Dramione: the guilty pleasure keeping me sane

Believe me when I say I detested Draco Malfoy when I read the Harry Potter books, so I’d never thought about a romantic pairing between him and Hermione Granger. But when I first stumbled upon the popular Draco-Hermione fandom years ago, it took me zero effort to get sucked into it. Perhaps it's because the canonical pairing between Hermione and Ron Weasley has always felt awkward and forced to me. And who doesn’t love a good enemies-to-lovers trope anyway?

A few weeks ago, whilst suffering another bout of postpartum depression (which I’m almost certain is from extreme boredom), I came across some fantastic Dramione fan art by Elithien that reignited my interest in this pairing.

From there I dove right into Manacled by SenLinYu, which I’d heard about for a while but had never read. Now that’s a story that goes from dark to insanely dark, to magical and beautiful, to a world of pain, and fuck if it wasn’t the best rollercoaster ride of emotions that a fanfiction has ever given me. It’s a story I will definitely reread in future, after I feel emotionally ready to tackle it again. As far as fanfictions go, it’s a hands-down 5/5 from me. I also enjoyed all the other stories and one-shots from the same writer which were all much lighter and fluffier than Manacled.

Based on the reader comments I’ve seen on Wattpad, it appears as though every Dramione fan has read Isolation by Bex-chan. I remember thoroughly enjoying it the first time I read it years and years ago, but coming back for a reread — particularly knowing more about fiction writing now — I found it to be a hard slog due to all the head-hopping from paragraph to paragraph. At the risk of offending the massive fanbase of this story, I’m giving it a 2.5/5.

The most-read Dramione fanfiction I’ve come across on Wattpad is Draconian by hepburnettes, which stands at an impressive 8 million reads at the time of this post. I absolutely loved the interactions and banter between the characters, however, there was again some head-hopping (not nearly as bad as Isolation), and I was sorely disappointed about the lack of smut. Personally, I just can’t do fanfiction without smut. I'm not asking for it to be detailed or explicit, but when there is zero sex or a complete skip over the (obligatory) sex scene, after I’ve been tortured by 40 chapters of sexual tension, I can’t help but feel robbed. That said, I’m not surprised about the popularity of this story. The main and side characters were lovable and came alive under the penmanship of the writer. It’s a 3/5 from me, likely a 4 if it had satisfied my smut needs, lol.

Years later, my all-time-favourite Dramione fanfic that I still keep coming back to is The Deadline by Lena Phoria. It’s nowhere near as popular as the ones above, and it doesn't contain a whole lot of action and excitement involving Voldy and the war, but it is a sweet, sexy adult romance featuring the original characters in their late 30’s, something I haven't seen much of in Dramione stories.

What’s fascinating is that quite a few Dramione writers I’ve come across also write Rey-Kylo Ren fanfiction. Must be that classic enemies-to-lovers pairing again. I’ve yet to read any Reylo fanfiction, but that might be the next to try!

It’s honestly a little embarrassing being a 30-year-old with an addiction for the same fanfics that attract mostly teen readers, but hey, whatever it takes to save my own sanity in the days of being a stay at home mum. I love all you great fanfiction writers.

If you’re a fellow fanfiction lover, FicSave is a nifty tool for converting stories on FanFiction.Net (and some other fanfiction websites) into EPUB and MOBI formats!

Review: Crisis in the Red Zone

What's better than reading a bloody good thriller? It's knowing that the bloody (literally bloody) good thriller is a 100% true account.

Before this book I knew the Ebola virus was scary, but I'd never appreciated just how scary it really is.

I loved the way Preston explained the science and medical aspects of the Ebola epidemic in a way that a complete science-dud like me could understand and find intriguing. And extra kudos to the author for extending his research beyond the virus itself to the personal background of all the key players of this outbreak — it's what made this book read more like a thrilling tale with diverse characters than a scientific article with jargons I cannot digest.

What's also interesting is just how relevant this book is in current times and, in some respects, eerily similar.

Consider the WHO's initial response to warnings of the Ebola outbreak:

Officials at the World Health Organization reacted to the Doctors' report with skepticism. A WHO spokesman … tweeted a response, saying that the outbreak was "relatively small still" and there was "no need to overblow something which is already bad enough," and "there has never been an Ebola outbreak larger than a couple of hundred cases."

Sound familiar? Yeah, back in late January 2020, despite the severity of the situation in Wuhan and the spread of the coronavirus to several other countries already by that time, WHO decided not to declare the outbreak a global emergency. And subsequently, it continued to advise against international travel and trade restrictions.

Preston says he is not a prophet. But the warnings in this book (published only months before the outbreak started in Wuhan) prove that he has underestimated his skill in crystal-gazing:

What I propose to look at is a global outbreak that might be termed a Level 4 event worldwide outbreak of a Biosafety Level 4 emerging virus that travels in the air from person to person, and is vaccineless and untreatable with modern medicine.

A dry virus with high mortality that infected people through the lungs. No vaccine, no medical treatment for the virus. If you take the subway, if you ride in an elevator, you can be infected, too. … Medical staff absent, dying, overwhelmed. All hospital beds full. … Schools closed. People avoiding supermarkets for fear of contagion. Prophets and visioners predicting the future and offering cures. People leaving the city, bringing the virus with them. Airports inactive, flights cancelled

Whilst Covid-19 is not a Level 4 virus, what's clear is that it's high time to learn from history, and to start taking necessary precautions for even worse outbreaks in future — because there will be more *touch wood*.

Here's to hoping, too, that one day, governments and officials around the world will prioritise human lives over the economy and politics.

Completed: 23 July 2020

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Unfortunately, there are too many idiots who have continued to attach labels such as 'fake news' and 'fear-mongering' to the current pandemic. And thus, weeks after Australia got the coronavirus under control, everyone relaxed, and we're now seeing record cases and deaths in Victoria.

Thanks for ruining the plans for a Trans-Tasman Bubble between New Zealand and Australia! (I'm obviously very bitter about this because my parents had planned to travel here from NZ to help with the baby.)

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Umm. Wow. And to think this was a book I started months ago, felt it was so much of a slog in the early chapters that I almost gave up and dumped in the DNF pile…

Fucking wow.

Once the action began, this story was plot twist after plot twist; when I thought there couldn't possibly be more plot twists, well, of course there were more. And they were glorious.

For a story with so many POVs, I was especially impressed with how distinct all the voices sounded, how each of the crew members' past shaped their present, and how much I adored all of them.

The lines were my type of mean and beautiful:

She wouldn't wish love on anyone. It was the guest you welcomed and then couldn't be rid of.

He'd offer her salvation and then deny it. He'd gift her with affection and small kindnesses then snatch them away. He would savor every tear she shed and replace that sweet green flower scent with the salt of her sorrow on his tongue.

For a time I simply could not understand the hype around this duology. Now I say: Give in to the hype.

This was hands down my favourite fantasy book since ACOTAR and I'm almost certain that once I've gone through the sequel, Crooked Kingdom, I'll be adding Leigh Bardugo to my list of favourite authors.

Completed: 30 June 2020

Rating: 5 out of 5.

So after the Covid-19 restrictions relaxed in Perth, I visited the local library for the first time in many years. It was there I picked up a physical copy of this book and henceforth ditched the eBook version. As much as I love my Kindle, I found the physical book far easier to read. The difference was massive!

Despite my love for technology and the obvious conveniences of eBooks (in fact I really missed the dictionary and highlighting functions as I read this book), I guess I'll always be a dinosaur lady who prefers the feel of real pages under my fingertips.

And now I face the tough decision of which book to move onto next…

Borrowed books: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
Why is it always so hard to decide what to read next?