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. 🙂

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.

 

#TheReadingQuest Sign Up

Hello everyone! My hiatus is still ongoing, although I am sorting out my life and things are looking much more positive at the moment. I won’t be posting much for the next couple of weeks because – drumroll – it’s Worldcon!!! And because things have to get back on track sometime, I am joining another reading challenge by the wonderfully creative Aentee from Read at Midnight. It will start on August 13th, just as Worldcon ends.

This challenge lasts for an entire month, so although I may be starting late, I will have enough time to catch up on all the books I neglected these last two months. As you may have guessed, although I pretty much stopped reading and reviewing, I have been busily buying new books the entire time and my TBR has reached heights that I would call seriously threatening.

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#DiverseAThon Sign-Up Post and TBR

I am so sad that the DA readathon is over because I loved its focus on diverse books and how all my book choices ended up being fantastic reads. So I’m signing right up to the next readathon which is also about diverse books.

The #DiverseAThon lasts for one week – starting on 22nd January – and while I know I won’t be able to read a lot during a work week, I think aiming for three books is doable. And to make it a little more challenging for myself, I’m going to pick three books that all feature a different type of diversity: one book by an Author of Color, one book featuring LGBTQ characters, and one book featuring an autistic character and written by an author with autism.

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My Diverse-a-thon TBR

Helen Oyeyemi – What is Not Yours is Not Yours

I adore Oyeyemi’s writing but so far I’ve only read two of her novels, never any of her short fiction. This short story collection sounds like just my cup of tea and, since I know I love the author’s style, I believe I’m in for a treat.

Playful, ambitious, and exquisitely imagined, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In “Books and Roses” one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers’ fates. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. “‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea” involves a “house of locks,” where doors can be closed only with a key—with surprising, unobservable developments. And in “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That Don’t You Think,” a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason).

Oyeyemi’s creative vision and storytelling are effervescent, wise, and insightful, and her tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation? What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours captivates as it explores the many possible answers.

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Molly Tanzer – Vermilion

The description to this book is so filled with buzzwords that I’ve been wanting to read it since it came out. A gunslinging heroine, the Weird West, ghosts, and (according to some reviews I read), a diverse cast of characters. What’s not to love?

vermilion

The Adventures of Lou Merriwether, Psychopomp

Gunslinging, chain smoking, Stetson-wearing Taoist psychopomp, Elouise “Lou” Merriwether might not be a normal 19-year-old, but she’s too busy keeping San Francisco safe from ghosts, shades, and geung si to care much about that. It’s an important job, though most folks consider it downright spooky. Some have even accused Lou of being more comfortable with the dead than the living, and, well… they’re not wrong.

When Lou hears that a bunch of Chinatown boys have gone missing somewhere deep in the Colorado Rockies she decides to saddle up and head into the wilderness to investigate. Lou fears her particular talents make her better suited to help placate their spirits than ensure they get home alive, but it’s the right thing to do, and she’s the only one willing to do it.

On the road to a mysterious sanatorium known as Fountain of Youth, Lou will encounter bears, desperate men, a very undead villain, and even stranger challenges. Lou will need every one of her talents and a whole lot of luck to make it home alive…

From British Fantasy Award nominee Molly Tanzer comes debut novel Vermilion, a spirited weird Western adventure that puts the punk back into steampunk.

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Corinne Duyvis – On the Edge of Gone

Now this is a big book! It’s a bit daunting to bit this on a readathon TBR but I’ve been wanting to read one of Duyvis’s books for a while now. The author was diagnosed with autism at a young age and this book also features an autistic character. I’m very curious to read it, so although her second novel (Otherbound) is shorter, I’m going with this one.

on-the-edge-of-gone

January 29, 2035.

That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

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I am very much looking forward to the #DiverseAThon, especially since there will be Twitter chats and loads of recommendations. And it’s not like you can ever have too many books.

