Orilium Magical Readathon: Spring Equinox 2022 – Wrap-Up

I’m a bit late to the wrap-up party (okay, very late!) but better now then never, right? Here’s how the Orilium Magical Readathon in April went for me and my character.

Like every one of G’s readathons, this was a brilliant, fun event that had so much more to offer than just a list of reading prompts. The entire community is lovely, there were side quests and Twitter adventures, Instagram challenges, and the feeling of building a character and giving them a story to live – all by doing what we love to do anyway: reading books.


The Spring Equinox Syllabus + Guild Points

Our first semester at Orilium Academy felt both familiar and fresh at the same time. I really enjoyed following the syllabus for my chosen calling of Scribe, but when I saw I was doing quite well and could fit in a couple more books, I got swept up by the side quests. I wasn’t a fan of the ones you had to claim quickly because, inevitably, other people are always faster on Twitter than I am, and time zone differences can make it hard to even be online when quests are published, but G offered up a few quests that were open to everyone throughout the month and that is where I pounced. Gotta get me some Guild points, after all.

Classes for my Calling

The first five are classes were the ones I needed to take for my chosen calling of Scribe, the rest is extra credit work. It’s just so have I have some options should I change my mind next semester about what my calling should be. I’m mostly set on becoming a Scribe but that Rogue Illusionist does tickle my fancy…

BOOK TITLECLASSREADING PROMPT
V.E. Schwab – GallantInscriptionan intimidating read
Theodora Goss – Snow White Learns WitchcraftSpells & Incantationsa collection
Roshani Chokshi – The Star-Touched Queen Loremythology-based
Jessica Townsend – Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan CrowRestorationincludes healers
Fran Wilde – Unseelie Brothers, Ltd.Elemental Studiesunder 100 pages
Charlie Jane Anders – Victories Greater Than DeathPsionics & Divinationset in the future
Oghenehevwe Donald Ekpeki – O2 ArenaArt of Illusiona trope you like
Tamsyn Muir – Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Towerclaws on cover
Suzanne Palmer – Bots of the Lost ArkAnimal Studiesa quick read

Side Quests for Guild Points

QUEST TITLEREADING PROMPTBOOK TITLE
Scroll of Standstillread a 5 star predictionXiran Jay Zhao – Iron Widow
Fire Weasel in Dangerread a book by a new-to-you authorAdrian Tchaikovsky – Elder Race
Rare Ingredientread a book with the letter D in the titleSeanan McGuire – Across the Green Grass Fields
Ammelorite Samplepurple coverAmie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – Memento

The side quests were fun and I only read one truly short work for these prompts. The rest were a novel and two novellas (and for novellas, they were on the bigger side).

I did quite well when it comes to the amount of books (I was generous and counted novelettes as books) but most of them were rather short because I’m still a little preoccupied with, you know, carrying a baby inside of me, and reading time isn’t as easy to come by as it used to. But I am proud of what I did achieve.

Books read: 13

Pages read: 2990

Tallying those Guild Points:

  • Finishing the Novice Path: 50 pts
  • Finishing the Spring Equinox: 50 pts
  • Fire Weasel Quest: 10 pts
  • Rare Ingredient Quest: 10 pts
  • Scroll of Standstill Quest: 10 pts
  • Ammelorite Sample Quest: 10 pts
  • TOTAL: 140 pts

My Character

Sistani has passed all obstacles so far and is well on her way to pursue her calling of Scribe. She finished all the necessary classes and, in true Archivist Guild fashion, added some more coursework because studying is fun. But she also likes to spend time with friends, meet new people, and explore places, so she didn’t manage to do the entire syllabus (secretly, she really wanted to, though).

  • Name: Sistani
  • Background: Urban
  • Heritage: Half-Iltirian, Half-Elf
  • Province: Kerador
  • Guild: The Archivists
    • Guild Legacy: Ausra, Goddess of Dawn and New Beginnings
    • Conduit: Staff
    • Tier: Assistant
  • Calling: Scribe

Within her Guild – The Archivists – she has become a little better known, although she is by no means a household name. She did a fair job going questing, mostly because the quests were fun little adventures that could be taken on with other students. For the next semester, she has gained some small perks that will make life at Orilium Academy just a little bit easier.

Sistani also participated in the Twitter quiz and she even got many questions right, but – alas – was usually too slow for them to count. Our Guild tied in third place during that Twitter battle and while that’s a bit sad, it was also super fun and exciting! Better train those typing fingers until next semester.


The Books (the long part)

For Elemental Studies, I technically read several stories. The prompt was to read a book under 100 pages and since I was unsure of what counted as a book in this case, I read some short stories before I officially picked a novelette. Unseelie Brothers, Ltd. by Fran Wilde is a “book” on Goodreads so it should have me covered for this prompt. I enjoyed this novelette about a young fashion designer getting the chance to make dresses for the magically appearing designers Unseelie Brothers, Ltd. She uncovers some secrets from the past and forges her own future. It wasn’t wildly original but fun to read, nonetheless. (40 pages)

For my Inscription course, I picked up Gallant by V.E.Schwab and was disappointed pretty much all the way. This book had no substance and would have been served better as a short story. It was blown out of proportion by the (beautiful!) artwork, endless repetitions of the same few lines – journal entries that sometimes took up entire pages – and didn’t take any time setting up a proper premise, conflict, its characters and their relationships to each other, or indeed a satisfying ending. Everything about this was botched (except the art) and it felt like Schwab just desperately wanted to publish something, no matter what, and threw this together without love or care.
(310 pages)

Jessica Townsend’s third Nevermoor adventure Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow was my read for the class of Restoration for which the book needed to include healers. A story about a mysterious disease turned out to be the right choice. I also listened to the audiobook version of a Nevermoor book for the first time and was quite taken with the voices and accents narrator Gemma Whelan does. I still love this series even if I felt this volume took a while to get going and was a bit unfocused at times. It’s great fun and I will continue reading this middle grade series. (I had a typo here, calling it “middle great” and that actually sums the book up pretty well.)
(560 pages)

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi was a huge disappointment. Very much a beginner’s effort with almost no plot, terribly shallow characters, little to no world-building, but all the more cheesy purple prose. The insta-lovers tell each other so many sappy things and declare their undying love in such roundabout, wannabe-poetic ways, I mostly just found it ridiculous. The story makes no sense, female characters shame and hurt each other, and it’s all about the hot magical guy wanting the girl for no discernible reason. I did like the horse character, though.
(352 pages)

Next up was Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss. I had read collections from this author before (In the Forest of Forgetting is a big recommendation!) and since she won the Mythopoeic Award for this one, I was very excited to fill my Spells & Incantations prompt with this book. An author I like doing twisted fairy tales?I mean, this basically screamed 5-star-prediction at me! It turned out pretty damn great as well. I didn’t like all the poetry (poetry is so hard to get right) but I loved the stories all the more. Feminist, thoughtful, and modern in ways you don’t see coming.
(276 pages)

For some extra credit work, I combined my Hugo/Lodestar reading with the Spring Equinox. Psionics and Divination was fulfilled by reading Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders. This fast-paced YA debut was definitely worth the audiobook because the narration is great. The story itself felt surprisingly black and white for someone of Anders’ skill and I got the feeling she didn’t quite feel at home writing for this new audience. It was exciting and had some neat ideas, but overall I’d call it only good but not great.
(300 pages)

I hadn’t intended to take the Animal Studies class but Hugo Award reading made it so easy. Bots of the Lost Ark by Suzanne Palmer is another novelette and this one was about the AI and robots currently steering a space ship whose human crew is in cryo sleep after an attack. I loved the portrayal of the bots as well as the central conflict, but the writing was a bit hard to get into. This was a lot of fun and currently resides near the top of my Hugo ballot. It also makes me want to read Palmer’s longer work!
(35 pages)

I threw in another last minute novelette, O2 Arena by Oghenechevwe Donald Ekpeki in order to take my Art of Illusion class. I liked the writing in this climate fiction novelette but I honestly didn’t find any of the ideas or the plot to be original or fresh. Oxygen is a commodity and people have to sacrifice all else just for the right to keep breathing, and there are arenas where you can actually fight someone to the death for a chance to win a lifetime supply of O2 – which is also used as a currency for everyday transactions. I did like the world building and writing style but otherwise, this was only an okay read.
(18 pages)

For the Shapeshifting class, I picked another fairy tale with a twist, Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir. This was very different from Gideon and Harrow the Ninth but I loved the way our princess protagonist is forced to change from wilting flower waiting for a prince to save her into a woman who takes matters into her own hands. Her hate/love relationship with the fairy Cobweb was also delightful. As fairy tale twists go, it wasn’t my top favorite but I had a lot of fun exploring forty flights of monsters alongside Floralinada and I’d definitely recommend it.
(209 pages)


QUESTS

Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky was my first foray into this author’s fiction and my book pick for the Guild Quest Fire Weasel in Danger. It had a few really cool ideas but, given the hype surrounding this author, I had expected a lot more when it comes to the characters. They mostly remained flat and one-dimensional, except for the male protagonist, who I felt for deeply. But storywise, this wasn’t super impressive and will end up on the lower half of my Hugo Awards ballot.
(204 pages)

