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Lethal White – Robert Galbraith – Review


Robin walks down the aisle and marries Matthew, but no one could call it a happy marriage. Strike is riding high after his last case that put him in the spotlight and finally gave him the chance to create a successful business. Though he isn’t exactly happy with his own personal life.

Billy, a mentally ill man, walks in and throws the pair of them into a mystery that wraps up an entire family. Affairs, unwanted children, possible murders and much more take theses two through a mystery that makes them not only question who is truthful in the case but in their own lives.


I don’t read this series for the mystery and detective elements. I read it for the personal stories of Strike and Robin. These two characters keep me coming back to these books. J.K. Rowling or Robert Gailbraith has a way of creating characters that are alive and familiar. We feel connected to them because they go through many of these same things we go through as readers.

The end of the last book was a bit of a cliffhanger. We wondered how Robin’s life would play out and what Strike would do. The prologue in this book answered those questions in a very realistic way. There is no dramatic runaway bride or abrupt change of heart. Instead the way things resolve is a slow burn. It plays out as I think it would in real life.

I thought it was interesting in this book how Strike and Matthew’s characters were played against each other. This what set the stage for the majority of the conflict in this book. When we met Matthew in the first book we thought him the perfect fit for Robin. He seemed loving and their story was fairytale-esque. Then, as happens when you truly get to know someone, we realized that he is not the perfect man for Robin. He is far from the right person.

Strike at first seemed gruff and uncaring. He was about himself and wanting to make his way in the world. He didn’t care about anyone really but we see again that first impressions don’t tell us anything about anyone.

Robin wants to be taken seriously, she doesn’t want to be told what to do and when to do it. She is afraid of being vulnerable. There is some great commentary about the way a woman can’t show her pain and anguish like a man because then she will be sidelined. 

While Matthew tries to push Robin into a safe space, which would change her whole world; Strike does the opposite. He acknowledges her issues, makes her confront them and yet lets her still do what she wants to do. He doesn’t force her to a desk, he let her continue working.

But he also makes sure she knows that she has to deal with her issues. He won’t let her ignore them. He shares his own struggles and makes sure she understands that he is on her side. He cares about her and wants her to heal but he also knows putting her in a box won’t do anything to help her.

I didn’t think I wanted Robin and Strike together after the other books but after this one I think they would work perfectly together. There is understanding and truth there that will make a good relationship. 

The mystery element and major plot of the book was as well done as the other books. I have mentioned it in previous reviews but the way the details are given is thorough. There is no sensational elements only there to make the pages turn. It gives what would happen in the timeline it would happen.



While I enjoy the details of the case, the length of the book was a bit much. I felt like the middle dragged. It is a hefty book and I think that some of the details of going back and forth and who was riding what train were not needed. We would have cut some of that and some of the retelling of the details in order to move the pace up a bit.

What I wished was different:
I had a little bit of trouble keeping all the characters straight in the story. There were a lot of names and different players. I think it was good for the mystery element, more people to suspect, but I found myself wondering who was who. 

I had to remind myself every time I picked up the book who was the main characters, who were the side ones and what plots mattered. I wished I had an easier time keeping everyone straight.

I gave this book three stars. I liked the mystery and I loved the development of the characters I just thought it a little too long. 

The Crimes of Grindelwald (Fantastic Beasts and Where to the Find them #2) Movie – Review

I really enjoyed the first movie in the new Fantastic Beasts series. I didn’t know how it was going to tell a over-arching story but when I found out it was going to be about the rise and fall of Grindelwald I was excited. I thought this was a perfect piece of lore that we needed.

This second movie does a good job at providing a lot of back story and details that I am sure we are going to need in the later movies. Though I will say that I felt like not much happened in this movie. I felt like our character ran around looking for things and getting backstories as they went. For a book this usually works well, because you get wrapped up in the stories but for a movie I can see it boring some people. Especially those that don’t know the Potter universe a much as some of us super fans do.

I found myself enthralled because I loved hearing all these backstory pieces I did feel like I had to really concentrate in order to figure out who was who and what their story was. When we headed home we had to rehash parts to remember who was who. I think there are quite a few new names and branches to their stories which can be hard to follow. I may have to buy the screenplay just to be able to make note of what character is part of what story.

I really liked that this story told us more about Leta Lestrange. I am finding her fascinating. I am not sure quite why. I think it is because I know of her family in the present and they are evil. She is not bad, jus someone who doesn’t let anyone treat her badly. But she has a good heart and I am very curious how her bloodline twists throughout the story.

I also found it really interesting the way the character of Grindelwald was presented.This movie does a good job of showing how a dictator comes into power. You have these people who have been put down and stomped on and he is presenting them with possibilities no one else will provide. The way they show how a good speech and well said words can twist even the best person is interesting. You see that someone doesn’t have to be the most powerful they just need to know what words to use.

