book review · books

Review: A Thousand Nights

By Shar

Hello blookunity! This book was my latest conquest. It was provided for review by Macmillan via The Dorothy Butler Children’s bookshop, so thank you!

Title: A Thousand Nights25244111-_uy200_

Author: E.K Johnston

Genre: YA fantasy

Publication date: October 2015 (I’m only including this ’cause it says it on the back.)

Themes: Stories, magic, power, friendship, middle east, weird demons that take over significant portions of your head

Summary( from Goodreads): Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village, looking for a wife.

When Lo-Melkhiin – a formidable king – arrives at her desert home, she knows that he will take her beautiful sister for a wife. Desperate to save her sister from certain death, she makes the ultimate sacrifice – leaving home and family behind to live with a fearful man. 

But it seems that a strange magic flows between her and Lo-Melkhiin, and night after night, she survives. Finding power in storytelling, the words she speaks are given strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. But she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king . . . if only she can stop her heart from falling for a monster.

Set against a harsh desert backdrop, A Thousand Nights by E K Johnston is an evocative tale of love, mystery and magic that would not feel out of place if Scheherazade herself were telling it. 

And perhaps she is…

I loved this book so much. Right now, it’s hard for me to define why, but as usual I’ll discuss various aspects.

Premise: You (hopefully) read the blurb, but the idea is different to A Thousand Nights (I think) in that she doesn’t just live because she tells stories with cliffhangers, but more like finds power in stories. The way this magical powers are described is somewhat nebulous, but is so, so incredible. One interesting thing about this book is that almost no characters have names. They are all ‘my sister’ ‘my father’ ‘my serving girl’ This really added to the sense of the setting and gave it a very unique voice.

Setting: OMG the setting was amazing. Apparently the author used to live in Jordan? She made it sound so realistic, and she (the nameless MC) described the desert/city with so much attention to detail that you could just tell the author understood the culture really well. (or maybe she just had a really good imagination)The bath houses, the deserts, the animals, the weaving rooms, the food, was all exquisitely portrayed and was so, so gorgeous and perfect.

Characters: They were…good? So this book was supposed to be ‘the most dangerous love story ever told’, but the thing was, there wasn’t really a love story. There was, most importantly, the love between the MC and her sister, which drives her to marry Lo-Melkhiin, but he is a killer. In the end, the choice the MC makes isn’t really about love (except, as I mentioned, the love of her sister, her desert home, her family, her kingdom), but rather the idea of ‘a good man’. But on the other hand, considering the culture of arranged marriages, this actually made sense. It made the ‘love’ different but true, somehow, and kind of showed how marriage can be about family and home rather than merely love of the person you are marrying. As for the MC (so annoying not having a name!), I felt she somehow managed to fit the Arabian culture but also empower herself. She was curious and honest and so so strong. And I loved what she did in the battle scene in the end and how she weaved her own quiet, powerful magic without making much fuss about it.

Plot: While it had good movement, it didn’t exactly have a lot of direction, and I didn’t always know where it was going. The battle scene I just mentioned was unexpected, but I liked the way it tied together in the end.

I guess that in conclusion, this was such, such an amazing book. It was unexpected, and wasn’t romantic in the way you might expect, or as Arabian-nightish as you might expect, but I loved how fresh it was, the culture, the descriptions, and the writing style. If you like interesting MCs, diverse settings, nebulous magic, or really good writing, then READ IT.

In conclusion:

Plot: 4/5

Characters: 4/5

Premise: 5/5

Setting: 5/5

Writing style: 5/5

Total: 5/5

What’s a 5 star book you read recently? Do you like the Arabian Nights stories (or know them, unlike me)? Do you have recommendations of books with really exquisite settings?



Beautiful Books- I’m plotting something

Greetings, O Blog Readers & blookunity ( I need to work on my collective nouns) I have had a really busy week/month (as always pretty much) but the tide of homework is subsiding somewhat, and I haven’t done much today (I mean, I woke up early, ran in a 10 k race, then have lazed around after that, feeling entitled) I was away and had *slightly* more free time last week, which resulted in the plot of a novel. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, because of aforementioned busyness (music exams, newspaper editing, homework, projects, field trips & other *fun* things) But I saw beautiful books on Cait’s blog, so whatever, I’m linking up, for a fantasy novel that I’ll write sometime in the future.