For my second Guild Quest Rare Ingredient, I went with another Hugo finalists, Seanan McGuire’s Across the Green Grass Fields. And this one surprised me in all the best ways. It’s probably my favorite novella in this series so far! Protagonist Regan was easy to love, the way McGuire describes the cruelty of young girls was utterly heartbreaking, and the home Regan finds in her portal world, the Hooflands, was warm and lovely. If only it weren’t for those treacherous doors…
(208 pages)

For the Scroll of Standstill Quest, I had to pick a five star prediction and I couldn’t have gone more wrong than choosing Iron Widow by YouTuber Xiran Jay Zhao. I honestly thought this Pacific Rim story about a girl smashing the patriarchy would be great but it had no plot to speak of, very little character development, the twists were obvious, and the polyamorous romance wasn’t really one. Plus, the feminist message is loud but only in the telling. We are shown women who tear each other down, insult and hate each other, and only one of them gets to shine – our special snowflake protagonist who is better than everyone else (literally). Fun to read because of cool battles and romantic kisses and such but ultimately not a good book.
(394 pages)

The Ammelorite Sample Quest was a pure gift. I had to read a book with a purple cover, so I finally went with Memento by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, a prequel to the Illuminae Files Trilogy. It was short, it was snappy, it was great! AIDAN is always a win, there were even a few shocking moments here, and I just loved the way this story was told through scripts and chat protocols just like the big novels in the series. It made me want to re-read the entire triogy all over again.
(84 pages)


So this was it, my Spring Equinox 2022. Would I have liked to read more and/or bigger books? Sure. Am I proud that I accomplished as much as I did? Hell, yeah!

I can’t wait for August 2022 at the Orilium Academy! Ambitions are high, the TBR is gigantic, let’s see if I can get my grades to soar equally. I will also be fully at home by them (in Austria, you are not allowed to work starting two months prior to the expected date of your child’s birth) so time shouldn’t be a problem and I also won’t have a newborn to take care of just yet. The question is how I’ll be feeling physically and if I’ll be up for a big readathon. For now, I’m excited and optimistic that I’ll smash all my goals.

I look forward to seeing you all at Orilium Academy during the Fall Equinox. 🙂

Magical Readathon: Spring Equinox 2022 – Careers, Prompts, and My Tentative TBR

It’s finally here, the first Magical Readathon where our characters get to go to Orilium Academy and take classes there. I can barely contain myself I’m so excited!!! Here is G’s announcement video with a brief overview of what’s to come, how the readathon works and even a few hints about what the Autumn Equinox will look like (it’s very similar to the previous Magical Readathon in terms of structure).

Orilium Spring Equinox 2022

How awesome is that?!

To sum up the essentials:
This is a month-long readathon that runs throughout April. You and the character(s) you created get to choose which career you want to pursue, you find the classes you need to pass listed alongside and then you check the syllabus to see the reading prompts that go with them. After that it’s just a matter of planning a TBR and waiting giddily for April alongside us other crazy bookish people. 🙂


Career Choice(s)

G has outdone herself yet again with the beautiful careers booklet that she created. You can browse through the many options, either going for a career that you (or your character) identify with the most, or you can pick them by the classes they require. Each Guild also has one career choice that is exclusive to them. I chose one primary career to pursue and one secondary career that just sounds so damn cool but that I will only try to achieve if I do well enough on my main career.

Scribe

It comes as very little surprise that I chose a career that has to do with collecting and writing down knowledge for future generations. This also fits my character Sistani, who loves to be surrounded by people, travel the world, and learn new things. Just because you know how to have fun doesn’t mean you can’t also have an organized mind and want things to be written down neatly. So if we achieve this career goal, I see Sistani traveling all over Aeldia, meeting new and interesting people from all over, listening to their spells and stories, and collecting them in tomes upon tomes upon tomes.
For this career I need to pass the following classes:

  • Elemental Studies
  • Inscription
  • Spells & Incantations
  • Restoration
  • Lore

During the Autumn Equinox, I will have to read a total of seven books to qualify for this carer.

Illusionist Rogue

Now this is the slightly more mischievous career choice. It goes very well with my traveling scribe, as Illusionist Rogues also travel a lot. Except they also have a gift of changing their appearance, influencing people with their charisma (and maybe a bit of magic) and making friends everywhere. Sure, the career could be used for not 100% morally acceptable reasons, but Sistani is a very kind person who tries to use her powers for good.
To become an Illusionist Rogue I need to pass these additional classes (sadly, no overlap):

  • Shapeshifting
  • Art of Illusion
  • Psionics & Divination

During the Autumn Equinox, I will have to read a total of four books to qualify for this carer.


Classes and Reading Prompts

This is where it gets interesting. G has been very kind with her reading prompts again, keeping most of them vague enough for everyone to find a fitting book. Although there are some that don’t sound difficult, they turned out to be super tricky. You can find the full syllabus linked here on Google Drive, I am only listing the classes and prompts here that I need to fulfill for my career(s) of choice.

ClassReading PromptBook
Elemental Studiesunder 100 pagesClap Back
Inscriptionan intimidating readThe Winged Histories
Spells & Incantationsshort story/essay collectionSnow White Learns Witchcraft
Restorationfeaturing healersHollowpox
Loremythology inspiredThe Star-Touched Queen
Shapeshiftingcreature with claws on the coverOver the Woodward Wall
Illusiona trope I likePortrait of a Thief
Psionics & Divinationset in the futureThe Marrow Thieves

For my Scribe career, most prompts were clear and I had no problem finding a fitting book, but that healer prompt drove me nuts. Not only did I have no idea how to approach my TBR in search of books with healers but, often, whenever I thought there might be healers involved in a story, there’s really no way for me to find out from the synopsis. So I went with my best guesses, assuming that where a magical illness plays a big role, there will also be healers of some kind.

For the Illusionist Rogue, it was the claws on the cover that posed some difficulty. But with a large enough TBR it’s possible to find a few dragons and tigers and birds that provide the necessary claws.


My Readathon TBR

As I’m not the fastest reader at the moment and my mood changes rather quickly these days, I needed to make sure I have one thing covered with my TBR: choices!
So I have three books picked out for each reading prompt in the hopes that even if I bounce off one of them, I’ll enjoy one of the other ones. As the Hugo Award finalists for 2022 will be announced in April, I may ignore all of this careful planning and see if I can fit the finalists into these prompts somehow.

A BOOK UNDER 100 PAGES

This sounds like a gift but it actually isn’t that easy to find a book under 100 pages. Novellas tend to fall somewhere between 100 and 200 pages, so I had to go with a short story for this prompt. It’s either going to be No Good Deed by Angela Slatter or Clap Back by Nalo Hopkinson. Both of these are under 50 pages, so I am safe. Memento by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff would also fit. Plus, this prompt will give me a quick motivational boost for finishing the first class in one day.

AN INTIMIDATING READ

Sure, one could simply use a big fat doorstopper novel for this prompt but I wanted something that intimidates me for other reasons. I went with Gallant by V.E. Schwab because I have been so disappointed by this author and all her books that came after the lovely A Darker Shade of Magic. I’m afraid this is the book that will decide whether I’m going to keep giving her chances or just stop reading her altogether. My second choice is Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey for somewhat similar reasons. I discovered and loved the Pern books when I was still pretty young and I haven’t read any of them for a long time. I am afraid that I will find the themes and especially gender roles in the series dated. So while I want to continue the series, I’m also scared it will ruin the beautiful image I have in my memory. And then there’s The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar which is only intimidating because A Stranger in Olondria was so beautiful and dense that it’s hard to follow.

A COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES

I have so many books for this and I look forward to all of them. First, there is the Mythopoeic Award winning collectin Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss, then an e-ARC of Boys, Beasts & Men by Sam J. Miller, and thirdly I could read The Tallow-Wife by Angela Slatter. I am looking forward to all of these and will have to completely let my mood guide me when it comes to choosing one.

A BOOK FEATURING HEALERS

The search was long and tedious but I have found two books I hope will fit the prompt. There is the third book in the Nevermoor series, Hollowpox by Jessica Townsend. The synopsis says there is a strange illness that affects Wunimals, so I hope that it will also involve healers.
My second pick is Before Mars by Emma Newman in which the protagonist is not supposed to trust the colony psychologist. Although I don’t know how prominently healers really feature in these books, I am confident they’ll at least show up an help me fulfill the prompt. And lastly, one that definitely fits is Conjure Women by Afia Atakora.

A MYTHOLOGY INSPIRED READ

My TBR is filled with books inspired by mythology, so in order to narrow it down, I looked at the page count and chose a few shorter books. I don’t have to make things extra hard for myself after all. I’ve been dying to read Ariadne by Jennifer Saint but if I feel more in a YA mood I could also go for The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. I mean, I’m only years behind everyone else in finally reading something by this author and I can’t resist a good Hades and Persephone retelling! And in case I get pressed for time, I’ll throw in Valiant by Holly Black because I just know it’s going to be a quick read.

