N.E.W.T.s Readathon Wrap-Up

Hello and welcome to my wrap-up post for the nerdy madness that was the N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon. What a ride this has been!

General Thoughts

I won’t lie, when I started my first two books – one hardback, one audiobook – I thought I had been a little too ambitious with my TBR. While I picked a few very short books (100-200 pages) for my O.W.L.s, the shorter books I chose for the N.E.W.T.s were all around 300 pages. Depending on the writing style, those can actually take a while to read. So I did switch around the TBR a bit, and I snuck in a graphic novel and two novellas. Lucky for me, it turned out all my books have been at the very least good and fun to read.

As I’m also a stickler for rules (Ravenclaws… we can’t help ourselves), I did read all the books in order, rather than reading the books for higher grades first and then catching up on the ones for the lower grades. I did always read books for several classes at once, I listened to some on audiobook, and I think that helped a lot in keeping me invested in this readathon. Although most of my books were full-length novels, I did choose a handful of short books. Otherwise, I would never have gotten all the grades I did.

Quidditch and House CUP

I am usually rubbish when it comes to appearing on Twitter at a certain time but by sheer luck, I was online when the Quidditch training matches were going on. And once I found out how much fun that stuff is, I made sure to be present during the actual Quidditch Cup as well. Basically, each team is asked trivia questions about Harry Potter and if you answer fast enough (and correctly, of course), your House can take the Quaffle and, answering more questions, score a goal. There are Bludger Moments, where both teams can answer and the fastest one wins, and the same goes for Snitch Sightings. Sometimes, the questions weren’t questions but word searches or “find the difference” pictures, but it was all amazing fun! And the best thing that I totally didn’t expect: RAVENCLAW WON THE QUIDDITCH CUP!

I didn’t follow the House Points that closely throughout the month of August. The few times I checked, Ravenclaw was always in last place which may not be good for House Pride but I didn’t really care all that much. My personal goals have all been achieved plus a lot of extra classes I didn’t even need. As it turns out, Ravenclaw came in second for the House Cup, so that was nice. And I do have to say, the Hufflepuffs were on fire the entire time!

CONGRATULATIONS TO HUFFLEPUFF FOR WINNING THE HOUSE CUP!

my N.e.w.t.s results and Career Options

CLASS

Grade achieved

Ancient Runes Exceeds Expectations
Arithmancy Acceptable
Astronomy Acceptable
Care of Magical Creatures Exceeds Expectations
Charms Outstanding
Defence Against the Dark Arts Outstanding
Divination
Herbology Acceptable
History of Magic Outstanding
Muggle Studies Outstanding
Potions Exceeds Expectations
Transfiguration Acceptable

As you can see, I passed my NEWTs in all classes except Divination. Although the prompts for that class were good ones, at some point I had to decide whether I wanted an Acceptable in all the classes or whether I wanted better grades in the ones that mattered to me. And if I really did go to Hogwarts, Divination would be the class I would care about the least. So I skipped it and instead grabbed some better grades in other classes.

Total books read 22
Total pages read 6148
NEWTs achieved 10

That leaves me with the two careers I aimed for – Hogwarts Professor for History of Magic, Muggle Studies, and DADA, as well as Writer – plus two other careers I could pursue: Auror and Ministry Worker for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, the Department of International Magical Cooperation, or even the Department of Mysteries . I’d say my magical future looks pretty bright. Realistically (you know what I mean), I would become a Hogwarts Professor who writes novels in her spare time. 🙂

The Diplomas

Hogwarts Teacher:

Writer/Journalist:

The Books

Here they are, people. All the books I read in August and all the NEWTs I passed. I have to say, I’m quite proud of myself. With two careers achieved plus a bunch of extra credit classes, I think I’ve done Ravenclaw proud this year. (For final thoughs, skip to the bottom of this post.)


Ancient Runes – Acceptable

For Ancient Runes, I picked up a book I normally wouldn’t have read. However, with its story dealing heavily with the Grimms’ fairy tales, real life interwoven with Faerie, and a curse to be broken, it was exactly the kind of book I should want to read. But I admit it, that cover put me off for a long time. The Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein tells the story of the Feierabend family, from the point of view of young Will who falls in love with one of the Feierabend daughters. He finds out they are tangled in a bargain with The Other Folk and wants to solve the riddle, save the girl, and make a future for himself and his girlfriend. There was much to love about this book but I felt that the choice of perspective (Will’s first person POV) was not well done. I liked the many nods to well-known fairy tales but I would have liked to read this story from the girls’ perspective more, to be honest. (237 pages)


Ancient Runes – Exceeds Expectations

For my second Ancient Runes NEWT, I read The Lost Sisters by Holly Black. This was almost a short retelling of The Cruel Prince but from the point of view of Jude’s sister Taryn. There are spoilers for the fist book in this, so I won’t go into the plot much. But what this novella does quite well, is show why Taryn acted the way she acted, why she did or thought certain things that didn’t make much sense to Jude and us readers before. It was also a nice refresher on what happened in the first book and I enjoyed it way more than expected. Holly Black even makes her faerie world vivid in such a short tale. (50 pages)


Arithmancy – Acceptable

I had originally planned to read a shorter book for this one because the prompt leaves you a lot of options (ends on an even page number), but I just had to know how the Illuminae Trilogy ended. So I picked up the chunky beast that is Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. The upside is that the way these books are written, they are quick reads, despite being over 600 pages thick.
I loved this series overall, but this was by far the weakest of them. Because it puts all the characters from the previous books together and adds a new couple, there was just not enough time for these new characters. I loved how everything came together and the new challenges our characters faced. The ending was also fantastic, but not nearly as good as the previous two books. (618 pages)


Astronomy – Acceptable

This book just fell into my hands, and because it fit the prompt, was immediately devoured. Becky Chambers’ To Be Taught If Fortunate may be written in the same, optimistic style as her Wayfarers Trilogy, but plot-wise, it is quite different. A group of four astronauts sets out on a trip to several planets, to see what they can discover there, if there are signs of life or other interesting information that they can take home to Earth. The planets they visit are quite different and all super interesting to read about. But at some point, the astronauts stop receiving updates from Earth with no way to contact them quickly or know what’s going on back home. I quite liked this story about the value of learning, about knowledge for the sake of knowledge. The fact that the four protagonists are super excited about their job was just an added bonus that almost makes you want to become an astronaut yourself. (144 pages)


Care of Magical Creatures – Acceptable

For Care of Magical Creatures, I picked up a rather daunting book but after just the first chapter, I was all in. A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine is a sprawling science fiction epic that offered so much interesting world building that I couldn’t put it down. Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in Teixcalaan because her predecessor has probably been murdered.  It has amazing characters, deals with issues of empire and colonization, cultural differences, political intrigue, and to top it all off, there’s a murder mystery to investigate.
I don’t know what I enjoyed more – the world-building and the many cool ideas, or the characters and their interactions. Mahit Dzmare, the protagonist, has definitely grown very dear to me and I look forward to the sequel(s) already. (462 pages)


Care of Magical Creatures – Exceeds Expectations

I needed something shorter to read, at this point, because although I managed many longer books, sometimes you just need to feel that immediate success of finishing something in a day or two. So I chose The Ice Puzzle by Chatherynne M. Valente, a novella she has published on her Patreon (Patrons only). It’s a sort of retelling of The Snow Queen, but a very strange version that mixes together lots of different cultures and their (potential) representation of this fairy tale. It’s all there, the mirror shard, the beautiful Snow Queen who kidnaps children, the young girl Gerda who goes out to save her friend Kay. Some chapters are poems, other are prose. It was a strange, immersive experience, reading this, but there wasn’t enough of a red string, not enough actual plot, to make me love this as much as I do Valente’s other work. (144 pages)