1.How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I can’t quite remember this, because it’s been lurking in my head for a while… I guess maybe May, when I  was plotting Entreaty, putting together a creative writing portfolio for a school thing, and writing a short story for some reason.

2. Why are you excited to write this novel?

I’m excited to write this, because I love reading fantasy, and want to write one, and I really want to explore some of the themes, and to anyone who has to make choices it seems like a fascinating way to explore what decisions you can and can’t make for others.

3.What is your novel about, and what is the title?

My novel is about a girl called Kaera, who lives in the country of Taepecia. She also has a son called Falin- but because the father isn’t around and she refuses to tell anyone about him, she’s sort of stigmatized by the village she lives in, or pitied because of her withered arm, which happened during the war. And her parents are missing- they were diplomats to Caliseland and disappeared. One day, the Gima, the mages of the land, turn up, and explain that Falin is the chosen one. in three months time, Kaera must turn up in the capital city (which is still unnamed) and kill him in the hall of magic. Then the destruction wrought by the war will disappear, and Kaera’s arm will be healed, shell become a super important person, and be able to pursue her old dream of becoming a trombonist. So she goes to Caliseland in search of shelter, because she doesn’t want to kill her son…but she does want to heal and become a musician and become a savior… so what should she do? *pauses for breath* It is tentatively titled ‘True: Choices and Carnage‘, but I’m sure I’ll think of a different title at some point.

4. Sum up your characters in one word each. (Feel free to add pictures!)

Falin: needy

Kaera: uncertain

Rekha (friend who Kaera meets on her journey): enthusiastic

5.Which character(s) do you think will be your favourite to write? Tell us about them!

I’m really excited to write about Rekha, because she’s got a great backstory, and also the Gima, because creepy magic people are fun to write about.

6.What is your protagonist’s goal, and what stands in the way?

Her goal is a) to save Falin (because the creepy Gima could just take him from her and do the sacrifice though it wouldn’t be as powerful if she didn’t and b) to find her parents and Falin’s father in Caliseland.

7.Where is your novel set? (Show us pictures if you have them!)

I don’t have pictures (because though I might not be able to stay away from the library, I’ve managed to retain my sanity and not join Pinterest, and google images bore me), and it’s a fantasy but Taepecia is a mountainous area, and a democracy, and Caliseland is a sort of breadbasket/ plains area. Taepecians are mostly sedentary, but some are nomadic, and there are a lot of shepherds, and Caliselanders are farmers. In terms of culture, I haven’t really planned that out yet, but I’m thinking that it will be partially inspired by the cultures of mountain people vs. plains people in South/Southeast Asia. I haven’t really reached that stage yet, though!

8.What is the most important relationship your character has?

This is a hard question, because she would say, without her parents, her relationship with Falin. But it is making friends with Rekha that really restores Kaera’s faith in herself.

9.How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

By the end of True:Choices and Carnage, Kaera is better at making decisions (because as the title indicates, a lot of them are necessary) and knows that she can’t expect to belong instantly. She also knows the value of dreams, and when to sacrifice them, and how to accept herself and her limitations a little bit more.10.What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?

I want my possible readers to feel sad, and upset, and surprised, because there’s a bit of plot twist/ cliffhanger at the end. I guess True: Choices and Carnage will mostly deal with themes of belonging and identity and honesty and the aftermath of violence. I’m kind of nervous about writing a character with a child, because clearly I have no experience in what it’s like to be a mother. But I’ll do lots of research and talk to my parents and stuff… we’ll see.

11. BONUS! Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.

Well, I’ve done this once before, so

1.Write even when you don’t want to and when it doesn’t make sense,

2. Have a wordcount goal for every day that you can stick to

3.Don’t let the book consume your life- try to read and sleep and eat a little bit as well.

