Harry Potter Places to Visit in Porto

Hello from Barcelona! I’ve been lucky enough to escape the cold winter of Melbourne and travel across to sunny Spain and Portugal for a little vacation. But what would a trip be without doing some bookish things abroad? I always love checking out bookstores in different countries, but when I decided to visit Portugal, I knew going to Porto was a must. Not only is it a gorgeous little city with a wide river, steep, winding streets, and it’s famous for its port, but there are some Harry Potter attractions to see there too.

Now I know it’s no London with its Harry Potter Studios or Osaka with its Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but it’s pretty damn cool to say the least. J.K. Rowling lived in Porto in the early 1990s, and she frequented many places that undoubtedly inspired her in the creation of the series we all know and love today. In my two days in Porto, I was lucky enough to check out some of these places. So here’s my list of must-see Harry Potter places in Porto!

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Must-Reads for Every Slytherin

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 »

A fangirl’s review of everything FANTASTIC BEASTS

fantastic-beasts

When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt’s fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone…

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. Featuring a cast of remarkable characters, this is epic, adventure-packed storytelling at its very best. 

Whether an existing fan or new to the wizarding world, this is a perfect addition to any reader’s bookshelf.Read More »

The Cursed Child – fangirl review

Don’t worry – NO SPOILERS!

Let me begin by saying that this isn’t going to be like my normal reviews. This is a ‘fangirl review‘ – which basically means I love this book so much and not enough time has passed for me to be able to sit down and evaluate it with a clear head, so I’m just going to screech and throw gifs at you. Though, I’m not sure if there will EVER some a time where I can sit down and properly evaluate The Cursed Child because IT’S HARRY POTTER. NOTHING ABOUT THIS CAN BE CALM.Read More »

The Harry Potter Book Tag

Hello everyone! In celebration of the release of The Cursed Child tomorrow, I decided it was time to do The Harry Potter Book Tag! While I’m not dedicated enough to go to those early morning bookshop events for The Cursed Child, I’ve been a fan of Harry Potter since I was about 6 years-old. At that stage, I was a little young to read the books, but I watched all of the movies and a few years ago, I finally tackled the books. And in case you were wondering, I classify myself as a RavenclawRead More »

Carry On – book review

Carry On

Carry On, written by Rainbow Rowell, is a book you’ll fall head-over-heels for.

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savour his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to stow him away in the mountains where he might be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get the chance to relax and savour anything.

*

I can’t even express how much I loved this book. Right now, I’m trying to control myself from falling off my chair and rolling around on the floor with Carry On held to my chest. It was magically, jaw-droppingly good. Ever since I read Fangirl, I wished I could read more about Simon and Baz. Well, I got my wish, along with the many other people who have fallen head-over-heals for Rainbow Rowell’s writing. I was literally counting down the days until this book was released from about 90 days out. When I finally got my hands on this book, I couldn’t contain myself. I immediately put down the other books I was reading and devoured Carry On in just two days. If I had no other life obligations, I can assure you that I would have just sat on my bed and read it from start to finish in one go.

For those of you who don’t know, Carry On is the fanfic which a character in Fangirl writes, which is based off a fictional series about wizards. This series and the fanfic that Cath writes is very similar to Harry Potter in many aspects, so some may think of it as just a well-written Harry Potter fanfiction. Except different. And surprisingly, even more swoon-worthy. I absolutely loved finding the parts of Carry On which were explicitly mentioned in Fangirl and sometimes I would have the books opened side by side, comparing the magic of Rainbow’s writing. I truly can’t wrap my head around how amazing this book was.