Charms – Acceptable

For this class, we needed to pick a book with a gorgeous cover, so I went with Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer. Because look at this cover! I know “gorgeous” is totally subjective, but I love the intricate detail and the symmetry of this cover. Also, it has Ravenclaw colors, so I feel like I’m representing my house even better. As a retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon, it did a fantastic job in brining to life all the fairy tale elements but infusing them with a new and original kind of magic. Echo, the scarred and clever protagonist, was so easy to love. I loved her goodhearted nature, her thirst for knowledge, and her wish to help her captor – in this case, a white wolf, not a bear. I was absolutely blown away by the originality of this book. I loved Echo, I loved the many little ideas, and I especially the twist at the end. Highly recommended if you like fairy tales, especially East of the Sun, West of the Moon. (400 pages)


Charms – Exceeds Expectations

My graphic novel did arrive on time (thank you Amazon)! This adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Snow, Glass, Apples by Colleen Doran was everything I had hoped. I had read the Gaiman short story a few years ago and absolutely loved it. It retells Snow White from the point of view of the stepmother, but with a lot of twists! With Doran’s gorgeous art, the story gained a whole new layer. Good thing, too, that I didn’t remember all the details, so this was almost like reading a new story. I was fascinated that this graphic novel has almost no panels. The story flows on the page simply by the skill of the artist and letterer. And have I mentioned that the art style is amazing.?Although this is a very short book, every page is a feast for the eyes, and the story itself is dark enough to keep you thinking about it long after you’ve finished it. (64 pages)


Charms – Outstanding

To get an Outstanding in Charms, I went right ahead and continued The Queen’s Thief series with The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. I liked the first book but wasn’t overwhelmed and I didn’t really understand all the rave reviews. This second volume, however, pushed some of my happy buttons and made me really want to continue reading this series. It offered some surprising twists, nice political intrigue, and tender character moments that I wasn’t expecting. I also loved that we got to know the characters better in general, especially the two queens, Attolia and Eddis. Eugenides himself may still be a mysterious character but I’ve grown to really care for him. I will probably review this series as a whole when I’m done. If I keep reading the way I am now, that may happen very soon. (362 pages)


Defence Against the Dark Arts – Acceptable

I was going to read the graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s short story “Snow, Glass, Apples” for this prompt but I didn’t think my pre-order would arrive on time.
So I took this opportunity to pick up another book I’ve been meaning to read forever – Yume No Hon: The Book of Dreams by Catherynne M. Valente. She is my favorite author of all time but I still have a lot of her older work to catch up on. This short book read, fitting enough, like a dream. It’s about a hermit woman who lives on a mountain and re-creates herself and others in dreams. She talks to the Mountain and the River, she is a woman and a sphinx, and although this book has no plot to speak of, it was a magical experience. Valente’s language alone makes all her stories worthwile and although this isn’t one of my favorite books of hers, I enjoyed it immensely. (149 pages)


Defence Against the Dark Arts – Exceeds Expectations

To advance my knowledge of Defence Against the Dark Arts, I read a book that is much older than the rest. George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin was charming and quaint. It’s the story of Princess Irene who has to be protected from the evil goblins who live underground and come out at night. Irene explores the big house she lives in, drives her maid crazy with worry, makes a friend in the miner-boy Curdie, and of course meets a goblin or two…
The story read very much like a fairy tale, with Morals on every page, especially on How To Behave As A Princess. The plot itself was nice; sometimes predictable, sometimes really original and sweet. I noticed that my mind is way too dark for this kind of story… I kept suspecting a helpful character of having some evil ulterior motive. But sometimes, fairy godmothers are just what they appear to be. (272 pages)


Defence Against the Dark Arts – Outstanding

Oh, it was so wonderful to read another Discworld novel. Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett reminded me why I love these books so much. Although this book belongs to the Death sub-series, there are many characters to follow. Susan, Death’s granddaughter and teacher par excellence, Jeremy, a young and gifted clockmaker (guess what he does during this story), Lobsang, a former member of the Thief’s Guild who visitis the History Monks, and of course the Auditors who have given Death some trouble in previous books. Plus, the five (yes, you read that right) riders of the Apocalypse. The title tells you what to expect from the plot, but all the little details, the insights about humanity that make a Pratchett book what it is, are also there. I loved this so much and I am again incredibly sad that my unread Discworld novels are shrinking in number.
(432 page)


Herbology – Acceptable

For this, I listened to The Wicked King by Holly Black, and boy, did that book sweep me off my feet. I liked The Cruel Prince well enough but I wasn’t as in love with it as the rest of the world. This sequel, however, hooked me right from the start and turned me into a proper fan. It was just the right combination of political intrigue, dangerous navigations of the Faerie Court, and very sexy (if problematic) romantic tension. Jude’s new position at court should make life easier for her, but of course it doesn’t. Being this close to Cardan – and being in her particular position when it comes to him – made things even more complicated. Then there is a threat of war, the fact that Jude’s plan has a time limit, and her estrangement from her sister… I think if I’d read the paper book I would have raced through it even faster, but I really enjoyed the audiobook narrator and will probably continue to listen to this series (although I do need a matching hardback copy for my shelf!).
(336 pages)


History of Magic – Acceptable

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi was my very first book for the readathon and although it only has 272 pages, the language made it a much slower read than I had anticipated. Oyeyemi’s prose is dense, she doesn’t use a lot of dialogue and there are few paragraph breaks. I was confused for a long time about this book’s plot, because it seemed to move this way, then that way, then somewhere completely different. But once I found my footing and was invested in the characters, I did really enjoy it. It is not a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, although it does use many motifs from the fairy tale and there’s definitely some magic. Gingerbread features prominently, as do breadcrumbs in a way (metaphorical breadcrumbs, but still). It’s the story of Harriet Lee, her daughter Perdita, and Harriet’s past on the mythical island nation of Druhástrana. There are complex family relationships, a theme of friendship, love between mother and daughter, and beautiful language on every page. As long as you know you’re not getting a retelling, I recommend this to everyone. (304 pages)


History of Magic – Exceeds Expectations

Yet another book that took me longer than expected. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson feels like it was on everyone’s TBR for this readathon and I think many people will enjoy it, probably more than I did. Elisabeth Scrivener has grown up in a Great Library, a place that protects magical books from the world and the world from magical books. When shit hits the fan at her Library, Elisabeth has to go to the city, accompanied by a sorcerer, no less. She knows sorcerers are evil, but maybe country life hasn’t taught her everything there is to know about the world and maybe this guy isn’t all bad… The plot wasn’t exactly original and the characters rather flat, but I liked the action scenes, the friendship between Elisabeth and Katrien, and especially the side character Silas. The romance (come on, you knew there had to be one) was also okay. I am definitely not as crazy about this book as other people, but it was a nice lighter read, where you know what you’re going to get early on. (456 pages)


History of Magic – Outstanding

The prompt for this was to re-read a favorite or to read a classic. I kind of combined the two and re-read a classic, although not a favorite. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin was the kind of book, however, that I suspected I may like more on a re-read. I didn’t love it the first time I read it, but a few reading years can make a lot of difference. Although I still felt the story was kept rather distant from the reader and I was just missing that immersion, that way I feel like I am really accompanying the characters on their journey, it was still a lovely book that promises much more to come in the sequels. (206 pages)


Muggle Studies – Acceptable

For this class, I replaced my original book (A Wicked Thing by Rihannon Thomas) with a new one that I realized fit the prompt and I was very excited for. This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone was absolutely not what I expected but as I kept reading, it sneakily wormed its way into my heart. Yes, it is about time travel, but not about daring adventures in the past in order to change the future. The acutal time traveling is only background. The heart of the story are the two protagonists, Red and Blue, who work for opposing sides in the Time War, and communicate across time and space and parallel universes to form a close bond with each other. With its short chapters and the generally low page count, this was the perfect book for a readathon. It also happened to be really good. (208 pages)


