Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling (Screenplay/Movie)

img_3413“Jacob: Tell me — has anyone ever believed you when you told them not to worry?

Newt: My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice.

Admittedly I don’t fan over everything that is related to the world of Harry Potter (HP). I absolutely love the seven books in the series, which were a big part of my childhood, but never felt the need to explore anything outside of that. The Fantastic Beasts movie, however, sounded like a lot of fun, and I liked the fact that while it is related to the HP world, it stands apart from it.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an original screenplay written by J.K. Rowling, which takes its title from a textbook used in the HP series. It tells the story of the author of the textbook, Magizoologist Newt Scamander and a time he visited New York for what was to be a brief errand. However, when three of his creatures escape from his magical case, it sets off a chain of events and a fantastical adventure.

I read the screenplay prior to watching the movie (a slight spoiler, I know) and found I really enjoyed the screenplay format and the story itself was fun with a cast of compelling and charismatic characters. Most interesting was seeing which parts of the movie matched my vision/interpretation, and which ones didn’t. There are characters and scenes that I visualized and imagined in a particular way, and it was fascinating to see the way the actors approached their character along with certain scenes. I liked having the unusual experience of reading a screenplay and then seeing it all brought to life, and of course it is always fun to spend some time in this magical world.

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton

img_3286“On his best days the blank canvas of the landscape set him at ease; on his worst days he contemplated madness. The land did not care for him and there was nowhere else to go. He wasn’t sure yet which sort of day today was.”

Good Morning, Midnight follows two storylines that inevitably connect and intertwine. The first one is that of an aging astronomer named Augustine who refuses to evacuate his latest post in the Arctic after news of a catastrophic event. Not long after the evacuation, he discovers a mysterious child named Iris and finds that the two of them are completely alone as the airwaves have gone dead silent. During this time there is a crew of six astronauts on a return flight from Jupiter, from what has been a successful mission. They are the first to make such an extensive journey into space and each have made personal sacrifices to do so. Not long after they embark on the long journey back to Earth, Mission Control falls silent and they are not sure if they will ever reach home or what awaits them if they do.

“This moment, Sully, this is where we must live.”

I found this to be a beautifully written novel that examines feelings of loneliness, isolation, love, belonging, and connection through characters that face an uncertain future. The circumstances and emotions of their present situations are powerfully conveyed, and we are also taken back to past moments through flashbacks from Augustine as well as Mission Specialist Sullivan. This aspect of the book is compelling on its own, however there is also an element of suspense as the two stories progress with the question of how everything will come together and conclude. A truly unique and exceptional novel.

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

img_3187“If a televised hug could affect an election, weren’t we all just really screwed?”

A gorgeous cover and a wonderful read. The Hopefuls is told from the perspective of Beth Kelly who moves to Washington, DC with her husband where he accepted a job with President Obama’s Inauguration Committee. She struggles to adjust to her new life and to secure work, while her husband, Matt follows his political ambitions. When they meet Jimmy Dillon who also works at the White House, they become inseparable friends with him and his wife, Ash. What unfolds is a recounting of that period in their lives and everything that came along with it.

“Trying to make new friends was like dating – meeting so many new people and feeling them out, trying to find common interests and topics of conversation. It was harder than I thought it would be.”

The Hopefuls provides a really great take on a lot of relatable issues: adjusting to a new city, making new friendships, job struggles, and how all of those things affect a relationship. It also provides a look into a life in politics and the competitive culture that comes along with it. I found this novel to be thoughtfully written as it slowly takes the reader through a distinct period of time, while very effectively conveying not only the atmosphere and emotion of that period, but also the depth of an individual experience. Overall an enjoyable read that gives an interesting look into DC politics and life.