August 12, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD



My rating: 2.5/5

‘The eighth story, 19 years later’ This phrase when associated with Harry Potter is more than enough to get any reader, any person who grew up with the Boy Who Lived excited.  I vividly remember when the first announcement about the play came out because I was equal parts excited and heartbroken, knowing that my chances of seeing the play live in London was as good as Umbridge being known as the best thing that ever happened to Hogwarts.  And then, as if my prayers were answered, the news about the script book came out and I was over the moon. Never mind the fact that it wasn’t an actual novel but the fact that I’d be getting to go back to my favorite fantasy world and seeing the new generation as well the old was enough for me.
So on the day of the release, I rushed to the nearest bookstore and snagged myself a copy. Despite having read the books when they came out, I was never lucky enough to experience a HP book launch so this occasion was doubly exciting for me. The whole day was something special as I got to interact with so many fellow Potterheads, all strangers initially but united by our shared love of the magical world. It felt like hanging out with some good old friends.

After reading this book, (there were several times where I just had to stop and take a break because the things happening were utter madness), I was left feeling quite conflicted and disappointed. There was this sense of nostalgia but it wasn’t enough for me to look past the flaws.

There are so many reasons to justify my low rating. I can blame it on the stiff writing that I’m praying did not come from Jo. I can blame it on the awkward play format that made it difficult to emotionally connect to the story and the characters.But I won’t because I was expecting these things. I knew beforehand that this was just a script and not entirely Jo's work.

My disappointment comes from the flimsy plot and the carelessness with which our precious characters were handled.

The grown up version of the trio seems to be deprived of their magic (not literal magic) and authenticity. People change all the time and I get that but there were times when I couldn’t even recognize some of the characters because of their actions. Taking away the basic foundation of a person’s character was a low blow. Take Harry for example. I simply refuse to believe he would ever be a bad or inattentive father. Sure their might be a few bumps along the road but Harry in this book was unbelievable. As someone who grew up an orphan and often mistreated by the rest of his family, I’m sure he would know the kind of damage that could do to a child and would never inflict it upon his own children. Dumbing down Hermione and Ginny, using Ron as nothing more than a comic relief, all this will never sit well with me. I guess that’s all there is to say about the characterization without getting into major spoilers.

Moving on to the plot, I don’t even know where to start. I get that this is just a play but that is no excuse for the lack of thoughtfulness and gravity that I associate with all the Harry Potter books. Do the writers even know how much planning Jo did for this series? She had the whole thing mapped out way before she even got to writing the final book and it shows. Comic one-liners are forced into scenes where they do not belong, making it awkward and there were way too many convenient solutions by resorting into deus ex machina.

Also, this book basically contradicted everything we’ve learnt about time-travel in the Wizarding world. Jo had the time turners destroyed for a reason because dealing with time travelling is a messy business. It’s like the writers here never read Prisoner of Azkaban and conveniently tweaked all the laws of time travel for their own benefit. What even… :/

Don’t even get me started on the origins of Delphi. What do they take us readers for? Stupid and gullible?

Moving on to the new generation, Albus Severus Potter you troubled child. Albus made my heart ache in the first few pages. I could see how being Harry Potter’s son isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world but his impoliteness, his self-absorbedness and teenage angst started infuriating me by the time I was halfway into the book.  Albus feels this need to prove himself so he plans to do so by correcting one of the many wrongs done by his dad and from there on, madness (not the god kind) ensues.

The only saving grace about this book was Scorpius Malfoy. He is literally the only likeable character in the book. Who would’ve thought, right?  He is kind, compassionate, troubled, a wizarding geek, brave, funny and just a sweetheart.

There’s so much more I’d like to talk about but I want to keep this review spoiler free so I’m gonna stop now.

All in all, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child works more as a fanfiction (and not a good one) than an actual continuation to the series. For me, Harry Potter ended with ‘All was well’.


