Teaser Tuesday #43

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme is hosted by MizB from Books and a Beat.

1. Grab your current read

2. Open to a random page

3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

4. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I am now reading Marissa Meyer’s last  novel, Heartless, which is a retelling of Alice in Wonderland focusing on the Queen of Hearts before she was queen, and how she ended up the villain we know… So far I love it!

Heartless

“If I ever get married, I want there to be romance, passion. I want to fall in love.” – p.69

Goodreads

Travels and Life Update

Hi guys! I wanted to give you a quick update on NaNoWriMo, and on my life in general. Like last year, I did my best the first half of the month when it came to writing, and didn’t write that much in the second half. I still have a few days left (like, 3) and I clearly know that I am not going to make it to 50k, however, I am still proud of myself, because I really like my project this year, and I definitely plan on continuing my writing in December. I first had this idea more than three years ago, and I really like the shape it is taking! You will have my final NaNoWriMo update in my November Wrap Up in a few days, but in the meantime I just wanted to mention it very quickly!

Again, I also wanted to apologize for not being so active on WordPress recently. I don’t have very much internet at my dorm, and this combined with lots of homework and trying to enjoy the unique experience of being a student abroad… All this led me to spend less time on here, but I miss it, which is why I am still trying to post as much as I can!

I have a lot of homework, and I really want to do well this year, so if you have any advice on how to concentrate and avoid procrastinating (which I do a lot), any piece of advice very welcome!

And finally, I went on a trip to Prague with other exchange students last weekend, and I posted a video about it on my channel, and since I am rather proud of it, I wanted to share it, if you want to watch it below!

Sunday Recommendations: Books With Vampires

I am taking a class on Weimar Cinema this semester, and I recently watched Nosferatu, which reminded me than when I asked you guys for recommendations themes, someone suggested vampires… So here we go! I will include both books mainly about vampires, and books that include vampires in a more general supernatural environment. As it turns out, I haven’t read that many vampire books, but this was a really fun article to write nevertheless, so thanks for the suggestion! Hope you enjoy!

*****

Dracula#1 Dracula by Bram Stoker

I couldn’t write an article about vampires without mentioning this dense, dark and old classic, obviously. Dracula is the classical vampire tale, featuring the old count from Eastern Europe, who wants to get a beautiful house in England, and travels from his home to his new house in a coffin, to this new town where he will seduce beautiful girls and cause havoc with rats and mortal bites. This book is a dark, mysterious, complex tale, and a must read if you like vampire stories.

#2 Twilight by Stephenie MeyerTwilight (Twilight, #1)

Because if you are here for the vampire talk, I have to mention this one right? Whether you like it or not (and I have to say, I really enjoyed it when I read it, I even read it twice in a row the first time…) Twilight is the perfet example of a popular modern vampire story, where Bella, the clumsy, new girl in town falls in love with secretive and mysterious Edward, the handsome boy with the handsome siblings, who sparkles in the sun and turns out to be, of course a vampire…

The Awakening (The Vampire Diaries, #1)#3 The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith

An other very popular modern vampire story, which has also been turned into a TV show. I have to admit, I only read the first book in this series because I actually didn’t like it that much… But if you are into vampire stories, then check it out, what are you waiting for? The Vampire Diaries follows the story of beautiful, popular girl Elena, as she falls in love with the new boy at school, but meanwhile also gets entangled with his mysterious brother. And of course, they hate each other and have vowed revenge.

#4 The Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine HarrisDead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, #1)

This series is unique and excellent, in my opinion (though I have to admit I never finished it…) If you find Twilight or The Vampire Diaries too cliché, then I guarantee this is something you might like, because it is totally different – partly because it is intended for on older audience. Sookie Stackhouse is a waitress in a small town, who can’t find a boyfriend because she can read mind, and it always gets in the way. But one day, she meets a dark mysterious stranger, and is driven into a world she didn’t expect to exist… Sexy and funny, again, this is something I definitely recommend if you are into vampire stories!

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)#5 City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments is not essentially about vampires, but I thought I would mention it anyway. If you don’t know what this series is about (then first, where have you been living for the past ten years?) it basically follows Clary Fray after her mom gets abducted, and she discovers she can see things others cannot. And that is for a very particular reason: she is a Shadowhunters. And the world is inhabited by demons, creatures of the dark… And vampires, who become a bigger part of Clary’s life after they take her best friend Simon hostage.

#6 The Tara Duncan seriesTara Duncan and the Spellbinders
by Sophie Audoin-Mamikonian

I had to mention this French series in this article, because I will take any opportunity that I have to promote it on this blog… And of course because it features a great amount of vampires. Well it depends on the volumes of the series. But vampires are still present and important. Nice ones, evil ones, power hungry and blood hungry ones, desperate vampires, and presidential vampires…

Fledgling#7 Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler

I have only read the first chapters of this one in one of my classes, but I really need to get my hands on the whole book because damn, that story looks interesting. Fledgling follows an amnesiac girl who wakes up in a cave. As she encounters civilisation for the first time (at least that she remember) she finds out that she looks around 12, though she feels much older. And the even stranger things is that she is craving for blood… This book is a mix between fantasy and science fiction, and it looks brilliant. If you have read it, I would love to have your opinion on it!

