[EN] Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Jack Thorne

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Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Series: Harry Potter #8 (script for the play)
Author: Jack Thorne
Original story: J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
Publisher: Little Brown
Release date: 2016
Pages: 343


*Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy emotinal world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.*

It was alwasy difficult being Harry Potter and it isn't much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
When Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpectd places.

*The stage is flooded with wizards and witches. They rattle and chatter like all true wizards and witches can.*

Just as several hundreds of people across the world, I could not wait for the eighth Harry Potter story to be published. Imagine my dismay when I noticed it would be published on a Sunday (on which shops are closed over here) and that Monday was National Day (on which shops are closed too). Fortunately, some bookshops in main train stations and airports are open (as my colleagues nicely reminded me), so I managed to acquire my copy… and spent my afternoon reading. It brought me back to several years ago, when I was waiting impatiently to buy each of the books. Is it the same? Not exactly. Did I enjoy reading it? Definitely!
Harry Potter fans, unless they want to be disappointed, need to bear in mind that that this eighth story is different. It is not just another episode of the series. It is much more than this. Firstly, it is not a fantasy novel; it is the script of a play. Secondly, it is does not take place in the magical universe we are so familiar with; it occurs nineteen years and a few changes later. Finally, it is not only Harry’s story, but much more Albus’s (and Scorpion’s).
With these few details in mind, let us proceed. Nineteen years after the battle of Hogwarts, much has changed, but the past is still lurking. As Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione and Draco send their children to Hogwarts, darks shadows come back. As it turns out, Albus (Harry and Ginny’s youngest son) and Scorpion (Draco Malfoy’s son) will play a major role in the future (or maybe the past?) of the wizarding world, which might include a confrontation to dark magic, family secrets, friendship and a time-turner.
Although the script was not written by J.K. Rowling herself, the original story it is based on was, and the spirit of the Harry Potter series is definitely present. We meet our favourite (and less favourite) characters again in the universe we know. Some of the readers might be slightly disconcerted at first as there are none of the detailed descriptions they were used to – it is a play, remember – but do we actually need them to enjoy the story? Are we not familiar enough with Harry’s world to just… imagine – especially when the past surfaces at every turn? The dialogues are lively, expressive and pleasant to read and the stage directions detailed enough to take us straight to the wizarding world – with just that touch of humour which made the series so special in the first place.
The plot itself is enthralling. In retrospect, the first few scenes might seem a little slow and contain rather a lot of narrative ellipses, but I personally enjoyed it as it gave me time to grow accustomated to reading a Harry Potter story in play format. Quickly, adventures start for Albus and Scorpion and the events soon become uncontrollable. It is a story about courage, families, understanding and love; about how it is important to live in the present rather than in the past; about accepting one’s past mistakes and weaknesses; about trust and friendship.
The characters are all recognisable, and what a pleasure to find them older, but not completely changed. Harry is still the Boy-Who-Lived in many ways, but also a father who is wondering how to fulfil his role, especially with his youngest son. Hermione, Ron and Harry are responsible and grown up, but still a trio sharing a great friendship. Draco Malfoy is striving to be better, but still followed by his dark past… It is as if they had been waiting for us, readers, all those years. >spoiler< And being able to see Severus Snape again is probably the best surprise this book gave me! >spoiler end<
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a wonderful way to go back to the wizarding world. It is innovative, yet includes all the details that made the success of J.K. Rowling’s series in the first place. My dream? To be able to see the plays, of course!


* In short * 
Back to the old times

No need for time turners to enjoy once again the wizarding world… The play is innovative yet includes all the details that made Harry Potter a success: an enthralling plot, touches of humour, lively and expressive style and, of course, our beloved characters… as well as a few new ones!

[EN] The Sunrise - Victoria Hislop

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Title: The Sunrise
Author: Victoria Hislop
Publisher: Headline Review
Release date: 2015 
Pages: 432


*Fine, pale sand and a turquoise sea had together created the most perfect bay in the Mediterranean, and pleasure-seekers came from all around the world to soak up in it warmth and to enjoy the sensual pleasure of the calm waters that gently lapped around them. Here was a glimpse of paradise.*

In the summer of 1972, Famagusta in Cyprus is the most desirable resort in the Mediterranean, a city bathed in the glow of good fortune. An ambitious couple open the island's most spectacular hotel, where Greek and Turkish Cypriots work in harmony. Two neighbouring families, the Georgious and the Özkans, are among many who moved to Famagusta to escape the years of unrest and ethnic violence elsewhere on the island. But beneath the city's façade of glamour and success, tension is building.
When a Greek coup plunges the island into chaos, Cyprus faces a disastrous conflict. Turkey invades to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority, and Famagusta is shelled. Forty thousand people seize their most precious possessions and flee from the advancing soldiers. In the deserted city, just two families remain. This is their story.