Are you doing NanoWrimo, even if I’m not? What do you think of this story- does it sound ridiculous or interesting (I’m currently leaning towards ridiculous so…) How do you make time to write in your (undoubtedly) busy life?


Advice for Characters

Hello people! I am currently rather happy because I finally have break from school. I tried to write an interesting discussion post about religion (which I will finish eventually), but I got distracted. And I’ve already posted two reviews this week so I need to switch it up. So today, I’m writing a post about all the advice I always want to scream at book characters. (and there won’t be spoilers) (and links go to my review or goodreads)(and movie characters. Trust me, I love watching movies with other people, but they don’t feel the same way. Don’t ask me about Dolphin Tale (or do. I used my super skills to predict the entire plot correctly, including the timing of montages)) (expect sarcasm) ( I really like parentheses, okay)


character adviceGreen Valentine: No, Astrid, it is NOT a good idea to keep your identity secret. There will be trouble. And HEARTBREAK. Trust me. I’ve seen this happen a million times before. It’s like Romeo and Juliet, but only your soul dies. Or maybe like Pride and Prejudice, because you’ll both hate each other. Don’t do it. Noooooooo.

Rose Daughter: Please, Father. Don’t take the object from the enchanted place. You will regret it. IT HAS HAPPENED BEFORE. Fairytales are there to teach you something.

Sever: *sarcasm voice* Yes, Rhine, approach the terrorists, that’s a GREAT idea.

The Importance of Being Earnest: Okay, Gwendolen, I have an idea. Why don’t you leave the discussion of agricultural depression to people who know what agricultural depression is, and talk about something ladylike. Muffins, for example, are a truly excellent conversation topic.

Solitaire: Tori, you are a great person. You’re intelligent, thoughtful, and have friends. Don’t waste your life on tumblr. Don’t moan about things. Get out and do something. Yes, I will force you if I have to. Please. Use your brain to solve this problem instead of staring stupidly at your laptop.

When We Wake: Tegan, my friend, you have just landed in a new century. I know things look fishy, but why don’t you give it two more months. Two more months to settle in a make friends before you investigate the military responsible for your life. I know human lives are in the balance- but could you just take it easy. And be polite to reporters for goodness sake.

Emmy and Oliver: Go easy on your parents, Emmy. Maybe you should only bring up one of the things that you’ve been hiding for them at a time. It’s a shock to their systems- you said it yourself. Be gentle: parents are people too.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue: *sarcasm voice* Go and explore the cursed cave, then. I’m sure nothing bad will happen to you. I’m sure none of the wrong sleepers will be woken. I’m sure that there are no hornets whatsoever.

Madame Tussaud: MARRY [spoiler] But seriously, it will be way better for you. Independent women are allowed to love.

The One: It is a truth universally acknowledged that keeping important secrets often causes the destruction of relationships.

A Ring of Endless Light: I think we can all agree that three boys is too many boys. (to be leading on at least)

Dance of Shadows: How about NOT going to the ballet school where your sister died due to mysterious unknown forces and instead lodging a police complaint?

So what did you think? Who would you advise? And have you read any of these? Are parentheses the best thing ever? ( Full disclaimer: I really enjoyed some of these books.) Be sarcastic in the comments!

not books

How to not practice flute*

* Or anything else for that matter. Contains 13 too easy steps. (Almost too easy, some would argue)

By Shar

Hello people! You may or may not know that I am a flute player. (Also ukulele kinda and piano). Actually you know now haha. I was thinking of funny things, and I am a hopeless procrastinator, so in case you needed any more help, here it is. If you’re wondering, I really should be practicing right now.

Step 1: Pretend you can’t find your flute, and continue doing whatever you’re doing (for example, reading the Help).

Step 2: Look behind you, and find it on the shelf it always is. (bonus points if you exclaim ‘Lo! My flute is just where it always is!’)

Step 3: Take it out of it’s case and put it together. Decide it needs polishing before any playing can be done. Spend 5 minutes multi tasking on polishing and reading.

Step 4: Decide you’re really hungry, and go and get some food. (Like a green apple.)

Step 5: Wash you sticky paws and mouth because you couldn’t bear to mar the shininess of your freshly polished instrument.