Maybe we’ll talk a little about the world-building now, shall we? For starters, this book felt very British. If you know anything about Rainbow Rowell, you might know she’s not British. However, this book felt researched to ensure the characters sounded British and were kind of British in their actions. This book could have easily felt really American, and then it wouldn’t have achieved one of its purposes. So that’s basically all I wanted to say about the Normal world – the Mage world is far more interesting. It’s rare that I can immediately sink into the world of the characters, particularly if it’s different to our own. But with Carry On, in an eery sense, it felt like I was coming home. In many ways, it is similar to Harry Potter, so that may have helped, or maybe I was just so relieved to be back in a magical world. Nevertheless, I felt comfortable at Watford and like I could be dropped into their world and already have a clear picture of their school. And also, I’m not sure about all versions of this book, but my paperback version had a map of the school on the inside of the cover at both ends, which was also helpful – not to mention cute and quirky!

Let’s just touch upon the fact that this book has incredibly cute works of art of the characters / scenes at the beginning of each “book”. Some of you might be like – each book… what? Well, this book is split into a few different “books”, but it’s practically just a fancy chapter break. One thing I really liked about this book was the flow of it. I was constantly engaged and on the edge of my seat. There wasn’t a single part of this book that seemed to be lacking in lustre. I’d finish each chapter thinking – just one more chapter – no matter how late it was getting. Or should I say, early.

Okay, I think it’s time to talk about characters. *deep breath* *tries not to smile ridiculously* *fails* So first of all, Simon. Simon was just such a sweetie. What I loved most about him was that he wasn’t perfect. Yes, he may have been the “Chosen One”, but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect. He was far from perfect, and that made me love him even more. He wasn’t particularly good at using magic sometimes, he wasn’t good at verbalising his feelings and he’d make mistakes with his friends, but that made him all the more endearing. What he was good at was never giving up and being determined to do the right thing. He was a beautiful character to follow and it was really interesting to get to know what happened to him in the past and what made him what he was. There was also an element of mystery surrounding that which made this novel all the more addictive. I desperately wanted to know what was really happening with him and the truth about his past. I had never guessed what was revealed, and that was the best feeling in the world. I love being surprised while reading, and that’s definitely what I got with this book. There were twists around every corner and each character had multiple dimensions to them. It was phenomenal.

Now Baz. How do I even begin to describe Baz? I liked Baz even more than Simon. Yes, he may have been a vampire. And yes, he did have urges to kill people. Maybe it’s just the hopeless teenage girl inside me that always falls for the vampire. There’s nothing more romantic than blood-sucking, stunningly attractive vampires, am I right? Vampire stuff aside, I just loved Baz’s personality. He could be sarcastic and unpredictable, but deep down, he was sweet and desperately wanted to find out the truth behind how his mother died and who was responsible. There was a massive change in his character from the beginning to the end. He became more empathetic and less cold as we got to know him. I loved learning about his past as well, and seeing what made him who he is today. His past was quite saddening and my heart broke for Baz. He was often misunderstood, and it honestly warmed my heart to see him finally being accepted for who he really is at the end of Carry On.

Agatha and Penelope were lovely characters to get to know. I enjoyed their part in the book, Penelope’s especially. I liked how Penelope was such a big part of Simon’s life and how they would spend so much time together. It was hilarious when Penelope complained about her roommate. She was such a lively, opinionated character and she was great to read about. Agatha was… different. I never really knew whether I liked her or not, but I tended to swing towards the latter. She seemed a little stuck up at points and she was rude to quite a few characters who I felt protective over. Nevertheless, all the secondary characters were really well-developed and fun to read about.

Finally – it’s time. Let’s discuss the romance between Simon and Baz. Their transition from enemies to friends to something more was one heck of a roller coaster to be on. There were certainly a lot of bumps in their relationship, but they always came back to the same underlying feelings. I knew that there was going to be romance between Simon and Baz because of Fangirl, but I didn’t predict it would be as cute and swoon-worthy as it was. Their first kiss was electrifying. That part of the book would definitely have to be my favourite. In this part, the book alternated between Simon and Baz’s point of view, which was useful and sweet to see. Each chapter had the point of view from one character and these characters would not just be the primary characters. In this moment especially, I loved how Rainbow could write from everyone’s point of view with it feeling realistic and honest.

