Category: Fiction

Celebrate ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’ Anniversary With This Drinking Game!

It’s the fifteen-year anniversary of the Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban movie, an adaptation beloved for its introduction of fan-favorite Sirius Black, who offered Harry a glimpse of the family and childhood he might have known. In addition to this heartwarming (and ultimately tearjerking) experience for Harry, we ALSO get to watch Hermione Granger punch Malfoy right in his smarmy little face. We love seeing Harry get his iconic Firebolt, and no matter how many times we’ve heard them, we always smile at iconic lines like you foul, loathsome, evil little cockroach!

 

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There are so many reasons why many believe the third franchise instalment to be the best Potter film of all. Critics cite this film as a moment that the story transitioned from binary good and evil to increasing moral ambiguity as director Alfonso Cuarón focused on interpersonal relationships and the tumultuous passage into the teenage years. Cuarón darkened the film’s color scheme to distance the ever-more-serious story from its more whimsical predecessors, and, most notably, gave the three protagonists their infamous character development essay assignment: you know, the one Emma worked hard on, Dan appreciated, and Rupert didn’t do. Though the first two films deal with powerful themes, the third marks the transition from childhood to adolescence and juxtaposes the complex reality of a teenager with the increasing tumult of the wizarding world.

 

 

Spoiler alert: Ron Weasley didn't do his character development essay because "he's Ron"

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The hit film came out in 2004, and that DOES mean it’s been long enough since the iconic film was released that those born after it have gone out and gotten their learner’s permit. (It’s scary enough when some adults drive, let alone high school freshmen.) Most of us were children then, but we’re not anymore… and that means we’re old enough to play this drinking game. So break out your butterbeer or firewhiskey, turn on the TV, and turn UP in general.

(Booze & Books(tr) reminds you to drink responsibly & read voraciously!)

 

Take One drink when…

1. Harry casts a Patronus spell (trust us, you won’t want to do a shot for this one…)

2. A dementor appears onscreen

3. The boggart changes form

4. Harry learns he’s in “grave danger”

5. A Daily Prophet newspaper appears onscreen

6. The Whomping Willow changes seasons

7. “Sirius Black!” is said in a grave tone or hushed whisper

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TAKE TWO DRINKS WHEN…

1. Animal shapeshifting occurs

2. Buckbeak takes flight!

3. The trio sees their past selves (“is that what my hair really looks like from the back?”)

4. Mischief is managed—that could be the phrase “mischief managed” OR anytime mischief takes place, depending on your alcohol tolerance

 

FINISH YOUR DRINK WHEN…

Malfoy gets punched in the face, duhhhhhh.

Amazing Adaptations Are Swinging onto Netflix This June!

Whether you like horror, drama, or comics, Netflix has something to offer all of us. Let’s check out all the Netflix adaptations of our favorite novels and comic books that are coming our way in June!

We’ve broken everything down by genre and release date, so skim for your favorites or get lost in Netflix’s June offerings.

 

Horror/Supernatural

 

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Carrie, originally written by Stephen King (coming June 1st)

The Phantom Of The Opera, originally written by Gaston Leroux (coming June 1st)

 

 

Drama

 

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Tales Of The City, written by Armistead Maupin (coming June 7th)

Leila, based off the novel by Prayaag Akbar (coming June 14th)

 

 

For Children

 

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Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, based on the Dr. Seuss book How The Grinch Stole Christmas (coming June 5th)

 

 

Japanese Anime

 

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Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, originally created by Cho-Heiwa Busters and Mitsu Izumi (coming June 1st)

A Silent Voice, originally created by Yoshitoki Ōima (coming June 5th)

Neon Genesis Evangelion, originally created by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (coming June 21st)

Forest Of Piano, originally created by Makoto Isshiki (coming June 24th)

 

 

American Comics

 

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Batman Begins, originally written by Davis S. Goyer (coming June 1st)

The Dark Knight, originally written by David Finch (coming June 1st)

Spiderman: Into The Spiderverse, written by Ralph Macchio; Art by F Flaviano, Eduard Petrovich, Andrea DI Vito (coming June 26th)

 

 

Fans of drama and comic book/manga nerds, you have a lot to look forward to in June if you have Netflix—or if you can coast off a friends’ login info. Since that might piss off your friend, why not all watch together?

Happy binge-watching!

 

 

Featured Image via DeviantArt.

