Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: I loved it!

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Today’s the day! And what a day it’s been!

Thanks to the glory of Amazon PrimeNow, I woke up to find this on my doorstep (delivered at 1:00 a.m., according to the tracking notice):

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Which I ripped open as soon as I got my hands on it, and grabbed this:

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At which point, I sequestered myself away with my book and a big mug of coffee, and didn’t come up for air until I got to this:

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Well, you certainly won’t get any spoilers out of me about the plot, but I will say that I loved being back in the world of Harry Potter, was delighted by the familiar characters as well as the new ones, and thought it was clever, moving, and loads of fun! Yes, it’s a bit weird reading a script and not a novel, but that’s okay. One thing that absolutely came out of this reading experience for me was a burning desire to get to London and to see the play! Don’t know how, don’t know when, but I’m going to make it happen.

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Because I loved it all, and I’d give anything to see these two — and the rest — live on stage:

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Did you read it yet? What did you think?

Fangirling with the Doctor

I couldn’t sleep last night, and maybe it’s because my head was filled with visions of multiple Doctors, each with his own shiny or banged up but totally lovable TARDIS.

(If you’re not a fan of Doctor Who, go ahead and click on something else. Really, I don’t mind. Excuse me my moment of fangirlishness!)

Last night was the theatrical screening of The Day of the Doctor, and it just could not have been more delightful.

The show itself was better than I’d even hoped. Seeing Ten and Eleven together was brilliant, and John Hurt was perfect. And Billie Piper! I’d heard she would be in it, but I was expecting Rose Tyler… and instead she was not Rose, and she was still wonderful.

Listen, I have nothing super meaningful to say about how this episode changes everything, what it means for the overall mythology, and where it goes from here. There are plenty of folks writing oodles upon oodles of essays, reviews, and critiques who really do know the Who-verse better than I do, and I gladly tip my fez to all of them.

All I want to say is: Last night was a perfect example of why I love being connected to a fandom.

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I wore my Van Gogh TARDIS. Subtle, yet elegant, wouldn’t you say?

On a random Monday evening, to spend the night at a movie theater surrounded by people who love what I love — that’s bliss.

We could exchange knowing nods over clever wordplay while waiting in the popcorn line. Gaze admiringly at the committed souls decked out in full-on steampunk gear. Admire the clever T-shirts. Say “awwwww” over the 10-year-old boy in a tweed jacket and bowtie. Giggle over all the people with sonic screwdriver ringtones.

It was one of those events where you just know you’re surrounded by your people. And it felt great.

Except for the woman sitting behind me who wouldn’t STFU. See, that doesn’t happen in my living room. Other than that, however… it was kind of perfect.

We cheered when each new/old Doctor appeared on screen. A glimpse of Twelve’s eyes! All of the earlier Doctors on screen! Silly sight gags with sonic screwdrivers! I’ve rarely sat with a happier crowd. All the feels, truly.

I’ll admit that I like, but I don’t love, the Eleventh Doctor. Much more of a Nine or Ten fan, really. And yes, I’d occasionally zone out during some of the more convoluted recent plotlines. But Doctor Who doesn’t have to make sense. It’s going strong at 50, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Bring on the Twelfth Doctor!

Geronimo!

Allons-y!

Book Review: Fangirl

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlFangirl is so adorable, I didn’t know whether to read it or hug it.

This sweet, funny, charming novel tells the story of Cath Avery, a college freshman who just isn’t quite ready to leave her childhood comforts and touchstones behind. Cath is a twin, and she and sister Wren have been inseparable their entire lives… until Wren abruptly informs Cath that she wants them to live apart in college, try something new and meet new people. Cath is devastated. She has no interest in making friends and meeting new people; she and Wren have lived together for eighteen years — why stop now?

On top of that, their dad is not the most stable of guys, tending toward the manic end of the bipolar spectrum without someone around to make sure he’s eating, sleeping, and generally keeping it together. Ever since their mother left, just after 9/11 when the girls were eight years old, Cath and Wren have kept their dad on an even keel, and Cath is terrified that he’ll lose it without them around every day.

Now that she’s lost Wren as a roommate and built-in best friend, one of the unwelcome adjustments required in Cath’s new college life is her brash and irritable roommate Reagan, who seems to be constantly shadowed by her best friend Levi, a sunny older boy who is just always around… and who somehow manages to work his way into Cath’s reluctant heart.

The biggest change of all is the impact of college life on the twins’ obsession with Simon Snow. In the world of Fangirl, Simon Snow is the fictional main character of a series of books set in a magical world. Think Harry Potter, with a few twists. Simon Snow is simply the biggest thing ever, with a huge fanbase that’s getting crazier and crazier as the publication of the 8th and final book in the series approaches. Cath and Wren have always loved Simon Snow and are immersed in the world of fanfiction — or at least they were. Wren seems to have left it all behind in her quest to grow up and be a “normal” college girl, with all the drinking, partying, and boyfriends that entails, while Cath wants nothing more than to live in her Simon Snow “fic” world for as long as she can.