August 03, 2016

July Wrap Up: #MugglesToWizards Part Two


Our two month Potter extravaganza finally ended just in time to pick up Cursed Child. We are overwhelmed by your support and love. Thank you for taking this journey with us. All your posts, messages, and giveaway entries made our June and July extremely special.

Here's what unraveled in July, we read the last three books, watched remaining movies and peeled our eyes for the release of Cursed Child!

TBR for July


Some more pretty Potter art and pictures 
A photo posted by K (@driftingfirefly) on

A photo posted by Shonazee (@ofinkandpages) on


A photo posted by Varsha (@_wovenwithpages) on






The last lap plus Potter and Queen Rowling's Birthdays

A photo posted by Michelle (@michellebookaddict) on



The End

47 days, 174 hours (Yes, I count) ๐Ÿ™Š, 3422 pages and COUNTLESS EMOTIONS later, I FINALLY FINISHED HARRY POTTER SERIES. . . . I always used to think that being an old soul I would never appreciate these books as they are loved and appreciated by others. I mean, it's about magic. And what will be exciting about some students learning magic. But what I didn't understand as an HP virgin that a bit of magic is needed in your life. . . . I deeply regret not giving this series a chance before and I apologize for watching the films first and spoiling myself for so many things. . . . Having said that, I won't pass the opportunity to say that I am so OVERWHELMED by this ride. It truly feels like I've converted from a Muggle to a Wizard. . . . I always say that for me a good book is that, that makes you feel, evoke emotions and Harry Potter did exactly that. You get attached to characters, cry over the death of the most inconsequential person, laugh when they laugh and feel elated when the characters do. . . . I wish I can go back to my 11 year old self. I wish I get the Hogwarts letter and I wish every person reads these books because not only the people in this series grow, you do to. . . . I'm so overflowed with emotions that forming anything coherent is difficult for me right now. . . . To everyone who took part in #MugglesToWizards I'm really thankful that you joined me in this journey because I wouldn't have done this alone. . . . Ps. BRING ON ALL THE TUMBLRS AND REDDITS NOW . . . . . #MugglesToWizards #HarryPotterReadathon #JKRowling #SorcerersStone #ChamberOfSecrets #PrizonerOfAzkaban #GobletOfFire #OrderOfPheonix #HalfBloodPrince #DeathlyHallows #DelhiBookstagrammer #BookstagramIndia #BookPhotograpghy #BookstagramIndiaFeature #BooksOfInstagram #Potterhead #BookstagrammerOfDelhi #IncorrigibleReviews
A photo posted by Mahima (@incorrigiblemusings) on



I started reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on the 4th of June, and boy have I come a long way! From No. 4, Privet Drive to Godric's Hollow, from that time at the zoo with the snake to the dragon at Gringotts, from Butterbeer to Polyjuice Potion, from Wingardium Leviosa to Expelliarmus, and from being a muggle to finally a wizard I have had the most fun being a part of this beautiful piece of literature. J K Rowling dedicates the seventh part of the dedication of the seventh book to all those who stayed with Harry until the very end. Well yes, it's been a pleasure being there for the book just as much as the book has been there for me. And I say thanks to you Queen Rowling for making us feel human enough to be able to love something so much. To make us believe that we have a little more love in us and that we are just as human as Harry is, to your beautiful words that made us feel so much that we might have shed some tears in the process, and to everytime you taught us something new by giving Albus Dumbledore a voice like no other. Thank you so much for introducing me to my new favorite fictional female Hermione, to redefine the bonds of family with the Weasley family and to help us understand that we don't always have to be tied by blood relationships to make that extra effort for some one. All of this will stay with us till the very end because isn't the whole point of it all to be a better, braver, kinder version of ourselves? ๐Ÿ˜Š A huge thanks to @fictionalfortress for making this journey even more fun with their amazing readathon #mugglestowizards. ๐Ÿ’ž #brunchbookchallenge #thefinchbook #igreads #bookstagramfeature #connectreaders #bookstagramindia #shelvesquest #2016readingchallenge #bookriot #readharderchallenge #booknerdigans #prettycovers #jkrowling #harrypotter #bloomsburyindia #Bookstagram #shelfjoy #bookstagramindiafeature #indiansread #booklove #youngadultfiction #bookishfeatures
A photo posted by Shefali. (@shefalirane) on


Ended our readathon with Cursed Child release party

A photo posted by Varsha (@_wovenwithpages) on


We hope you guys enjoyed as much as we did. Thank you, thank you for joining us!