'The Favorite Daughter' by Kaira Rouda, 'Amelia Westlake Was Never Here' Erin Gough, 'The Corleone Family Cookbook' Liliana Battle

Bookstr’s Three to Read This Week 5/23/19

What do a thriller about a perfect family, a high school rom-com critiquing sexism, and a criminally delicious cookbook have in common? Hopefully, one major thing: they’re all headed straight for your bookshelf. Summer is a time of excitement, adventure, and discovery—whether or not you have the luxury of a three-month break or a long weekend at the beach! Missing out on a good book would be criminal… though not more criminal than some of our protagonists! We’ve got a creepy thriller starring one controlling mother’s descent into mental instability, an LGBT+ romance filled with alternate identities and elaborate pranks, and a killer cookbook based on the recipes of one of cinema’s most famous crime families. These enormous stakes come with just as enormous rewards—the delicious payoff of reading this week’s selection.

Check out Bookstr’s Three to Read, the three books we’ve picked for you to read this week!

 

OUR HOT PICK

 

Book cover for Kaira Rouda's The Favorite Daughter featuring a woman under water

 

Synopsis:

From the author of the page-turning domestic suspense Best Day Ever, comes another gripping novel of psychological suspense set in an upscale Southern California community, for fans of B.A. Paris and Shari Lapena.

The perfect home. The perfect family. The perfect lie.

Jane Harris lives in a sparkling home in an oceanfront gated community in Orange County. It’s a place that seems too beautiful to be touched by sadness. But exactly one year ago, Jane’s oldest daughter, Mary, died in a tragic accident and Jane has been grief-stricken ever since. Lost in a haze of anti-depressants, she’s barely even left the house. Now that’s all about to change.

It’s time for Jane to reclaim her life and her family. Jane’s husband, David, has planned a memorial service for Mary and three days later, their youngest daughter, Betsy, graduates high school. Yet as Jane reemerges into the world, it’s clear her family has changed without her. Her husband has been working long days—and nights—at the office. Her daughter seems distant, even secretive. And her beloved Mary was always such a good girl—dutiful and loving. But does someone know more about Mary, and about her last day, than they’ve revealed?

The bonds between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives should never be broken. But you never know how far someone will go to keep a family together…

 

Why?

Kaira Rouda, acclaimed author of Best Day Ever, has delivered again: Kirkus Reviews calls her protagonist “impossible to love but equally impossible to look away from,” a car crash of a human being whose keen insight into human behavior is punctuated by dark humor. A PopSugar Best Book of Spring and one of Oprah’s Buzziest Books for May, The Favorite Daughter is a truly outstanding psychological thriller, subverting the notion of a perfect family with complex character development. Everyone loves a protagonist whose character arc, if drawn out, looks so much like the slippery slope they ultimately find themselves at the bottom of. Rouda’s mastery of prose will entice readers to sympathize with Jane and her increasing distance from her family—before horrifying us with a selfishness and sick desire for control we’ll be startled (and delighted!) to have initially missed. Publisher’s Weekly‘s starred review says that “suspense fans will be amply rewarded,” that is, rewarded AND chilled to the bone. If it feels impossible to look away from this book once you’ve finished, check out Bookstr’s exclusive live interview with Kaira Rouda herself!

 

OUR Coffee Shop Read

 

'Amelia Westlake Was Never Here' by Erin Gough

 

 

Synopsis:

A fiercely funny, queer romantic comedy about two girls who can’t stand each other, but join forces in a grand feminist plan to expose harassment and inequality at their elite private school.

Harriet Price is the perfect student: smart, dutiful, over-achieving. Will Everhart is a troublemaker who’s never met an injustice she didn’t fight. When their swim coach’s inappropriate behavior is swept under the rug, the unlikely duo reluctantly team up to expose his misdeeds, pulling provocative pranks and creating the instantly legendary Amelia Westlake–an imaginary student who helps right the many wrongs of their privileged institution. But as tensions burn throughout their school–who is Amelia Westlake?–and between Harriet and Will, how long can they keep their secret? How far will they go to make a difference? And when will they realize they’re falling for each other?

Award-winning author Erin Gough’s Amelia Westlake Was Never Here is a funny, smart, and all-too-timely story of girls fighting back against power and privilege–and finding love while they’re at it.

 

Why?

When we imagine a high school romance, we envision that all-encompassing bubble of first love, impervious to the sharp edges of the world outside that one other person. But sometimes, those edges are pretty sharp. Gough juxtaposes a confrontational depiction of sexism with a fun opposites-attract romance for some light reading that packs a heavy punch.  Kirkus Reviews lauds the novel’s “skewering of sexism and institutional hypocrisy,” and the novel touches on issues of race, class, and ethics in a manner far more nuanced than most high-school romance novels… because most of these books never address such topics. Shortlisted for nearly a dozen respected Australian book awards, Amelia Westlake Was Never Here IS now here in the United States—and, yes, it’s unapologetically queer. With Pride Month coming up, a hilariously witty LGBT+ high school romance with thoughtful societal commentary is a read that’s just as fun as it is socially relevant. (That’s both extremely fun and extremely relevant.)