I also thought it was interesting the way Grindelwald was able to manipulate the situations around him. It all showed how things played into his hands and what he wants. We got a great sense of who this man was.

I love this movies too because there are a good number of easter eggs for those of us who know the books backwards and forwards. Certain surnames are mentioned and I grin. I love that aspect.

Spoilers below this line for those who have not seen the movie. I have to discuss this piece but seriously if you have not seen the movie don’t read. Big Plot Spoiler!!

My one big issue with this movie was that ending. In the end Grindelwald tells Credence that he is Dumbledore’s brother. I feel very confused about this plot point. I know these books. I know all the extras about this world.

The seventh book gives us a good history of Dumbledore and his family. Yet nowhere is it mentioned that he has any other siblings than Aberforth and Ariana. I feel like if he was going to have another sibling there would have been some indication of that fact in the books.

J.K. Rowling does such a good job at keeping her books in order and feeding the stories into each other. (Let’s just pretend Cursed Child doesn’t exist). I feel like throwing in another sibling here will throw a wrench into what we know about the books. 

I know that this is all being said by Grindelwald which doesn’t mean much because he is the bad guy. He could easily be lying which he has done. He manipulates everything so this could all be a ruse. But I feel like throwing out that name is a big thing to do. 

I know that there are three more movies so this could all flow into more twists which I hope they do. I want these movies to enhance the books, make me feel more connected to them. I want to be able to read the books after and not have to dismiss aspects to make things make sense. I trust J.K. Rowling and her storytelling genius but this revelation did make me a bit nervous.  Though I am willing to see how it all plays out.

Have you seen the movie? What do you think? Where do you think this whole series is going? What are the next twist we will learn?

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Movie Review

fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-themI was excited when I heard that there was going to be another Harry Potter movie. When we first learned about it all I knew was that it was going to be written by J.K. Rowling and it was going to center around Newt Scamander the author of the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, (which is a school book of Harry’s). I had no idea what a movie about that book could actually be about.

Over the months before the movie came out I still had no idea what the movie was going to be about. I knew that the creatures got out and seemed to be wreak havoc on New York. I wondered if that was going to be it. Was it just going to be a fun novelty movie but not much more to it? I wondered how it was going to tie into what we already know about the Harry Potter world, if it was going to tie in at all.

To be honest I was a little worried that it was going to feel like a whole separate world and story. I adore the Harry Potter series, as I have stated before in a number of reviews. I knew this story took place years before Harry was even born, it was even before his parents. I wondered if it would feel like a Harry Potter story or just a fun fantasy adventure. But I had my trust in J.K. Rowling and she did not disappoint me.

The movie is about Newt coming to New York in order to release one of his creatures back to the wild. While there his case, full of all the creatures he has collected over the years, gets mixed up with a No-Mag (or what Americans call non-magical people). Three of the creatures get out and start running around the city.

Newt runs into a wannabe Aurora, Porpentina Goldstein (though everyone calls her Goldstein),  and her sister Queenie. They join together with the No-Maj, Jacob Kowalski to find the missing creatures. Through their adventures they stumble upon more important mysteries and twists.

I won’t reveal too much more about the plot because I don’t want to ruin the experience of the movie for anyone. It is so much fun to watch it, not knowing how things tie together and finding the easter eggs about the Harry Potter world we already know.

The reason I loved the movie so much is because it sets up a story for the rest of the films. If the films continue down the road they are heading we are going to get a very interesting story. The main arc connects in with a pretty big part of the later part of the Harry Potter series. It sets up a history for a character we know slightly and seems to be furthering a story of a character we all love. There is so much potential in place.

I cannot wait to see where this series goes. I am excited because it feels like I am right back in the world that I have loved for ages. We are getting history without it feeling forced. She is setting up a fun story, with an expanded world and tying it right back into what we already know. This movie is giving us a way to enter back into this world and explore the history of it even further.

fantastic-beasts-niffler

I also want a Niffler for Christmas. He was way too adorable!

If you enjoy fantasy movies, with action, comedy and some fun animals you will enjoy this movie. You don’t have to be a Potterhead to appreciate this story. You don’t have to know much more than the very basics of Harry Potter appreciate the fun that is this movie.

If you are a Harry Potter fanatic like me you will love this movie. You will pick up on little things that other people won’t know. And after seeing it once you will want to see it again to see how subtle things change when you know everything that is going on. You will enjoy the way it builds on the stories and characters we already know while creating a new world for us to explore.

I am hoping to see the movie again sometime soon. After I see it again I may end up writing a theory piece about what I think is going to happen in the future movies. I already have an idea of where the story may go and if I am anywhere close to right, it will be a great series.

 

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child Review (Spoilers!)

Harry_Potter_and_the_Cursed_Child_Special_Rehearsal_Edition_Book_Cover(This is full of spoilers. If you have not finished The Cursed Child yet then stop reading now. I couldn’t find a way to talk about it without spoilers. You have been warned!)

