Tag: europe

Andrea Camilleri, Creator of Inspector Montalbano, Dies at 93

Sad news for fans of detective literature. Andrea Camilleri, one of Italy’s most popular authors, has passed away at ninety-three. Camilleri was the creator of Inspector Montalbano, a detective of Sicilian descent who solves cases in his native country of Italy. The series has been noted for its immense popularity, running over two dozen novels for many years, translated in over thirty countries. The series has proven a bestseller, with over 30 million copies sold worldwide. The series won Camilleri the International Dagger award, an award for the best Crime Novel of the Year.


Image Via BBC 4 


According to The Guardian  Andrea Camilleri went into cardiac arrest in June and was in poor health in the hospital. He passed away under the care of doctors in Rome, pronounced with heart failure after his passing. Camilleri’s books were known for their extensive political commentary, Camilleri not shying away from addressing current, often controversial topics in his detective stories. His targets have varied far and wide, from the mafia and the Vatican to political figures such as Silvio Berlusconi and George W. Bush. On the mafia specifically, he was quote as saying:


“I believe that writing about mafiosi often makes heroes out of them. I’m thinking of The Godfather, where Marlon Brando’s superb performance distracts us from the realisation that he also commissioned murders. And this is a gift that I have no intention offering to the mafia.”


The Montalbano novels were adapted into a highly successful television series of the same name. The series has been running since 1999 and has also generated controversy for its controversial political commentary, such as recently with its pro-migrant messages.

The legacy of the detective novels will live on, with the series incredibly popular and inspiring dozens of Italian authors to follow in Andrea Camilleri’s footsteps.



Featured Image Via BBC 

‘Harry Potter’ Prequel Series Coming to Television!

Starved for more Harry Potter content? Well look no further, Potterheads, as exciting news as been unveiled today! According to Book Riot, Warner Brothers is in the very early stages of developing a Harry Potter prequel series for TV. The series will be attached to Warner Brothers’ upcoming streaming service. The series will occur mostly at Hogwarts, according to the press release, as well as occasional visits to other parts of Europe. While the Harry Potter franchise is already packed to the brim with novels, video games, board games, movies, comics, and Broadway plays, we can’t help but be excited for this latest addition to the ever popular young adult fantasy series!


Image via Harry Potter wiki


More news has been released, including that the show will center around new characters (although if it’s at Hogwarts we can bet you’ll see cameos of fan favorites like various professors and administrative presences in the Wizarding World). However, being in the early stages of development, the plot, the premise, and even the characters themselves haven’t been announced yet for obvious reasons. But we can always speculate about WHAT will happen in this prequel series.



Here are a few premises we’d love to see in the show:

+ A show about a new batch of students dealing with the ins and outs of daily life at Hogwarts with no overarching main villain. One of the greatest strengths of Harry Potter was its relatability for young people about the hardships of growing up and schoolwork. No need to thrust Voldemort 2.0 in there, fretting about O.W.L.S. is drama enough.

+ A flipped premise, showcasing the POV of the teachers instead of the students and pulling back the curtain to give us a behind the scenes of Hogwarts.

+ An anthology series, showing different stories about Hogwarts, with a different premise and storyline every week. One week you’d have a student, one week you’d have a teacher, maybe the following week someone gets lost in the Forbidden Forest, and maybe one week it could center around some of the ghosts that haunt the school!


Image Via Pottermore


What premises would you personally like to see in this show? Are you excited to see a Harry Potter television series? Let us know in the comments! And keep an ear peeled for further news, we’ll let you know when we hear anything more!



Featured Image Via Harry Potter Wiki 


Time for summer vacation... and your next book!

The Best Summer Vacation Locations From Your Favorite Books!

It’s getting hotter… and so is our burning desire to run off to some beach and leave our real lives behind! Okay—realistically, most of us have some financial and scheduling limitations when it comes to our plans. But that’s no excuse for missing out on a great book. (Spoiler alert: there actually is no good excuse.) So whether your escape is already on the calendar or purely hypothetical, it’s time to pick a vacation destination. More importantly, it’s time to pick the perfect book for your travels.


Image result for reading on an airplane

Gif Via Real Simple


No matter how fantastic, we love when some elements of the books we read are grounded in reality (though, of course, they still need to be fantastically good). It’s why people actually go to Harry Potter World, even though there’s nothing there for them but B.O. and overpriced Cornish Pasties—trust me on that last one. I still recall going to Blackfriars Bridge after finishing Cassandra Clare‘s The Infernal Devices trilogy and feeling myself overwhelmed with a specific, nerdy glee. It’s all real! I thought to myself. Well, except for the whole Shadowhunters and evil clockwork creatures part. But that last one probably wouldn’t make for a very good vacation.