 

 

OUR DARK HORSE

 

'The Corleone Family Cookbook' by Liliana Battle

 

Synopsis:

Become part of the family and make recipes no one can refuse with the official Godfather cookbook!

The Godfather trilogy is widely recognized as one of the greatest movie series of all time. Now, you’ll finally be able to make your very own family–inspired meals with recipes for Mama Corleone’s famous pastas, sauces, meatballs, breads, and desserts. Immerse yourself in the classic story of the Italian immigrant family determined to keep their long-held traditions intact in the new world. Featuring 75 authentic Italian recipes for infamous dishes such as “the best in the city” veal Marsala, Clemenza’s Sunday sauce, and of course, “Leave the gun” cannoli.

Elevating the strong themes of loyalty, family, and tradition, The Godfather: Mama Corleone’s Family Cookbook sheds new light on the legendary trilogy. Including images and quotes from the films, this in-world cookbook is an absolute must-have for all fans of The Godfather – especially those with a taste for the finer foods in life.

 

Why?

Want to be a killer chef? Honor one of the greatest film trilogies of all time with The Godfather: The Corleone Family CookbookAnd the recipes are as excellent as the cinematic marvels—though cookbooks aren’t generally Bookstr’s territory, this one is delicious enough for us to make an exception. The criminally well-curated cookbook includes quotes from the Corleone family and copious references to the film (“this pasta shape is… hearty and thick, thick enough to strange a priest apparently”). Even if you somehow aren’t a fan of this iconic trilogy—which is a crime in and of itself—the recipes describe the historical context of the meal and offer humorous tips outside of your typical step-by-step cookbooks. Are these phenomenal Italian recipes to die for, perhaps? Well, you should be dying to get your hands on this book. And if you cook any of these meals, it’s a guarantee you’ll be dying to eat them.

‘Winds of Winter’ Deadline Confirmed?

HBO’s Game of Thrones may have ended, but there are still two more books in the Song of Ice and Fire series. Author George R. R Martin wrote on his live journal, Not a Blog, after the finale aired that, “THE WINDS OF WINTER is very late, I know, I know, but it will be done. I won’t say when, I’ve tried that before, only to burn you all and jinx myself… but I will finish it, and then will come A DREAM OF SPRING”.

So we have no official release date, but the very next day George R R Martin wrote saw the video below…

 

 

….and wrote up a response that interestingly said, “…if I don’t have THE WINDS OF WINTER in hand when I arrive in New Zealand for Worldcon, you have here my formal written permission to imprison me in a small cabin on White Island, overlooking that lake of sulfuric acid, until I’m done.”

 

Now Worldcon is in the summer of 2020, so might we have an idea of when George is going to release the book?

 

George R R Martin toasting

Image Via Uproxx

It’s an exciting thought considering that A Dance with Dragons left us with Jon Snow  stabbed, Denearys not yet even coming close to Westeros, Tyrion still trying to meet with Denearys, Arya with the Faceless Men, Sansa sold off to some guy named Harrold Harding, Ramsay Bolton  still running a muck, and Bran beginning to amass magical powers.

Personally, I wouldn’t get my hopes up, as George R R Martin is notoriously late with his projects and notoriously optimistic about when his books will be released.

 

George R R Martin thinking

Image Via The RInger

For context, Insider wrote how Storm of Swords, the series’ third book “was the first to be published slightly late. It was several months behind schedule when it was released in 2000. The first two books averaged 1,100 pages, but the third was immense at 1,521 pages.”

George then decided that the next book would require a five year jump, which worked for many characters but not all of them. As a result, he scaled back and ended up with too much story, which thus had A Feast for Crows focusing on half the cast and A Dance with Dragons focusing on the other half.

Winds of Winter is supposed to join up the cast and continue the plot forwards, but he’s been both optimistic and terrible with meeting deadlines. Notably, he told Entertainment Weekly in April 2015 he wanted to get Winds of Winter out by Spring of 2016 to coincide with the sixth season of Game of Thrones.

The book still isn’t out, so I wouldn’t take this news that the book might come out in 2020 as anything but a grain of salt. He’s probably just joking, since he wrote on his live journal that “…deadlines just stress me out.”

Why would he give himself another arbitrary deadline?

 

 

Featured Image Via George R R Martin’s Twitter

9 Poignant Books by Black Authors You Have to Read

Beautifully written and deeply moving, these nine books explore race and identity. Tinged with each author’s personal experience, these stories are raw, visceral, and unapologetic.