A BOOK WITH A CREATURE WITH CLAWS ON THE COVER

This was surprisingly tough. I thought as a fantasy reader, it would be easy to find covers with dragons and griffins and whatnot but it turns out I don’t have that many covers with animals on them. And horses definitely don’t have claws. I did find When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo where you can actually see the tigers’ claws. Alternately, I have Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir on my TBR. Since I have my difficulties with Muir’s writing style (but somehow ended up loving Harrow the Ninth anyway), I am curious to see how I like it when she does a twisted fairy tale. The dragon on the cover surely has claws even if they’re not visible, and that little goblin creatures even waves a claw out of the window. Over the Woodward Wall by A. Deborah Baker (Seanan McGuire) has birds on the cover and birds have claws, so that counts.

A BOOK WITH A TROPE I LIKE

This prompt is a pure gift and I am going to read a brand new release. Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Lin puts a spin on the thieving crew doing a heist trope and I am here for it! This book comes out in early April and since I’ll only get to this prompt once I’ve finished the ones for my Scribe career, it should fit into my reading plan nicely. If it counts as a trope, I’m choosing a retelling of a classic, The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo which tells The Great Gatsby not just from a different perspective but also changes that perspective to a queer immigrant woman. For the book within a book trope, I’m picking The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern which is also me giving the author a second chance at delivering a plot.

A BOOK SET IN THE FUTURE

Another easy choice for a reader of science fiction. The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline has been on my radar since it was a book club pick for the Sword & Laser Podcast. And if I feel like catching up on a newer release, I’ll go for Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi. And to top it off with something even more different, I’m adding Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro to the list which is about an AI and that’s all I know.


My Character

Other readers got super creative and elaborate with their characers so I felt inspired to give my Sistani a little more backstory as well. As the daughter of an Iltirian and an Elf, she is a rather unusual girl, especially considering that she grew up in a bustling city on Kerador, surrounded by all sorts of cultures and people. Her childhood has instilled upon her a love for meeting new people, learning their languages and cultural habits, and generally being open to new experiences. She is rather quirky for a Half-Iltirian and rather uninterested in the moon for a Half-Elf but then, who doesn’t rebel against their parents when they are young?

Sistani is passionate about the written word but she also loves solving riddles and being clever. Whether it’s training and managing to run a particularly difficult obstacle course or solving a puzzle, her ambition usually grants her the strength to pursue her goals single-mindedly. She has been called a know-it-all on more than one occasion…

Unsurprising, she was chosen to join the Guild of Archivists who get full access to the amazing underground library of Orilium Academy. Here are the traits I have achieved through participating in readathons so far:

  • Half-Iltirian, Half-Elf
  • Urban from Kerador
  • Archivist
    • bonded to the goddess Ausra
    • Conduit is a staff

Now let’s use this coming month to turn her into a Scribe and level up her status within the Guild. I cannot wait to see you all at Orilium Academy! Happy reading, everyone. 🙂

Orilium Gear-Up Readathon – Wrap-Up

I did it! And with time to spare. What a fun way to get hyped up for G’s amazing Orilium Readathon. I am amazed every single time she comes up with one of these at how much effort and love she puts into every single detail. It’s not every day that someone invents an entire fantasy world, with its own peoples, abilities, and magic systems just so readers like us can play around in it.

Books read: 2
Pages read: 528

The Orilium Gear Up was just the right kind of mini readathon with low enough expectations that I could finish it easily and feel a sense of accomplishment. 500 pages may not be much for a week but looking at how my Fabruary went, it’s a pretty big step forward for me at the moment and I am damn proud. Plus, I still love the character building aspects of these readathons. It makes me feel like every book I read helps my character grow and become a more interesting and better person.


Conduit

I chose the staff as my conduit, mostly for practical reasons. The reading prompt was easy to fulfill (fantasy readers everywhere rejoice) and I can see my character not misplacing a staff as easily as, say, a wand or a feather. My second choice was the spellbook but that simply didn’t feel as cool and also my book of coice, C.S.E. Cooney’s Saint Death’s Daughter, was way too long for this mini readathon. I have started reading it yesterday and love it so far but it’s 480 pages so…

In order to fulfill the reading prompt – read a book from a series – I instead treated myself to Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor. My review is going live on Tuesday but I can spoil the fact that I really enjoyed it and it makes me want to go back into the world of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series and spend some more time with these lovely characters.

Other than the main series, this didn’t have the weight of destiny and world shattering decisions on it. It is just a lovely, clever, funny romance with beautiful illustrations.


Legacy

As an Archivist, for my Guild Legacy, I got to pair up with a god! At first I thought this isn’t quite as cool as having an animal famliar or being able to go to a different plane like the Mind Walkers, but look at what it says about my goddess of choice:

Sneaky (and, okay, temporary) familiar for the win! Again, the choice was surprsingly easy. Not only do I identify with someone whose power are tripled int he early hours – I am most productive in the morning – but I also love starting new book series. And I find the idea of temples made of white marble really beautiful, so there’s that.

For this reading prompt – read the first book in a series – I finally picked up Tithe by Holly Black. I didn’t find it unreservedly good but despite its debut problems, I was completely hooked an didn’t want to put it down. Holly Black has come a long way since that book and I am going to read the rest of the trilogy as well, even if it’s not quite as good as Black’s newer works.


I would call this mini readathon a great success. Not only am I finally out of that slump that early pregnancy put me in, but I also read two books that I enjoyed a great deal and I equipped my character Sistani with the necessary tools she’ll need for the big month-long readathon. I can hardly wait!

Mini-Readathon: Orilium Gear Up (March 14th – March 20th)

G from the Book Roast never disappoints. It’s like she felt we were all getting excited for the first proper instalment of the new and improved Magical Readathon called Orilium. Before everything gets started properly, there are still a few things we (or rather, our characters) can and should do in order to prepare for the magical school we will attend in April. This means it’s time for a Gear Up Readathon.

This is a very low pressure readathon. All you have to do to successfully complete it is read two books.

The prompts, however, are very much dependant on the character you created for Orilium and which Guild they belong to. In March, we get to choose our Conduit and our Guild’s legacy by – you guessed it – reading books. You can find all the graphics and propmpts here on Google Drive.

My character, Sistani, is a half-Ilitiran, half-Elf from urban Kerador, and more importantly for this particular mini-readathon, she belongs to the Guild of Archivists. As they have access to the magical library underneath Orilium Academy, this makes them the absolute coolest guild in my opinion. 🙂

Some guilds can have a special bond with an animal companion (which, I admit, I’m pretty little jealous of) but my guild, the Archivists, can make a PACT WITH A GOD! So there’s really nothing to complain about other than that I now have to choose which god to pair up with. Like most choices throughout this amazing readathon journey, this will probably have consequences later on, so I want to choose the right god for me. Here are Aeldia’s gods, their abilities, and the reading prompts that go with them.


Gods of Aeldia

Aitvaras – Phoenix God of the Sky and Riches

Lets you heal wounds by dousing yourself in regenerative flame, but you can only perform this magic on yourself and other patrons of Aitvaras. Temples to this god are made of red toned, rich material and they float aboveground.

Prompt: sky on the cover or the word “sky” in the title or series name

Velinas – God of Death and Rebirth

A bond with this god amplifies your necromancy and herbology abilities, and lets you communicate with the dead. Temples are in underground caves, covered in flowering vines.

Prompt: a book with high stakes (characters could die maybe?)

Laima – Goddess of Fate

Lets you take glimpses into what’s to come by strengthening divination abilities. There’s a strong belief in fate among patrons of this goddess but they also believe they have to act in order to keep fate on its rightful path. Temples appear whenever one is meant to find them.

Prompt: a book where fate plays a big role (chosen ones, prophecies, fated to meet)

Ausra – Goddess of the Dawn and New Beginnings

Restoration and inscription abilities are strengthened and powers are tripled in the early hours. This is also the time when you can conjure a temporary familiar (hello, sort-of-animal-companion?). Temples are made of white marbe and only accessible when the morning sun shines on them. Sounds very pretty but also not super useful on cloudy days…

Prompt: the first book in a series

Gaila – Goddess of Night and Nightmares

Great skill in illusions and reading other people’s fears are just two perks a bond with this godess brings. It also lets you shapeshift into what others fear which makes patrons ideal “interrogators”. At night, they can turn invisible. Temples can be found at mountaintops and only be accessed when the sun is set.

Prompt: night time on the cover, the word “night” in the title or series name

Kovas – God of War

Makes it much easier to learn combat and incantations and enhances his patrons phyiscally. Kovas is super strict, even more so than the other gods, and demands absolute loyalty. Patrons gain the ability to rile a crowd,influence the weak of will, and encourage the undecided. Temples are constructed from the swords of fallen patrons. Yikes.

Prompt: set during war time or includes a war (fictional or real)

I feel most drawn to Ausra and I also really like the prompt, so she is my choice. If, for some reason, I bounce off my chosen book(s) hard, I would either go with Gaila or maybe Laima as a second choice. But I’m fairly confident that I will like one of the series openers I’ve picked out for this readathon. It’s either going to be Tithe by Holly Black, A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross or This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi. I have read Holly Black before, I haven’t read anything by the other two authors but I’ve been hearing great things. So I’m excited for all of these.