Cath isn’t just a regular old fan, though — she’s the incredibly popular author of Carry On, Simon, which has become the hottest fanfic in the Snow-verse. Each new installment by “Magicath” gets tens of thousands of hits, and Cath can think of nothing better than spending hours writing about Simon and the boy-on-boy romance she’s created for him with his archnemesis Baz.

Fangirl follows Cath through her first year of college, through the ups and downs of her relationship with Wren, her worries about her dad, her growing romance with Levi, and her struggles to define herself as a writer, both in the world of Simon  Snow and in the context of her advanced fiction writing course — presided over by a professor who just doesn’t “get” fanfiction and won’t allow it in her students’ writing.

This is the third book I’ve read by Rainbow Rowell, and once again I’m just incredibly impressed by her talent. In Fangirl, she’s created not one but two fictional worlds. The story of Cath and her growth and development at college is convincing and feels authentic, and at the same time, Rainbow Rowell has created a fiction-within-fiction world for the story of Simon Snow that makes it feel like a real, well-thought out book series. Actually, I suppose you could say that there are three worlds going on in Fangirl, because I don’t see how you couldn’t count Cath’s fanfiction creation as a story all its own. By the end of Fangirl, I wanted to know not only how Cath’s life would work out, but both versions of Simon Snow’s as well!

Cath’s inner life is well-described throughout. She’s scared and reclusive, yearning for connection but afraid of it too, wanting to write but not willing to leave her fanfic behind or relegate it to 2nd place. I loved Cath’s insecurities and fears, her love for her father, her anger toward Wren even while she misses her sister desperately. Perhaps most charming of all is Cath’s friendship with Levi. Levi is the boy everyone wishes they met in college. He’s sweet and smart, caring without being controlling, always there for Cath when she needs him, and funny and positive to boot. I loved that Cath and Levi could explore their feelings, not without complications or issues, but at least without the trite contrivance of an unnecessary love triangle. In fact, I thought early on that the plot was setting up a triangle, and when that didn’t turn out to be the case, I felt like raising a banner with a big “THANK YOU RAINBOW ROWELL” on it. What a relief!

Rowell’s writing is full of sparkling humor and zippy dialogue. Even when serious matters are arise, there are plenty of funny and quirky moments to lighten the mood. I love this moment, among many, which uses a pop-culture reference point as almost a throw-away quip, yet really sets a great tone (and made me snicker):

Reagan was sitting at Cath’s desk when Cath woke up.

“Are you awake?”

“Have you been watching me sleep?”

“Yes, Bella. Are you awake?”

Probably my only quibble with Fangirl has to do with names. Cath is short for Cather, and it took me the longest time to realize that yes, Cather is in fact her name and not a nickname. The explanation for Cath’s name (and Wren’s too) was just too cutesy by far for me to believe, and felt like a forced joke that didn’t work at all in the context of an otherwise totally believable (if not terribly functional) family dynamic. This is a small complaint, however, and certainly didn’t detract from my enjoyment of Fangirl for more than a moment or two.

Overall, I loved Fangirl. It doesn’t have the emotional punch of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, which took my breath away with the sorrow and hurt of its characters. In Fangirl, Cath goes through quite a lot, but it’s mostly a happy book about a young woman coming into her own, finding out who she is and what she wants, and learning how to be her own person. Cath’s experiences during her freshman year of college include unique elements, yet feel universal. For anyone who has suffered through meeting strange new roommates, figured out to maneuver through a dorm dining hall, or confronted a professor who just doesn’t get your work, reading Fangirl will be a nostalgic, emotional journey back to those days of excitement and confusion.

Filled with strong writing and original, well-developed characters, Fangirl is a joy to read — and it’s sure to especially delight readers who, no matter their age, still get a secret thrill from flipping back through their Harry Potter collection… again and again and again.

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The details:

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication date: 2013
Genre: Young adult/New adult
Source: Purchased

Wishlist Wednesday

Welcome to Wishlist Wednesday!

The concept is to post about one book from our wish lists that we can’t wait to read. Want to play? Here’s how:

  • Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
  • Do a post about one book from your wishlist and why you want to read it.
  • Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of the post at Pen to Paper.
  • Put a link back to Pen to Paper somewhere in your post.
  • Visit the other blogs and enjoy!

My Wishlist Wednesday book is:

 Fangirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
(to be released September 2013)

From Goodreads:

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

Or will she just go on living inside somebody else’s fiction?

Why do I want to read this?

This just sounds perfect for me in so many ways! First, I’ve read Rainbow Rowell’s two other novels, Eleanor & Park and Attachments, in the past month or so, and while they’re quite different, I loved them both so much! (Click on the links if you’d like to read my reviews…)

And then, of course, the plot of Fangirl just sounds right up my alley. I’m imagining the Simon Snow series to be somewhat akin to Harry Potter — and who can’t relate to obsessing over characters, dressing up, waiting for movie premieres??? Plus, the deeper story of sisters growing up and growing apart sounds quite lovely, and I know that I love the way this author writes. All in all, Fangirl is a book that I just can’t wait to read!

So what are you doing on Thursdays and Fridays? Come join me for my regular weekly features, Thursday Quotables and Flashback Friday! You can find out more here — come share the book love!