 

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

 

 

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Two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into separate villages. They go on to face wildly different fates; Effia marrys an Englishman and lives out a life of comfort, while Esi is sold into slavery and shipped off to America.  One vein follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of turmoil in Ghana as the Asante and Fante nations wrestle with colonization. The other vein follows Esi’s descendants through the plantations to the Civil War to the birth of Jazz and dope houses of Harlem.

 

2. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

 

 

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Zélie calls Orïsha home, and her home once hummed with magic. Burners could set things ablaze, Tiders could pull forward waves, and Reapers like her mother could summon souls. Everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a tyrannical king, maji were killed, orphaning Zélie and leaving her people in darkness. Determined to bring back magic and tear apart the monarchy, Zélie enlists the help of a rogue princess. Together, they must defeat the crown prince, who is battling to eradicate magic for good. Danger lurks at every corner, but Zélie slowly learns what truly threatens her triumph. Already losing control of her powers, Zélie finds herself growing feelings for her enemy.

 

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

 

 

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Tracey and Aimee dream of being dancers. However, only Tracey has the talent to succeed. Aimee is the observer, full of ideas and talented in another way. As the two friends grow older, they have a falling out, never to speak again. Tracey earns herself a few gigs as a dancer but eventually falls into poverty. Aimee becomes an assistant to a famous singer, traveling the world and learning what it feels like to live a lavish life. Empowered, Aimee travels to a small West African nation hoping to lift a village out of destitution. Through the pair, we explore how dance can and can’t transcend racial barriers.

 

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

 

 

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At thirteen years old, Jojo struggles to understand what it means to “be a man.” In his short life, he has had four key figures to study. Among them, his black grandfather Pop predominates. But there are other men who blur Jojo’s understanding: his absent white father, Michael, soon to be released from prison; his absent white grandfather, Joseph, who doesn’t acknowledge him; and the tales of his uncle, Given, who died as a teenager. His mother, Leonie, is a troubled woman too preoccupied battling her own demons.  When Michael regains his freedom, Leonie packs the kids in a car and drives them north to a penitentiary in Mississippi. There, the ghost of a dead thirteen-year-old inmate teaches Jojo about fathers, sons, legacies, violence, and love.

 

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

 

 

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Dr. Nzinga’s runs a clinic where anyone can get their lips thinned, their skin bleached, and their nose narrowed. You  can even opt for a complete demelanization to unburden yourself the societal price of being black. When the opportunity presents, a father is faced with a choice to erase half of his biracial son Nigel’s identity. The pressure grows as violence swarms their home, a near-future Southern city. All the while, Nigel’s black birthmark grows larger and larger by the day. 

 

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

 

 

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Eccentric and withdrawn, Aster isn’t phased when people call her an “ogre” and a “freak.” She lives in the slums of HSS Matilda, a space vessel as segregated as the antebellum South. The vessel carries the last of humanity to the Promised Land they’ve been searching for 325 years. The ship’s leaders police and dehumanize dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster. Meanwhile, Aster navigates the ship’s horrors looking for a way off. When she learns that there’s a connection between her mother’s suicide and the ship’s ailing Sovereign, Aster realizes she may prevail if she’s willing to fight for it.

 

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

 

 

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When Boy Novak turns twenty, she finds herself yearning for a new life. In what turns out to be a serendipitous twist, she lands in the town of  Flax Hill, Massachusetts. It’s there she meets Aruto Whitman, craftsmen, widower and father of a young girl named Snow. To Boy, Snow is the mild-mannered endearing girl Boy never was. Soon after, Boy gives birth to Snow’s sister Bird. Bird is dark-skinned, exposing the Whitmans to be light-skinned African-Americans posing as white. A divide forms between Boy, Snow, and Bird forcing them to question unspoken power of the mirror.

 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

 

 

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In this Pulitzer Prize winning novel, we follow the story of Cora, a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia, as she tries to escape her shackles. She’s approached by a another slave, Caesar, and they hatch a plan to head north. Things go awry when Cora is forced to kill a white man trying to capture her as Ridgeway, a slave catcher, is hot on their trail. What follows is a harrowing tale, ripe with bravery and tragedy, as the pair set out to tread the Underground Railroad.

 

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

 

 

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Saul and Saachi pray for a child, and they’re blessed with a baby girl named Ada. Ada grows into a mercurial and fractured child. Eventually, Ada moves to America for college where she is one day assaulted. The trauma causes the different selves inside her to manifest. Her alters, Asughara and Saint Vincent begin to take control of her mind as she slowly fades away. Spiraling out of control, Ada’s life begins to fall into danger and darkness.

 

 

Featured Image Via Edward Elgar Publishing