Step 6: Resign yourself to warming up.

Intermission for photos of my lovely flute Artemis. (So named for being a twin, eternal maiden, fierce huntress, silvery moon goddess and generally awesome, just like me!) (What, you don’t name your instruments?)

DSC03699 DSC03703

Step 7: Start playing your favourite songs and sections you’re good at, or get distracted and start playing Taylor Swift by ear.

Step 8: Get called for dinner/lunch/ to the toilet/ to rescue your sister’s stuffed toy from certain death.

Step 9: Decide you’ll actually start and get a metronome, discover there are no batteries, and spend several minutes searching for them.

Step 10: Begin playing for real and actually focus for 10 minutes before deciding you need to listen to what you’re playing on youtube.

Step 11: While on youtube, find the funniest cat video and get distracted.

Step 12: 15 minutes later, come back and practice seriously.

Step 13: Decide that after a hard 45 minutes practice, your embouchure needs a rest. Pack away your flute (being careful not to  over polish it) and return to your book.

Do you guys play instruments? What are your surefire procrastinating strategies? What do you enjoy procrastinating on? 


beautiful pictures

This blog isn’t normally about travel or non-book related content. But I decided that it would be today, because I spent the last few days tramping in the very beautiful mountains, so I thought that I’d share the beauty (though it might be presumptuous to call my photographs that. You can tell me whether that’s right in the comments)

But, first things first! Marissa Meyer (author of the incredible Lunar Chronicles books which I love dearly and who sparked the ongoing cyborg-android debate in my house) is hosting bookmark designing contest on her blog, so I thought I’d share my entry (and my fairly incredible photo editing skills) with you.

bookmarks lunarNow, on with the pictures!

a stone table! Does anyone need to murder Aslan ?(It doesn't work, because of  the Deepest Magic, if you were wondering)
a stone table! Does anyone need to murder Aslan ?(It doesn’t work, because of the Deepest Magic, if you were wondering)
bear claw marks in a tree
bear claw marks in a tree
daisies are adorable (and very pretty)
daisies are adorable (and very pretty)
sunshiny, pretty, day
sunshiny, pretty, day
walking along the path, up and up and up
walking along the path, up and up and up
cold water=the best treatment for tired feet
cold water=the best treatment for tired feet
We found wild strawberries and they were delcious
We found wild strawberries and they were delicious
something about lakes and mist and mountains makes me want to sing the lotr theme
something about lakes and mist and mountains makes me want to sing the lotr theme
I love the texture of lichen
I love the texture of lichen

This area is very beautiful. It was badly damaged in floods a few years ago, and there were lots of old landslides and fallen trees. Monsoon is just coming here, so the weather was okay, but there was some rain, so we didn’t go up to the pass like we were planning to. But it was still a great path, even though my feet are sort of sore. Tramping is tiring but relaxing, and it’s a good time to have quality conversations and get away from the internet and homework and worries. I was so glad that we went. And we went swimming in the bitterly cold river which was really delightful. And though it was a five hour car journey on windy roads (throwing up was involved) it was still worth it. Shar can annoyingly read in the car/bus, but I listened to audiobooks and finished All the Bright Places after months of listening to it.

What are some beautiful places that you’ve been to? Are you a diehard Lunartic? tell me in the comments!


Miss Peregrine and all that (!!!!!!!)