Muggle Studies – Exceeds Expectations

For the book set in our world, I went with Peter S. Beagle’s In Calabria. This was a lovely, quiet tale about a cranky middle-aged man who lives on his farm in Calabria and wants little do with other people. He is content with his goat, his cats and dog and cows, and with occasionally writing poetry. Until, that is, one day, a unicorn shows up in his vineyard. And with this change in his routine, other people enter his life as well. So Claudio Bianchi has to take a good look at his life and whether it is all he wanted it to be.
This novella may not focus very heavily on the unicorn itself, but I really enjoyed seeing the impact its appearance has on Bianchi and the few people in his life. It also shows just how disgusting humans can be and that some just want to destroy beautiful creatures. (176 pages)


Muggle Studies – Outstanding

For my Outstanding, I decided to read one of the few books by N. K. Jemisin I hadn’t read yet. The Awakened Kingdom was a novella set in the world of the Inheritance Trilogy and it took me right back to that world of gods and magic and characters I loved. We follow a very young godling named Shill, as she discovers her place in the world, her own powers, and the stupid things that humans are capable of. By living among the humans for a while, she sees injustice that she wants to fix, she meets people who grow dear to her. Simply put, she grows up. Shill tells her story herself and as she grows older and wiser as a person, her storytelling also evolves. It was a short but beautiful little book that made me want to pick up The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms all over again and re-live that beautiful story. (124 pages)


Potions – Acceptable

For this, I asked Twitter to help me pick my next book and the poll ended up at 90% of votes for Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. Thank you, fellow Hogwarts students, for sending me on this wonderful journey!
I had already started this book once but then life stuff happened and I had to stop (although I loved the beginning). This time around, I loved it even more! It’s a chunky one and with Laini Taylor’s gorgeous, lyrical language not exactly a quick read. And I do admit, I dragged it out on purpose, not wanting this beautiful story to end just yet. Laini Taylor managed to create a stunning world, filled with incredibly endearing characters. She makes you love that world and then she goes ahead and rips your heart out. Needless to say, the second book has already arrived and sits comfortably next to this one on my shelf. (536 pages)


Potions – Exceeds Expectations

Here’s where I started switching around my TBR books. Although it was initially planned as a Care of Magical Creatures read, it ended up counting for my Exceeds Expectations in Potions class. Nnedi Okorafor’s Broken Places & Outer Spaces absolutely blew me away. It is a short memoir that tells the story of Nnedi’s paralysis and how she turned what she calls her “brokenness” into something wonderful. She became a science fiction writer – and a damn great one, at that – partly because of her paralysis. I loved everything about this book. How Nnedi deals with this difficult situation, what inspired her to write some of her brilliant novels, how she regained the use of her legs and what difficulties she still faces in everyday life – whether you know the author or not, I urge you to pick this up. It is truly amazing! (112 pages)


Transfiguration – Acceptable

I used this prompt to catch up on 2019 releases and read Kameron Hurley’s The Light Brigade. This military science fiction novel starts out like a Heinlein book and then messes with your head in the best of ways. The protagonist, Dietz, goes through military boot camp to join the war against Mars. For that war, the soldiers are turned into light and thus transported to wherever a battle is to take place. But Dietz experiences these jumps different from other people. This book was mind-blowing! It deals with themes of war, the value of humans, world-ruling corporations, and the meaning of time. There is so much to discover and you really have to pay attention while reading. Things get quite mixed up, but it all comes together beautifully at the end. One of my top reads of 2019 so far! (356 pages)


Final Thoughts

Readathons can be a blessing or a curse, especially if you have a tendency towards ambition. Sure, it’s nice to have the motivation to read a lot during a given month, but there is also the pressure many of us put on ourselves to achieve a goal. And if we don’t reach that goal, we can feal like failures. There’s also the danger of comparing yourself to others and considering whoever has read the most as “the best”. That is totally silly and we all know it, yet deep down, we still feel less worthy than those voracious readers. I tried really hard not to compare myself to others, to just pursue my personal goals and stay relaxed during the readathon. I did sometimes catch myself thinking “Wow, how much time does this person have to read all 36 books, I’m so jealous”, but I managed to come around and see this for what it is. And most importantly, to see what I have achieved as the amazing success it is. I usually read between four and six books a month. So even with short stories, novellas, and a graphic novel, 22 is a crazy number for me!

But there are a few things that make this particular readathon truly special. Not only are the prompts and the ideas absolutely fantastic and created with so much love for detail, but the whole spirit of the thing kept me motivated. Whenever I’d go to Twitter to see what people were currently reading, which classes they had already passed or what they had to say generally about the readathon, I was faced with a group of people from all over the world who shared a love for books and a love for Harry Potter. We cheered each other on, we lifted each other up, we congratulated the people who got trivia questions right – no matter our Hogwarts House!

I also have to mention again how well G did with her career booklet and the reading prompts. There were a lot of prompts (36 in all) but each of them made perfect sense for its Hogwarts class. Reading something with “moon” in the title or on the cover for Astronomy, a book with a certain page number for Arithmancy, or something green for Herbology – it’s all really fitting and yet vague enough for everyone to find a book they can read. Another thing I loved (and which makes me even more excited for next year) was that this year’s theme was The Chamber of Secrets. That means next year’s will be The Prisoner of Azakaban, my favorite Potter book. So you can bet I’ll be back for both the OWLs and the NEWTs in 2020 and I’m already excited.

N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon – Check-In #3

Here we are again with my third readathon report. I have already surpassed all my expectations for this readathon and I can’t tell you how wonderful that feels. I have achieved all the necessary grades for my career as a Writer as well as a Hogwarts Professor (Muggle Studies and History of Magic). But because I have no intention of stopping the readathon before it’s officially over, I am now trying to achieve better grades on the classes I already passed and taking new classes to just achieve more grades.

Grades Achieved so far

Herbology: A
Muggle Studies: A, E, O
History of Magic: A, E, O
Charms: A, E
Defence Against the Dark Arts: A, E
Potions: A
Ancient Runes: A
Astronomy
: A

Grades achieved last week are again in Ravenclaw blue, the ones I had finished before are black. I didn’t read as much last week as I did at the beginning of the month because other things were just more time-consuming (work, chores, spending time with loved ones). But as I have already reached my biggest goals, I am going to take it easy for  the rest of this readathon. I am also thinking about switching around the books on my TBR because I started some of them and they just didn’t grab me. I want to read them someday, of course, but at this time, my mood demands something else. So I’ll probably look for a few replacements, maybe even bigger books because now I am not stressed at all.

Books read last week

  • Lisa Goldstein – The Uncertain Places (Ancient Runes: A)
  • N. K. Jemisin – The Awakened Kingdom (Muggle Studies: O)
  • Becky Chambers – To Be Taught if Fortunate (Astronomy: A)

The Uncertain Places is a very unfortunate book because its cover does not give you a feeling of what you’ll find inside. Personally, I don’t like the cover very much, but it feels like it belongs to an Urban Fantasy, maybe with vampires, or a haunted house with ghosts or something. In reality, this book is about a family in a special house (so far, so true) but it deals mostly with fairy tales, with The Other Folk, with the places where their world and ours blur together. It was a good book with lots of nods to the Grimms’ tales.
You can’t go wrong with N. K. Jemisin and I loved this novella sequel to The Inheritance Trilogy exactly as much as expected.
Becky Chambers’ latest novel just fell into my hands and because it clearly has a moon or two on the cover, I went ahead and passed my first Astronomy class with it.