The ending of this book, in my opinion, couldn’t have been done any better. I never predicted how it would end, well, except for one part, and it was happily surprising. I couldn’t be more thrilled with how this book turned out. It was definitely worth the wait. If you’ve read Fangirl, reading this book is a must. If you’re a fan of other Rainbow Rowell books, you’ll fall head-over-heels for this one too. Even if you’ve never heard of this book or of Rainbow’s other books, you can start with this one. Reading Fangirl definitely isn’t a necessity as you won’t feel left out of anything by reading this one first, but I definitely recommend reading both of those books regardless. I’d give Carry On by Rainbow Rowell a score of 10 out of 10. SO – have you read this book yet? Have you read any other books by Rainbow Rowell? Do you like the sound of this book? I’d love to know! 🙂

Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!

The Ultimate Book Tag!

Thanks so much to Shannon Buchanan for tagging me in The Ultimate Book Tag! I’ve never done a book tag before so here goes…

Do you get sick while reading in the car?

If I’m in the front, I can read for hours without getting sick. If I’m in the back, it’s a completely different story! It wouldn’t be pretty…

Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why?

I love how unique E. Lockhart’s writing style is. I’ve read We Were Liars and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and I think her writing is very different to other authors, especially in We Were Liars. 

Harry Potter Series or the Twilight Saga? Give three points to defend your answer.

Harry Potter. I love that series so much and it was such a big part of my childhood – the books, the movies, everything. I’m lucky to be a part of the generation that grew up with Harry and reading those books will always bring upon nostalgia. One of the things I love most about the Harry Potter series is the positive messages it contains – there is good and bad within all of us and what counts is what side we choose to act on, and how love gives you strength. Also, none of the characters in Harry Potter are in any way one-dimensional and they are all so complex and I loved getting to know them better with each book, whereas I didn’t feel as though a lot of the characters were overly complex in Twilight. Twilight was entertaining enough, but Harry Potter will always be the ‘classic’ for our generation and it will always have a special place in my heart.

Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is in it (besides books)?

I don’t really call my backpack a book bag, but I suppose that’s what it is because that’s what’s in it most of the time! As well as a book, I also will carry a notebook, pen, money, phone and earphones in my bag. Oh, and keys preferably, if I want to get back into my house where it’s warm and there is an abundance of books.

Do you smell your books?

Yes, of course! Who doesn’t? They smell so amazing. Old, new, it doesn’t matter, I love smelling them all. I do have a friend who licks books and I think that’s weird. Like, smelling I totally get. Licking? Nope. Do any of you lick books?

Books with or without little illustrations?

I’m not against books with little illustrations, I just don’t have any books with illustrations. Because of that, I’ll have to say books without, though I’m not against the idea of having cute little illustrations intermittently or something.

What book did you love while reading but discovered later that it wasn’t quality writing?

I feel like all the books I’ve read have been quality in their own ways, even books that are not commonly known to be well-written. Every author has their own style and I respect that. I’m not saying that every book that is published is amazing quality, but I respect the author and their writing.

Do you have any funny stores involving books from your childhood? Please share!

Okay, so if you read my Versatile Blogger Award post, you’ll know this story. This one happened recently, so it’s not exactly from my childhood, but I think it’s funny.

So I have a part time job in my favourite book shop and one time I was stamping the book shop logo onto brown paper bags when this man came up to me. He said, ‘Hello! Good morning, oh, afternoon!’ and I’m thinking, Why are you in such a good mood? Like, I love book shops too, but you’re so happy! Anyway, then the man said, ‘I’m here to sign some books.’ And I asked him, ‘What books?’ And he said like I should know, ‘The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect.’ Immediately, I got that kind of star-struck feeling I get when talking to famous people. At that moment, my colleges came to my rescue and handed him a massive pile of his books. I don’t think I would have been able to move because I was staring at the author of The Rosie Project! Okay, I haven’t even read those books and I was still affected by his author-presence. Anyway, he was signing books and I may have been staring at him. He looked up at me and said seriously, ‘You know, it’s really frustrating having to flick four pages into the book instead of one to sign it because I’ve got all this praise for my books.’ I said back, equally as serious, ‘Yeah, it must be really hard being a bestselling author.’ And then he left and I was back to stamping my paper bags, dreaming of the day I have my first book published…

And it just so happens that I made a whole video on this incident on my YouTube channel, Sarah Dreams. You can check out that video here!

