If there’s one thing I’m ashamed of when it comes to my reading habits, it’s that I make judgements about books quickly, and it’s often hard to change my first impressions of them. If I don’t enjoy the first few chapters, there’s not a great chance that the rest of the book will turn it into a five-star read, no matter how phenomenal or compelling the last two thirds might be. Whether the book be boring or confusing or just lack that special something in the beginning, those impressions linger with me. It’s a little bit different if I absolutely hate the first few chapters, because then I’ll just put the book down. First impressions matter, and here’s why.
I’m sure I’m not the only person out there who categorises allocates characters from certain books their Hogwarts House. That’s not weird, right? Like Starr from The Hate U Give is clearly Gryffindor, whereas Holland from A Darker Shade of Magic is the epitome of your typical Slytherin. But I also like to categorise books themselves to Hogwarts Houses, depending on their major themes and just my general feeling about the narrative — how it sits with me. I like to think of myself as the Sorting Hat in these instances.
Today, I’d like to share some of my favourite Slytherin reads with all of you! While I first thought I was Gryffindor, and then my visions aligned with Ravenclaw, and now I’m sufficiently evil enough to be placed in Slytherin by Pottermore — find out more about my Hogwarts House journey here — I want to share some of my favourite novels that I’ve sorted into Slytherin. Whether they be dark, filled with characters who are ruthlessly ambitious, or blatantly worship a reincarnation of the devil, these are all books that I think show a bit of Slytherin pride!Read More »
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.
One of the things that I hate about being so distant from the rest of the world over here in Australia is that the rest of the world is enjoying their summer and going to the beach and we’re stuck down here, lamenting about our winter. While I do love winter — the hot chocolates, reading inside on a rainy day, wearing big scarfs and warm coats — it’s often hard to get into the wintery mood while there are summery books being released and talked about everywhere else.
Take My True Love Gave to Me for example, a festive season anthology all about Christmas and winter and all the other holidays that take place around that time. I mean, it’s a little bit hard to know when to read this book because I want to read it in December to get me in the mood for the festive season, but it’s difficult to read about baking gingerbread men while it snows outside when it’s 40 degrees outside where I live. But if I read it in the Australian winter, then I get all excited about the festive season six months before it actually comes around! You see my dilemma?
So instead of crying about how lonely is it to live on an island in the middle of nowhere, where it takes a whole day on a plane to fly to America or Britain, I’m going to share some of my favourite wintery reads with you! If you’re lucky enough to live in a place where it’s winter around June and July, these are some of the books you can pick up to get in the mood for the colder time of the year! If it’s summer where you live, ha! You’ll have to wait six more months until you can see the first snow fall or the nights get darker earlier. I guess that’s a curse or a blessing, depending on whether you’re a summer or a winter person.Read More »
Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?
Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.
The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?
Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.
One of the things I’ve noticed recently about my quest to read more diverse books is that I’ve read hardly any books with religious protagonists. When I look at my shelves, there are hardly any books that contain characters who are religious. Why is that? Is it because I’m not overly religious myself, my buddhism being more a part of how I choose to live my life rather than being an active part of it? Is it because the authors themselves aren’t religious? Is it because many people presume young people aren’t as religious as the older generations? Regardless of the reasons, I think it’s important to read more novels with characters of different faiths in the same way it’s important to read novels with protagonists of different ethnicities or identities or disabilities. Diversity is diversity, right?
Most of the novels I’ve read that have any sort of religious element are those where characters are Christian, or less commonly, Jewish, however, they don’t discuss their faith beyond mentioning it once or twice. While many people’s faith manifests in this way — something that’s a part of them rather than something that they have multiple conversations or thoughts about daily — we need to read some stories that contain characters who do belong to a religion to varying degrees. Like every other diverse book, these novels can help us empathise with people different to ourselves and learn about people in different situations to ourselves. To me, the most powerful aspect of novels is that they allow us to form empathy.Read More »
What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?
Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.
But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.
Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…
She has to confess why Carys disappeared…
Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.
It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness.
Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.
Weddings are something we rarely see in YA fiction — probably because most of the protagonists are in high school and aren’t ready for that yet, or they’re too busy saving the world from imminent destruction. But that’s not to say we don’t see them at all. Whether they be cringe-worthy or cute, I’m here to talk all about weddings in YA.
Probably the first YA novel I read that contained a wedding was the infamous marriage between Bella and Edward in Breaking Dawn. Yeah, that one was… weird. I mean, I always preferred Edward to Jacob, but I think what followed the wedding in the rest of the book kind of tainted my memory of it. I’m sure it was meant to be really sweet, but that whole book left a sour taste in my mouth. And besides, Bella was like 18 at the time? And Edward was something like 200 years old? Talk about an age gap.
And then I moved onto my dystopian phase, and so I think you’ll know which book I’m talking about her. Matched by Ally Condie. Set in a dystopian future where society chooses who you are to be paired with, there wasn’t really any way of writing that book without it coming off as a little unnerving. I only actually read the first book of that series, but that whole concept is something that’s still stuck with me. And it creeps me out.Read More »
I don’t think I’m alone in saying that books containing unreliable narrators are some of the most exciting and intriguing novels out there. Most books I’ve come across either are told in third person, and the narrator overlooking the narrative isn’t telling us the whole truth, or is omitting information, or it’s told in first person, and the protagonist isn’t someone we can fully trust in terms of what they’re observing or allowing us to infer. But it’s when these types of books get crossed with vaguely supernatural elements that things get really interesting.
I’m talking about books where you can’t fully trust what the characters are seeing or experiencing, or saying they’re seeing or experiencing. It’s when things don’t seem quite right, but you’re not sure who, or what, to believe — the character, or your own sense of logic? Is the character actually seeing ghosts, or are they experiencing some kind of hallucination? Choosing what to believe is all part of the mystery and intrigue, and that’s the reason why I love these kinds of novels.
So I finished Lord of Shadows recently, and it’s safe to say that I have a lot of feelings. Not only did this book have me sobbing by the end, it made me want to sell my soul to get my hands on the next book and make a deal with the devil if it meant my favourite characters would stay safe. After absolutely adoring Lady Midnight, I fell in love with the characters all over again in the second book and was taken on a whirlwind of an adventure, where twists and turns were always right around the corner.
If you’ve read Lord of Shadows, it’s undeniable that there’s both a lot of romance and a lot of death in the narrative. The romance left me swooning and the deaths made me feel as though my own heart were being ripped from my chest. Cassandra Clare makes me feel all the feels, and she definitely didn’t disappoint in her latest instalment of The Dark Artifices.
And so I thought I’d play a little game of Kiss, Marry or Cliff — Shadowhunters edition! If you haven’t seen this thing floating around on the internet or haven’t played it yourself (sometimes it’s called different things: Kiss, Marry or Kill, or more explicit variations), three people or characters are chosen and you have to decide whether you’d kiss them, marry them, or push them off a cliff. All good-naturedly, of course! I asked my friends on Twitter to help me out, and these are some of the names I was given!