Conduits

Your conduit is essentially the item you use to enhance the magic you learn. Think of a wand, except it doesn’t have to be a wand. 🙂 Conduits also differ for members of the different guilds. While there are some conduits available to all students, each guild has a few extra options exclusive to its own members. For me, that means I can choose between the following:

  • Feather – a book under 100 pages
  • Wand – branches on the cover
  • Spellbook – title with at least two “S”s
  • Staff – book from a series
  • Sword – blade on the cover
  • Polearm (Archivists only) – a book over 400 pages
  • Bone (Archivists only) – bones on cover or title/series title

I’m a little jealous of the Guild of Mind Walkers as they could choose a dagger as well and that just seems way more pracitcal to me than most of the other items, but oh well.

For this, I am probably going with the most pragmatic reading prompts. The way my reading is going at the moment, it just seems smart to choose a short book. Then again, less than 100 pages isn’t actually that easy to find. The novellas on my TBR are all a bit longer. And a feather just seems like a flimsy conduit.
I could read my ARC of C.S.E. Cooney’s Saint Death’s Daughter for the Spellbook prompt or any one of the hundreds of books from series for the Staff prompt. Laini Taylor’s Night of Cake and Puppets comes to mind or Becky Chamber’s final Wayfarers novel, The Galaxy and the Ground Within. Or, if I’m trying to be extra clever, I could read a novella that’s part of a series, which would greatly enhance my chances of finishing this readathon. So I might also go for Martha Wells’ Fugitive Telemetry or Nghi Vo’s When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain.


That’s a lot of planning and preparation for such a short readathon but I am super invested in the world G has created an I enjoy this whole character creation journey so much that I want everthing to work out nicely. I hope many people join the mini-readathon in March and then of course, the month-long readathon in April (or a little later, depending on G’s schedule and health). I look forward to seeing you all at Orilium Academy.

Orilium: The Novice Path – Readathon Wrap-Up

September and the new-and-improved Magical Readathon are over and it’s time to look back at the journey, see how I fared, what books accompanied me along the road, and what my character for upcoming Magical Readathons looks like.

I didn’t have as much time to interact with my fellow novices this time around, but I soaked up all the YouTube videos and blog posts about your TBRs and characters. Seriously, some of you got so creative with your character designs that it blows my mind!

I very much enjoyed the choices we had to make on the Novice Path (on Twitter and the Discord) and I wonder what they will mean. G from Book Roast created these amazing situations for us, like finding magical runes or getting caught in poisonous gas, and then we had to choose one out of four options on how to proceed. I’m sure our choices will have consequences for the next readathon and I can’t wait to find out all the details.


The Novice Path Journey

For the Novice Path, these are the books I read or am still reading. Two of the prompts remain only partly fulfilled and the easiest prompt of them all I didn’t even start. I thought “a book from the top of my TBR” would be an easy pick because I could just go with whatever I was in the mood for, but then time ran out and so that’s the one I haven’t even attempted.

BOOK TITLEREADING PROMPTFULFILLED
Robert Jordan – The Great HuntNovice Path Entrance reading
John Scalzi – The Consuming FireAshthorn Tree
Nicole Kornher-Stace – FirebreakMists of Solitude reading
Katherine Arden – Small SpacesRuin of the SkyeYES
Sarah Gailey – The Echo WifeObsidian Falls YES
Jordan Ifueko – RedemptorTower of Rumination YES
Tori Bovalino – The Devil Makes ThreeOrilion Academy YES

All things considered, I did very well and I am happy with how the readathon turned out. I started with a couple of shorter books but then ended up picking up chonkster after chonkster (what’s wrong with me?!).

  • Books read: 7
  • Pages read: 2641

That means I have surpassed the goal of the readathon but I haven’t reached my secret stretch goal of fulfilling all the prompts. I could have probably done it but life doesn’t only consist of reading, after all, and I don’t regret spending some of my time doing other things. 🙂


My Character

There is no urgency in creating my readathon character Sistani, but I still like that I managed to get most of her traits done in September. She’s a half-Iltirian half-Elf girl who lives on Kerador. She grew up in a big city and loves the bustling city life and its multicultural inhabitants. That last part you just have to believe me because I didn’t manage to read the book for the “urban” prompt yet.

BOOK TITLEPROMPTFULFILLED
Colson Whitehead – The Underground RailroadIltirianYES
Linden A. Lewis – The Second RebelKeradorYES
Alaya Dawn Johnson – Trouble the SaintsUrban
Mary Robinette Kowal – The Relentless MoonElfYES
Sistani

As there is still time until next April to create and polish our characters, I will definitely catch up on fulfilling the final prompt for my city girl. I may also come up with a more elaborate backstory for Sistani, just because it’s fun. You’ll see whether I followed through next March, I guess.

ETA: Last night, G revealed the consequences of those choices we made on the journey to Orilium Academy and I am so excited!!! Because our choices helped us find our Guild, which is basically our group of likeminded people at Orilium Academy but which also grants us each certain abilities, specialties, and probably weaknesses that will be relevant in the next instalment of the readathon.

My character turned out to be an Archivist, which totally cracks me up because they are essentially the nerdy book club of this fantasy world. 🙂
Our colors are white and gold, we can make a pact with a god (!) and we are granted access to the Academy’s incredible spiral library that goes all the way down into the crater the Academy is standing on.
I find the other three guilds really interesting as well and I’m certainly a bit jealous of their abilities but I feel very much at home in this one.


The Books (the long part)

The first book I finished was Small Spaces by Katherine Arden with its spooky cover and its spooky plot – fitting for Ruin of the Skye. This middle grade novel was exactly what I had hoped and 12-year-old me would have gobbled it up with even more delight. Young Ollie is still grieving for her dead mother and doesn’t really care about school or friends or much of anything anymore. When a school trip takes a dark turn, she has to take part in the world again, however, and she’ll learn that she has a lot to live for. Her delightfully non-clichĂ© dad as well as the friends she picks up on the way make this a really charming read. There are creepy moments, of course, but it’s very mild and child-friendly which isn’t to say it’s stupid or dumbed down in any way. There is a cool backstory and nice world building about the particular creeps of this book (the cover gives you a big hint as to what that is). I really loved it and can’t wait to read the rest of the series. It’s the perfect reading slump antidote.

Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad was the book that cemented my Iltirian heritage with its red cover. I’d say I knew some of what was coming, this being about an enslaved woman fleeing the plantation where she was born by using the (literal) Underground Railroad, but I really wasn’t prepared. I’ve read a fair amount of books with graphic descriptions of violence in them, and I expected the slave characters to be treated terribly, but Whitehead still managed to write scenes that absolutely punched me in the guts and made me gasp out loud. Was this a fun read? Hell no! Do I recommend it? Absolutely!

The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey is proof that this author has an endless amount of great ideas and knows how to tell a story. A recently divorced woman has to team up with her clone (with whom her ex-husband has been cheating) in trying to cover up the murder of said husband. Perfect thriller material for Obsidian Falls.
It’s about science and agency, about what it means to be human and how far technology should go. It’s about being a woman and not conforming to expectations (such as motherhood). It also has murder and betrayal and twists galore. I cannot praise its complicated characters enough or the way Gailey just always nails the pacing to keep you engaged every damn page. I loved this book.

Next up was The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino, a book that perfectly fit my current mood because Dark Academia just goes so well with the season and the weather and schools starting again. So I chose it for the Orilium Arc prompt. It started out well enough with dual POVs of its fleshed-out characters, each with quite complicated family lives. Tess and Eliot accidentally summon a demon and then have to deal with the aftermath. Sadly, there was a large slumpy part in this book, the solution was super unoriginal and the one tiny twist was predictable from miles away. I did like the understated romance and the characters as such, but the plot was paper thin and the whole supernatural aspect felt like it was thrown in there as an afterthought because there’s so little worldbuilding. This book wasn’t bad, but I think I’d much prefer to read a contemproray romance by this author.

Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko was my five star prediction and thus my book for the Tower of Rumination. This second part of the duology did many things really well, others suffered a bit because they needed more time to be fleshed out. I can’t believe I’m saying this but maybe a trilogy would have been better?
Either way, I adore Ifueko’s characters, the way she writes found families warms my heart, and the ending to this series felt like putting the last piece of a puzzle into its slot and smiling to yourself happily. I highly recommend this YA duology and I even more highly recommend reading them one right after the other. Especially if you like reading about diverse characters and found families.

My audiobook for the month was The Second Rebel by Linden A. Lewis, sequel to The First Sister and thus my choice for the Kerador prompt. I had more trouble than expected remembering everything that was important in the first book, so it took me a while to find my way back into this universe of warring factions, tech against religion, evil corporation versus rebel groups. But despite the many confusing things, I thoroughly enjoyed Lewis’ ideas, the diversity of the characters, their relationships to each other, and the excellent twists. Maybe when the third book comes out I’ll do a re-read of the first two and just eat up the trilogy in one go.