N.E.W.T.s in Progress

  • Kameron Hurley – The Light Brigade (Transfiguration: A)
  • Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – Obsidio (Arithmancy: A)
  • Arkady Martine – A Memory Called Empire (Care of Magical Creatures: A)

I was very unsure what to read after Strange the Dreamer (talk about book hangovers!), but Kameron Hurley’s sci-fi story immediately hooked me. It starts very much like Starship Troopers (on purpose, with many nods to the Heinlein novel) but there’s so much more to discover. Dietz, the protagonist, signed up for the space military where they turn people into light to send them between planets. So far, I’ve only read some of the training they go through and it’s tough and super thrilling to read and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
I am also going to start Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff soon (maybe today, maybe Monday) because although it’s a big fat book, I need to finish this trilogy. And it ends on an even page number, so it counts for Arithmancy class.
Aaaaand I’m still listening to A Memory Called Empire. I am enjoying it a lot and I have reached the last quarter but this is just a dense read. The plot is exciting but it’s not the kind of book you can just rush through. You need all the information to figure out what’s going on and you also don’t want to miss any little detail about the amazing world Martine has created. But I’m sure I’ll finish this in a day or two.


How about your readathon experience so far? Are you on track? Let me know your Hogwarts House and your current read in the comments! And of course: Happy reading!

N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon – Check-In #2

There I was, thinking I couldn’t possibly do as well this week as I did at the beginning of the N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon. The  experience has continued to be rewarding and fun and filled with excitement and I’m happy we still have a couple of weeks to go.
My career as a Writer is a given, and because I did way better than excpected, I have also achieved all grades necessary to become a Hogwarts Professor in History of Magic. I am now pursuing more Outstandings, so I can teach more classes at Hogwarts.  My career as a writer will happen in my free time… See, I got it all worked out. 🙂

Grades Achieved so far

Herbology: A
Muggle Studies: A, E
History of Magic: A, E, O
Charms: E
Defence Against the Dark Arts: A, E
Potions: A

Newly achieved grades are in Ravenclaw blue, the ones I had finished last week are black. I did pretty well again! Considering that Strange the Dreamer is quite a big book and I had to find a replacement for my original DADA pick), I’m happy that I managed to finish five entire books this week.

Books read

  • Catherynne M. Valente – Yume No Hon: The Book of Dreams (Defence Against the Dark Arts: A)
  • Ursula K. LeGuin – A Wizard of Earthsea (History of Magic: O)
  • Laini Taylor – Strange the Dreamer (Potions: A)
  • George MacDonald – The Princess and the Goblin (Defence Against the Dark Arts: E)
  • Peter S. Beagle – In Calabria (Muggle Studies: E)

It will come as no surprise to most of you that I am absolutely in love with Strange the Dreamer and the world Laini Taylor has created. I ordered the second volume when I wasn’t even halfway done with the first because there is no way this story can be messed up.
Cat Valente is my favorite author, so this short early work of hers was very good, although I prefer her less experimental stories.
My Earthsea re-read went pretty much exactly as expected. I did like it a bit more this time around, but not much. The Princess and the Goblin was a much older work (and you can tell) but a lovely, quick fairy-tale-esque story. And Peter S. Beagle’s latest unicorn story was tender and quiet but quite well done.

N.E.W.T.s in Progress

  • Arkady Martine – A Memory Called Empire (Care of Magical Creatures: A)
  • Lisa Goldstein – The Uncertain Places (Ancient Runes: A)
  • Kameron Hurley – The Light Brigade (Transfiguration: A)

I was very unsure what to read after Strange the Dreamer (talk about book hangovers!), but with Lisa Goldstein’s story set in the 70ies, dealing with a haunted family that is definitely hiding a secret, I think I found something nice and palatable. I haven’t started Kameron Hurley’s sci-fi novel yet but everybody is raving about it, so I am excited!
Aaaaand I’m still listening to A Memory Called Empire. I swear the book is fantastic, it’s just not exactly a light read. There are space politics and confusing social structures, there’s a murder mystery and probably even more for our protagonist to discover. It’s a heavy book but I’m still enjoying it.


How about your readathon experience so far? Are you on track? Let me know your Hogwarts House and your current read in the comments! And of course: Happy reading!

N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon – Check-In #1

The first one-and-a-half weeks of the nerdy madness that is the N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon is over and I thought I’d do a little check-in to see where I stand. I’m happy and quite proud to say that I’ve already achieved all of the necessary grades for my career of choice, Writer/Journalist. But because I don’t want to stop and I love everything about this readathon, I will continue to pursue a secondary career. I am still torn between Hogwarts Professor (teaching History of Magic) and Ministry Worker. For now, I’m just reading the books that speak to me most and I’ll see where that takes me.

Grades Achieved so far

Herbology: A
Muggle Studies: A
History of Magic: E
Charms: E

That means I have read 6 books so far which is pretty mind-blowing, considering that’s what I normally read in an entire month. I don’t know what it is about this particular readathon, but it keeps  me motivated like nothing else. Maybe it’s the idea of going to Hogwarts, taking all those magical classes, and pursuing a wizarding career. Maybe it’s the amazing energy of all the participants – on Twitter, YouTube, on other blogs… I just feel surrounded by friends and like-minded people, exchanging book recommendations and cheering each other on. It truly is magical!

Books read

  • Helen Oyeyemi – Gingerbread (History of Magic: A)
  • Margaret Rogerson – Sorcery of Thorns (History of Magic: E)
  • Joanna Ruth Meyer – Echo North (Charms: A)
  • Holly Black – The Lost Sisters (Charms: E)
  • Holly Black – The Wicked King (Herbology: A)
  • Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone – This is How You Lose the Time War (Muggle Studies: A)

I just noticed that all of those books have covers in shades of blue or green… I mean, I am  a Ravenclaw but I swear this is total coincidence. 🙂

N.E.W.T.s in Progress

  • Arkady Martine – A Memory Called Empire (Care of Magical Creatures: A)
  • Laini Taylor – Strange the Dreamer (Potions: A)

I am currently trying to find out which of my books are black under the dust jacket. The ones I actually own in hardback aren’t really ones I feel like reading right now, and it’s quite difficult to find out which of my ebooks or paperbacks would have a black cover under the dust jacket. If they even have a hardback edition, that is.


How are your classes going? Are you collecting points for your Hogwarts House? Did you discover any amazing books because of this readathon? Let me know in the comments or leave me a link to your posts. I love seeing what other people are reading and which books they choose for the individual classes.

The O.W.L.s Results are In: Magical Readathon Wrap-Up

The results for my (late) O.W.L.s are in!!! And holy shit, you guys, I have no idea how I did it with less than one month to go, but I actually passed ALL MY O.W.L.s! That means I got an Outstanding and it also means, I could technically take all of the N.E.W.T.s and choose any wizarding career I like.

I did choose mostly short books, which wasn’t a bad thing, because some of them have been languishing on my TBR for very long and now I finally got to them. There were some very good surprises, some not so great books, some subject prompts that had me scratch my head over my TBR because I just couldn’t find the right book for them… But all things considered, this was by far my favorite readathon ever and I am so stoked for the N.E.W.T.s this August.

Overall Stats

Total books read 12
Total pages read 3555
Career options ALL OF THEM

Here’s all the books I read for this readathon and my report card at the very bottom:


* History of Magic (published 10+ years ago) ☑

It’s a personal goal of mine to read more older books and not just newer ones, so this History of Magic prompt was just perfect. My book choice… not so much.
A modern-ish retelling of The Frog Prince, Nancy Springer’s Fair Peril is about Buffy, a middle-age recently divorced woman who is filled with bitterness and hatred for men, her ex in particular. The fairy tale aspects were rather silly but overall okay, but Buffy and the other characters really bothered me. All of them were terrible human beings, Buffy hated all men and complained that she got fat but kept eating nothing but trash. Her daughter is a vapid, blonde little thing, her ex is a macho stereotype. Nobody had layers, and everybody was unlikable. So, sadly, this was a miss for me but at least it was a quick read. (246 pages)


* Muggle Studies (contemporary) ☑

As I don’t read many contemporary books, I thought this O.W.L. would be my hardest. However, the literary revelation that is Sam J. Miller has recently published a new book, Destroy All Monsters. And just as I fell into The Art of Starving and Blackfish City (although vastly different books), I immediately loved this one. It’s told by Ash and Solomon in alternating chapters. Ash is a young girl on anti-depressants, Solomon is her best friend who suffers from some sort of mental illness – he believes himself to live in a world full of magic and dinosaurs. But Ash’s “real” world and Solomon’s “imaginary” one are more similar than you might think, and soon the lines between them blur more and more.
Plus, when they were 12 years old, something traumatic happened that may have caused their mental illnesses. Something they both don’t remember… (400 pages)