So, without further ado, here are some incredible reads set in popular travel destinations around the world! Whether you’re going away or you wish you were, these books are sure to take you on the perfect journey.


1. The Lost Continent – Road Trip


'The Lost Continent' by Bill Bryson



Bill Bryson‘s hilarious Americana travelogue opens: “I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.” After the death of his road-trip-loving father and decades spent living abroad in England, Bryson returns to his former home in search of the perfect American small town that may have just been childhood idealism all along. Readers will be transfixed by the hypnotic pull of the highway AND the frequently baffling people Bryson comes across as he hits every single continental state. Deliriously witty and frequently profound, Bryson leaps from calling out people in Mark Twain’s hometown for never actually reading Mark Twain to dropping truths like this one:

I mused for a few moments on the question of which was worse, to lead a life so boring that you are easily enchanted or a life so full of stimulus that you are easily bored. But then it occurred to me that musing is a pointless waste of anyone’s time, and instead I went off to see if I could find a Baby Ruth candy bar, a far more profitable exercise.


2. The Beautiful and the Damned – NYC


'The Beautiful and the Damned' F Scott Fitzgerald



We know, we know! Why didn’t we recommend The Great Gatsby, right? Well, because it’s likely you’ve already read it or seen the movie. F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s less frequently read The Beautiful and the Damned captures a marriage falling prey to alcohol and greed, a darkly atmospheric depiction of a city that never sleeps… but might sleep around. Since nightlife and ruinous ambition appear to be the core motifs of NYC, this is the perfect book to throw in your suitcase. Besides, ‘the beautiful and the damned’ is an excellent caption for you stumbling out of some club with someone who is doomed not to live up to your expectations. Listen, the 1920s are almost upon us, so if you were looking for the right time to drink too much and be confused about your love life… your time is coming.


3. Nightwood – Paris, Berlin, Vienna


'Nightwood' Djuna Barnes



Let’s get one thing straight—this book isn’t. If you want to go be gay and edgy in Europe (which I generally do), read this book before settling down for a relaxing disco nap to wake up at midnight to head to the club. One of the earliest books to feature lesbian characters, this intense gothic novel is hopefully just as melodramatic as your going out eye-shadow. The groundbreaking novel features characters outside the gender binary well before the time when this was commonplace—since it’s still not commonplace, emphasis on the well before. If you’re interested in the dark and seedy (as I generally also am) read this one before your Parisian fling, your intoxicated misadventures in a repurposed Berlin warehouse, your late-night wandering through Vienna’s former red-light district. Looking for grungy debauchery in interwar Europe? Right here.


4. My Brilliant Friend – Northern Italy, Coastal Islands


'My Brilliant Friend'



Listen, you COULD watch the HBO adaptation… but that’s not gonna fit in your suitcase, and you’ve got a long plane ride ahead of you. This modern masterpiece is a rich story of two friends, Elena and Lila, growing up in a poor yet colorful neighborhood. The bildungsroman depicts the ways in which their fates diverge and how their lives parallel the turmoil of their country. A deeply immersive series, The Neapolitan Quartet addresses the transformation of both the girls and the country they live in with nuance and style. This heady dose cultural context will only improve your Italy trip, and it’s guaranteed to offset the displeasure of airplane food.


5. Like Water for Chocolate – Mexico


'Like Water for Chocolate' Laura Esquivel



It would be kind of an understatement to call this novel sensual… so we’ll go out on a limb and call it full-on sexual. Full-on actually IS a more accurate description, given that there’s sex on horseback and, uh, a meal prepared with a ‘special’ ingredient. But this isn’t some pornographic romp across Mexico (even if that may be what your Spring Break is destined to become). Believe it or not, this international bestseller (and inspiration for a feature film) is an expansive tale of family life and forbidden love that chronicles the unlikely history of an all-female family in turn-of-the-century Mexico. Each chapter opens with a unique recipe to  give the story a sense of place within one family’s legacy… a legacy defined frequently by bad luck and surprising turns of fate.