When I heard there was going to be a Harry Potter play I was excited yet sad at the same time. The possibility of me actually being able to see the play was next to nothing. There is no way I can afford to go to London and I had no idea if/when it would come to the U.S. And when it does come here who knows if it would be possible to get tickets or if they would be affordable. So when I heard they were going to release the script in book format I was super excited. I have been anticipating this for months now. All I wanted was to be able to read the story.

I went to a midnight released event for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I felt like I had gone back ten years to the release of the final book. I went with my best friend, mom and brother. I was once again surrounded by Harry Potter enthusiasts and it was a great feeling. Not only have I missed the Harry Potter world but I have also missed the air of excitement and anticipation for a new story/book.

I read the whole thing in one sitting. I have many thoughts about the story so this does get a bit long. This will probably be one of my longest reviews, but I have so much to say about this story.

I wanted to start off by saying that I ultimately loved this story. I loved the greater depth we got to some of favorite old characters as well as meeting some new ones. I thought the story did a great job of introducing us to the next generation of Hogwarts students. One of my favorite aspects of stories is the characters and this script delivered on that. There were some plot points I had some trouble with but more on that later.

I do think that there is something missed from this story by just reading the script. Plays are meant to be watched not just read. I think portions would have had a bigger impact watching the action take place. I got a good feeling for the story but I think it would truly come alive seeing it performed. I hope that one day I am able to see it live and then compare it to my reading of the story.

Cursed Child takes place exactly where the seventh book ended. The opening scene is actually part of the epilogue. Albus Severus Potter is off to his first day at Hogwarts. He says good-bye to his parents and he and his cousin Rose head off down the train to find somewhere to sit. They encounter Scorpius Malfoy.

Rose is reluctant to stay around him. Both her and Albus know the history their parents have with the Malfoys. They also know the rumors about Scorpious being Voldemort’s child. Rose doesn’t want to stay but Albus does. Albus and Scorpius become fast friends.

Albus gets to Hogwarts and he is sorted into Slytherin which creates a rift between him and Rose as well as the rest of the kids in the school. The play does a quick pass through time going through Albus’s first four years at Hogwarts. We learn quickly that Hogwarts isn’t a sanctuary for Albus like it was for Harry. Albus is ignored and bullied. His only friend is Scorpius.

Albus is not popular like Harry. He is not a great student and he is not athletic. He is an outcast at school and at home he doesn’t feel much better. Him and Harry do not have the closest relationship. Harry is having trouble understanding Albus.

After a huge fight between Albus and Harry, Albus decided he needs to right a wrong of Harry’s past, which hopefully will change his relationship with his father. Albus decides that they need to save Cedric Diggory.

Albus and Scorpius steal the last remaining Time Turner and use it to go back and try to save Cedric. As always happens with trips through time, things do not go as planned. They try two different times to save Cedric and end up making a bigger and bigger mess. They work to fix it and in the process learn that the whole thing was being manipulated by a woman called Delphi, who they think is Cedric’s cousin. Turns out she is actually Voldemort’s daughter and she is intent on saving him and meeting her father. Albus, Scorpious, Harry and the others all work together to stop Delphi and in the process Harry and Albus learn how to understand one another and begin to repair their relationship.That is the basics of the plot.

At the end of the seventh book Harry and Albus have a discussion about Albus’s fear of being placed in Slytherin. After their talk I thought that Albus would ask to be in Gryffindor just like Harry did. I did not expect him to end up in Slytherin, but he did. I love that Albus is in Slytherin. That is probably one of my favorite parts of the story.

People have a misconception about Slytherin, one that J.K. Rowling is constantly trying to change. The idea that Slytherin is full of dark or evil wizards is warrented. In the books we are told that the most dark wizards have come from Slytherin. Many of the characters we dislike are in Slytherin. But Slytherin house is not a bad house, there is nothing inherently wrong with the people in that house.

Slytherin-Crest-slytherin-17304074-250-284.jpgSlytherins are ambitious, stubborn, and cunning people. They will do whatever they have to do in order to get what they want. They do not back down easily. None of those are bad traits. They are traits though that can be used in the wrong way if they are allowed to go in that direction. Because Slytherin’s have some more extreme traits they tend to be the darker wizards but making Albus a Slytherin does a lot to change this idea.

We get to see that there is nothing wrong with this house. Albus is not evil. Scorpius is not either. It helps to show that each person is an individual. Just because your family has a certain leaning toward a house or set of traits does not mean you have to be same way. Everyone is different. Albus is a good kid, and him being in Slytherin will help adjust the attitude that may permeate about that house.

One of my new favorite character is Scorpius Malfoy. Scorpius is funny and has some of the best lines in the play. He is not like Draco, a lot like Albus is not that much like Harry. Scorpius is the smarter one of the two of them, he is a bookworm and has great grades. He is the perfect pair to Albus. I love their friendship. I also love what their friendship does for Draco and Harry’s relationship.