By Shar I am now quite a few shades darker that my normal skin tone and also painfully sunburnt. It hurts, although it’s kinda my fault. My mum was a bit annoyed about me getting sunburnt, even though I’m suffering for it. Anyway, I’ll try to stop whining. I have a question: Is this too many reviews? I’m doing a lot of reviews because I’ve been reading a lot of books, and also Shanti ordered me too. (She seems to consider herself boss of this blog, becuase it’s her baby or something) Also I don’t have goodreads and I don’t really want it, so where else can I post reviews? I just finished the program by Suzanne Young and am trying to decide if I want to finish Skullduggery Pleasant (because then I’ll have to read the whole series and I don’t know if I’m ready for this. Okay, enough of the ranting.. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs Genre: MG? (I think) fantasy? Themes: death, super powers, time travel, coming-of-age? First impressions: The photos were super cool, and it was weird and creepy in a good way miss peregrine My Summary: Jacob has a mundane life-until one day  his grandfather Abe is viciously murdered by a monster it seems only he can see. Unable to forget the incident or his grandad’s last words, he goes to the island where Abe grew up with his father. At first the children’s home seems like aa fuin, but one day Jacob hears voices and sees a girl in a white dress. He decides to follow her, which leads him to an incredible new world. He’s about to learn that everything he thought about the world and his place in it is very,very wrong. What I liked: The photos, setting, premise, characters, language in narration, romance but not at the forefront and many other things. Jacob was a pretty good character, and so was Emma. What I disliked: not much backstory/lead up for Jacob, so you feel like you don’t know him and it skips over the 9 months after Abe’s death, some of the secondary characters aren’t super well developed.

Favourite characters: MIllard, Emma, Jacob’s dad, Miss Peregrine

Setting: 5/5

Characters: 3/5

A creepy island in Sri Lanka
A creepy island in Sri Lanka

Language: 4/5

lightness: 2/5

Ending: 3/5 (fine but it totally led up to a sequel. I didn’t even know there was a sequel!) Total: 4/5 ( This was a really enjoyable book, if a bit creepy at times.) spoiler


Circular ramblings for the end of the week

By Shar

The most recent books I finished this week were The Circle, which I mentioned in another post, and the Yiddish Policeman’s union, which was for school. (That was this week? What? It was sooooo long ago. Oh well). I also spent a lot of time reading my history textbook for catchup work, which was dense and boring, and also All the Bright Places by Jennnifer Niven, which I was listening to on audiobook while I did colouring in for my mother (let’s just say it’s a long story).

Random Fact about me: I have a very bad habit of reading a lot of books at once. I’ve been in the middle of 5 at one time… which was very bad. This is because I tend to randomly pick up books rather than make a TBR. That would be too stressful. If I joined Goodreads. I suspect this might change… one reason why I don’t join it. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD IS AMAZING!!!!! sorry, what was I saying? Oh yes.

Right now I’m in the middle of All The Bright Places and Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods.

SO now time for some mini reviews of the books I read/am reading this week

The cat wasn't as interested in literature as curling up by the fire
The cat wasn’t as interested in literature as curling up by the fire

The Circle: It’s about witch girls in a small insignificant Swedish town. I liked the swedish references, like the Santa Lucia festival, which I once did a bit before Christmas with my swedish friends. Anyway, they find out they’re subjects of a big prophecy and are super powerful and important, and someone’s trying to kill them, and they all have to work together. What’s good: Multiple perspectives are awesome. Also the way they really don’t want to cooperate and get through their differences, and I didn’t expect the bad guy to be who it was. The Bad: The deaths seemed sudden and didn’t have any foreshadowing, so I couldn’t believe that they had died, or whether it was made up or what. Also, (SPOILER) I didn’t like killing off the main characters. 3 stars

The Yiddish Policeman’s union by Michael Chabon: I read this for schoolwork but it’s about a homicide policeman with issues in a fictional Jewish State called Sitka. He’s investigating a murder seemingly in cold blood which leads him around the district in a interesting mystery that’s about a lot more than a dead man. The Good: Lovely characters, I learned some about Jewish culture,the language was kinda sarcastic like Eoin Colfer’s but also had some great metaphors I had no idea where the plot was going BUT The Bad: I didn’t get a lot of the Jewish/Yiddish references, which is probably why I didn’t follow the references or see where the plot was going, it was a bit adult for my tastes,  4 stars

Yeah, my animals aren't the literary types. More the.. I love sleeping by the fire types.
Yeah, my animals aren’t the literary types. More the.. I love sleeping by the fire types.

Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods by Rick Riordan (but who else would have written it, seriously?): I like learning greek myths, I like his voice, but some of this stuff is so weird. Also, like I said about The Battle of the Labyrinth, some of the comments are stupid and unnecessary. But Rick Riordan as good as ever. Some of those stories are sooooo weird too. 3.5 or 4 stars, withholding judgment until the ending

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: Theo Finch is a lot like Michael Holden. Cute contemporary, but also interesting, and messed up. Violet’s still reeling from her sister’s death, Theo just can’t fit in and nobody understands him. So far it’s really sweet, but also… interesting. The boy narrator’s voice annoys me. Oh well. No stars until ending.

Audiobook! And gloves because why not?
Audiobook! And gloves because why not?

Traditions and Encounters volume three: Who even reviews boring dense textbooks that I have to chug through for AP world history.

Other stuff I did this week:

Watched Sherlock season 2 (I’d already watched Hound of Baskervilles so we didn’t watch that.) Shanti saw us watching it and then told me the ending of the last episode, which also happened to be the only Sherlock episode she’d ever watched. I had to go to bed about 10 minutes before it ended, I’ll have to finish it another time. Sherlock is a grammar nerd like me… it’s so funny but occasionally scary.

Did a whole lot of stupid catch up maths work on fascist Khan academy. Arhghghghgh I hate it.

Every Breaking Wave by U2 is currently my favourite song. Oh wait… that’s not something I did

Sat outside in the sun and read

Went running every day except Saturday. Sometimes my dog came with me, but sometimes he was lazy and traitorous and decided not to.

Went on lots of walks- Living in a hill station in the Indian Himalaya’s, you can basically only go up or down. Wherever you go, there’s uphill, which I don’t like. I run along the basically flat countours of the hill and I don’t really get out of breath, but going uphill I do so I can’t be that fit.  Also we went on a firewood collecting hunt, where 8 of us all together carried 133 kg of firewood up and down a hill to out house. It was fun… NOT… but kinda?

Visited my mother’s mental health project which was interesting, and good for my Hindi skills

Played flute… not enough I really need to practice more. BAD SHAR! NO! YOU MUST PRACTICE!!

My flute case... because what else can you do with stickers
My flute case… because what else can you do with stickers

What was the highlight of your week? Have you had no school since 10 november??? ( I have 3 weeks left until doom. Or is it two?) Do you have pets? Go running? Read lots of books at once? I’m terribly curious…

Peace out (was that a weird ending? No? I didn’t even edit this post whoops. Oh look I have a new ending. Okay… I’m weird…)

Oh We’re going to Sri Lanka for two weeks on Tuesdays so we’ll have to schedule posts for then




stop arguing guys! I have to go and have a shower!

So now do you think I’m weird


John Green

By Shar

Recently (as in, between Thursday and Saturday) I’ve read two books by John Green. In the last week I’ve also read his novella in the Let It Snow collection. And I’ve already read The Fault in Our Stars and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I haven’t read Paper Towns, though, I must admit.

Anyway, what is it that makes Greens writing so special? The Fault in Our Stars was a phenomenal success, despite it’s topic being rather… morose. I personally think that while tFiOS is a wonderful book, it is overrated as being ‘the best most only good book that my heart could desire’ . Even if it’s not quite good enough to be reared one of the most epic love stories of all time, there has to be something about it that is special, that makes teens who don’t read enjoy the writing of John Green’s books.

This is evidence of a sucky laptop camera but it was all I had. These are the only JG books I currently have with me, because I got them from the library.
This is evidence of a sucky laptop camera but it was all I had. These are the only JG books I currently have with me, because I got them from the library.

First of all: quick summaries

The Fault in our Stars: Two teenagers with different types of cancer meet and show the world that you don’t have to be healthy to live life well. Themes: Death, love, philosophy

An abundance of Katherines: A teenage prodigy and his best friend embark on a road trip as the prodigy tries to work out a way to predict his so far 19 relationships with girls called Katherine. The friends they make along the way change their lives. Themes: love, friendship, what makes a good person, the unpredictability of the future

Looking for Alaska: A boy called Mils goes to boarding school and begins to make real friends, unlike the vague acquaintances he left behind. His relationship with a beautiful but damaged girl called Alaska and her fate changes him and his perspectives. Themes: death, friendship, love, mystery. Note: this was John Green’s debut

Will Grayson, Will Grayson: Two people called Will Grayson randomly meet and make friends. This culminates in a romance and epic production of a play. Themes: Love, homosexuality and teens, the importance of coincidence. Note: written with David Levithan.