* Ancient runes (Retelling) ☑

For the Charms exam, I read Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes. While this was a quick read, I had some qualms about the style and plot – or lack thereof. To me, it felt like the author talked down to her readers, endlessly explaining things that were already obvious from context. This is very much a tell-don’t-show book which may work for very young readers, but for a YA book, I thought it was too simple. I like a bit more of a challenge, I want to figure things out for myself instead of being told outright. The plot meandered and felt very contrived and incoherent at times. The villain was over the top evil but without a hint of motive or reasoning. And the secret string-puller behind the scenes was painfully obvious. This is the first book in a trilogy, but seeing as it had very little going for it, I won’t be reading the sequels. (319 pages)


Charms (adult work) ☑

For my charms O.W.L. I finally read The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. I tried my best in my review to put into words just how wonderful this book was. It tells the story of a Golem whose master dies shortly after she is “born”, and a Jinni, who is released from his flask but has no memory of who put him into this prison and trapped him in human shape. These two are literally lost souls who meet and form a friendship. They learn to navigate life with humans, learn about cultures and what moves people, they teach each other and lift each other up.
I loved this so, so much! The writing was perfect, the characters grew incredibly dear to me, and the ending is a piece of art. (486 pages)


Herbology (plant on the cover) ☑

I had been meaning to read The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris for a long time but – as with so many books – never got around to it. Now I finally also enjoyed this pleasurable retelling of some Norse myths from the point of view of our favorite trickster. Loki’s voice was quite funny, narrating his escapades beautifully. I was especially surprised how well the modern dialogue worked, considering the setting. You’d expect a lot of old-timey speech but this way, it was much funnier and the ideas still came across.
The ending, although it was clear how everything would end from the start, was a bit of a let-down. I would have gladly read more Loki and Thor adventures but didn’t care much about the overarching story. But I’ll check out the sequel for sure. (302 pages)


Potions (sequel) ☑

It’s hard to explain how much I love Martha Wells‘ Murderbot Diaries. The titular Murderbot (a Security Unit robot with human parts) has hacked their control module and, since then, spent their time doing what they like best: Watching endless seasons of soap operas.
Except of course, real life threats get in the way, Murderbot has to save humans and fellow bots, all while being desperately anti-social and anxious. I didn’t like Rogue Protocol, the third in the series, as much as the predecessors but following Murderbot is always a pleasure. And I’ll definitely continue the series, if only for Murderbot’s wonderful voice and exasperation about us humans and our quirks. (158 pages)


Transfiguration (sprayed edges/red coveR) ☑

Oh boy! I was the last person to expect a slim novella written in free verse to get to me the way Maryse Mejer’s Northwood did. I’m not a huge poetry fan and I have very few poets that I actually like. I was not a fan of Meijer’s poetry as such, but the story she told was mind-blowing.
A woman moves to a hut in the wood to focus on her art. There, she meets an older married man, begins a violent affair with him and becomes obsessed with him. When the affair ends and she goes back home, the obsession continues.
This is a truly dark little book. Some chapters felt like a punch in the guts, I was frequently shocked and disgusted. I had to put the book down several times because it was just so hard to read. While the ending didn’t convince me, I was still pretty blown away by this powerful little book. (128 pages)


divination (set in the future) ☑

Because Murderbot is so much fun and I needed to catch up on the series anyway, I read Martha Wells’ Exit Strategy for Divination. This last (for now) novella in the Murderbot series wraps things up nicely with the very first book, as Murderbot has to try and save the humans they first encountered in All Systems Red. While I didn’t love the third in the series as much, this one was back to its usual greatness. Murderbot has to deal with a lot of emotions here (and they hate having emotions) and while it’s a short book, it asks important questions of personhood and identity, humanity and human rights. I loved it and can’t wait for the full-length novel that is set to be published next. (176 pages)


defence against the dark arts (title starts with “r”) ☑

I really, really, really didn’t for the life of me expect to enjoy Seanan McGuire’s Rosemary and Rue. But I needed a book that started with “R” and this series is nominated for a Hugo Award, so everything pointed to it.
I ended up completely falling into this world of urban fairies. It may have had some plot issues and almost too much action (almost, but not quite), but I loved Toby as a protagonist, I want to learn more about this world of Faerie Courts and lieges and blood magic and changelings. It’s a magical murder investigation with incredibly high stakes and with a plot twist right at the beginning and compelling characters. I raced through this book and now hope to fit the next one somewhere into my N.E.W.T.s reading. (368 pages)


care of magical creatures (land animal on the cover) ☑

This was a surprisingly difficult subject for me because I already put my top book choice for this on my N.E.W.T.s reading list and I wasn’t sure if birds counted as land animals. I heard that dragons do, however, so the little dragon (and maybe the butterflies?) on this cover counts. The Alchemist’s Daughter is my first book by Eileen Kernaghan and it wasn’t at all what I expected. More historical than fantastic and not exactly fast-paced, it ended up being only an okay story about a girl seeking the famed elixir that will turn metal into gold – a task her alchemist father has failed at for many years. The plot was kind of strange, everything was told rather simplistically, and the characters remained mostly flat. I can’t say that I felt immersed in the story at any time, but I kept on reading because I was hoping that something would happen soon. Alas, the book kept up its level of “meh” until the very end. (144 pages)


astronomy (“star” in the title) ☑

What better way to pass my Astronomy O.W.L. than with William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: The Jedi Doth Return by Ian Doescher?
I had read the previous two instalments and enjoyed them a great deal, and this last of the original trilogy wasn’t any different. It’s the story of Star Wars, wrapped in Shakespearean language, sometimes even with direct Shakespeare quotes, and with lovely, hilarious illustrations. I mean, just look at Jabba on that cover! There’s more goodness inside and if you like Star Wars and Shakespeare, you don’t want to miss this series.
At 165 pages, it was also a perfect book to fit in some more O.W.L.s exams in the little time I had left. (165 pages)


arithmancy (written by more than one author) ☑

I totally wanted to read a short book for this prompt but then Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff fell into my hands, I remembered how much I liked Illuminae, and the decision was made. And I do admit, although this is a really chunky book, the way it is written and illustrated, the pages just fly by. The fact that the plot was super exciting, the characters engaging, and the action fantastic, may have also helped. It’s been a while since I read Illuminae but I think I liked this second book even more. It also brings together the two books in the trilogy nicely and sets up the larger conflict for the third book. I’m glad I finished this a couple of days before the O.W.L.s ended, because I can feel a major book hangover coming up. (663 pages)


All things considered, this was an amazing experience! The Harry Potter theme kept me motivated throughout the whole month, and although I know well enough it’s all make-believe, the chance of achieving my dream wizarding career was like a shiny carrot dangling in front of my face. I can’t wait for the N.E.W.T.s and what may very well become a double major (Ravenclaw here… classic overachiever). I will leave you with my beautiful report card.

N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon 2019

As I am rushing through my catch-up O.W.L.s in July (my results will be posted at the beginning of August), I’ll be ready just in time to participate in the mad awesomeness that is the N.E.W.T.s Readathon, which runs from August 1st through August 31st. G at Book Roast really created a stunning readathon, and one that motivates me to read older books like no other. Long post ahead!

This readathon is based on the tests taken in the Harry Potter world. For each school subject, there are three reading prompts. Depending on how many you manage to do (and in the right order!), your grade can range from A = Acceptable to E = Exceeds Expectations to O = Outstanding. Naturally, I’d love to get an Oustanding on all my N.E.W.T.s but realistically, I will only be able to read so many books within a month, even though I’m a Ravenclaw. This is where the careers come in handy, as they tell you which subjects to focus on so you can pursue your dream job in the wizarding world.