And All Was Well.

P.S: Join us as we take on the genre Historic Fiction, this August. Details here.


July 05, 2016

June Wrap Up: #mugglestowizards Part One

We wanted to revive reading in the club, and what better way to start than with Harry Potter!
A lot of us have grown up with this magical world, waiting for the letter, hoping to be the next Quidditch legend, while others have magically resisted the charm till much later. This June & July, we made the resisting a little difficult by hosting two month long Harry Potter readathon, with movie marathons, giveaways, what not! (We're hosting the readathon along side Mahima from incorrigiblemusings and Chetana from Chetanaholla)
And the response we received has been phenomenal! With the first four books read, three movies watched, and two giveaways down, June has been quite magical.
Here's what transpired this month,

The Announcement: 



Readathon started with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and the first prompt for the giveaway was, "Your Journey To Hogwarts", this story by Chetana warmed our hearts, go on , read on if you haven't,


It was in September of 2000, when I was 11, that I first laid eyes on Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. I was excited because my dad had just gotten back from a trip the night before and if I was lucky he would sometimes bring me and my sister books. I an upstairs to my parents bedroom and lo and behold I find a stack of books on their bed. I saw a book about a couple of books down the stacks whose name I couldn't really see, but I could see a "ha" and half of an r. I thought it was a Hardy boys book which was exciting in and of itself but when I picked it up it was this book with a boy expressing bewilderment in front of a train. I had never heard of it so I have it a go. I devoured that book and fell in love with this world that Rowling created. The next time I was at a book store I had to pick up the next couple of the books in the series that were out. I have to thank my dad for introducing me to this world and my mom for not getting pissed at me for constantly reading this series and buying the books. I read the 1st HP book close to 10 times in the first couple of years I'd gotten it and I still reread the series every couple of years. This was my journey to Hogwarts. I'm taking part in the #mugglestowizards Read-a-thon being held by @fictionalfortress 
A photo posted by Chetana (@chetanaholla) on


Another beautifully put "Your Journey To Hogwarts" post by Pologeebee,

Remember your first HP read? My journey to Hogwarts started on a random day and on a random street in Calcutta. Well the street isn't that random. Not like 4, Privet Drive though. It was Esplanade, Calcutta. I was walking with Baba and saw Harry Potter books being sold at a shop. An uncle had told me about it and I was willing to spend my father's money on it. It was a random choice. I came home and forgot about it. It was sometime later that I picked it up and just couldn't read more than the first few pages. It was forgotten again, just like Riddle's diary. Finally, I picked it again and this time I did not let go. Seven books, eight movies, some extra books, arrival of a new movie spin off and a play later, it has stayed with me. Hogwarts is home and it will remain so forever. As Rowling said, "Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home." Welcome aboard! #mugglestowizards
A photo posted by PGB (@pologeebee) on


Some went as far as displaying their Letter To Hogwarts on Muggle net, we wonder what Ministry Of Magic will say about this,




Some made art in celebration of the readathon, do you see our happy tears? Do you?


A photo posted by K (@driftingfirefly) on


A photo posted by Parinitha P (@pari617) on





Some other beautiful pictures that turned up during the course of the read-a-thon,



A photo posted by Sumedha (@i.rock.books.rule) on


A photo posted by Amrita (@bookishreveries) on


A photo posted by Shefali. (@shefalirane) on


Was quite a month, wasn't it? Well, July is going to be even better with last three books, four movies, and FOUR MORE GIVEAWAYS!

