song of Ice and Fire and watching Game of Thrones, I was ready for anything to happen: either a Shakespeare-style massacre or an individual but tragic death. However, the end was happy, with everyone getting what they wanted… but this didn’t seem superficial or deus-ex-machinated, as I like to call it.

The characters learned from their mistakes, became better human beings, the main characters found love. It was a natural progression from hardship to reward, and as the spectator, I found this to be a wonderful experience.

Another quote from the opera: 

After the Count describes the nature of light to Iolanta, she sings these words:

Your words are so sweet.
I do not know what is going on.
I have never felt so happy.
But you are not right. No, no, no.
Knight, I do not need light
To give eternal praises to God.
God’s blessing is infinite,
It knows no bonds.
God, blessed and invisible,
Is present in a hot day,
In sweet aromas,
In sounds and within myself.
Can one see the chirping of a bird
In a rose bush?
Or a sweet purl of rapid waters
In a sandy river?

Of course, text can’t express the full effect that I saw on stage. But trust me, it was… fascinating.

The moral of this post is, if you’re ever in Moscow and want a great show, you might want to visit the Bolshoi.

Also, this is the first time I’ve seen an opera. Have you? Do you have any favorites? Feel free to comment! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Till next time!

Posted in Literature, Reading, Saturday Stories

Saturday Stories: William Wilson (Poe)

I stumbled upon this story while studying for the literature exam last semester. One of the books we had to read was Lolita, and since this is Nabokov, I couldn’t help but delve deep into analysis. Boy, was I surprised to find the many a curious allusions to Poe in Nabokov’s novel, ranging from the shout-out to the poem Annabel Lee to the anagram Vivian Darkbloom. One of these allusions happened to be the vague similarity between the Humbert-Quilty plot and the story of William Wilson and his mysterious twin in Edgar Allan Poe’s short story. Upon reading it, I was amazed, as I always am with Poe, and here are some reasons why.

The narration—

Is pleasant, flowing nicely and gradually building suspense. William Wilson (pseudonym) actually reminded me somewhat of Humbert Humbert. The way he talks about himself and his past, concealing no flaws, admitting that he is “self-willed, addicted to the wildest caprices, and a prey to the most ungovernable passions.” He poses this question in the beginning of the story though:

…although temptation may have erewhile existed as great, man was never thus, at least, tempted before—certainly, never thus fell. <…> And am I not now dying a victim to the horror and the mystery of the wildest of all sublunary visions?

This opens many possibilities as to what happens next. What horror has this person suffered through? Physical, mental torment? Which brings me to…

The plot—

Is simple yet intricately told about, cautionary but not preachy, thought-provoking but not too philosophical. William encounters a student at school (later: Wilson) who seemingly looks like him, acts like him, apparently mimics William to irritate him. After they part, the narrator still fails to find peace; his twin pursues him like a shadow, his goal seeming to be “to frustrate those schemes, or to disturb those actions, which, if fully carried out, might have resulted in bitter mischief.”

Cornering Wilson one day and murdering him, William is faced with a mirror in which he sees his ‘antagonist’ who says:

You have conquered, and I yield. Yet, henceforward art thou also dead—dead to the World, to Heaven and to Hope! In me didst thou exist—and, in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself.

The themes—

You cannot evade conscience. By destroying it, you damage yourself. That much is clear. But another meaning I derived from this story is the danger of false assumptions, pride and anger, all of which hasten William’s downfall.

First, he assumes that Wilson means him harm, mimics him, trying to evoke his wrath. Second, William feels more and more irritated as he finds more and more similarities between himself and his ‘twin.” His uniqueness and superiority undermined, he is angered. Such a destructive emotion brings nothing but harm, so what ultimately happened to the character is no surprise.


I won’t post any ratings for these stories because for ‘Saturday Stories’ I’ll be sort-of-reviewing the classics and they all deserve 10/10 stars as far as I’m concerned.

What interests me is your opinion. Have you read the story? If so, what do you think of it? If you haven’t, would you like to? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Till next time!

Posted in Literature, Mixed Review, Reading

Mr. Cincinnatus

I have pretty weird opinions about books most of the time, so I thought it’d be a good idea to share them (nice logic there, isn’t it?)

This About page gives a pretty clear idea of what I’m going to do with this blog. In short, I’ll review books in connection with movies/TV-shows/plays that they remind me of. Not the movie versions of said books, obviously. I’ll just point out the parallels I see in the plot, characters, themes etc.

I hope it turns out well.


Book: Invitation to a Beheading by Vladimir Nabokov

10/10

Movie: Mr. Nobody directed by Jaco Van Dormael

10/10

Recently we had to read Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading for literature class. And I must say, it was an amazing experience. I was used to the Nabokov who wrote Lolita, the rich poems and short stories I know and love, not the Nabokov I saw in this particular work. It was originally written in Russian and first published in the 1930s. Those were pretty dark times thanks to a bunch of off-the-rocker dictators, which is why many critics assumed he was writing about this period of history.

The book tells the story of Cincinnatus C. who is accused of ‘gnostical turpitude’ and sentenced to a beheading. He is unaccepted by the society he lives in because he is ‘impervious to the rays of others’, producing ‘a bizarre impression, as of a lone dark obstacle in this world of souls transparent to one another’. The whole book is virtually him waiting for his execution while interacting with the apparently lifeless, will-less inhabitants of the world. Continue reading “Mr. Cincinnatus”

Posted in TV Shows, youtube

Déjà vu, Hodor, and Ramsay is a Bastard

Sooooo, most of my May exams are over and I finally got enough time to sit down with a lot of popcorn and chocolate and enjoy Game of Thrones Episode 4 and 5. Enjoy is a very relative term here…

Since I didn’t have the time to review the episodes right after they came out, I’ll just point out the few things in both episode which really impressed/shocked/disappointed me.

A bunch of potentially deadly spoilers dwell below. You have been warned.

Continue reading “Déjà vu, Hodor, and Ramsay is a Bastard”

Posted in TV Shows

R+L=J? Jon Snow’s Watch Has Ended?

Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 3

S-P-O-I-L-E-R-S

No gory murders? Check.

Ramsay Bolton doesn’t feed little babies to his dogs? Check.

Dead characters that aren’t creepy bloodthirsty White Walkers walk around Castle Black? Also check.

And yet, this is Game of Thrones, just a nice, moderately paced, relatively bloodless episode.

Continue reading “R+L=J? Jon Snow’s Watch Has Ended?”