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!

Read More »

How To Pack Enough Books For Your Vacation

Packing books for my vacation is honestly SO DIFFICULT. How am I meant to know what I want to read for the next month? I can’t even stick to a weekly TBR. *sigh* Life is just too hard sometimes. (I’m totally kidding.) But it’s a real problem that a lot of people face when packing for trips, whether that be a short getaway or months abroad!

I’m an over-packer at the best of times, and that definitely extends to my books. When I went to New Zealand for two weeks, I took 12 physical books. When I was coming home from China, I literally shoved two books in the waistband of my trackies and two under my shirt so I wasn’t over the luggage limit. SO YEAH. I miiiiight have a little bit of a packing problem when it comes to books.

Although, over the years I have discovered some methods to make sure I don’t run out of books to read while I’m abroad. It definitely helps that ebooks and audiobooks are a lot easier to get hold of than even five years ago. But I’ll be talking a bit about that later! So without further ado, here are five different methods I use to make sure I pack enough books for my vacation.

Ebooks

Ebooks are the obvious choice, right? It’s so handy being able to store a library of books on your phone. I don’t have a Kindle though, so I don’t like to read on my phone for long periods of time. That being said, I do love reading when I’m waiting for public transport or eating meals on holiday. I don’t always have enough room in my backpack to take a book out with me, so having a few ebooks loaded onto my phone is always comforting! I always stock up on ebooks when they go on sale so I’ll never run out. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.Read More »

Around the World in 15 Books

Welcome aboard your epic fifteen-stop world book tour! My name is Sarah, and I’m thrilled to be your tour guide for this once-in-a-lifetime trip. I can see you’ve brought quite a few bags along with you — brilliant, we’ll be encountering all kinds of weather on this adventure. And we might be doing some time travelling too! 

Right, follow me just this way where we’ll be jumping aboard the 1.18pm train to Edinburgh. Say goodbye to London for now, but don’t worry, we’ll be back very soon so you can spend another day in this glorious city. Make sure you’ve got your first book handy, because we’ll have a lot of time on the train to read.

Read More »

Books to Inspire Travel

There’s nothing I love more than travelling. I love exploring new places, learning about new cultures, and trying new things. As much as I love Melbourne and adore spending days in my favourite cafes around the city, there’s always that desire to hop in the TARDIS and go and see new sights. Which is why I’m about to head off on a tour of Eastern Europe!

I haven’t been to Europe before, and I’m really excited to go to places like Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy. So to get in the mood, I’ve decided to share some of my favourite YA books that make me feel like jumping on a plane with nothing more than a backpack of clothes and my passport and heading off to see the world!

Read More »

The Seven Sisters – book review

The Seven Sisters

The Seven Sisters is the intriguing first book to Lucinda Riley’s spell-binding new series.

When the beloved and wealthy adoptive father of Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters unexpectedly dies, they are each given a tantalising clue to their true heritage, which propels Maia across the world to a crumbing mansion in Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings.

Eighty years earlier, Izabela’s father had aspirations for his daughter to marry into aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to help implement his plan. Longing to see the world, Izabela convinces her father to allow her to accompany him to Europe before she is married. There she meets the ambitious young sculptor Laurent Brouilly, and knows then that her life will never be the same again…

*

Honestly, I probably never would have picked up this book without it being suggested to me by Pan Macmillan Australia, so thanks! This book just had never appeared on my radar before. Apparently Lucinda Riley is quite famous? Perhaps I’ve been living under a rock because this is honestly the first I’ve heard of her. When I read the synopsis of The Seven Sisters, I was intrigued and skeptical. Firstly, why wouldn’t I be intrigued with that kind of a synopsis? It was like a siren, beaconing me to come closer. I was eager to find out what kind of mysteries this book would encapsulate. However, I’m always a little skeptical about reading books I’ve never heard of. I have this little routine I do – first, I mentally think back to whether I’ve seen the book in my favourite book store. If so, that’s a good sign. If not, I wonder why. Is that because it isn’t popular, or did I just not see it? Next, I wander over to Goodreads. Ahh, trusty Goodreads. I check the star rating. I know, I know: don’t just a book by its stars. But honestly, if a book has less than three stars, there’s not much of a chance I’ll pick it up. Over four stars and I’m heading straight to the bookstore. Often I also check YouTube to see if my favourite book bloggers have read it. With this book though, I only had to go so far as Goodreads to confirm that reading this book was going to be a good idea. A 4.17 star rating and almost every review with five stars? Count me in!

But – yes, there’s always a but – I was a little unimpressed when I began reading this book. One of the reasons why was because of the writing style. There was just something about it which seemed a little… clunky? Is that just me? Perhaps I’m just used to reading books by well-known YA authors, but I don’t think that’s the reason. The more I read, the more uneasy the writing style made me feel. There were harsh transitions between flashbacks and the present which only confused me. I feel like that’s part of the reason I found this book a little hard to get into. Although I eventually got into the flow of this novel, however it did take me a while. Once I really got into this book and Lucinda’s style of writing, it was quite spell-binding. I could almost feel the heat of Brazil and the smell of the salt and the sea. Reading about Paris was also very magical. I haven’t read many novels set in these places, so that was great to finally experience.

Another reason why I initially found it difficult to get into this book was because of the lack of excitement in the first few chapters. Sure, the protagonist’s ‘father’ just mysteriously died. But the thing is – I didn’t know her father. Nor did I know her. So did I care? Not particularly. I just wanted something more enthralling to happen. I read about three chapters with absolutely nothing happening except characters thinking about how utterly awful their lives were now that they weird adoptive father was dead. The worst part was that I didn’t even find their grief and sadness convincing. Maybe that was a part of Lucinda’s writing style, but I felt absolutely 0% sympathy for these girls. Each one would just gasp and delicately dab their noses with handkerchiefs. Snore. In that way, it felt incredibly unrealistic and hard for me to sympathise with these characters.

Eventually, I started to feel something for these characters. Which would be a little hard to not do, seeing as this book is so thick. As I got to know the characters better, I found them to be quite interesting and diverse. They each had their own unique voices, which was much appreciated. Otherwise this book would literally just be six clones doing things. Well maybe a bit more than that, but you get the point. I also really enjoyed getting know Maia’s grandmother – Izabela. She was quite interesting to read about, however I felt like Maia took the back seat sometimes. This book was meant to be about her finding her heritage and everything and I understand that finding out things about your grandmother is a part of that, but Izabela took on such a major role that I felt as though she stole the spotlight at times. In all honestly, I was more curious about Maia’s adoptive father and his family. He always seemed like a bit of a creep to me, adopting all those girls and whatnot. I guess he is dead, so he can’t defend himself. But still. I would have liked a bit more information to do with that.

Overall, this book was an okay read for me. I felt as though the pace really dragged in places and it definitely could have been condensed to keep things more interesting. I would have liked seeing more resolutions with the ending as there were still so many unanswered questions, but I guess I’ll just have to read the next book! If you want to read a book with intriguing settings and unique characters, I’d recommend trying this series. You’ll have to be patient to finally get what you hope for though. I’d give The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley a score of 6 out of 10. Let’s discuss! Does this sound like a book you’d be interested in trying? What’s your opinion of Goodreads? Do you hate slow-paced books like I do? I’d love to know! 🙂

Oooh, hello there! Surprise! I’m not done yet! I just wanted to add that I saw on Goodreads that this series is going to be comprised of seven novels? Ahahahahaha! I’m serie-ously not going to read all of them. Not unless the second book is really phenomenal. And did I just make a ‘series’ pun? *hides face* I’m so sorry. 😉

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