If you haven't joined the readathon yet, what are you waiting for? Join us now, it's never too late to read/re-read Harry Potter. All you have to do is get your HP books, read them, post about them using #mugglestowizards. That is all.
See you then?

June 28, 2016

Book Review: The Lovers Dictionary by David Levithan

When I first saw this book at the used bookstore, I realized that I'd seen it around on Bookstagram. I didn't know what it was about, I usually don't know what the books I'm going to read are about since I love diving into the unknown. But I didn't want to buy a book I wouldn't enjoy, so I decided to read a couple of pages in the store while bae scourged the piles of dusted books for something I'd like.


Add to Goodreads

 As soon as I read the first few pages I knew that this book was a keeper. I knew that I would from time to time flip pages and read out randomly from it. That some definitions would stay with me, that some would make me want to flip the book in the middle of the night to read precisely what's written. It's a quick read, an hour/ an hour and a half tops. What I love about it is how the author has given us the story of two unnamed characters through different definitions, different phases of a relationship. Each page has one word, and a random snippet of the relationship that fits the definition of that word. Some definitions are one line long, some a paragraph and others a page long. The book literally is written in a dictionary form.



The author has turned the mundane moments into something you'd yearn for yourself in future. The comfort of being around someone you love. The nasty truth behind happily ever afters which isn't all roses but a lot of thorns. A lot of self-doubts, insecurity. Jealousy. A lot of being sure just to become unsure again. Of how the fights are continuous. But also of how you have somebody to share morning kisses with, or start your day with champagne cause why the hell not? It's the mundane beauty of relationship conceived from the first flirty dates to the cozy nights spent in each other's embrace. 
A very cute & adorable story of most relationships.


Have you read The Lover's Dictionary? Did you like it?


June 14, 2016

Reading Schedule 2016


Now, we used to announce our monthly book themes & book in spotlight a week before the new month begins, but we've realized that it doesn't give our readers enough time to buy/borrow the books and/or set their TBRs for the month, so here we are, with a reading schedule for rest of the year. This will give you plenty of time to arrange for the books and set your TBRs.

Let's dive straight into it, shall we?

June-July: It's Pottermania at Fictional Fortress. We're reading all the seven books, watching 8 movies + hosting 6 giveaways! You cannot ask for anything better, can you?
For reading schedule, go here.
For movie schedule, go here.
To join the readathon, all you have to do is start reading the books and post about them online using the tag #MugglesToWizards. For more info, check our Instagram out.




August Theme: You asked for Historic Fiction, you get Historic Fiction.
Our Pick: Such A Long Journey, Rohinton Mistry.



September Theme: It's the month of Banned Books! Let's be the rebels we are and read the gems that have been banned.
Our Pick: Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie.



October Theme: We'll be reading books along the theme of Mental Health during Oct.
Our Pick: Em and the Big Hoom, Jerry Pinto




November Theme: Graphic Novels month it is!
Our Pick: Munnu by Malik Sajad




December Theme: Holiday Theme Books read along.
Our Pick: Instead of a book, we pick Ruskin Bond. The snow capped mountains and pine trees call!



To participate in any of these read-a-longs all you need to do is pick a book revolving around the given genres/themes, read & post about them online using #ficfortressreads.
The "Our Picks" are the books we recommend you pick & the ones that we will be reading in the said months :)
           
We hope you join us in reading these themes and books as well as in discussing them at the end of the respective months. Happy Reading!