Draco and Harry have not become friends over the last 19 years. They tolerate each other’s presence. Throughout the story they have to work together in order to find and help their children. They have arguments, but in the end they realize that they have some things in common. Both are having trouble relating and reaching their sons. Both have certain expectations for their children and both are having an issue connecting to their child.

l-r_Harry_Potter_(Jamie_Parker),_Albus_Potter_(Sam_Clemmett),_Ginny_Potter_(Poppy_Miller)-large_trans++P642x9a4zXQRkyaVdo3I2TWirqIBi3L-jQ5m0Ctq1moParents tend to envision certain lives for their children. They see them as a certain profession, or see them getting great grades and having lots of friends. Some see their children as hugely successful or similar to themselves when they were children. One of the most difficult things for a parent is to take a step back and see the child they have in front of them. Some can do this (my parents did a great job at it) while others have trouble reconciling their imaginary child and the child they have in front of them.

This is the main thing Harry is dealing with in this story. Harry has three children, James, Lily and Albus. He seems able to connect with James and Lily. Albus is an enigma to him and they can’t find common ground. Not only is Albus a Slytherin but he hates Hogwarts, is not popular, not a great student and is not athletic. He is a loner and Harry can’t understand how Albus go to this point.

One of the problems is Harry doesn’t listen to Albus. He keeps getting frustrated with his son and he thinks he knows best. He doesn’t understand why Albus won’t listen and do what he says. He can’t reach his son and he makes some bad decisions along the way.

By the end of the play he has to put his expectations and images of Albus aside and see Albus for who he is. They are in fact much more similar than either is willing to admit. Harry is not perfect. He has always had trouble adjusting his opinion about someone or something. He tends to get an idea in his head and won’t let go. In this play we see that this is something he continues to struggle with no matter how old he has gotten.

Cursed Child also gives us a new way of seeing Draco. Draco’s wife passes away early in the story and he is now a single father. He is struggling to connect with his son just as Harry is. Draco was a character that got much deeper in the last few books and this play just adds more depth to his character.

Draco-ScorpiusDraco ends up opening up a bit to Harry in this story which made me like him more than I have ever done before. We see that Draco loved his wife and loves his son. He did not have the greatest example of a father to emulate; and like Harry he is making things up as he goes. Draco does not want to be stereotyped by his past decisions or for his son to suffer for his past.

Harry and Draco will never be best friends but the friendship between their children will help repair past wounds. They can be cordial to each other and even work together when necessary.

This was a great play for characterization. It evolved the characters we know and love and helped us form new connections to new characters. The main plot point, the whole time travel aspect, is where things got a bit complicated.

I love time travel stories. I also love stories that explore the idea of the repercussions of changing things in the past. I was excited to see that this was the main idea of this story. What I found though was my wanting of more details. I know a play can only give you so much detail and explanation to the story. You can’t have a huge amount of time dedicated to explaining how pieces work. I thought this story could have benefited from a bit more detail about how the time travel worked and how the consequences came about.

Albus and Scorpius change history twice trying to save Cedric. The first time they try to make Cedric fail the first task of the Triwizard Tournament. The effects of this one are subtle. Albus is now a Gryffindor. Ron and Hermione aren’t married. Hermione is not Minster of Magic, but a teacher and she is strict and just plain mean.

Harry is also a bit rougher around the edges. He threatens McGonaglla with legal action if she doesn’t do as he wants. He tries to keep Scorpius and Albus separate from one another, all which is very out of character for Harry.

The issue I had with this part was there was little -to-no explanation of why these are the consequences of that change in history. Why is Albus now a Gryffindor? How does his character change because of this? Yes, Hermione went to the Yule Ball with Ron instead of Krum but why did that have such a negative effect on their relationship? Why is Hermione so bitter now?

There is a base line explanation for everything but I felt like I needed a bit more explanation. That may be because I am so close to these characters that I need to know everything about them and how they change. These aren’t characters I just met. I believe I know their behaviors and thoughts and would know how things would change for them.

The second time they humiliate Cedric in the second task. Somehow this makes Cedric become resentful and in the end he becomes a Death Eater. At the Battle of Hogwarts he kills Neville, which means Nagini is not killed and Harry dies in the battle. Voldemort takes over and everything is horrible. Again, I had questions.

Why does Cedric being humiliated end up with him as a Death Eater? And how does that alone put things in place for Vodemort’s take over? Did Cedric blame Harry somehow? I think we do not know enough about Cedric alone to be able to reconcile these changes in a way that made sense to me. Again I think this would have benefited from more details about what happened and why. But I know that is difficult with the time frame of a play.