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#DAreadathon Wrap-Up and Points

The DA Readathon is officially over and I have collected all my points as well as some thoughts about the experience.

da-readathon

The short of it is: I loved everything about this challenge. As a readathon, it was casual enough, it lasted two weeks, and there was very little pressure (unless you count my personal ambition to collect lots of house points for Ravenclaw). My favorite part  was probably the reading prompts which corresponded with spells from the Harry Potter universe, and the fact that this readathon encouraged people to read diverse books.  Not only were these prompts accompanied by lovely graphics, they also give the readathon a bit of structure. They also helped me choose books. If your TBR is as big as mine, picking a handful of books can be quite overwhelming. Most of all, though, every book I read because of this readathon, has been fantastic and I’m so glad I participated.

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First of all, let’s see how many House points I’ve collected for Ravenclaw:

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Points for pages read:  101

  • Kissing the Witch: 228
  • Labyrinth Lost: 336
  • Six of Crows: 285
  • Borderline: 168

As you get one point for every 10 pages read, I added the “left-over” pages up until I reached another 10.
So for Kissing the Witch, I get 22 points, plus 8 left-over pages. For Labyrinth Lost I got 33 points, plus 6 pages. Those 6 added to the 8 pages from Kissing the Witch make 14 pages which got me another point (and 4 left-over pages). And so on. I hope I interpreted the rules correctly here. Otherwise, somebody let me know, please.

Points for books finished:  10

  • Emma Donoghue – Kissing the Witch
  • Zoraida Córdova – Labyrinth Lost

Points for reviews posted: 10

Points for social media: 5

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Now to the books I’ve read, started and didn’t get to:

I finished two books and reviewed both of them. They were both fantastic reads by new-to-me authors.

Emma Donoghue’s Kissing the Witch is a short story collection which retells well-known fairy tales, but with a lesbian twist. The connections between the stories may not have made a lot of sense but the stories themselves were wonderful, sometimes dark reads.

Zoraida Córdova’s Labyrinth Lost was just lovely all around. Lacking a bit in characterisation, the book had great world building, a bisexual protagonist, an intriguing magic system, and a wonderful depiction of family! I really loved it and can’t wait for the sequel.

I almost finished two more books. These are very, very different reads, but I fell in love with them equally.

I don’t think I need to say much about Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows as everybody except for me seems to have read it. I’m in the last third of that book and by now, I know this thieving crew well enough to be quite emotionally invested.

Mishell Baker’s Borderline, on the other hand, is something I usually wouldn’t read. It’s Urban Fantasy set in Hollywood, featuring a disabled, mentally ill protagonist who tried to kill herself. If I hadn’t read a ton of great reviews, I would have said that’s a bit much for one book. But it works beautifully. Millie’s Borderline Personality Disorder is always there, but it never gets “in the way” of the plot, if you know what I mean. This is not an “issue book” like they made you read in school. It’s a great mystery with an unusual Urban Fantasy world – in that I haven’t met any werewolves yet – and the protagonist’s voice is so wonderful, it’s hard to put the book down. I read about half of that book during the readathon.

Unfortunately, because work left me too tired to read on most days, here are the books I didn’t get to. But I am determined to just continue reading them as if the readathon was still going on, I just won’t award myself any House points. 🙂

  • Madeline Miller – Song of Achilles
    This book tells the love story between Achilles and Patroclus and I hear tissues are needed for reading this.
  • Nicola Griffith – Hild
    A historical fantasy featuring a kick-ass heroine? Sign me up. Also, I heard this is a slow, more character-driven book and while some people don’t like those, it’s totally my thing.
  • Siliva Moreno-Garcia – Signal to Noise
    I am so looking forward to this story, set in 80ies Mexico City. I heard it’s magical realism and there’s lots of music (thus the cover), and that sounds like it could be amazing!

Thanks to Read at Midnight for the amazing challenge. I hope you will host this readathon (or a similar one) again next year!

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#DAReadAThon

Hello, New Year! It’s nice to meet you. Let me welcome you by collecting lots of House Points for Ravenclaw during the Dumbledore’s Army Read-A-Thon (hosted by Read at Midnight).