My chosen career is Journalist/Writer, so I’ll need to read a minimum of four books. Two of them will count toward my grade for History of Magic, one of them is for Muggle Studies, and the third can be for a class of my choice. I marked the prompts I have to fulfill with an asterisk. If I’m lucky and manage to grab a lot of reading time in August, I might check out the others to improve my marks.

And if I do very well on my O.W.L.s and there are more career options open to me, I may attempt some more N.E.W.T.s – in that case, I’d probably go for Hogwarts Professor. And just so I’m well prepared, here are all my books that would fit the prompts.


History of Magic

*A: read a fantasy
Helen Oyeyemi – Gingerbread
*E: read a book that includes a map
Margaret Rogerson – Sorcery of Thorns
O: Tom Riddle’s diary: fond memory – reread a favourite (or read a classic)
Ursula K. LeGuin – The Wizard of Earthsea (reread)

These books will very likely not be changed. I am looking forward to all of them immensely! Helen Oyeyemi is such a fantastic writer who intermingles fairy tales with real world situations beautifully. Sorcer of Thorns is on everyone’s TBR, and Earthsea has been so long ago for me that I remember only key points. It’s definitely time for a reread so I can continue the series.


Muggle Studies

*A: Cover that includes an actual photo element (person, item, place, etc.)
Rhiannon Thomas – A Wicked Thing
E: book set in our real world
Peter S. Beagle – In Calabria
O: book written by a person of colour
N. K. Jemisin – The Awakened Kingdom

I had a hard time finding a book with a photo cover but eventually, A Wicked Thing popped up. For the other two books, I chose very thin ones because I really want to read them to get a better grade than necessary. Plus, you can’t really go wrong with Peter S. Beagle and N. K. Jemisin.


Charms (my selection)

*A: read a book that you think has a gorgeous cover
Joanna Ruth Meyer – Echo North
E: read a comic/graphic novel/manga (or a book under 150 pages)
Holly Black – The Lost Sisters
O: Spongify (softening charm) – read a paperback book
Megan Whalen Turner – The Queen of Attolia

I mean, look at Echo North – look how pretty it is! For the graphic novel, I currently only have huge collected editions on my TBR (1000 pages of a graphic novel is just too much), so I went with Holly Black’s prequel story to The Cruel Prince. I just realized that if Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman arrives on time (publication on August 20th), I can read this graphic novel for the prompt. Yay! Originally, I wanted to start The Queen’s Thief series with the N.E.W.T.s but as I’m already reading The Thief, I will just read the second volume during August.


Ancient Runes

A: Ehwaz (partnership) – read recommended by a friend
Lisa Goldstein – The Uncertain Places
E: a book written in past tense
Julia Ember – The Seafarer’s Kiss
O: a book that has been on your TBR for ages
Wolf Haas – Brennerova

I’ve been meaning to read The Uncertain Places for so long, it’s just that the cover always kind of puts me off. But not this time! I also look forward to the lesbian Little Mermaid retelling, The Seafarer’s Kiss, of which I have heard many good things. And finally, the last Brenner novel (an Austrian detective series) has been on my TBR embarrassingly long. As it’s also in German and I usually read much faster in German (duh, it’s my mother tongue), I expect to fly through this. And, Wolf Haas is also super funny, which helps.


Arithmancy

A: a book that ends on an even page number
T. Kingfisher – Summer in Orcus
E: read a standalone
Esther Dalseno – Drown
O: a book that’s longer than 350 pages
Nicola Griffith – Hild

As I love everything T. Kingfisher writes, I can’t wait to start Summe in Orcus. My standalone book may change, however. I already have a Little Mermaid retelling on this list and I’m not sure if I’ll be up for two in one month (if I even get this far). But I really, really, really want to finally read Hild! It’s a big book and I expect it to be rather slow – character-focused, beautiful language – so this may also change.


Astronomy

A: moon on the cover or anywhere in the title
Vicky Alvear Shecter – Cleopatra’s Moon
E: the word “night” in the book title or series name
Charlie Jane Anders – The City in the Middle of the Night
O: read a sci-fi book (or a book with stars on the cover)
Diana Peterfreund – For Darkness Shows the Stars

I’m pretty set on this selection. I haven’t read any books about Cleopatra, so I’m curious what I’ll get. Charlie Jane Anders is amazing though, so I know I’ll probably love her latest book. And I’ve heard many good things about Diana Peterfreund’s Jane Austen retelling (both sci-fi and with stars on the cover!).


Care of Magical Creatures

A: Follow the spiders! Why couldn’t it be follow the butterflies? A book title that starts with the letter A, for Aragog
Arkady Martine – A Memory Called Empire
E: a book under 300 pages
Nnedi Okorafor – Broken Places & Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected
O: Grab onto Fawkes’ tail! Read a book with a bird on the cover
Ann Leckie – The Raven Tower

This is a crazy ambitious subject for me. Both A Memory Called Empire and The Raven Tower are rather chunky books. As I really want to read Nnedi Okorafors collection, however, I’ll at least try to make it through A Memory Called Empire. I look forward to reading it, it’s just the page count that’s a little daunting.


Defence Against the Dark Arts

A: a book that’s black under the dust jacket
Maya Motayne – Nocturna
E: Gilderoy’s memory charm – first book that you remembered just now from your TBR
George MacDonald – The Princess and the Goblin
O: Cornish pixie! Swat it away with a book written by an English author or set in England
Terry Pratchett – Thief of Time

Oh yeah, I love this category! I had more black-under-the-dust-jacket books than I expected but I just had to go with Nocturna (my edition is blue so it would also fit the House color prompt). Then, because I don’t want only newer books, I’ll head on to The Princess and the Goblin, and finally, some well-deserved Terry Pratchett. I’m spacing out Discworld novels, these days, because they are precious and I always want to have one unread for when I need a book that just makes me happy.


Divination

A: read a white book
Helen Oyeyemi – White is for Witching
E: read a short story or collection of short stories
Catherynne M. Valente – A Guide to Folktales in Fragile Dialects
O: read the last book you bought/took from the library
C.S.E. Cooney – Desdemona and the Deep

Another Helen Oyeyemi because I adore her! I will also definitely read a Cat Valente collection (favorite author, hello!), but the specific book may change. I have six (!) of her collections here, this just that this is one of the shorter ones. Other options include Ventriloquism, The Melancholy of Mechagirl, The Omikuji Project, The Future is Blue, and Myths of Origin.
Desdemona and the Deep just arrived in the mail – pre-orders are a beautiful thing. And C. S. E. Cooney is way up there with my favorite authors, so I can’t wait.


Herbology

A: Mandrake! Quick, put your headphones on! Listen to an audiobook (if not – green cover)
Holly Black – The Wicked King
E: read a book between 350-390 pages
C. A. Fletcher – A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World
O: read a book with a flower on the cover
Lana Popović – Wicked Like a Wildfire

I want to read The Wicked King soon anyway, and I have the audiobook, so although it’s not a thin book, it fits perfectly. A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World wasn’t on my radar until I read some rave reviews of it. Now I have to read it and it fits the page count. The last book may change yet. I have a few books with flowers on the cover but I doubt I’ll even get this far in Herbology.


Potions

A: Polyjuice Potion! Read a friend’s favorite book!
Laini Taylor – Strange the Dreamer
E: House ingredient: book with a cover in your Hogwarts House color (blue)
Karen Lord – Unraveling
O: book that starts with a prologue
G. Willow Wilson – Alif the Unseen (starts with chapter zero, I hope that counts)

My real-world friends don’t really read that much but Strange the Dreamer seems to be a lot of people’s favorite book and I already started it once but life got in the way. I want to try it again and finish the story this time. My Hogwarts House is Ravenclaw, so Karen Lord’s Unraveling works well for this prompt. I thought I’d have the easiest time picking a book with a prologue because fantasy has lots of prologues… but I didn’t. I ended up with Alif the Unseen, which starts with chapter zero. If I find another book with an actual prologue, I’ll switch them but for now, this has to do.