Then there is the idea of Delphi being Voldemort’s daughter. This was the part I had the most trouble with. It may be that for me Voldemort always seemed like a very asexual person. I did not see him having any real connection with anyone, not enough to create a child. I also can’t put Belletrix into a timeline where she would be pregnant.

This idea was interesting and I would have loved to explore it more. I would have loved to understand better how it happened and if it was just about creating an heir (which makes little sense since Voldemort never planned to die) or if there was more to it.  Again I think I desired more details because I am used to getting it with the novels. In a play you can’t do all of that or the whole thing would last hours. There has to be a cut off and some things get left out. The basics are explained for the plot line but I wanted a bit more.

Again I did not dislike this story. I loved the idea. I loved the growth of the characters and the introduction to the new characters. I just think this may have all worked better as either a novella or even a novel. I am also used to a certain way Harry Potter stories are told and this is very different so that may be me trying to adjust to this change.

In the end I loved this addition to the Harry Potter world. I have new favorite characters. I got to see how Harry as an adult, which is nice since I am now an adult myself. I got to go back into the world that I have always loved and adored. This was a great adventure and I do believe that anyone who likes Harry Potter should enjoy this additional story. You get to step back into the magical world and walk alongside some of these fantastic characters yet again.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Illustrated Version Review)

0545790352 It is no secret that I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I have read all the books a number of times. So when I found out that the an illustrated version of the first book was being released I was super excited. I was not able to get it right away though since it was released close to my birthday and the holidays. And I am forbidden by family members to buy anything for myself for those two months, so I had to be patient and wait.

I received the book for Christmas and began reading immediately, even though I was in the middle of another book at the time. I was eager to see what the illustrations looked like and how they affected the way I read the story.

Jim Kay has created some beautiful illustrations for this story. I flipped through the pages at first before reading just to see what the pictures looked like. They are bright and so full of gorgeous detail. Each picture is unique and has some fantastic colors to make your eyes drink in the scenes. They compliment the story perfectly.

As I read I found myself looking over the picture and easily falling into that scene. I love the illustrations because you can tell they are not based off the movies. The pictures are unique to themselves and I could tell this is how he saw the characters and the scenes play out.

The illustrations help the story flow forward and create and an even fuller world as you read. I highly recommend this version to anyone who has read the books before or has been looking for a reason to start reading them. For those who need a bit of visual representations to help pull them through a story, there is no better way to do that than with this version of the first book. For those who have read the series a number of times, this gives yet another dimension to the stories and opens up a beautiful new way to see the Harry Potter world.

It has been added to my Harry Potter shelf and I hope to one day use it to introduce my children (when I have them) to the Harry Potter world.

 

Career of Evil – Robert Galbraith – Review

91PgRZrbnXLWhen I read the Harry Potter series the third book, Prisoner of Azkaban, was my favorite. That was because it was where I thought J.K. Rowling hit her stride in the story and everything really got moving. After reading Career of Evil, I have the same feeling about the Cormoran Strike series. This book was exciting and really gave the characters truth depth.

The book starts when Robin, Strike’s partner and secretary, takes in a package with a severed leg inside. Almost at once Strike has three suspects that he believes would do something like this to him. Three men that he has had encounters with in the past, all of them disturbed and evil in their own ways. The story surrounds Strike and Robin hunting down these men and trying to figure out who would have done something so gruesome. The investigation gets disturbing at times, but the book, as a whole, really gave a greater depth to the characters.

After reading the summary, I thought this book was going to be a lot about Strike. The three suspects are all people he has encountered in his past. Each one has a vendetta against him for various reasons. I thought we were going to get an extensive look into Strike’s past. Instead, we got a better idea of who Robin is.

This book was really Robins’ book. We learn about Robin’s past, the past that created a fighting spirit inside of her. Robin hasn’t had an easy life. In college something happened that nearly destroyed her life. Robin found a way to fight her way back from that and overcome it. Because of it, she is now someone who doesn’t back down easily.

Becoming a detective has always been a dream of Robin’s. She ended up at Strike’s office because of a temp placement, but she was meant to be there. Until that point, Robin didn’t believe she would ever be able to have the life she wanted. Then she met Strike and we see that she grabbed a hold of her dream again and she is not going to let go easily.

We see that Robin has a moral compass that will not allow her to walk away from people in need. She makes a decision in this book that helps someone but ultimately hurts her. The result knocks her down a peg, but she doesn’t give up. Robin is strong and she will not walk away from a fight easily.

Robin is someone whose life has kicked her around. She has been hurt in ways many can’t recover from. While she has been knocked down she has found a way to get back to her feet and stand strong. The world tried to take away her hopes and dreams, but she has fought and gotten them back. She has fought hard to overcome her past and we see throughout this novel the lengths she will go to not go back to that time and place.

The insight into Robin’s character was juxtaposed with a deep look into the mind of the man who committed the crime. We haven’t had this before from these novels. We got short chapters where the killer rambled on, sometimes getting quite disturbing. But it gave me a better idea of what was going on.