The Sunrise, a book I had expected for some time. After enjoying The Thread immensely, I was impatient to discover Victoria Hislop’s latest novel.
Cyprus, 1972. In Farmagusta, Savvas and Aphroditi Papacosta open The Sunrise, the grandest hotel in town. Here, Greeks and Turks work and live together, welcoming tourists to their small parcel of heaven, oblivious to the building political tensions on the island. However, a Greek coup is all it takes for hell to break loose: the town is deserted as everybody tries to salvage what they have left and run for their lives… everybody but two families, the Georgious and the Özkans. One is Greek, the other Turkish, but they both have reasons for staying behind.
As in Victoria Hislop’s previous novels, I enjoyed the mix between fiction and history, love and violence, hope and despair. I must admit, however, that something was lacking to make the story enthralling. Do not misunderstand me, it is an easy and pleasant read, but I had expected much more of it given the context.
It appears early in the story that the author is familiar with the history of Cyprus. The reader is given details about events taking place on the rest of the island as well as in Greece and Turkey, which will help understand what is at stake for the two families. From the bombing to the camps, we are given a grim and detailed description of what life was like for hundreds of people.
The situation is different for the Georgious and the Özkans. They have stayed behind and they are in hiding. Their story is different to that of the fleeing Cypriots, be them Greek or Turkish, but it is also about survival, help, fear and hope. As touching as it is, I have not been involved as much as I was with The Thread and I think it is due to the characters.
While there was great potential in the plot, I found that there were too many stereotypes and that the characters notably lacked depth and personality. I have not been able to feel many emotions because I found them rather simply depicted, serving the purpose of advancing the story rather than really existing for themselves. In a story about two families, I expected more focus on their emotions and feelings, which would have rendered the story more likely. They almost disappear in the background several times and this revealed weaknesses in the plot.
Although I had expected the story not to be all rosy, I had not expected to finish reading it feeling frustrated and dissatisfied; we can expect a developing love story to be difficult in the context, but not that it would be wasted like this; we can accept some lucky turns of events, but not completely unlikely twists and turns; we can understand that some characters are not as good as they seem, but clearly separating good and evil does not contribute to the realism of the story, especially in the context of the civil war.
The Sunrise is overall an entertaining book, but in my opinion it does not compare with Victoria Hislop’s previous novels. Fiction and history are combined and, although the characters’ personalities leave somewhat to be desired, it gives a good overview of the consequences of an important episode of Cypriot history, which explains today’s political tensions on the island.


http://iletaitun-livre.blogspot.ch/2013/08/challenge-travelling-world-in-books.html http://www.rosecityreader.com/p/the-european-reading-challenge-january.html

* In short * 
From paradise to ghost-town

Mixing history and fiction, The Sunrise is about Farmagusta; it is about Greek and Turkish Cypriots; it is about two families in the middle of a political disaster; about love, fear and hope. Despite the characters’ lack of personality, it is an easy and pleasant read.

European Reading Challenge 2016

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European Reading Challenge 2016
Hosted by: Rose City Reader
From January 1st 2016 to January 31st 2017


After taking a pass on last year's European Challenge (and other challenges in general), I am back in the challenge race.

The idea is to read books by European authors or books set in European countries (no matter where the author comes from). The books can be anything – novels, short stories, memoirs, travel guides, cookbooks, biography, poetry, or any other genre. You can participate at different levels, but each book must be by a different author and set in a different country – it's supposed to be a tour. 

As for the previous time I participated, I chose the  five-star level (Deluxe Entourage) again - Read at least five books by different European authors or books set in different European countries.

1) Cyprus : The Sunrise, by Victoria Hislop
2) France : Puzzle, de Franck Thilliez
3) England : Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

[EN] Career of Evil - Robert Galbraith

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Title: Career of Evil, Cormoran Strike #3
Author: Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
Publisher: Sphere
Release date: 2015 
Pages: 494


* This, he thought as he smoked his first cigarette of the day, was London: you started in a quiet, symmetrical Nash terrace that resembled a sculpture vanilla ice-cream. Elin's pin-striped Russia neighbour had been getting into his Audi, and Strike had received a curt nod in response to his 'Morning'. A short walk past the silhouettes of Sherlock Holmes at Baker Street station and he was sitting on a grimy Tube train surrounded by chattering Polish workmen, fresh and businesslike at 7 a.m. Then bustling Paddington, forcing a path trhough commuters and coffee shops, holdall over shoulder. Finally a few stops on the Heathrow Connect, accompanied by a large West Country family who were already dressed for Florida in spite of the early morning chill.*

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman's severed leg.Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less suprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible - and Strike knows that any of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality. With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them...