Transfiguration

A: read a book with LGBTQIA+ representation
Kameron Hurley – The Light Brigade
E: read a book thats not the first in a series
Mishell Baker – Impostor Syndrome
O: McGonagall does not mess around! Read a book over 500 pages
Marlon James – Black Leopard, Red Wolf

Another super exciting subject with rather ambitious book choices on my part. I have to check out The Light Brigade! I still haven’t read any fiction by Kameron Hurley but I love her non-fiction and everyone’s been raving about this book. Then, to finally finish the trilogy, I’ll go for Impostor Syndrome, and then, if I have time and a lot of ambition left, I’ll dive into the chunky tome that is Black Leopard, Red Wolf.

So this is it, all the books I could potentially read during August, although I’ll read a fraction of them at best. My priorities lie with the subjects I need to pass for my career as a writer but once that’s done, I’ll work my way through the rest of the list. If there’s a lot of time left, I might still try for a secondary career as a Defence Against the Dark Arts professor!

Some of these books have been on my TBR way too long, some are new releases that I want to catch up on. The specific books may still change, depending on what falls into my hands during the month of August. New releases or other books that fit the prompt and I just haven’t thought of yet, who knows? But I know one thing – I am super excited for this readathon, I look forward to all of the books and the interactions with other participants and the general joy that pretending to go to Hogwarts gives us all!

Are you also doing this readathon? If so, what career did you choose? Leave a link to your posts in the comments. I LOVE seeing other people’s readathon TBRs. 🙂

O.W.L.s Magical Readathon 2019 (The Late to the Party Edition)

I’ve been looking for readathons for the summer months because, although I’m doing pretty well on my reading goals so far, I could use a little kick. I miss the months when I used to read 10 books instead of 4. And I love readathons. As many of you will have guessed, I came across something called Magical Readathon, which is technically two readathons based on the wizarding tests taken in the Harry Potter world. Naturally, I was in love!

I missed the actual O.W.L.s Readathon but I’m going to try and catch up on my classes and the reading prompts in July, so I can officially join the N.E.W.T.s in August. YAY!

What I love about this readathon is that it leaves you a lot of freedom about how much to read and even what types of books to read. But it’s all wrapped in Harry Potter nerdiness and I can’t express how excited that makes me! You can choose a wizarding profession, based on which you have to fulfill certain reading prompts. And you need to pass X amount of those classes in order to move on to your N.E.W.T.s.

I have read through all the careers and especially their requirements and I am very happy with my choice of Journalist/Writer, both because that’s something I would genuinely enjoy and because the reading requirements are totally managable.

As you can see, the requirements for my career of choice are three O.W.L.s which translates to three books (if I understood the rules correctly… they are extensive). And then I have to go on and fulfil three N.E.W.T.s prompts but with a certain grade (A = one book, E = two books, O = 3 books, each of which has to fit a different prompt).

The O.W.L.s are also graded overall by the amount of exams completed.

  • Acceptable = 2 or more exams completed
  • Exceeds Expectations = 6 or more  exams completed
  • Outstanding = 9 or more  exams completed

I really want an Outstanding, but realistically, the most I’ll be able to manage will be an Exceeds Expectations. We’ll see how the month goes and how quickly I fly thorugh my books. Speaking of which… here is my TBR for the rest of the month:

History of Magic

A book published at least 10 years ago: Nancy Springer – Fair Peril

This prompt is a perfect fit because it also features in the Retellings Reading Challenge I’m participating in this year and I have struggled to fill that slot. But Nancy Springer’s Fair Peril has been on my TBR pretty long, it has won the Mythopoeic Award, and it’s a retelling of The Frog Prince. And, at roughly 250 pages, I am quite sure I can finish it during the rest of the month.

Muggle Studies

A Contemporary novel: Sam J. Miller – Destroy All Monsters

This was a tough one for me because I don’t read a lot of comtemporary books, I read almost exclusively fantasy with an occasional classic mixed in. But, thanks to Sam. J. Miller, whose The Art of Starving was amazing, I have found a book that fits and that I’m excited for. It’s a 2019 release, too, and I desperately need to catch up on those.

Ancient Runes (subject chosen by me)

A retelling: Colleen Oakes – Queen of Hearts

The free subject also plays nicely into my year-long Retellings Reading Challenge. I have started this book a few days ago, it’s a retelling of Alice in Wonderland from the point of view of a young Queen of Hearts. I am not totally hooked yet, but I like the style. I expect to finish this pretty soon.

If I manage these prompts, I will try and pass some more O.W.L.s because I’m a nerd:

Charms

An adult work: Helene Wecker – The Golem and the Jinni

I technically started this book in June, but as this would be extra credit reading, I think I’m within the rules for the readathon. It’s quite a big book and it’s not a quick read, not because it isn’t good (I adore it so far) but because it simply is a bit more demanding.

Herbology

A plant on the cover: Joanne M. Harris – The Gospel of Loki

Another book that has been on my TBR for ages, another one that goes well with my Retellings challenge, and it has a tree on the cover, so it works for the Herbology O.W.L. I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about this book ever since it was published, so it’s about time I found out for myself.

Whether I succeed in this or not, I will definitely go on to join the N.E.W.T.s Readathon in August because it sounds like so much fun and I want to participate in all the chats and polls and side quests. Wish me luck! 🙂

2019 Retellings Challenge – First Quarter Update

The first quarter of the year is almost over (how did that happen?), so it’s time for a little update on my reading challenges. I think I’ve been doing pretty well, especially with the Retellings Challenge which is the most dear to me because my TBR is overflowing with retellings and I really need to catch up!

What I’ve read

My retellings have been everything from mind-blowingly good (The Scorpio Races and The Language of Thorns) to still very good (Trail of Lightning and A Curse so Dark and Lonely) to meh (In the Vanisher’s Palace and Pride) to complete failure (Girls of Paper and Fire). Although, that’s a very mixed outcome, I am quite pleased all things considered.

The Scorpio Races took a while to get started for me, but boy did it grab my heart at the end. I cried, people! The Language of Thorns satisfied both my need for more Grishaverse as well as my love for fairy tales. Trail of Lightning was a fun post-apocalyptic Urban Fantasy romp in a unique setting and A Curse so Dark and Lonely caught me with its kick-ass active protagonist and its clever use of the Beauty and the Beast tropes.

In case you want to read my less favorable reviews, here’s Pride and here’s the complete trainwreck that was Girls of Paper and Fire.

My retellings reading plan

I don’t have any fixed plans on what to read next because I like to see where my mood takes me, but there are a few books that definitely have to happen soon.

  • Surprise Peter Pan retelling (depends on which book wins the poll for the April group read on Goodreads)
  • Katherine Arden – The Winter of the Witch
  • Madeline Miller – Circe
  • Rosamunde Hodge – Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

I’m really looking forward to the Peter Pan retelling, no matter which book wins. All the nominated books sound amazing, so I’ll be happy with whatever gets the most votes (except for Alias Hook which I’ve already read). Madeline Miller’s Song of Achilles was really beautiful, so I’m making her my choice for Greek myth retelling, Rosamunde Hodge is also one of my favorite retellings authors and I’m curious to see what her version of Romeo and Juliet looks like. And Katherine Arden has stolen my reader’s heart with her Winternight Trilogy, so finding out how the story ends is bittersweet. I really want to know what happens but I don’t look forward to not having any of her books left to read.

General Thoughts on the Challenge

I’ve been loving this challenge so far. I did notice that, after reading a lot of retellings I felt a need for something else. So I spent March reading mostly other books, catching up on some series, even reading something that isn’t SFF (Anne of Green Gables – it’s adorable!) but by now, I’m really back in the mood for more retellings. Since I always read more than one book at a time, I may try pairing a retelling with a new release – there are so many new books this year that sound absolutely amazing.