The insight was important to this book. It helped to center what was going on and why. It gave us an idea of what the killer was doing and why. It was easier to understand Strike’s and Robin’s decisions when we got to see what the killer wanted to do. I liked this aspect because it gave us a different viewpoint in order to compare Robins’ and Strike’s actions and decisions against.

This was a much more harsh book than the previous two. There were some moments that were difficult to read or imagine. But Rowling tied the investigation well into the lives of Strike and Robin. We got a deeper appreciation and sympathy for the two main characters.This story grew their relationship with each other and the surrounding characters. I am eager to see where this series is going to go next.

Why do I Write? Because Harry Potter & J.K. Rowling Showed Me the Magic of Words & Stories

12088190_10153209766583333_537171791531971859_nWhen I finally got my paperback copy of my book, that I had spent over a year writing and perfecting, I knew the exact place I was going to place it on my bookshelf. The only proper place for something so important to me was right next to the book series that was the reason I became a writer in the first place. So I placed my own book, Is There More? right beside the Harry Potter series, where I can see it everyday.

It has been a long year for me not only perfecting my stories but also learning how to self-publish this collection. Throughout that year there was many times that I doubted what I was doing and wondered if I could actually do it. And every time I had that moment I would look over at my bookshelf and remember why I wanted to do this.

I know the Harry Potter series and J.K.Rowling herself have done a lot for many people. The series opened up the magical world that is reading to so many who had closed the door on it perviously. The series gave people somewhere to escape to and provided characters we all could relate to. The series brought together people of all ages through a mutual love of this world and this story.

I always loved to read. Reading has always been my escape when the world around me gets too difficult or confusing. I loved to read before I ever picked up the first Harry Potter book. But what reading that specific series did for me was show me the power that words truly have. It showed me that words can change the way people perceive the world and interact with it. And I quickly realized that I wanted to do that with my life.

I found the first Harry Potter book at a book fair, one of my favorite things at school. I picked it up because it was a fantasy story about wizards and sounded interesting. I had no idea what I was holding in my hands. I had no idea it would be a series that would capture the heart of so many around the world. I did not know that this one book was my own gateway to where I wanted to take my life and would give me a pathway for my own career.

I devoured that book along with the second and third. I remember when the fourth one came out I was not able to attend a midnight release. My aunt actually bought me the fourth book (which I greatly appreciated) but I had to wait a few days to get it. I remember sitting on my front porch disappointed that others were able to read the book while I had to wait. I did not want to wait, I had waited long enough to enter back into that world. But I read it the whole eight hour drive to my another aunt’s house, enthralled as I knew I would be.

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Me and my mom with our copies of Deathly Hallows!

I did attend release parties for the last three books and even dressed up for the seventh book’s release. I loved falling into that world even when I was not in the pages. The series gave me a way to belong and I desperately needed that at that time. I felt a part of something, something big and I loved that.

I needed to feel part of something because in my early school years I felt like I did not belong anywhere. Harry fighting through all that he did and still winning gave me hope. I was not a popular kid in my early school days and I held onto Harry and his world as a way to not feel completely left out. While the series gave me a way to belong and a way to find confidence in myself, it also helped me realize what I could do with my own pen.

I began writing with fanfiction. I wrote stories about what I thought would happen to Harry and Ron and Hermione in between the release of the books. I needed a way to fill that gap and that was how I did it. They were not the best stories, full of grammar issues, plot holes and inconsistencies, but they were my way of releasing my imagination onto the page. People read them and didn’t hate them and I began to wonder if this could be my talent.

For a long time I wondered if I actually had a talent at all. I was not good at a lot of things. I tried everything from baton, dancing, clarinet to volleyball and softball and I honestly sucked at them all. I was good at being bad at things and it became kind of a running joke for me. I laughed about it but it did get old quick. I watched everyone around me do things well and I wondered when I would find what I was good at and enjoyed.

I found Harry Potter and picked up my pen. I saw what J.K. Rowling did with her imagination and her words. I realized that words have power and if used correctly they can do wondrous things. Words can change people’s worlds and how they see themselves. I began writing  fanfiction and after floundering for a long time I found what I wanted to do.

I denied what I wanted for a while though, even went to collage for Zoology, thinking that writing could only be a hobby. But I quickly figured out that I could not put writing on the back-burner. Whenever Zoology got too hard and I couldn’t take the science courses anymore I read or I wrote. I knew that I wanted to do what J.K. Rowling did, open up a new world to someone, anyone, anywhere. I wanted to use my own imagination and show the world something new and provide an escape as well.

I can safely say that J.K. Rowling is the only celebrity that I ever looked up to or used as a role model. There were celebrities that I liked but I did idolize them. But J.K. Rowling was different . She created this world for all of us and she has kept it alive all these years.