Let It Snow: a series of 3 novellas all set in the same town on the same night, with overlapping characters. John’s is called ‘A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle’ about two boys desperately driving in a storm to meet 14 cheerleaders, dragging their friend The Duke (a girl) unenthusiastically with them. Themes: love, stereotypes, comedy.

Papertowns: no idea, I haven’t read it. But there is a character called Margo Roth speilberg I think and a ‘paper town’ that only exists on the map as a trademark that became a real town because people looked for it. But don’t ask me!

Zombicorns: A completely ridiculous novella written as a fundraiser about zombies who, when infected, dedicate their lives to ensuring the survival of a type of genetically modified corn. It is quite stupid and funny.

Pros of John Green

  • He understands teenagers well, and crafts excellent characters
  • His writing style is easy to read (aka addicting I read 2 books in 3 days)
  • The novels are contemporary, so they come with any associated benefits
  • They are all stand-alones so you can just pick a book up
  • There are a lot of funny moments
  • NO love triangles! Ever (that i know of) yay! so relieved!
  • Very rich and well crafted secondary characters, that are often fun or funny ( think Hassan, Hollis, Isaac, Hazel’s parents, Takumi, the Colonel, Keun)
  • Interesting settings (like boarding school, a small southern town, and Amsterdam)
  • Extra bonus tangents where the reader can learn stuff (like the maths in Katherines, philosophical ideas in Tfios, and the whole concept of Paper Towns)
  • Inside jokes or recurring themes in his book for example, venn diagrams.

Cons of John Green

  • His books can be overrated
  • Sometimes it’s just too contemporary, and you want some crazy fantastical setting where puppy-sized elephants roam
  • some profanity and less ‘appropriate’ scenes that tweens who hear about the books would do well not to read. Then again, that perfectly describes teenagers too.
  • Inconsistent humour

I couldn’t think of too many cons, but oh well. In conclusion, his books are ver good and interesting, and mark an era of contemporary becoming popular in the YA genre. However, the Fault in Our Stars has become so popular that is is overrated.


Why I love contemporary fiction

By Shar

This is to add on to Shanti’s post last week. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary fiction. I guess I’ve become addicted to it more than other genres. When I was younger, I liked fantasy, magical books. Then came dystopian. And while I still love both these genres a lot, I think right now I mostly prefer contemporary.  in terms of YA genres my current rankings are:

1. Contemporary

2. Dystopian/ apoalypse

3. Sci-fi

4. fantasy

5. Classic? (it depends on the definition of a classic)

According to Google, contemporary is ‘living or occurring in the present’ .

Some contemporary novels I have read recently are : Zac and Mia (Aussie tfios), a little something different ( adoroable love story similar to fangirl), Love and other foreign words ( hard to describe but I think the main character’s a lot like me), the Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet (modern day Pride and Prejudice), Lola and the Boy next door (anna and the french kiss 2.0, the title is the main plot), the ZigZag effect and Falling into place (kind of like 13 reasons why, but very poignant)

Contemporary fiction is easy. The writer does not need to waste words creating new setting, new scenes, new technologies, or generally introducing foreign contexts. The setting feels familiar because we know it. It’s our own neighbourhood, our own time and place. But it doesn’t contain ordinary people. No, this is a world where things don’t just happen because of decisions. Each action fits into a higher purpose, aka the plot outline. everything fits into place. Contemporary fiction can remind us of the beauty and sweetness of real life, and that our own lives have their own plot as well. Each of our actions, and other people’s response to them, is a part of God’s purpose for us.

I like how contemporary can have characters that have limitations, mere mortals confined by boundaries that affect us too. Unlike fantastical or futuristic fiction, it is easier to empathise with characters. They are so close to our own hearts, yet achingly far away. They can inspire us to live our life differently or exactly these same. But contemporary characters can live in a completely different world. We can learn about people in hospital beds with cancer or magical european cities while lying on our couch.  So contemporary fiction can also teach us about our world, and it’s nuances. It can expose us to perspectives entirely different from our own, or expose incredible kindred spirits.