What is the tinniest book on your shelf?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobosky. Great book. Small book too.

What is the thickest book on your shelf?

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare. That book is massive and I love every bit of it!

Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself as being an author?

I absolutely love writing and when I’m not reading, you would be able to find me writing. I mostly write fiction, and I love entering competitions. Over last summer I wrote the first draft of my first attempt at a novel and I would love to keep editing that throughout this year. It’s my dream to be an author and I hope one day people will enjoy reading what I write. You can check out some of my short stories here.

When did you get into reading?

I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember so I don’t think I ever got into reading, I was just raised amongst books. I lived and breathed them from a young age and I know my love for books will always be with me.

What is your favourite classic book?

The Great Gatsby counts as a classic, right? I love that book so much and all of the characters are complex and interesting and I admire Gatsby’s determination to achieve his dream, however unrealistic it may seem.

In school what was your best subject? Language/Arts/English?

My best subject is English because I enjoy it. I find it so much easier to do things when you enjoy it. I really love analysing books and writing styles and that’s why I think English is my best subject.

If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated, what would you do?

I would thank the person and tell them unfortunately I have already read that book and I would ask them if it is possible to exchange it for another book, and I would give them a couple of ideas as to which book I would like instead. They didn’t need to know that I hated the book with a passion and would be reevaluating our friendship because of their poor choice 😉

What is a bad habit you always do (besides rambling) while blogging?

I often get really distracted on my laptop and the internet and I’ll start writing a review and then get sidetracked, remembering a few hours later what I got on my laptop to do in the first place. That happens quite a lot.

What is your favourite word?

INDUBITABLY – impossible to doubt, unquestionable. It’s just so fun to say!

Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above?

All of the above! I’m proud not to be ‘normal’ and I think that everyone who is called those things should take it as a compliment because it’s basically saying ‘I’m not boring and conventional!’ I pride myself on my individuality and I don’t believe in conformity. Live your life how you want to live it, and don’t let society dictate your actions. Check out my video Dare to Dream by clicking here to find out more on my views of individuality and how people shouldn’t be afraid to be who they really are, not matter what people think of them.

Vampires or fairies? Why?

Vampires because vampires are just awesome. And with the amount of time I spend inside either reading, writing or on my laptop, I may as well be a vampire. Also, I like the night a lot more than the day. Because I’m practically constantly sleep-deprived, the night is kinder on my eyes and my headaches from lack of sleep.

Shapeshifters or angels? Why?

Angels because it would be cool to be able to fly and helping people would be a nice thing to do.

Spirits or werewolves? Why?

Spirits because I wouldn’t like to be that hairy. Also, I’m more of a cat person than a dog person.

Zombies or vampires? Why?

Vampires again because of the same reasons as before.

Love triangles or forbidden love?

Forbidden love! I’m finding that love triangles are a little overused in YA literature now and it can often be risky because it might come across as cheesy. I love a well-written love triangle, but I think that it’s safer to both write and read a forbidden love for a lot of the time.

And finally: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?

I think it’s always good to have a balance of both in books, so I’m not one of those people who goes for the full-on romances. I like reading a bit of romance in the books I read, but sometimes I feel as though it can be a little over-done. Besides, when there are only a few love scenes mixed in, that makes them all the more enjoyable and highly anticipated.

Tagging these lovely people:

The Bibliothèque

Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Mermaid Vision Books

Novel Novice

Hey, Library Girl