June 07, 2016

BOOK OF THE MONTH REVIEW - MRS. DALLOWAY BY VIRGINIA WOOLF


 Genre : Classics, Fiction, Feminism, Women Literature

Mrs. Dalloway was written by Woolf in 1925, when the world, particularly Europe, was experiencing a lot of changes in all fronts. The story is set in those days of modernism; and revolves around a woman named Clarissa Dalloway, the wife of a rich influential bureaucrat, who loves throwing parties and socializing. The entire story is set in a day of Mrs. Dalloway's life, where each character tells a story about his or her life. Each character directly influencing Mrs. Dalloway, looks back on a day when they were younger, when Clarissa turned down her friend, Peter Walsh's proposal for marriage. Mrs. Dalloway is one of the classics which have been widely read and appreciated around the world.
What I loved the most about Mrs. Dalloway is it's representation of the characters. A typical London morning in 1925 will have all the prominent characters in the novel. Clarissa is a socialite who arranges parties and indulge in socializing with high class families to share gossips and talk about life in London. What is even more special about the timeline is that it is set in 1925 which means the story encapsulates the old fashioned ways of living and the new modernist approach to life. Clarissa Dalloway, is taught from her early childhood how to become the perfect wife in a rich household, and that just represents how women had a certain role in lives. While she is not happy about the ways of life, she has not been able to break out of it. On the other hand, several characters, break out of the perception to become independent and "different" from the women in that time.
The novel has no chapters, just a steady flow of thoughts which jumps from one character to another to form an entire day of activities, impressions and views. Every thought, every view has a specific opinion on life in 1920s, every argument had different approaches and every view had its consequences. Every character has a personality so strong and so different, it's hard to talk about just one character. A character, Septimus Warren Smith is particularly interesting in the story, who is apparently written as a double to Clarissa. While both of them doesn't appreciate the way of life, Septimus breaks out of it by killing himself. And when Clarissa comes to know of it, she describes it as a defiance; she sees it as a way of escaping from the world of mishaps and misfortunes.
Virginia Woolf is a genius, and someone who has read at least one of her works will agree with me when I say this.

-NIVEDITA

May 30, 2016

Guest Review: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Since May was a #readclassics month at Fictional Fortress, one of our lovely club members, Kadbury (she blogs at Writer and Tales) is taking over to review Crime and Punishment for us (there's also some exciting giveaway info at the end, you're welcome)
Over to you, Kadbury;

Book Title: Crime and Punishment
Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Genre: Classic Lit

This is one of those huge books that everyone sees in a shop and gets intimidated by. Yes, it’s a classic written by a Russian author. First off I would like to warn all readers that the names and pet names of every character can be slightly confusing. Some editions have a list of all the names and pet names of each character at the start or end of the novel. My suggestion is that you buy one of these editions.

This book is large in size but the story as a whole is not hard to understand and is pretty universal. It raises questions regarding morality, crime and justice and these are answered to an extent. It isn’t packed with philosophy and is pretty straightforward so everyone can understand it.

Our titular character, Raskolnikov is the quintessential individual who finds fault with everything in the world. He has a high opinion of himself and his ideals and is plagued with thoughts of putting his ideals into practice (like some other individuals we find around us *cough* Trump *cough*) .It is his ideals and warped world view that lead him to perform an unconventional unlawful act. The book explores his psyche and his worldview after his consciousness becomes ruptured.

Crime and Punishment is an exploration of society and the psychology of an individual removed from society. It tries very hard to find a balance between being preachy and being too philosophical. There is a clear dichotomy between religious faith and idealism. Even if you don’t want to go into the depth of the story ,on the surface it is a nerve wracking narrative that keeps you on the edge of your toes . It is not a whodunnit but the suspense is palpable throughout.

The multiple side stories are engaging (sometimes more than the main story) but all the characters and their narratives get tied together towards the end. Parallels can be drawn between the minor characters and the main. Each character and plot point serves a purpose.The characters are a microcosm of society as a whole.Realism was after all Dostoyevsky’s strong suit.

Towards the end, I started getting a little fed up with the protagonist but all other characters managed to save the narrative (And there were many). As a reader, I would say that at a point you get frustrated with the protagonist and stop enjoying the story. The female characters in the story are also too conventional and I didn’t like any of them. The questions raised by the story make it worth a read but I wouldn’t say it was an enjoyable read throughout.



For those of you interested, I'm giving away Penguin editions of Crime & Punishment, and Fathers & Sons (as pictured above) on my blog,  to participate in the giveaway, go here.

What are your Favourite classics?
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