Lastly, I read one of my top two books of the month, Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Relentless Moon. With its moon on the cover and in the title, this book made sure everyone knew my character is a (half) Elf. After my initial unwillingness to let go of beloved characters and follow a new protagonist, I quickly fell into this story of sabotage, life on the Moon, scientists being sciency, astronauts doing astronauty things, and the deep humanity of all people involved. In no way did I expect this book to touch me so deeply but I found myself crying several times. It does everything Kowal does best: hard sci-fi, mental health, racism and sexism, the beauty of science and the importance of love and friendships. Damn, this was a good book!


So yeah. This was a great readathon and I already look forward to April 2022 at the Orilium Academy! See you there. 🙂

Orilium: The Novice Path – Mid-Readathon Check-In

The first half of of G’s new and improved version of the Magical Readathon is over and it’s time for a little check in. We’re on our way to Orilium Academy, the place where we – the Magical Readathon community – shall spend the next few years studying the magical arts, learning about the lore of our land, and growing our characters.

I was lucky enough to spend a week of this readathon in beautiful Tuscany which was a much-needed little holiday. The pool was wonderful, the weather was amazing, the little towns we visited were gorgeous (also Florence, but that’s not so little). And the food! You guys, the Italians really have food figured out! I already miss the mozzarella and the nduja and the extra fluffy pizza dough and the olives and the Italian espresso… Then again, there were so many mosquitoes that my legs started looking like a body builders because of all the swollen areas. So being back home again has that going for it. No more mosquito bites. And catching up on the blog, of course.


The Journey

I have enterd the Novice Path Entrance by starting Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt but that one will probably take me all month and that’s okay. The recently released trailer for the TV show made me both more excited for the books and a little less excited about the adaptation. I like the actor choices a lot but the overly bright colors make everything look a bit cheap.
I have finished the prompt for Ruin of the Skye by reading Small Paces by Katherine Arden and I breezily skipped past Obsidian Falls with the very exciting The Echo Wife by the always original Sarah Gailey.
And because I finished my re-read of Raybearer on September 1st, I jumped right into the audiobook of Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko which led me to the Tower of Rumination. To make sure I don’t miss out on the Orilium Academy prompt, I am now in the middle of The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino. Reviews of finished books will be coming soon.

So far, my book choices have all been damn great and I’ve just been happily jumping around between these fantastic reads depending on my mood. I did also fix one of my character traits already, but more on that below.


Books Read

BOOK TITLEREADING PROMPTFULFILLED
Robert Jordan – The Great HuntNovice Path Entrance reading
???Ashthorn Tree
Holly Black – The Darkest Part of the ForestMists of Solitude
Katherine Arden – Small SpacesRuin of the SkyeYES
Sarah Gailey – The Echo WifeObsidian Falls YES
Jordan Ifueko – RedemptorTower of Rumination YES
Tori Bovalino – The Devil Makes ThreeOrilion Academy reading

I’ve already switched things around on my TBR in the very first week of the readathon! Originally, Sarah Gailey was my book pick for the standalone prompt but when that the book turned out to be a really exciting sci-fi thriller, I’ve moved it to the thriller prompt and added a Holly Black standalone novel I’ve been meaning to read for ages… I fully expect something like this to happen several more times throughout the month. 🙂


My Character

I wanted to save the character-related prompts for later in the month (or even year, depending on my reading speed) but I have to say, the more characters and backstories I see on Twitter and Discord, the more impressed I am with my fellow travelers and the more I get an itch to do more for my own character. I had decided on three basic traits:

  • Iltiran
  • Kerador
  • Urban

Now I have already thought about making my character half-Elf, just because I like Elves, they’re wise and beautiful and – in Aeldia, the world of this readathon – attuned to the stars and moon. That’s not at all like real me but I like the idea of that kind of character. I also quite enjoy the thought of the Elf and Iltirian romance which would eventually lead to my character being born. I can totally picture it in my mind. Head-in-the-clouds dreamer Elf man meets quick-witted and confident Ilitiran woman and after a lot of bickering they somehow end up together.

At the moment, my plan is to fulfill the three prompts above and then just read whatever I feel like. If those books happen to fit prompts for other character traits, I’ll check out my stats in the end and finalize my character. Her name, Sistani, was picked by my boyfriend, by the way, who finds this whole readathon business both cute and a little crazy but who humors me anyway. ❤

BOOK TITLEPROMPTFULFILLED
Colson Whitehead – The Underground RailroadIltirianYES
Linden A. Lewis – The Second RebelKeradorreading
Alaya Dawn Johnson – Trouble the SaintsUrban
Mary Robinette Kowal – The Relentless MoonElf

The State of SFF – September 2021

August is over and the colder season is fast approaching. At least here in Vienna, it feels like autumn is already here. Whether you’re sad that summer is leaving or looking forward to sweater weather, Halloween, and fall book publishing, there’s plenty of news and new books to be excited for.

Quickie News

  • NPR’s poll about our favorite 50 SFF novels of the past decade is over and the results are in. The list looks absolutely fantastic with a great mix of authors and works, series and standalones, and all sorts of subgenres. I love this book list and have already decided I’ll try to read them all
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  • The Shirley Jackson Award for outstanding horror has gone to Stephen Graham Jones’s The Only Good Indians, which reminds me that spooky season is coming up and this book looks juuuust perfect for an October, Halloween-ish read.
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  • The third book in Nnedi Okorafor’s YA series has a title – Akata Woman – and a cover and it looks gorgeous!!! Also, the series name has apparently been changed to the Nsibidi Scripts. The book is set to come out on January 18th 2022. Now I only have to wait for it to come out in paperback as well, so it goes with the other two PBs on my shelf…

Owlcrate breaks their promise (for money) and then changes their mind again (for money)…

If you don’t know how book subscription services work, here’s the nutshell version: Once a month, you get a box in the mail based on a theme. In this box will be a mystery book as well as a handful of items (art, socks, enamel pins, mugs, tote bags, scarves, etc.) based on popular fandoms that fit the theme. Last year, Owlcrate, one of the best known book subscription services decided not to feature any Harry Potter merchandise in their monthly boxes anymore after J.K. Rowling made her views on trans people known on Twitter.
If you somehow missed that JKR TERF outburst, google at your own risk. Let’s just say that when it comes to trans rights, it’s probably smart to listen to, you know, actual trans people, and many of them were shocked and hurt and deeply saddened by Rowling’s behaviour. Most subscription boxes I know came to the same conclusions and stopped featuring or promoting Harry Potter in their boxes.

Now, about a year later, Owlcrate have decided to go back on their decision and sell the rest of their Harry Potter mug collection. To make matters worse, they posted a lengthy (!) explanation which mostly boils down to “but my nostalgia” except once you look at it more closely, it really says “my money is more important than trans people”.
Some commenters were asking questions like “will these mugs really hurt trans people?” but as is so often the case, it’s not quite as simple as that. Licenced products put actual money into JKR’s actual pockets. Money she can then use to support the kind of organization that makes it harder for trans people to live their lives. Even unlicenced products still help to promote Harry Potter. And yeah, sure, you could say that one subscription services not featuring any HP merch won’t change the world. But many or even all subscription services doing that is a different story. At the very least, it’s a start. There is power in numbers and if humans stick together we can truly change things.

The cherry on top of it all is that Owlcrate wanted to “donate” 20% of the profits to one of three charities (buyer’s choice), only one of which is an LGBTQIA+ charity and none of which are trans specific charities. And in order to fund that oh so generous donation the mugs were just a bit more expensive than they used to be. Funnily about 20% more. Because obvioulsy Owlcrate doesn’t want to lose money simply because a “donation” makes them look slightly better in the eyes of their customers.

As expected, there was a lot of backlash to this decision in the comments, a lot of people stopped following Owlcrate on social media and many cancelled their subscription. So a few days later, they posted yet another update on social media, stating that the mug sale is OFF, all mugs that have already been ordered would still be shipped but 100% of the profits would be donated. 80% to The Transgender Law Center, no less. So people’s voices were heard and lessons seem to have been learned. They also promised to never feature HP merchandise again in either of their boxes (Owlcrate and Owlcrate jr.).

I’m not currently nor have I ever been an Owlcrate subscriber but even if the issue at hand didn’t bother me (and it does!) I wouldn’t want to purchase anything from a company that doesn’t keep its promises, goes back on their word whenever it’s convenient and openly admits that their reasons for it are pure selfishness and greed! Let’s face it, it wasn’t the many, many comments by hurt and disappointed people that swayed Owlcrate. They don’t publish subscriber numbers but I think it’s fair to assume that they lost a lot of subscribers – meaning MONEY – and that was the reason they decided to stop the mug sale after all. None of us can look into another person’s head of course so maybe it really was remorse, but to me, this leaves a decidedly bad aftertaste.

There are many book subscription services out there who care about their subscribers – of all genders – and who actively work to promote diverse authors and books. I’m just saying…


The Mythopoeic Award Finalists Have Been Announced

The Mythopoeic Awards aren’t as well known as some other SFF book awards but when I discovered them, I found out that so many of my favorite books had won or been nominated for one. Although “typical” Mythopoeic books cover a range of styles and themes, there is often a fairy tale feel to it, a sense of mythology to the world building, and I find most of the winners to be super immersive. I’ve read three out of the five finalists this year, all books that I adored, so I have high hopes for the remaining two.