After Robin is sent a severed leg, Strike is losing his clients and business becomes difficult; it is quite understandable after all: who would want to hire a detective who is sent body parts by post? Robin and Strike start their investigation, but the truth will not be easy to uncover.
As we are once more taken to London looking for anything leading to the potential killer, we get to know our protagonists a little more. As it becomes clear that this act is intended as personal revenge against Strike, we learn about his childhood and his years in the SIB. Robin plays a more important role in the investigation this time and we discover elements of her past which explain her personality better as well as her relationship with Matthew. True to themselves, Robin and Strike are both still as attaching as they were in the previous books.
As the plot develops, we are given more and more insight in the killer’s head. We discover fragments of his life and his motivation. His psychology is elaborated and these short chapters help build up the tension as we understand his ultimate objective.
The case itself is enthralling. As usual, the author has thought every detail through and uses suspense with talent. The colourful language, be it for the descriptions or the familiar conversation between the various characters, will allow for a pleasant reading. Robin and Strike quickly have a list of three suspects, but it could be any of them… or anyone else. The readers will make their own assumptions, but they cannot be sure until the very end.
Talking about the end, it is a real cliffhanger. I could not believe the author was playing with us that much. It will be a long wait until the next book is released!


* In short * 
Crime at its best

Back to London for a new case in the company of Robin and Strike: offering the reader glimpses of their past and of the killer’s psychology as well as an enthralling plot, Robert Galbraith writes once again a masterpiece.

Adrian McKinty (1) Alexander Key (1) Alexander Maksik (1) Alexis Hayden (1) Amanda Kyle Williams (1) Ambre Dubois (2) Amélie Nothomb (1) Ange Godart (1) Angélique Ferreira (1) Anita Shreve (1) Ann Patchett (1) Annabelle Valenzuela-Alarcon (1) Arnaldur Indridason (1) Aurélien Molas (1) Bernard Lenteric (1) Carol Higgins Clark (1) Céline Gierts (1) Chloé Bourdon (1) Christian Bindner (1) Dan Brown (1) Dan Millman (1) Danielle Steel (1) Delphine de Vigan (1) Domnica Radulescu (1) Donna Leon (1) Emily Brontë (1) Emylia Hall (1) Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt (1) Erik Larson (1) Franck Thilliez (1) Fred Vargas (2) Gerbrand Bakker (1) Hallgrímur Helgason (1) Henning Mankell (2) Henri Beaudout (1) Henri Lœvenbruck (1) Ian McEwan (1) Inti Salas Rossenbach (1) J.K. Rowling (2) Jack Thorne (1) Jacques Côté (1) Jean-Charles Hue (2) Jenny Sigot Müller (1) Jo Nesbø (1) Jodi Picoult (1) Joël Vernet (1) John Brandon (1) John Tiffany (1) John Wyndham (1) José-René Mora (1) Julia Bell (1) Julien Blanc-Gras (1) Jussi Adler-Olsen (1) Kari Kinard Pratt (1) Kate Atkinson (1) Kent Johnson Olsen (1) L.F. Falconer (1) Laura Gardner (1) Laura Kasischke (1) Lawrence W. Gold (1) Lewis Carroll (2) Lionel Camy (1) M.L. Stedman (1) Malcolm MacKay (1) Marian Izaguirre (1) Marie Laberge (1) Marina Lewycka (1) Markus Zusak (1) Mary Higgins Clark (1) Mary Hoffman (6) Mathieu Dombre (1) Matthias Rouage (1) Michael Morpurgo (3) Michel Bussi (2) Mikkel Birkegaard (1) Misha Defonseca (1) Monica Kristensen (1) Natacha Catel (1) Pablo Mehler (1) Penny Hancock (1) Peter May (1) Philippe H. Besancenet (1) Pierre Thiry (1) Rachid Santaki (1) Rawia Arroum (1) Raymonde Malengreau (1) Rhonda Byrne (1) Riikka Pulkkinen (1) Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) (3) Rodrigo Rey Rosa (1) Rosamund Lupton (1) Ruta Sepetys (1) Ruth Rendell (1) Sandrine Collette (2) Sarah Latham (illustrator) (1) Sarah Singleton (2) Sheri Speede (1) Sofi Oksanen (1) Stef Penney (1) Susanne Mischke (1) Tatiana de Rosnay (5) Victoria Hislop (1) Viveca Sten (1) William Morris (1) Yasmina Khadra (1)

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