Her prose is fantastic. Her characters are deep and full of life. The story is one we all can find a way to relate to and the twists and turns are exciting and thrilling. But what I loved most about J.K. Rowling is that she has not walked away from this world. She did not hang up her cloak when she wrote that last word on that last page. She knows how important Harry Potter is to so many and she continues to live in the world right beside the rest of us.

She created a family tree for all of the characters. She continues to give us extra information about the characters and wands and so much else through Pottermore. This year was James Potter (Harry’s son) first day of Hogwarts and she wished him well and even told us what house he was sorted into. It is exciting and heart-warming to see someone so in love with their own work.

At the premier of the last part of the last movie she said, “ Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” I love that quote. I love that she understands how much Hogwarts has become home to so many and hopefully will continue to be for years to come. Whenever I become discouraged or frustrated while writing I pull out a Harry Potter book or just look over at my bookshelf and remember why I am doing what I am doing.

J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter showed me what I want to do with my own writing. I not only want to sweep people away to somewhere fun and exciting full of relatable characters but I want to show them a new way to see the world and themselves. I do not know what I would be doing now if I had not found the Harry Potter series. And I don’t actually want to know. I love the path I am on. It is not an easy one and figuring this all out can be difficult but I am determined to keep going forward. J.K. Rowling took a chance with writing the Harry Potter series and I am grateful she did. If I can make a sliver of the impact that J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter has done for me for anyone else I will consider myself a success.

The Silkworm- Robert Galbraith (J.K.Rowling) Review (Spoilers)

51zWmD6wlJL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I was excited when I found out that Robert Galbraith was writing another Cormoran Strike novel. I had thought that Cuckoo’s Calling was a single book, not part of a series. It very easily could stand alone, but it also works very well for the start of a series about this man and his mission to make a name for himself. I really enjoy these novels, even though the detective genre is not normally my go-to place for a new book.

As I read this story I tried to determine what it is about detective stories that I can’t get into. I love puzzles/riddles and mysteries but for me there has to be more to the story then just who is the killer and why. I love shows like Bones because I love the characters while the mystery aspect takes a back seat for me. And I think that is why I love these books so much. The mystery aspect is important but it is not central to the story, the story is about Cormoran and Robin finding themselves.

We left Cormoran on a sort of high at the end of the last novel. He was getting over his breakup and he was starting to make a true name for himself. In this story we see that the image he is trying to create is very fragile, that high and happiness is a teetering tower that could fall over at any moment.

Strike is a very independent man. He does not need anyone’s help. When he struggles to get out of a cab Robin knows to let him struggle, he would not appreciate helping him in any fashion. He does not want to live off of anyone else’s charity. He is a veteran who lost his leg protecting his country and he does not want anyone’s pity. He will not see the limitations that stand before him.

Strike strives to cover up what he is lacking by showing the world his true capabilities as a detective. If he can get the world to see how good he is at his job, then they will not see what he is lacking physically. This become his goal in life to prove to the world that he is more than a man missing a leg and also that he is more than the son of a famous rockstar; none of that will define him. Strike is the only one who can define himself.

Throughout this novel we see him constantly fight with his prothesis He should not have it on most of this book, since it is hurting him, but he will not let others see him without it. He will not be pitied. He will be respected for the man that he is. He also refuses to show how poor he really is. He takes cabs he can’t afford as well as paying for lunches he knows he doesn’t have the money for. Admitting he can’t afford these things is a sign of weakness, something Strike will not show the world. His body and pocket book might not be strong but his mind is sharp and he will get the world to respect him for that.

Robin sees the real Strike. She knows how fiercely proud and stubborn a man Strike can be. She doesn’t hold that against him, she understands him. She knows what is means to want to work to show the world your true self. Robin doesn’t pity Strike, she doesn’t let him off when he does things that piss her off. She stands her ground and fights him when necessary. She keeps Strike answering for his actions, which is something Strike desperately needs. He needs someone to put him straight sometimes, point out when he is being ridiculous.

Robin is a very strong woman. In the last book we saw her kind of searching for herself. She had just gotten engaged and started a new job. She was trying to fit herself into these new roles. Now she has determined how she wants to not only play these roles but how she wants the rest of the people around her to see her.

She wants to be a detective and she let’s Strike know that. At first she is hesitant about it, getting offended when he doesn’t offer to train her. But she doesn’t let that stay holed up inside of her for too long, she opens her mouth and tells him what she wants. She fights him when he tries to change her mind. She wants this and she isn’t going to walk away because of potential issues that might arise. When Robin wants something she goes after it.

In this book she puts her relationship in jeopardy because she is so focused on this one goal. Robin is not going to choose between being married and having this career. She will have both. She wants Strike and Matt to get along to make her life easier but when they don’t she doesn’t decide she has to choose between the two. She understands both sides and becomes determined to work with both of them. Robin really steps up in this novel, she finds herself and her voice which is always nice to see. I like Robin because she does not let the obstacles get in her way. She sees them, analyzes them and determines the best way to move them out of her way.