  • Jordan Ifueko – Raybearer
  • Alice Hoffman – Magic Lessons
  • TJ Klune – The House in the Cerulean Sea
  • Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Mexican Gothic
  • Garth Nix – The Left-Handed Booksellers of London

Congratulations to the ALL THE finalists!!!


The Magical Readathon Is Back!

I am so stoked for this readathon hosted by G from the YouTube channel Book Roast. She used to do the Magical Readathon based on Hogwarts classes but discontinued it after JKR made her views on trans people public. But with G’s creativity and what must have been enormous effort and time, we can now look forward to a new and improved Magical Readathon, set in a world of her own devising, peopled with fantasy creatures, and filled with excellent reading prompts.

I have already vaguely planned my TBR and I can’t wait to get started. If you like pretending to be a character in a fantasy world, walking a dangerous path by reading books, building your character, and exploring the world, then check this out. The Magical Readathon community is also one of the most welcoming, kindest, open-minded group of people I have ever encountered on the interwebs. So whether you’re an old readathon pro or just trying it out for the first time, whether you’re into fantasy or not, you can be sure you will find people here that will cheer you on, push you to reach your reading goals, and maybe even buddy read a book with you.


Exciting September Publications

Okay, so September and October are always crazy months for publishing, and this year promises to be no different. There’s exciting sequels, a new feelgood book, the starts of several series, and particularly pretty covers. Also, so many books coming out on September 28th. What is with that?

ZORAIDA CĂ“RDOVA – THE INHERITANCE OF ORQUĂŤDEA DIVINA (September 7th)

I admit, I found this book because of its stunning cover but once I saw it was written by Cordova, author of the Brooklyn Brujas trilogy, I was sold. Also, this book will let us travel to Ecuador. Only through fiction, but I’ll take it.

The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—even for graduations, weddings, or baptism. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to come and collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers. Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly’s daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, the four descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked backed.

Alternating between Orquídea’s past and her descendants’ present, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is an enchanting novel about what we knowingly and unknowingly inherit from our ancestors, the ties that bind, and reclaiming your power.


JAY KRISTOFF – EMPIRE OF THE VAMPIRE (September 7th)

Look, I’ve only read one book by Kristoff and wasn’t impressed. His co-writing with Amie Kaufmann on the Illuminae files was fun, though, so I’m willing to give this newest book of his a try. The cover is stunning at the very least. I’m sure I will either end up loving or completely hating this.

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From holy cup comes holy light;

The faithful hands sets world aright.

And in the Seven Martyrs’ sight,

Mere man shall end this endless night.

It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.

Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order couldn’t stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains.

Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope:

The Holy Grail.


CADWELL TURNBULL – NO GODS, NO MONSTERS (September 7th)

This book sounds so good. The synopsis promises current topics such as police brutality and hate crimes but also monsters? Also, I knew I needed this as soon as I read “trail of bread crumbs”… are there fairy tales in this? I simply must know!

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One October morning, Laina gets the news that her brother was shot and killed by Boston cops. But what looks like a case of police brutality soon reveals something much stranger. Monsters are real. And they want everyone to know it.

As creatures from myth and legend come out of the shadows, seeking safety through visibility, their emergence sets off a chain of seemingly unrelated events. Members of a local werewolf pack are threatened into silence. A professor follows a missing friend’s trail of bread crumbs to a mysterious secret society. And a young boy with unique abilities seeks refuge in a pro-monster organization with secrets of its own. Meanwhile, more people start disappearing, suicides and hate crimes increase, and protests erupt globally, both for and against the monsters.

At the center is a mystery no one thinks to ask: Why now? What has frightened the monsters out of the dark?

The world will soon find out.


BRIGID KEMMERER – DEFY THE NIGHT (September 14th)

I have yet to finish Kemmerer’s Cursebreakers trilogy but I found the first book very refreshing and incredibly readable. Like stay up until three in the morning readable. So I don’t expect Literary Genius from this but it sounds like a lot of fun that I don’t want to miss out on.

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From New York Times bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer comes a blockbuster fantasy series about a kingdom divided by corruption, the prince desperately holding it together, and the girl who will risk everything to bring it crashing down.

The kingdom of Kandala is on the brink of disaster. Rifts between sectors have only worsened since a sickness began ravaging the land, and within the Royal Palace, the king holds a tenuous peace with a ruthless hand.

King Harristan was thrust into power after his parents’ shocking assassination, leaving the younger Prince Corrick to take on the brutal role of the King’s Justice. The brothers have learned to react mercilessly to any sign of rebellion–it’s the only way to maintain order when the sickness can strike anywhere, and the only known cure, an elixir made from delicate Moonflower petals, is severely limited.

Out in the Wilds, apothecary apprentice Tessa Cade is tired of seeing her neighbors die, their suffering ignored by the unyielding royals. Every night, she and her best friend Wes risk their lives to steal Moonflower petals and distribute the elixir to those who need it most–but it’s still not enough.

As rumors spread that the cure no longer works and sparks of rebellion begin to flare, a particularly cruel act from the King’s Justice makes Tessa desperate enough to try the impossible: sneaking into the palace. But what she finds upon her arrival makes her wonder if it’s even possible to fix Kandala without destroying it first.

Set in a richly imaginative world with striking similarities to our own, Brigid Kemmerer’s captivating new series is about those with power and those without . . . and what happens when someone is brave enough to imagine a new future.


XIRAN JAY ZHAO – IRON WIDOW (September 21st)

This is probably one of the most hyped YA boks of the season and it’s largely due to the cover. However, once you get past those sunset colors and the aweome pose of the cover character, the story also sounds pretty damn cool. There’s a definite Pacific Rim vibe to it what with girls piloting giant robots and all. Also “concubine-pilot” is a thing, apparently and I want to learn everything about that.

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.


TJ KLUNE – UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR (September 21st)

I’m already crying from reading the synopsis. Just shut up and take my money!

Under the Whispering Door is a contemporary fantasy with TJ Klune’s signature “quirk and charm” (PW) about a ghost who refuses to cross over and the ferryman he falls in love with

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.

Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.

But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.

When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, this absorbing tale of grief and hope is told with TJ Klune’s signature warmth, humor, and extraordinary empathy.


RYKA AOKI – LIGHT FROM UNCOMMON STARS (September 28th)

This sounds absolutely bonkers and I cannot wait to read it. Also TJ Klune loved it, so brownie points.

Good Omens meets The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet in this defiantly joyful adventure set in California’s San Gabriel Valley, with cursed violins, Faustian bargains, and queer alien courtship over fresh-made donuts.

Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six.

When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka’s ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She’s found her final candidate.

But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn’t have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan’s kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul’s worth. And maybe something as small as a warm donut is powerful enough to break a curse as vast as the California coastline.

As the lives of these three women become entangled by chance and fate, a story of magic, identity, curses, and hope begins, and a family worth crossing the universe for is found.


LEE MANDELO – SUMMER SONS (September 28th)

Just in tie for October and creepy season comes this debut novel that sounds intriguing and scary and like it has a lot of atmopshere.

Andrew and Eddie did everything together, best friends bonded more deeply than brothers, until Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six months later, only days before Andrew was to join him in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom with bleeding wrists that mutters of revenge.

As Andrew searches for the truth of Eddie’s death, he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trusted most, discovering a family history soaked in blood and death. Whirling between the backstabbing academic world where Eddie spent his days and the circle of hot boys, fast cars, and hard drugs that ruled Eddie’s nights, the walls Andrew has built against the world begin to crumble, letting in the phantom that hungers for him.


SOMAN CHAINANI, JULIA IREDALE – BEASTS AND BEAUTY (September 28th)

You knew I couldn’t resist an illustrated (!) book of twisty fairy tales! I’ve read two of Chainani’s School for Good and Evil books whichwere sweet, and I’ve read a short story by him which was amazing, so I have very high hopes for this book. Also, another pretty cover.

You think you know these stories, don’t you?

You are wrong.

You don’t know them at all.

Twelve tales, twelve dangerous tales of mystery, magic, and rebellious hearts. Each twists like a spindle to reveal truths full of warning and triumph, truths that capture hearts long kept tame and set them free, truths that explore life . . . and death.

A prince has a surprising awakening . . .                           

A beauty fights like a beast . . .

A boy refuses to become prey . . .

A path to happiness is lost. . . . then found again.

New York Times bestselling author Soman Chainani respins old stories into fresh fairy tales for a new era and creates a world like no other. These stories know you. They understand you. They reflect you. They are tales for our times. So read on, if you dare.


NAOMI NOVIK – THE LAST GRADUATE (September 28th)

I look forward to this book with mixed feelings. I had many issues with A Deadly Education but I also just really liked it. We’ll see if the second Scholomance book can turn me into a proper fan yet.

A budding dark sorceress determined not to use her formidable powers uncovers yet more secrets about the workings of her world in the stunning sequel to A Deadly Education, the start of Naomi Novik’s groundbreaking crossover series.