Here’s my challenge ID card:

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I particularly look forward to this read-a-thon because it promotes diverse books, it lasts for two whole weeks, and it gives us Potter nerds a chance to show our House pride. I have prepared a list of books to tackle for the challenge – each of them is matched with a spell from the Potter universe. More details about the books I chose to read, what spell they correspond with, and how I like them, below.

Let the reading begin!

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da-readathon-points

There are several ways to collect House points, the most obvious one of which is reading! Per 10 pages read, you gain your house 1 point and if you finish a book, that’s an additional 5 points. A review for the DA Readathon gets you another 5 points. But you can also collect points on social media by tweeting about current reads or giving book recommendations. The same goes for Instagram photos of your TBR or current #DAReadathon book.

Points for pages read:  101

  • Kissing the Witch: 228
  • Labyrinth Lost: 336
  • Six of Crows: 285
  • Borderline: 168

Points for books finished:  10

  • Emma Donoghue – Kissing the Witch
  • Zoraida Córdova – Labyrinth Lost

Points for reviews posted: 10

Points for social media: 5

POINTS EARNED FOR RAVENCLAW: 126

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dareadathon-expecto-patronum

My first book has been chosen and it is Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue. This means I’m starting my Dumbledore’s Army readathon with the Patronus charm.

This book retells all the most famous fairy tales with a lesbian twist. Because I have loved fairy tales for as long as I can think, I consider this topic one of personal significance. I’ve never read anything by Emma Donoghue before but, so far, I really like what she’s done with the Grimms’ tales.

kissing the witch

Each short story ends with one character asking a second one about how they came to be where they are. And then they tell their story. In that story, they, in turn, ask someone else about their past, and so it goes on and on. I already have some issues with how everything fits together (because it doesn’t) but the stories themselves are lovely! Sometimes, we read about the princesses, sometimes the villains, but the story, although familiar, is never quite what you’d expect.

January 1st: Because this is rather a short book, I managed to finish it on the first day of the readathon. I hope I’ll have a review up by next week. On to my next spell…

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dareadthon-lumos

My Lumos book is Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova and I cannot wait to get started. A lot of people had this book on their readathon TBR, so I guess we’ll all be sort of buddy reading it, which makes this even more fun.

labyrinth-lost

What convinced me to read this book next was the gorgeous cover and the fantastic map at the beginning. It looks dark and creepy and just like my kind of (under?)world – I just couldn’t resist. At 336 pages, this will take me a bit longer than my first book but I am super motivated to read all 7 books for the readathon.

January 2nd: Okay, so I totally love this! After only one chapter, I already feel at home in this family of brujas. The sisters are adorable and just like sisters should be. Fighting over favorite clothes, who gets to use the bathroom first, but a loving family nonetheless. I cannot wait to find out everything that’s going on here.

January 5th: I couldn’t read very much these last days because work is… well, work. It makes me fall asleep as soon as I see my bed. No time for reading. But tomorrow is a holiday so I’ll have the entire long weekend to catch up. Labyrinth Lost continues to be wonderful. In fact, it’s getting better and better. I love Alejandra, the protagonist (and her family!), and I also really, really enjoy the potential love interests. I see two characters with potential, either of them may become a romantic partner, or neither of them. But the not knowing makes this  a highly refreshing book.

Evening: Aaaaand I’m home from work and have officially started my weekend. I am starting to seriously love this book even though I only read a few pages on the train today.

January 8th: So, I’m almost done with this book (still loving it) but I didn’t have a lot of time to read any other DA readathon books. On the upside, I finally went to see Rogue One on Saturday and it was much better than I expected. Plus, I still have to finish reading Flashfall, which I started very late last year and which, although very exciting at first, has kind of run out of steam by now.
However, I’m pretty sure I’ll have a review of Labyrinth Lost up next week and hopefully finish the rest of my readathon books.