6. Down and Out in Paris and London – Paris, London


'Down and Out in Paris and London' George Orwell



A book about a twenty-something living under questionable conditions, doing odd jobs, and not so much going broke as charging headlong into it? Relatable. If you’re on the younger side, chances are that even if you are traveling, you aren’t on your way to five-star accommodations. You might’ve worked some double shifts and second jobs to get on that plane, or maybe you’re hustling under the table to afford an extension on that trip. George Orwell feels you: he describes an eighteen-hour workday at a Parisian restaurant and sleeping on a bench to avoid paying rent (something that we do hope will not feature in your vacation). But it’s always a relief to recall that many among the literary greats got their start down in the gutter—especially if that’s where you are right now.


7. Native Stranger: A Black American’s Journey Into the Heart of Africa – Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, South Africa


'Native Stranger: a Black American's Journey Into the Heart of Africa' Eddy Harris



Eddy L. Harris, a black American travel writer, goes on a stunning search for his identity as he backpacks across the continent his ancestors called home. Or, not exactly his identity. He explains:

Because my skin is black you will say I traveled Africa to find the roots of my race. I did not—unless that race is the human race, for except in the color of my skin, I am not African. If I didn’t know it then, I know it now. I am a product of the culture that raised me. And yet Africa was suddenly like a magnet drawing me close, important in ways that I cannot explain, rising in my subconscious and inviting me.

This is not another voyeuristic analysis of a white author whose intent is to lambast the reader with relentless depictions of poverty. There are depictions of poverty, but as stricken as Harris is by the corruption and violence he encounters, he remains always enthralled by the beauty of the continent.


8. Catfish and Mandala: A Two-WheEled Voyage Through the Landscape of Vietnam – Mexico, Japan, Vietnam 

'Catfish and Mandala' Andrew X Pham



After his sister’s suicide, Andrew X. Pham bikes across Vietnam in search of the family he’s lost and the homeland he left behind. The memoir juxtaposes his travels with the war-torn memories of his childhood, his illegal journey in an open boat and the insincere conversion to Christianity in his new American home. This is more than a journey, although it’s certainly that as well—it’s an attempt to process a difficult past. The conflict between his new land and his native land, embodied in memories of the war, strikingly mirrors the conflict of his dual identity. Catfish and Mandala offers a unique look into Vietnam’s language, culture, geography, and history that’s both enormously meaningful and small enough to cram in that suitcase!


9. Sag Harbor – Long Island, The beach


'Sag Harbor' Colson Whitehead



What’s the best thing to do at the beach? Swim? Tan? Wrong—it’s obviously to get into unsupervised teen shenanigans. Wealthy brothers Benji and Reggie Cooper are out of prep school for the summer and at their parents’ beach house… which is pretty much the only role their parents will play in their summer of love, hate, and bad new Coca Cola flavors. At school, Benji made the mistake of revealing his passion for horror movies and Dungeons & Dragons. But, if he can master all the right handshakes, he could spend summer as the coolest kid in the Hamptons. Colson Whitehead‘s Sag Harbor is a bildungsroman for the African-American elite, for the “black boys with beach houses.” Plus, it’s loaded with 80s nostalgia.


10. Less – Berlin, Morocco, India, Paris, Kyoto


'Less: A Novel' Andrew Sean Greer



Being an accomplished novelist traveling the world sounds like anyone’s dream—but Arthur Less didn’t dream it would happen like this. On the eve of his ex-boyfriend’s wedding, Less has a mid-life (okay, probably three-quarter-life) crisis. The response to his writing has been tepid. He is, he believes, “the first homosexual ever to grow old… that is, at least, how he feels at times like these.” And he is. Growing old, that is. Approaching his fiftieth birthday and the precipice of literary obscurity, Less accepts an invitation to an insignificant literary award ceremony that will take him around the world and deeper into the lyrical reflection of his own self-improvement. Let it be known that I read this novel on an airplane to another continent, and I can promise a rewarding experience. Warm-hearted and deeply human, this story is bursting with life and an obvious love of language. To quote the author, “just for the record: happiness is not bullshit.”

(It’s not.)


All In-Text Images Via Amazon.
Featured Image Via RealSimple.



Burns Landing on the Simpsons GoT map

7 Funniest Alternative Intros for ‘Game of Thrones’

Game of Thrones will be ending soon (although the book series still have two more books left), but before we say goodbye I want to look at the most recognizable aspects of the TV show: the intro title sequence. It starts off every episode, giving us a taste before we’re plunged back into the show.

In honor of the Game of Thrones intro, let’s look at seven of best alternative intros floating out there on the world wide web that, in another universe, we could have gotten instead of the one we are know.