In conclusion, contemporary fiction is beautifully real, but still brings us to a different world with new characters and perspectives.


analysis of genres

This post is going to be about different YA genres, with descriptions and stuff, so that you know what to look for, if you’re new to young adult, or curious.

This is by no way a comprehensive analysis, and *be warned* I will probably get it slightly wrong.

My book shelf from different angles, sorted by genre.
My book shelf from different angles, sorted by genre.

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These books are set in the modern world. They use real place names and people, and reference to real things. Theoretically, they could actually happen, but its still fiction. I read these books because they often have adorable romances and give me a new perspective on things. Often standalones.

Examples; The Museum of Intangible Things, The Fault in Our Stars, Thirteen Reasons Why, If I Stay, Love and Other Foreign Words, et cetera.


These books are set in a future. Sometimes they are set in real settings (e.g. Chicago in Divergent), but usually something terrible has happened, the people are oppressed in some  way, and it is often set after the apocalypse. I like these books because there are so many different futures and they give interesting insights into our way of life. Plus the characters ar e often very awesome. Dystopic books are often grouped in trilogies. Can have paranormal or science fiction aspects.

Examples: The Hunger Games, Divergent, Under the Never Sky, The Darkest Minds.


Fantasy means magic. Harry Potter, The Infernal Devices, and Protector of the Small are all fantasy books. There can be low fantasy, where magic exists in the real world, like Harry Potter (The Infernal Devices belong to a sub category of this, urban fantasy), middle fantasy, where there is a real and another world (like Phillip Pullmans Northern Lights), and characters can move between them, and high fantasy, where the world is wholly fictional, though it may draw on aspects of the real world (Like the Graceling sequence). i love fantasy. Fantasy is one of my favourite genres. The worlds are exciting, there are fights between good and evil (even better is when there isn’t good or ever: just protagonists. I love how Sarah J. Maas used Manons point of view in Heir of Fire so that I still wanted her to win, though she was intent on killing). Magic is illogical and wonderful (except in eragon where it is just wonderful). Series are often longer, more than three books.

Examples: The Old Kingdom Chronicles, Tamora Pierce, Cassandra Clare, Sarah J. Maas, Harry Potter, David Eddings, (these are authors and series by the way), Christopher Paolini.


Retellings are stories set in a different world, and often modernised (or post- modernized). This isn’t really an offcial genre, and these books can fit into other categories as well. Often series, but not always.

Examples: The Looking Glass Wars (Alice in Wonderland, middle fantasy, historical fiction), Ash (Cinderella, LGBT), The Lunar Chronicles (Fairytales, dystopia, low fantasy), For Darkness Shows the Stars (Persuasion, dystopia), Ironskin (Jane Eyre, steampunk, fantasy)

Historical Fiction

Set in the past. I love the detail and insights that these books give. They are often intelligent and well researched. They can be set in the very distant past or closer to today. Historical fiction is defined by its historical setting, based on fact. I enjoy historical fiction for its characters and settings (plus you can use it to “study” for history exams). No series length that is defined.

Examples: Nefertiti, The Montmaray Journals (Shanti approved), I Capture the Castle, Eleanor and Park..

Science Fiction (Sci-Fi)

Set in a world, usually different to our own, based on science rather than magic. Often mysterious and outer-spacey. I like these books for their original premise and complex world-building. Steampunk usually comes under this category too, as does Terry Pratchett ( who should be a genre of his own) Lots of overlap with Fantasy, but fantasy can have science fiction elements, but science fiction doesn’t usually have fantasy elements.

Examples: Mortal Engines, Across the Universe, Artemis Fowl, Never Let Me Go

That is it for today. There are other genres, like romance and paranormal, but these are the ones most important to me. This week I’m reading the Coldest Girl in Coldtown and I just finished Crown of Embers by Rae Carson. The cliffhanger is killing me.