The actual mystery part of this novel was interesting. A writers goes missing and ends up dead. Everyone becomes a suspect after it is discovered that in his latest novel he basically destroys everyone that is in his life. I won’t reveal too much about the details but I will say it was an interesting take on how easily people will judge someone based off what they write. People sometimes have a very difficult time separating fact from fiction, and when there is any resemblance to a real person then latch on and run with the comparison. When things don’t fit they make them fit. It is an interesting take on the idea of separating an artist from their work.

I enjoyed this novel very much, because as I stated before you get completely wrapped up in the lives of Strike and Robin. Both of them are real, breathing people you could find in the street, the store or at the movies. You turn pages because you want to see what happens next in their lives. You root for Robin to get what she wants and you want Strike to show the world who he truly is. You become invested in their lives, making it simple to get lost inside of the pages of The Silkworm.

Cuckoo’s Calling Review- Robert Galbrath (J.K. Rowling)

Booknotes-002I picked up The Cuckoo’s Calling because I love J.K. Rowling. As soon as I heard of her “secret” book I knew I had to read it. She is that one author I will read anything from, no matter the subject matter or style of writing.

Traditional detective novels have never been my favorite genre of books. I enjoy the mystery of the detective books but I generally find myself bored by the process. Unless there is some supernatural element or item of intrigue they are hunting for, I generally stay away from this genre. But this was a book by J.K.Rowling and I knew I had to give it a shot. I was not disappointed by how entertained I was by the story. Like her other adult novel Casual Vacancy (also very good) this is more a story of getting into the depths of the two main characters, Strike and Robin than just a mystery novel.

Strike is a down and out detective on the verge of complete financial and personal ruin. Robin is a newly engaged temp who is assigned to be his secretary for a week. We become entangled in the lives of these two characters. Entangled in the ways they interact with one another, and those around them all while trying to get into the deep depths of Lula Laundry’s life and how she ended up in her grave.

Strike  takes the case of further investigating Lula Laundry’s, a famous model’s, apparent suicide. A suicide her brother believes is actually murder. Strike takes the case more for the money than anything else. He has no real choice in the matter. While Robin is ultimately only assigned to help Strike for a week she sticks around, wanting to not only find the solution to this mystery but also to get closer to Strike and help him get back up onto his feet.

The investigation itself is very realistic. Rowling isn’t stingy on the details of the interviews and the process Strike has to go through to find who actually killed Lula. As you read you actually feel as if you are a detective, hunting down small pieces trying to make a bigger picture. She never tells you when something is important, never has Strike run off to write something down or hurriedly hunt through files, signifying something important has happened. You as the reader pick on the subtle aspects of what the characters say and do and you begin to realize, like Strike, the truth behind this mystery.

Lula Laundry’s life mirrors Strike’s in so many aspects it gets a little bit scary for Strike. He sees himself in this case, he sees how far he could fall and what the end result could be. Though Lula doesn’t actually commit suicide, Strike sees how she could have ended up in that place. We as readers watch as he investigates this young woman’s life and we see Strike become more and more frightened yet intrigued. He has to find the answer, not only for Lula but for himself. We follow him from his lowest point in life and watch as he begins the climb up to a stable place. Rowling writes this parallel so well, holding onto the reader.

Strike is actually a very smart man, one who understands his surroundings and lives very much in the reality of his current predicament. Whereas Robin is initially more idealistic, she’s on the way to getting married to the love of her life and on the verge of finding a job to finance her new future. When she comes to Strike she has a very romantic idea of what a detective should be like and how the life should be. While we meet Strike at his lowest, we meet Robin at her highest.

We follow Strike as he begins to move up and we watch as Robin begins to become more realistic. She doesn’t fall, but she quickly realizes what reality is really like. She sticks around, intrigued not only by the case but by Strike. She wants to help him, she wants to watch him get back onto his feet. They become close, not romantically, but in a friendship that is real and strong. Both are reluctant to let the other in at first but quickly learn that they have to help one another, they become compliments for each other.

The culprit of the case is not exactly shocking, it is more the reason why they did it that makes you drop your jaw a little. The end gives us a solution to the case and hope for Strike and Robin. Strike is getting control of his life while Robin is now on the course of beginning to live the life she truly always dreamed of.

J.K. Rowling wrote characters in Harry Potter that were vivid and real, characters we could all get close to. They had true depth and lives that we became involved in, we didn’t want to watch them suffer but we rejoiced when they finally triumphed. That aspect of her writing was and always will be her strongest aspect. She writes these characters we become invested in, we want them to succeed and find themselves. We don’t want them to suffer but we understand why they have to, we see why they have to struggle. Cuckoo’s Calling shows us yet again why J.K. Rowling will be an author studied and adored for centuries to come.

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