7. 60’s Version


Ever wanted to go back in time and see what Game of Thrones would be like? The show would probably be worse, but the intro would be something to behold. Well, guess what? It exists in 2019.


Image Via Pinterest

The music might have been written and composed only a few years ago, but if I didn’t look that up (it’s in the user’s description, the guy’s called Scott Bradlee and it features

According to this user’s description, Scott Bradlee and Dave Koz teamed up only a few years ago to write the music for their intro, but if I hadn’t looked that up I would have been stuck thinking it was lifted from some B-movie from the sixties. It’s that good. Here’s their iTunes if you’re curious.

Still not sold? Well, to add to the artistic value, there isn’t a clip of a single character in this intro. It’s all drawings, coming in and out (such as a moon that waxes and wanes, symbolizing the days Jon Snow stays at the Night’s Watch), and each one is highly detailed yet simplistic. The best? Some of them are specific moments from different seasons.

It’s fascinating. Watch this intro, listen to the beautiful intro, and comment below if you can notice what each of the drawings mean.


6 – Friends Version


Image Via Youtube

If your best friends on Thursday night Rachel, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe, Ross, and Monica, then this intro parody is for you. And if you’re not, check it still because it’s a work of art.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S is now S.T.A.R.K.S, the upbeat tempo is hilarious coupled with this dark and dreary imagery, and the editing is top notch.

As Ned Stark talks to young Bran the music goes, “So no one told one told you life was going to be this way”

When everyone claps in the soundtracks, the crowd, including Sansa beside a peevish Little Finger, stands up to clap.

“Your jobs a joke…” plays right before Ned Stark looks at the crowd, about to get his head chopped off.

“When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month/Or even your year…” just fits the Starks so well, and just seeing Ned and Robb and Catelyn and young Bran who can walk we’re instantly reminded of all the terrible things that have happened to the Starks.

But the chorus? “I’ll be there for you” gives us hope that there is light at the end of this tunnel.


5 – 90s Verison


80s nostalgia is so last year. Now I want 90s nostalgia! I want my toys and movies and shows from before I was born and up until was four to come back in the public consciousness, and this intro tricks my little heart into believing that the 90s classic Game of Thrones has been unearthed.

Seriously, this thing looks straight off of a VHS. And the music? Oh, this is back when the 90s still sounded like the 80s but, in their effort to add something new, made everything sound like a mix between rock and pop. And the font? I normally don’t nerd out about character fonts, but this makes everything seem like a sitcom which….it just fits.

The only thing I would add to make it more 90s is Kevin Sorbo of Hercules fame.


4 – King’s Landing 90210


Image Via Youtube

With a rocking yet near mystical blaring guitar, this intro reimagines a Game of Thrones intro in the style of Beverly Hills 90210. The music’s rocking beats match up with knights beating on each other, the firing screech happens just as the camera zooms into Sansa’s terrified face and Robert Baratheon stands up with an “oooo” face.

The addition of ‘Dolby Surround’ at the bottom adds to the aesthetics, the color fading in as each character is introduced, and Joffrey walking in with the nicest smile, getting comfortable on the thrones with the cutest face, and talking to Sansa as the sun sets. He seems like such a nice kid, except he doesn’t smile when the camera brings up his name and the color fades in…almost like the creators of this intro are hinting at something.

But the best part of this intro? The ending. Just, just check it out.


3 – Simpson Intro


Yes, Season 23 of The Simpsons had way too many couch gags, but we can all agree that the eight couch gag is the best…mostly because it’s because Game of Thrones.

The intro starts out with its best foot forward by killing Homer Simpson – running him over and pinning him to the garage show – which is by far the best move the show has down in years.

As the intro goes on, we get many Game of Thrones references. Some examples are how everyone is seen in GoT-style clothing and how the music is obviously the GoT’s theme. The less obvious but still blatant would be how Grandpa Simpson’s face in carved into the tree Bart’s treehouse is on. A weird move, if you didn’t know Game of THrones, but us fans know that Bart now has a “weirwood treehouse” (I’ll stop). There’s also the fantastic choice of having Mr. Burns living at “Burns Landing”, turning the grumpy old man into Tywin Lannister (so, really, nothing’s changed).

But then three eyed ravens (or maybe they’re crows? We can hope, fellow book readers…) fly up and across the screen, showing us the couch in the distance.

It’s the biggest laugh because…well, it’s just a couch. It’s not made of Iron, it doesn’t even have spikes on it – it’s just a couch, and everyone wants it.