At the Scholomance, El, Orion, and the other students are faced with their final year—and the looming specter of graduation, a deadly ritual that leaves few students alive in its wake. El is determined that her chosen group will survive, but it is a prospect that is looking harder by the day as the savagery of the school ramps up. Until El realizes that sometimes winning the game means throwing out all the rules . . .


AYANA GRAY – BEST OF PREY (September 28th)

Another book I found because the cover is gorgeous, but then I read “Night Zoo” and broken city and lost magic and okay, fine, I’m in.

In this much-anticipated series opener, fate binds two Black teenagers together as they strike a dangerous alliance to hunt down the ancient creature menacing their home—and discover much more than they bargained for.

Magic doesn’t exist in the broken city of Lkossa anymore, especially for girls like sixteen-year-old Koffi. Indentured to the notorious Night Zoo, she cares for its fearsome and magical creatures to pay off her family’s debts and secure their eventual freedom. But the night her loved ones’ own safety is threatened by the Zoo’s cruel master, Koffi unleashes a power she doesn’t fully understand—and the consequences are dire.

As the second son of a decorated hero, Ekon is all but destined to become a Son of the Six—an elite warrior—and uphold a family legacy. But on the night of his final rite of passage, a fire upends his plans. In its midst, Ekon not only encounters the Shetani—a vicious monster that has plagued the city and his nightmares for nearly a century—but a curious girl who seems to have the power to ward off the beast. Koffi’s power ultimately saves Ekon’s life, but his choice to let her flee dooms his hopes of becoming a warrior.

Desperate to redeem himself, Ekon vows to hunt the Shetani down and end its reign of terror, but he can’t do it alone. Meanwhile, Koffi believes finding the Shetani and selling it for a profit could be the key to solving her own problems. Koffi and Ekon—each keeping their true motives secret from the other—form a tentative alliance and enter into the unknowns of the Greater Jungle, a world steeped in wild magic and untold dangers. The hunt begins. But it quickly becomes unclear whether they are the hunters or the hunted.


News from the blog

Whew, August

What I read:

  • Mary Robinette Kowal – The Fated Sky (8.5/10)
    Elma goes to Mars – sexism/racism/anxiety – villains are humans too – characters and action well-balanced
  • P. DjèlĂ­ Clark – A Master of Djinn (6.75/10)
    delightful writing – pacing uneven – plot tries too much at once – lovely LGBT couple
  • Marjorie Liue, Sana Takeda – Monstres Vol. 5: Warchild (7.5/10)
    my favorite issue volume so far – besieged city – sacrifice the few for the many? – dealing with the past
  • Robert Jordan – The Eye of the World (6.25/10)
    WOW this is like Lord of the Rings – female characters all the same – pacing issues galore – world building has great potential – fun to read despite its flaws
  • S. A. Chakraborty – Empire of Gold (7.25/10)
    takes a while to get going – then gets going properly! – epic ending – very good trilogy finale
  • Isaac Asimov – Foundation (5.5/10)
    there are no women in this galaxy!!! – mostly this is men talking in rooms – almost no story, just ideas – writing decidedly sub-par
  • Isaac Asimov – Foundation and Empire (5/10)
    One woman in this galaxy!!! – writing style improved – still dialogue-heavy – mostly ideas, not real story-telling – plot predictable, quite boring, and nothing new compared to the first book
  • Becky Chambers – A Psalm for the Wild-Built (8/10)
    exactly what we’ve come to expect from Chambers – feel-good, quiet, thoughtful – hopepunk with a nonbinary protagonist and a life-affirming robot 🙂
  • Catherynne M. Valente – L’Esprit de L’Escalier (8/10)
    free to read novelette – Orpheus gets Eurydice back – she’s different, though (mostly dead)- Greek myth references galore – pretty dark
  • Isaac Asimov – Second Foundation (3.5/10) (review coming on Friday)
    pulls the same thrick as previous two books – not a single new thought – characters still bad – mediocre writing – mostly repetition and dialogue – why was anyone impressed by this in the 1950s???

Currently reading:

  • Jordan Ifueko – Raybearer (re-read)
    just as good as the first time, if not better – man I love Sanjeet – I also love Dayo – and Kirah – just let me hug all of them, okay

I’m re-reading Raybearer so I can jump straight into Redemptor. My Illumicrate special editions of these books have arrived, by the way, and they are stunning! They came with a couple of extras that are sitting on my shelf now and I can’t get over how gorgeous they are.
I finished the Foundation trilogy and I am… not impressed, to say it nicely. The next instalment, Foundation’s Edge, was written 30 years after this “trilogy” and won a Hugo Award, so maaaaybe I’ll give it a try sometime. But honestly, I don’t understand why this series is such a beloved classic. It’s really not good!

In happier news, it’s readathon time this month so I hope to get a lot of books read in September. I have some big ones to tackle but I also spontaneously got a week and a half off work, which I’ll be spending in Tuscany with nothing but time for reading (and swimming in the pool, sunbathing, and eating delicious food, of course). According to current weather reports, this means I can escape the cooler Austrian weather for 32 degrees (Celsius) of pure sunshine! Wish me luck.

Until next month: Stay safe, stay kind, and keep reading. đź™‚

Magical Readathon 2021: Orilium – The Novice Path

Summer is slowly coming to an end and there’s still so much reading to do in 2021, so naturally what the book community needs is a new readathon. G from The Book Roast used to do a Harry Potter inspired Magical Readathon but didn’t feel comfortable with the theme anymore. So she has come up with another, even more brilliant, complex, beautifully illustrated and detailed readathon set in her very own magical world. There’s maps, people! And character sheets! For an introduction and all the information, watch the video below.

All the details, prompts, descriptions, and images are available here on Google Drive.

This month-long readathon is a sort of introduction to the world we’re going to play in for the next few years, so the main challenge is easy to achieve but you can always try and fulfill more prompts than strictly necessary. In order to complete this readathon, all you have to do is fulfil two of the seven prompts that we encounter on our journey to Orilion Academy. Starting next year (probably in April) this readathon will be about our studies at said Academy where we can achieve the title of Master. If you’re so inclined – and you can bet that I am – you can fulfill all seven prompts on the map.

But wait, there’s more! As an added challenge and in order to prepare for next year, you can create a character that you then play with. For the super fast readers out there, you can create as many characters as you want. That’s right, the readathon comes with character sheets and everything. G has also thought up some cool fantasy races, some of which are familiar but others are her own creations. They come with different affinities which will probably be important for later readathons.

I don’t know if you can tell but I am beyond excited. For someone like me who loves lists and challenges and playing around in a magical world with my own character, this is the best readathon I can imagine. Naturally, I am already frantically planning my TBR and trying to decide on my character traits.


The prompts and my tentative TBR

So this whole TBR planning isn’t as straight forward as you might think. The prompts are easy enough to fulfill but it turns out my TBR is full of big, chonky books and we all know those are not great readathon material. So I’ve picked a selection of books for each prompt and once September starts, I’ll see which way things go.

click to biggify

The Novice Path Entrance – read a book with a map

Robert Jordan – The Great Hunt

This one is a fixed choice because I want to read the Wheel of Time books mostly in one go. I’ve decided to try the first three to see if the series is for me at all (I’m liking the first, despite its heavy LOTR vibes) and then either quit the series or continue reading one book per month. It would be smart to make sure this is the only gigantic book on my TBR for September…

Ashthorn Tree – a book that keeps tempting you

C. J. Cherryh – Downbelow Station
Mary Robinette Kowal – The Relentless Moon

I have a Graphic Audio version of Downbelow Station that I am super hyped for but I also loved the first two books in Kowal’s Lady Astronaut series and cannot wait to read the third, which is nominated for a Best Novel Hugo Award, with the trilogy as a whole nominated for Best Series. I will decide which one to pick based on format. If I feel more like an audiobook, C. J. Cherryh wins, if I want to read an ebook, it’ll be Mary Robinette Kowal.

Mists of Solitude – read a standalone

Sarah Gailey – The Echo Wife
Simon Jimenez – The Vanished Birds
Holly Black – The Darkest Part of the Forest

Jimenez is nominated for an Astounding Award this year and I’ve heard nothing but good things about his book. Sarah Gailey does brilliant new things with everything they write, so I’m quite excited to read their latest publication. No idea which one I’ll choose and technically, The Echo Wife would also work for the thriller prompt further down, so maybe I’ll switch it around a bit. For a completely different mood and setting, I have The Darkest Part of the Forest prepared, in case I prefer fairies and magic to time travel and clones.

Ruin of the Sky – read a book featuring ghosts/a haunted house, or other supernatural elements

Katherine Arden – Small Spaces
Seanan McGuire – Late Eclipses
Ryan Douglass – The Taking of Jake Livingston

I adored Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy but I haven’t yet tried her Middle Grade horror books. They look and sound adorable and creepy at the same time, so I’ll just pick the first one up. Should I not like it – and I very much doubt that – I still have the next Toby Daye book on my TBR. Although I don’t know the details about this one’s plot, there’s always supernatural stuff happening so I should be safe. And just to cater to a different mood, there’s a very new book that’s been compared to Get Out, so yeah, of course I need to read The Taking of Jake Livingston.