*****

And that’s it for this week, feel free to recommend your favourite vampire stories in the comments, and I hope you’re having a great weekend!

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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I went to see Fantastic Beasts last Friday, and I absolutely loved it, so of course I had to make a review of it. My friend told me she spend half of the movie looking at me because my reactions (fangirling, swooning, getting excited… you know the feeling) where so entertaining. So you can say I absolutely enjoyed it. I honestly have nothing to complain about here. You know how they say, some stories stay with us forever… Well this one will most certainly stay with me forever! I really want to watch it again, but I will probably have to wait a bit. And I can’t wait for next November, obviously, because you know, the next movie is coming out!

First let’s talk about Newt. We all know him because he is the author of the Fantastic Beasts book, which was mentioned in Harry Potter, and then released as part as the Hogwarts Library. I read this book last summer (right before I started my blog, actually), and enjoyed it a lot. But this movie is not a book to movie adaptation, it is more of a movie about how this book came to be, and I really love the concept. Newt Scamander is a unique human being, who enjoys the company of magical beasts, though he is not so good in the company of humans. (I have seen some people mentioning that he reminded them of Hagrid, and that is an interesting observation. I have to say that I agree to some extent). So Newt, former Hufflepuff, thrown out of Hogwarts because he was taking care of a dangerous beast who harmed one of his classmates (see the resemblance with Hagrid here) arrives in New York with a magical case full of beasts, but we don’t really know what his plan is at first.

First thoughts:

* Finally a story about a Hufflepuff, my pride and joy!
* Thrown out of Hogwarts? That’s interesting. I had no idea. I want to know more… And see how far you can go without school!
* We’re up for some magic, I can’t wait!

We soon see that the protection of the case is not actually that good, and beasts go loose in the city. City which seems to be under attack by an invisible monster, threatening to reveal to No-Majs the existence of the Wizarding community… So Newt’s timing is not exactly the best.

Soon, we meet the rest of the characters, Jacob who gets hilariously entangled with Newt, Tina Goldstein the ex-Auror who spots trouble as soon as she sees Newt for the first time, and her sister Queenie who possesses an unusual power (I have to say that from the trailer, I thought I wouldn’t like her, but she was actually one of my favourite characters!)

And it doesn’t take long to realise that the dark matter at hand will be blamed on Newt, to hide the guilt of the true culprit, and the dangerous ambitions of some.

Before I continue let me say that this movie was full of magic and surprises, and I absolutely loved it. The music was also excellent, as usual with the Harry Potter franchise. And as a huge fan of Eddie Redmayne and Ezra Miller, I may be a bit biased, but their performances were absolutely excellent, as well as that of the rest of the cast!

I know some people didn’t like the movie for various reasons, but honestly, I totally enjoyed it from beginning to end, and I didn’t want it to be over.

Now I’m going to mention spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you can stop here.

If you carry on reading, don’t blame me later!

I could go on for hours on how cute, beautiful, incredible the beasts were, but what was even more incredible was the inside of Newt’s case! I think that we see him disappearing into it at some point in the trailer, but oh the wonders inside! So many beautiful settings! If I had a case like this I would never go outside again. (And Jacob trying to get into the case was a very welcome moment of comic relief.)

I really loved this movie because it was full of things I didn’t expect. It was so much more than what appeared in the trailer. And that was brilliant. I know from the posters that Ezra Miller was going to be in the trailer, but I hadn’t quite understood his role would be. Credence and his “mother” were for me an unexpected and incredible part of the movie. It is interesting to see the presence of witch hunting, which is something America has always been known for (Salem anyone). And it is interesting to see it still present in the 20s. Now, Credence’s mom (sorry I didn’t catch her name) is bat shit crazy, but she is at least right on one thing: wizards do exist. However she is a bad person, an awful woman, and I just want to punch her. She was an interesting addition to the story though… But not as interesting as Credence, obviously. When we learned that Graves was looking for a young person, I immediately thought it might be Credence. But then he called him a squib, and I was like?? What’s going on?? Though it explained his relationship to the magical world. But then, the truth was unveiled in the most amazing way… Though his ending was tragic, I really liked Credence (and I really appreciated the mention of the Deathly Hallows).

We know from the beginning that something is up with Graves, he tries to blame all the crazy stuff on Newt, and always seems to know more than he lets on. He even tries to get both Newt and Tina killed (a whole new level of crazy). I suspected he might be a disciple of Grindelwald, but I have to say, I totally didn’t expect him to actually be Grindelwald, so that was an interesting plot twist. And I know a lot of people complained about it, but I have to say, Johnny Depp is not the perfect cast as Grindelwald. I would have expected a younger actor, a charming young man… I totally didn’t picture him like this so I am a tad disappointed… But we will see more of him in the next movie, so I will have to wait and see to make my final judgement.