What other references did you noticed? Comment below.


2 – Europe Version


What if Europe was a TV Show? What would the Leaning Tower of Pisa’s adventures be like? Probably pretty boring, but with this stunning intro I’d still tune in to watch Game of Thrones: Europe edition. Plus, Game of Thrones is based on European history (Specifically War of the Roses), so it fits like bowling ball in the gutter


1 – Arya Warrior Princess


Let’s get to the best one of them by asking ourselves this one question:  What if Game of Thrones was just about Arya Stark?

What if, and hear me out, we only focused on what awesome we all know she is?

Well, our ultimate murder baby is getting her own intro. Here’s an ode to Arya in the style of Xena: The Warrior Princess.

“In a time of ancient gods, warlords, and kings” the intro goes, cutting from the Blood Raven Tree, to the Battle of Black Water, to Joffrey’s smug face, showing how this is the greatest idea eva. It’s the next Simpson’s couch.

We haven’t even gotten to Arya yet. Heck, we’re barely past the ten second mark of this video.

When Arya steps in we get these steady horns that announce her presence before we see her face. Cut to some nobody getting killed, cut back to the horns and we see Arya’s face: focused, but young. Calm, but curious.

Cut to sweet luscious sounds as Arya rides a horse through a forgotten wilderness, showing this is her journey, her story. “A mighty princess forged in the heat of battle?” This intro was made for Arya. I don’t even need the montage of murder with the choir chanting something that I don’t understand to get me pumped, I’m pumped already.

But how would this Arya: Princess Warrior show end? No clue, that depends on how the real show ends. What are your thoughts?

Arya Stark grows up into Xena Warrior Princess

Image Via Pinterest


What if you were a LEGO? What if I was a LEGO? What if Game of Thrones was in LEGO?

Then this would be their intro.


Featured Image Via YouTube


This Children’s Literature Map Shows the Best Kids’ Books From Europe

A collaboration between schools from all over Europe has led to this wonderful map, showing the favorite children’s book in each country.


Schools in Bulgaria, Poland, Greece, Portugal, Spain, the Czech Republic, and Lithuania worked together to create a great project named READ AND SHARE eTwinning featuring information on the best children’s books from each European country. They conducted research among their friends and family members, as well as online, in order to decide on the book for each place. 


Take a look! On first glance, it’s easy to spot Pippi Longstocking in Sweden, The Moomins in Finland, Le Petit Prince in France, and Harry Potter in the UK, but you need to look a little closer to see The Never-Ending Story in Germany, Heidi in Switzerland, and The Adventures of Tin Tin in Belgium. 



 Take a closer look! 







They’ve also included a map featuring the word for ‘book’ in the native language of each country.



Image Via READ AND SHARE eTwinning


Here’s a list of the books included for each country: 


Kevade by Oskar Luts for Esthonia 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for Great Britain

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren for Sweden

Le Avventure di Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi for Italy

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry  for France

The Never-Ending Story by Ende for Germany

Heidi by Spyri for Switzerland

Orlovi Rano Lete by Branco Copic for Serbia

Toreadors from Vasyukivka by Nestayko for Ukraine  

The Adventures of Tin Tin by Hergé for Belgium

Fada Oriana by Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen for Portugal

Platero y yo by Jiménez for Spain

Mangas by Penelope Delta for Greece

Kake Make by Lina Zutaute for Lithuania

The Tale of Tsar Saltan by Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin for Russia

Tüskevár by István Fekete  for Hungary

Amintiri din Copilarie by Ion Creanga for Romania

Cufoja dhe Bubi Kacurrel by Gaqo Bushaka for Albania

Pabbi Professor by Gunnar Helgason for Iceland

Jip en Janneke by Anne MG Shmidt for the Netherlands

The Moonmins by Tove Jansson for Finland

Akademia Pana Kleska by Jan Brzechwa for Poland

Slovenské Rozprávky by Pavol Dobšinský for Slovakia

Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer for Ireland

Den grimme ælling by Andersen for Denmark

Mrs Pepperpot Stories by Alf Prøysen for Norway

Čudnovate zgode šegrta Hlapića by Ivana Brlić Mažuranić for Croatia

Geschichten vom Franz by Christine Nöstlinger for Austria


And take a look at some of the other projects READ AND SHARE eTwinning has created. Pretty cute stuff!



Image Via READ AND SHARE eTwinning


little prince

Image Via READ AND SHARE eTwinning


All Images Via READ AND SHARE eTwinning