Obsidian Falls – read a thriller or mystery book

Catherynne M. Valente – Mass Effect: Annihilation
Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Velvet Was the Night
Jim Butcher – Storm Front

This is a tough one because these books sound really cool and one was written by my favorite author (Cat Valente). It will very much depend on my mood during September because although they are all thrillers/mysteries of a kind, they’re are about totally different things. One is a plague story on a space ship with alien species, one is a 1970s noir mystery, possibly with magic, and the third one is about a modern magician solving supernatural cases I think. I’m new to the Dresden Files, as you can probably tell.

Tower of Rumination – read a five star prediction

Jordan Ifueko – Redemptor
Hannah Whitten – For the Wolf
Sofia Samatar – The Winged Histories

Redemptor is my top choice and I will definitely read that one first, but having a backup plan is always a smart idea, so there’s two other books I think I will adore. It’s been too long since I read anything by Sofia Samatar but she satisfies that literary itch I sometimes get. And Hannah Whitten’s For the Wolf just ticks so many of my boxes, I simply must end up loving this book

Orilion Academy – a book with a school setting

Victoria Lee – A Lesson in Vengeance
Tori Bovalino – The Devil Makes Three
R. F. Kuang – The Poppy War

Okay, so I probably won’t re-read the Poppy War during a readathon. Not only is it a biiiiig book but it’s also not exactly light in content and when I do re-read it, I want to then finish the trilogy in one go. But I’m keeping my options open, just in case I have too much time on hands. I do look forward to the other two books, however, both of which have a dark Dark Academia vibe. I am very much in the mood for that right now. They’re also by two authors I haven’t read yet so I’m always hoping to discover a new favorite.


My character sheet

The reading prompts that determine certain aspects of your character don’t have to be fulfilled in the month of September. There’s time until the next part of the Magical Readathon begins, which is April 2022. But because I like making lists and going through my TBR to see which books fit, I’m planning ahead a little and choosing the blueprint for my character.

My character Sistani

Background: Urban (a book set in a city or town)

I love foresty books as much as the next fantasy reader but I’ve always been a big fan of living in cities, so I want my character to be a city person too. Plus, speculative fiction books with a well-written city setting are among my favorites. You know, when the city seems to be a character in its own right. Possible books:

  • M. A. Carrick – The Mask of Mirrors
  • Alaya Dawn Johnson – Trouble the Saints
  • Nnedi Okorafor – After the Rain
  • Hope Mirrlees – Lud-in-the-Mist

Province: Kerador (a book from an ongoing series)

I admit it was tough not to choose Darkmeadow, what with the secret underground library (!) but “melting pot province” where all fantasy races come together and there is lots to see and do and discover just sounded too good to pass up. So this is where my character makes her home, in a bustling city on the continent Kerador where there’s a little bit of everything – art, music, parties, and friends from all over the world. Possible books:

  • Linden A. Lewis – The Second Rebel
  • Seanan McGuire – Late Eclipses
  • C. L. Clark – The Unbroken
  • Hannah Whitten – For the Wolf
  • Martha Wells – Fugitive Telemetry
  • Tasha Suri – The Jasmine Throne
  • Jessica Townsend – Hollowpox

Heritage: Iltirian (a book with a crow on the cover or in the title/with a red cover)

Iltirians are so not like me but I decided that my character can be whatever I want her to be and the shapeshifting (especially into crow form) was a very good selling point. Plus, spy librarians! Hello?! I’m not too keen on the red eyes and in real life, I am definitely not vegetarian, let alone vegan, but I’ve stayed true to myself with the other two prompts, so I’m allowed to go a little crazy with this one. Possible books:

  • Lindsay Ellis – Axiom’s End
  • Shelley Parker-Chan – She Who Became the Sun
  • Maureen F. McHugh – China Mountain Zhang
  • Colson Whitehead – The Underground Railroad

Heritage: Elf (a book with the moon/stars on the cover or the title)

Depending on how well my reading goes, I might make my character half-Elf just because I really like elves and this reading prompt. Possible books:

  • Mary Robinette – Kowal – The Relentless Moon
  • Becky Chambers – A Closed and Common Orbit
  • Shveta Thakrar – Star Daughter

Orilium Academy (artwork by @Lisa)

I cannot wait to get started and to see you all on the journey (on blogs, BookTube, Twitter, and Discord), chat about books, exchange recommendations, discover new stuff to read, and just have fun. The Magical Readathon being back is so wonderful. Thanks to G for the enormous amount of work and love she pours into it every year! ❤

#Mythothon 4 – Wrap-Up

This is it! Mythothon is officially over and it’s time to see how I did.
Let me say first of all that I am super happy with this readathon. I am not the hugest King Arthur fan so I thought the prompts would make things difficult for me. But they are vague enough to fit many books and yet, there was enough King Arthur vibe to this readathon to actually get me in the mood for more.

General thoughs

The month of April was a bit meandering for me. Work was crazy most of the time, I had picked some bigger books (that’s not a super smart idea for a readathon), the Hugo finalists were announced, making me throw my entire readathon TBR out the window, and I got a Covid shot appointment (yay!). But yeah, it was mostly work that got in the way of me really rocking this readathon.

I started out okay but not super fast with a few shorter reads. I re-read the first book in the Song of the Lioness series, determined to just race through the entire series in April. Well, that didn’t happen. Because the Hugo Award finalists were announced and that gets me super excited every year. Since I’m voting again this year, I needed to start reading the finalists right away because reasons. There’s time until December so I really didn’t have to worry but you know how it is. But for what it’s worth, that gave me a reading boost and upped my motivation. I didn’t finish as many books as I would have liked but I’m happy with how I did, especially since I discovered some great books.

In addition to these fine knights I have recruited, I also finished the group read and the team prompt. The latter turned out to be my favorite read of the month, even though it was very different from what I expected and took a while to get going.


Books finished

Books started:

  • Darcie Little Badger – Elatsoe (Sir Percival)
  • Catherynne M. Valente – Under in the Mere (Sir Lancelot)
  • Tade Thompson – The Rosewater Insurrection (Sir Bors)

The books


As you can see, I’m also behind on my reviews. Next week will probably be hell again at work but after that, things should relax a little and I’ll have time to catch up on reviews and current reads and maybe even do a tag or something. 🙂

#Mythothon 4 – Week Two

As I suspected, the announcement of the Hugo Award finalists made me completely overthrow my readathon TBR. 🙂 On the other hand, it also boosted my reading motivation and got me super excited for a lot of books!

How the week went

Thankfully, last week was much nicer than the beginning of the month. Work is still super stressful and in addition to the “normal” stress we’re starting new projects left and right, but I’m dealing with it better. I’ve been exercising regularly and sleeping better. A good night’s sleep really does work wonders!
I didn’t finish a lot of books (because daily exercise takes up time…) but I did get halfway through a chonker and a Lodestar finalist, so next week I’ll have more books to talk about.

My choice for the Nimue group read – set by the sea – was a total hit, although it didn’t start out that way. Full disclosure, the author Angela Slatter is one of my very favorites, so I trusted her to turn the rather slow start of this book into something more exciting after a while. And she did! This is a gothic, dark fairy tale, a family story interwoven with myths and legends, the tale of a young woman breaking free from the chains of tradition and making a life for herself.
The language is lyrical, the protagonist Miren’s strength grows with every chapter, and although it starts slowly, the plot picks up pace along the way and leads to a finale that had me biting my nails and worrying for the characters I’ve come to care for.
If you like fairy tales or mythology, a creepy atmosphere, and discovering dark family secrets, then this is for you.

My choice for the legendary romance prompt was very different. I didn’t have high expectations of this book but it delivered pretty much exactly what I thought it would. A book that’s super quick and fun to read but just not very good from a literary standpoint. Or a genre standpoint. It’s written inconsistently, the world building is haphazard and sloppy, the characters are shallow, there’s lots of telling instead of showing, and the plot is super predictable. BUT! I had a blast reading this because it’s one of those books that doesn’t require too much thinking. You don’t have to keep an entire history of this fantasy world in your mind, you don’t have to figure out difficult family relations between this royal or that. You just follow your Mary Sue, good-at-everything protagonist and the stereotypical sidekicks on their comfortingly predictable journey. This was by no means a good book, but I’d recommend it for when you’re trying to get out of a slump. There’s something comforting in books like this and I’m glad they exist.


Books finished in week 1:

Books finished in week 2:

Currently reading:

  • S. A. Chakraborty – The Kingdom of Copper
  • Aiden Thomas – Cemetery Boys

Plans for next week

I didn’t finish the Song of the Lioness yet but I hope to still manage that during this readathon. My excitement for the Hugo Awards has simply been too great and I wanted to get started on the finalists as soon as possible. The voting period will be extended this year and the winners won’t be announced until December, so I really shouldn’t stress myself. Starting now, I will mix up my reading. One Hugo finalists, one (older) book from my TBR. The most important thing is to keep it low pressure and have fun!

Here’s what I’m looking at for next week. Most of these are short and/or for a young audience so I think I can read them quickly. These are two Lodestar finalists and two backlist books. I’ll probably throw in an audiobook as well because I’m more than halfway through Kingdom of Copper and I can’t not listen to an audiobook. That’s just not an option. 🙂