What else did I want to mention? Aside from the ending, obviously. Well this movie was much darker than I had expected, it had some interesting political stakes that I hadn’t suspected at all, and that were very welcome. It’s a change from what we saw in Harry Potter, but also a very pleasant return to the magical world.

And finally, the thing that broke my heart the most: the ending. First, we have to let Credence go. Then, in the most heartbreaking scene ever, Jacob says goodbye to his newfound friends – he is probably Newt’s only friend or almost, and his relationship with Queenie was the most adorable thing, why would you do this to me?! And then, we see Newt leave America after saying goodbye to Tina in the most cute and awkward scene ever… My heart was broken into a million pieces by this ending. This movie made me feel so many things, I am now even more in love with the Wizarding World than I ever was.

5 out of 5 stars, obviously ♥

Have you seen it? What are your thoughts? Please, let’s talk about it in the comments!

(Ps: I have so many things to say about this movie, I could honestly talk about it for hours, but I think this is already the longest article I have ever written, so I will just stop here…)

In the United States of Africa: Short Review

In the United States of Africa

Author: Abdourahman Waberi
Original publication: 2006
Genre: Fiction, African Literature
My rating: ★★★✩✩

The story:

In a text that seems to be a mix between fiction and essay, Abdourahman Waberi depicts a world where Africa is a powerful, rich, united country, while the rest of the world is going havoc because of wars and illnesses. In the midst of this, a young girl, Malaïka, who comes from the French countryside and was adopted by a rich African doctor, is raised as the only white child of the neighborhood. She grew up to become an artist, and tries to go on a trip back to France, to find out her origins, and why her birth mother abandoned her.

My opinion:

The first thing that I wanted to say is that I had to read this book for one of my classes, because the author is actually one of my professors for this semester (I feel so lucky, I wanted to brag about it).

The second things is, I have to admit this book is extremely clever and smart. It is full of witty remarks and comments which I really appreciated. The original idea was a very good one, no one can deny it. (It briefly reminded me of Noughts and Crosses, because it depicts a world where Blacks are in position of power whereas Whites are poor, and it’s the first time I find something like that ever since I read it… Which was ages ago since I was in middle school and am now doing my Master, but anyway, back to the topic.) In the United States of Africa was a beautiful story, however I found it a bit difficult to get into it, as much as I wanted to. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wish I had (and I have to say, it is bothering me a bit).

One thing I really liked, however, is all the little references to our world and our history that were twisted and turned to fit in this fantasy world: that was really brilliant, I was looking for those moments throughout the book.

My biggest regret is probably that I didn’t find the main character really endearing, though I can’t quite put my finger on why.

The narration was at the second person, the narrator directly addressing the girl, Malaïka, at the same time as the reader, and this is a procedure I always find very interesting.

Overall, I find it rather hard to put together my thoughts on this book, but I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for a diverse read, or a book different from what you usually read and find in bookstores or anywhere on your shelves!

Please leave a comment with your thoughts if you have read this book as well!

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Memoirs of a Porcupine: Short Review

It has been a really long time since I last posted a book review, and I am really sorry about that. I am trying to read as much as I can, as usual, but between my classes and NaNoWriMo, it has been a bit hard since the beginning of this month… Hopefully I can make it up to you before the end of this month!

Memoirs of a Porcupine

Author: Alain Mabanckou
Original publication: 2006
Genre: Fiction, African Culture
My rating: ★★★★✩

The story:

According to an old African legend, every human being has an animal double. Some are harmless, but some are evil.

When he turns 11, young Kibandi is taken into the forrest by his father, who forces him to drink a strange potion. That is his initiation. From then on, he will be accompanied through his life by a porcupine double (the narrator of the story). He soon discovers the use of his animal double, and starts killing people, for revenge, because they annoyed him, or just for the sake of killing…

Memoirs of a Porcupine is a dark and fascinating tale which will take you into a world you most likely ignored until now, and it is a book you will never forget.

My opinion:

A beautiful, poetic and original book. The narration is really captivating, and this book is rather easy to read. It is supposedly narrated by a porcupine, who makes sentences without caps or points, and that makes the book really hard to put down.

I really felt that this book was unique. I actually picked it up because I am studying it for one of my classes, and I am so glad I discovered this author. This book is like nothing I have ever read.

Mabanckou was born in the Republic of Congo, and he writes in French. He is also a Literature Professor in the US. His book Memoirs of a Porcupine has won the French literary prize Prix Renaudot (which, according to Goodreads, is the equivalent of the National Book Award).

If you are looking for diverse, original, and different books, then this is definitely something I would recommend!

Teaser Tuesday #42

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme is hosted by MizB from Books and a Beat.

1. Grab your current read

2. Open to a random page

3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

4. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Mumbo Jumbo: A Novel

I am still reading Mumbo Jumbo by Ishmael Reed for one of my classes, and I know I already shared a quote last week, but I haven’t read much since then, so here is another one!

Genre: Satiric Literature

My quote:

“Major Biff Musclewhite has finally convinced Charlotte to allow him to see her. He has brought some roses which the maid Suzie Mae has placed in vases. Charlotte, bored, stares at the cieling as she listens to him talk about World War 1.” – 46%

Goodreads