January 10th: I finished this book yesterday and although I saw one part of the ending coming, I loved it to bits. The feeling of family, the warmth of friendship, and watching Alex come of age was just beautiful. My review is now online!

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dareadathon-stupefy

 

I also couldn’t resist any longer and started Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I picked it because of the hype surrounding the duology and again, just two chapters in, I am so hooked I want to just stay home all week and read this book!

six-of-crows

January 2nd: I had only ever read the first Grisha book by Leigh Bardugo before but if Six of Crows continues to be as good as its first chapters, I believe I’ve been missing out. Holy shit, how can I like both Inej and Kaz so much after one short encounter?

January 5th: As much as I adore Labyrinth Lost, I think it’s time to switch it up a bit and continue this amazeballs book! I still don’t know what the plot is really going to be about but I adore the characters so far.

January 11th: This is so much fun. Kaz is gathering a crew for his big job and you’d think the introduction of each character would be boring but it’s not. Bardugo uses the time for world-building as well as showing us who these guys are. I already have trouble picking a favorite (I was just introduced to Matthias) but I adore the names used in this novel. Ketterdam, the Barrel, the Dregs… names and places aren’t just words here – they have meaning and they paint pictures in your head. So even if you don’t get a description of the Dregs, you still get the idea that it’s not a nice place, that it’s a dark underbelly sort of area of the city. Just because of its name. Well done, Leigh Bardugo!

January 14th: OMG, there is so much going on here! While I am excited to see how the group will get the job done, what I find infinitely more interesting is the relationships between the members of the group. First of all – Nina and Inej, the only two girls, are friends. I love it. I love how effortlessy normal they are, how they are nice to each other, care about each other. I just hope they don’t become part of a love triangle, but  so far I trust Leigh Bardugo.
Nina and Matthias also have a… weird thing going on. These two are totally in love, I am sure of it even though it was never stated. But he also wants to kill her? And she got him sent to prison? Talk about baggage. I finally have reading time, and it’s wonderful to dive into this world for an hour or two without interruptions.

January 15th: I’ve read more than half of this book but I don’t think I can finish it in time. Plus, during a Twitter chat, somebody massively spoiled part of the story and now I’m reading certain chapters thinking about nothing else but that spoiler. It’s like a big cloud of doom hanging over the book. However, the book is still fun, and I hope that spoiled one wasn’t the only twist that’s coming up.

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da-readathon-expelliarmus

Because I can’t ever read just one book at a time, I had to start with my next Hogwarts spell right after finishing the last book and while still reading Six of Crows. Because that book is so immersive, I wanted something with a completely different world and tone, where I couldn’t possible mix up the stories in my brain. And here it is:

borderline

From what I’ve heard of this novel – and I have only heard good things – the protagonist has a failed suicide attempt in her past, lost both legs, and has Borderline Personality Disorder. If that doesn’t sound intriguing, I don’t know what does. And after reading the first few pages, I am already in love with the voice. Plus, I read about disabled characters so rarely, it’s about time to expand my horizons. Let’s get our Expelliarmus on, right?

January 11th: I read the first few chapters before bed yesterday and I am so surprised. Urban Fantasy is usually not my thing, because I just can’t read about another snarky, yet super sexy and capable, fighting machine heroine anymore who solves crimes with werewolves and vampires. But this? This is awesome! I can safely say I have never read about a character like Millie and although we have nothing in common, I love reading about her.

January 14th: This is a fantastic book! I only wish I’d had more energy during the last few days to actually read. Now that the weekend is finally here, I’ll need to get my butt in gear and catch up a little. I love Millie’s narration, I find the world fascinating, but I was so exhausted after work every day of the week that I only read a chapter or two before bed.

As much as this is a page-turner, I’ve been spending most of my time with Six of Crows, so I only read about a third of Borderline. Another book I won’t be able to finish during the readathon. But not only do I look forward to reading the rest of it, I am already eyeing the sequel which will come out this year.

January 15th: I’m a bit confused about the rules of the readathon. If today is still included in the challenge, I might just have a shot at finishing another book. Wish me luck!

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