If you’re doing this challenge as well, how is it going for you? Have you discovered a hidden gem like I did with The Scorpio Races? Have you been disappointed in an over-hyped book? Let me know in the comments and if you participate in the challenge, make sure to link up at Cornerfolds.

Bout of Books 24 – Goals and Updates

I am so very excited about participating in Bout of Books 24! So I thought I would write down my reading goals and a tentative TBR for the coming week. As always, new books may flutter into my hands and take over any plans I have made… you know how it is. This post will remain a sticky throughout the week and I’ll try to update daily. Happy reading, fellow read-a-thoners!


Bout of Books

Reading goals:

  • Finish  three books
  • Review two of them
  • Participate in one challenge

TBR:

  • R. F. Kuang – The Poppy War finished on Tuesday
  • Maggie Stiefvater – The Scorpio Races finished on Thursday
  • Natasha Ngan – Girls of Paper and Fire
  • Susan Dennard – Windwitch
  • C.S.E. Cooney – The Breaker Queen
  • Aliette de Bodard – In the Vanisher’s Palace

I am almost done with A Conjuring of Light and I have a third of The Poppy War left. The Cooney and Bodard books are both very slim so I’m thinking I might manage both of them. But we’ll see how the week goes (considering I caught some kind of a stomach bug and spent the last two days mostly sleeping) and I won’t be disappointed if I don’t manage all of these.


OVERALL STATS

Books read: 3
Pages read: ~ 801
Challenges:
Titles read:


MONDAY

Total books read:  0
Pages read today:
~ 160
Books I’m reading:

  • R.F. Kuang – The Poppy War
  • Maggie Stiefvater – The Scorpio Races

Notes:

I finished A Conjuring of Light yesterday, so that’s off my read-a-thon TBR. It was a bit underwhelming and some story lines really disappointed me in their conclusion. All things considered, the first book is still my favorite, the third book had some excellent ideas but the characters grew weaker and weaker as the story went along.
Quite by coincidence, The Scorpio Races fell into my hands. I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, I just looked at the prologue a little bit and – whoops – now I’m reading the book.

I read a fair bit in The Poppy War today and dipped my toes into the terrifying waters of The Scorpio Races. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THOSE HORSES???


TUESDAY

Total books read:  1
Pages read today:
~ 172
Books I’m reading:

  • Maggie Stiefvater – The Scorpio Races
  • R.F. Kuang – The Poppy War  finished today, it was SOOO good!

Notes:

I’m almost certain I can finish The Poppy War today although I’m not at all sure how it will end. The sequel is on my wishlist though. Whatever happens, I’ll need to know what happens next.

The Scorpio Races is something else. Because I trust the name Maggie Stiefvater ever since she blew me away with the Raven Trilogy, I didn’t do much research about this book. Killer horses that come from the sea? Let’s just say it’s very hard to believe but I’m willing to go along with it. The two protagonists are certainly intriguing enough to enjoy the book.

Also, I realized that today The Winter of the Witch comes out which may change all my reading plans for the week. Let’s see how long my pre-order takes to arrive. Until then, it’s back to the crazy horses for me.


WEDNESDAY

Total books read:  1
Pages read today:
~ 146
Challenges:
Books I’m reading:

  • Maggie Stiefvater – The Scorpio Races
  • Natasha Ngan – Girls of Paper and Fire

Notes:

Since I finished The Poppy War yesterday and will probably race through The Scorpio Races in a couple of days, I get to start a new book. So today, glorious read-a-thon day, I get to spend time picking what to read next. Sure, there’s a TBR right on top of this page, but let’s be honest, the real TBR is about 1000 books long so I have a lot to choose from. This will be fun!

Of course I picked a completely different book from my TBR than expected but it’s not my fault when an introduction and opening chapter are that gripping. So it’s Natasha Ngan’s Girls of Paper and Fire which not only starts great but also has the most gorgeous cover! Look at the colors. Look at them!


THURSDAY

Total books read:  2
Pages read today:
~ 323
Books I’m reading:

  • Maggie Stiefvater – The Scorpio Races finished today, holy shit, all the stars!
  • Natasha Ngan – Girls of Paper and Fire
  • Aliette de Bodard – In the Vanishers’ Palace

Notes:

So, I finished The Scorpio Races while my boyfriend was watching The Godfather. This book! It had a really slow start but once I got into it, I was in it! I don’t think I put the book down for the entire second half. I took it with me to the bathroom and read while brushing my teeth because even though it has next to no plot, it was so damn thrilling. The ending tore my heart out and now I don’t quite no what to do with myself…

Girls of Paper and Fire continues to be exciting as well but I’ve got a bit of a book hangover now and may have to push in a lighter, shorter book to recover. Also, tomorrow will be review day. I have read a lot of great books in the last few months and still need to catch up on posting reviews for them.


FRIDAY

Total books read:  2
Pages read today:
~ 148
Books I’m reading:

  • Natasha Ngan – Girls of Paper and Fire
  • Aliette de Bodard – In the Vanishers’ Palace Finished today, it was alright.

Notes:

I’ve started In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard and it is a strange little book, part retelling of Beauty and the Beast, part post-apocalyptic (?) story with Vietnamese influences. As it’s also a very short book, I’ll probably finish it today but I have no idea what to expect or what the ending could be. The writing is beautiful but I find the world building rather challenging.

And I’m still hung up on The Scorpio Races. If I didn’t have 1000 books on my TBR, I’d re-read it immediately.


SATURDAY

Total books read:  3
Pages read today:
~ 35
Books I’m reading:

  • Natasha Ngan – Girls of Paper and Fire
  • Leigh Bardugo – Siege and Storm

Notes:

Today, I didn’t read much because the boyfriend and I went to visit friends who just adopted a dog. We went for a long walk and then decided to have pizza. So while it was an amazing day, it was not a day filled with reading.

I did finish In the Vanishers’ Palace yesterday (wasn’t as crazy about it as many others, but it was okay) and I started Leigh Bardugo’s Siege and Storm today. Not only because of the announcement that there will be a TV show based on the Grishaverse but also because I need to get on with this series. I liked the first book, I adored Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, so it’s about time I finished the original Grisha trilogy.


SUNDAY

Total books read:  3
Pages read today:
~
Challenges: Stretch Goal
Books I’m reading:

  • Natasha Ngan – Girls of Paper and Fire
  • Leigh Bardugo – Siege and Storm

Notes:

It’s the last day of the read-a-thon and I am making up for yesterday’s lack of reading. I’m almost halfway through Siege & Storm and I already like it much better than the first book in the trilogy. Girls of Paper and Fire is still there, but I’m only reading bits of it at a time because I want to make it last a bit longer.

I have no idea how much I read on Sunday.  I finished Siege & Storm and loved it! I jumped straight into The Language of Thorns which I finished on Monday, and I have no intention of getting out of the Grishaverse soon. It was an excellent read-a-thon for me and I managed to kick-start the year with some great reads, a handful of reviews, and a headstart at my reading challenges. YAY!

Challenges:

Well, today’s challenge comes in very handy because it is to review our goals,  change them or set ourselves a new one just for today. As one of my goals was to participate in one challenge, this is the one I’m going for. My mini-goal for today is to read to the 70% mark in Siege & Storm. Let’s see if I can manage that. I have no other plans today but the book is not exactly slim.

 

Bout of Books 24 – Sign-Up

What better way to revive this blog than with a read-a-thon? Bout of Books is one of my favorites and I happen to have some time on my hands while the read-a-thon is happening, so this is my official sign-up post.

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 7th and runs through Sunday, January 13th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 24 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

I am not going to set myself goals just yet. There are still a few days left before Bout of Books starts and I don’t know what books I’ll finish or start until then. But I definitely have some books that I want to get to very soon, so I’ll post my goals on the first day of the read-a-thon.