Mythothon Round 4 Sign-Up and TBR

Aaaaah, it’s readathon time! As I’ve spent the beginning of the year with many a chunky book, and I picked some other books that simply take me longer to read (Harry Potter in Spanish may be fun, but with my rusty language skills, 200 pages can last me a long time :)). So I really look forward to planning a month of reading as many books as I can, catching up with all the books that had to wait.

So I’m joining Mythothon 4 hosted by the wonderful Louise at Foxes & Fairy Tales. The readathon will run throughout the month of April in your time zone.

The Rules

As with most readathons, there are teams to join and prompts to fulfill. The readathon theme may be inspired by Arthurian legend, but the books don’t have to be mythology-basedor retellings of King Arthur. They just have to fulfill the prompts. You can even double up on prompts (reading one book that fits two prompts would fulfill both).
However, I’ve always enjoyed making things difficult for myself so I will forbid myself to double up on prompts. One prompt, one book is the way I’m going.

For Twitter updates, use the hashtag #mythothon.
I don’t know about you but I always love browsing people’s updates and TBR posts during a readathon. I have so much fun cheering on my team (and, let’s be honest, the other teams as well) and seeing what everyone is reading. It also helps me find inspiration when I’m struggling to find a book for a certain prompt.

The teams

There are three teams to choose from and each comes with its very own first reading prompt. Initially, I wanted to join Team Morgan le Fay, but all the books which fit the prompt are 800 pages long (not a good idea for a readathon!), and I have one book that I’m crazy looking forward to which fits the Nimue prompt perfectly. So although I want to give some love to Morgan le Fay and morally grey characters, I’m joining Team Nimue.

NIMUE — Read a book set at sea.
A. G. Slatter – All the Murmering Bones


MERLIN— Read a book with a witch or wizard.


MORGAN LE FAY — Read a story about a villainous, misunderstood or morally grey character.


The prompts + my tbr

The prompts are, of course, inspired by the Knights of the Round Table. There is a total of 12 prompts plus the final one to end the quest, the Camelot prompt.

I have quite a few books to choose from as my TBR is beyond ridiculous, but that just means more fun and choices for all of these prompts.

KING ARTHUR — Read a book featuring royalty.
Theodora Goss – Snow White Learns Witchcraft (Snow White is a princess and I’m sure there will be more royalty in the fairy tale retellings and poems of this collection)


SIR LANCELOT (Arthur’s greatest companion) — Read a book from a favourite author.
Catherynne M. Valente – Under in Mere (Arthurian legend told by my favourite author, what could be more perfect for this prompt?)


SIR GAWAIN (Known as the Green Knight) — Read a book with the colour green on the cover or in the title.
Joanna Ruth Meyer – Into the Heartless Wood (as green a cover as you’ll find)


SIR PERCIVAL (the original hero in the quest for the Grail) — Read a book with a shiny cover.
Nicole Givens Kurtz  – Kill Three Birds, Jaida Jones & Dani Bennett – Master of One (I only have e-books of both of these but they look like they’ve got shiny covers)


SIR BORS (Arthur’s successor) — Read a sequel.
Amie Kaufmann & Jay Kristoff – Memento (Illuminae #0.5), Tamora Pierce – In the Hand of the Goddess (The Song of the Lioness #2)


SIR LAMORAK (one of the best knights but overlooked in the chivalric romance genre) — Read a book you think is under-hyped.
Katherine Arden – Small Spaces (very beloved by people who’ve read it but I don’t hear a lot of people talk about Arden’s children’s books)


SIR KAY (Arthur’s foster brother) — Read a book with a significant sibling relationship.
Rena Rossner – The Sisters of the Winter Wood (titular sisters), Tamora Pierce – Alanna: The First Adventure (brother and sister protagonists)


SIR GARETH (the youngest knight) — Read a recent addition to your TBR.
Sarah Gailey – The Echo Wife, P. Djèlí Clark – A Dead Djinn in Cairo


SIR BEDIVERE (returns Excalibur to Nimue) — Read a book with something pointy on the cover.
Andrzej Sapkowski – Time of Contempt (pointy sword and lots of teeth)


SIR GALAHAD (“the most perfect of all knights”) — Read a book with a title that starts with a “G”.
Roshanki Chokshi – The Gilded Wolves, Carolyn Turgeon – Godmother


SIR TRISTAN (falls in love with Isolde) — Read a book with a romance that should be legendary.
Chloe Gong – These Violent Delights (Romeo and Juliet retelling, so bound to be rather epic), Maria V. Snyder – Poison Study (found this on recommendation lists, probably heavy on the romance)


SIR GAHERIS (“the least well spoken of all his peers”) — Listen to an audiobook or read part of a story aloud.
Whichever audiobook I’m starting in April. Not making plans for this one at the moment.


CAMELOT — Read a book set in a place you’ve never visited. 
Nnedi Okorafor – Ikenga (set in Nigeria)

The Group Read

The group read isn’t compulsory but I have been interested in this book for a while, so I hope I can join and read along with the other participants.

The book is Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, a modern spin on King Arthur. I’ve heard interesting things about this one, but most reviews agree that there are a lot of twists and the plot is fast-paced. So even though I’m not a huge Urban Fantasy fan (nor a big fan of King Arthur), I think this will be a fun ride.

So this is my rough TBR for the month of April. As you can see, I’ve picked more than one book for many of the prompts because I just need that little bit of freedom to decide what to read when the time comes. Depending on how well I do at the beginning of the readathon, I may go for the shorter or two possible books, and depending on my mood I may choose one over the other.

That said, I’m looking forward to all of the books I’ve picked and I am super excited for my first readathon of 2021. Once April is over, all I’ll be doing is  reading Hugo-nominated works, so this is a great opportunity for catching up on other things before I have to focus on award reading again.

Series Crackdown 10.0 – Sign-Up and TBR

As I am not participating in the NEWTs readathon this August, I thought I’d use the time for a different one. The Series Crackdown has been around for a long time, but this is my first time participating. Keeping up with, let alone finishing series is something many of us are really bad at, so this is the perfect readathon to meet some reading goals, finally pick up that next volume, and feel the satisfaction of having read an entire trilogy/series/duology.

The Basics

Normally, this is a 10-day-readathon but because this year is its tenth anniversary, it will run from 1st – 31st August. The point is to tackle all those series that are gathering dust on the shelves. Whether you start a completely new series, continue one you’ve already started or finally read the very last book – let’s give those series some love!

There is also something called MOO points which you can get for participation in Twitter chats, posting updates or Instagram photos, and so on. I keep cracking up about this because whenever I read MOO point, I have Joey from Friend’s voice in my head, explaining why a moo point is invalid. “It’s like a cow’s opinion. It’s moo.” 🙂

Pick a Team

There are four teams – Duologies, Trilogies, Quartets, and Beasts. This was my first hurdle and it’s the reason this sign-up post is going up at the very last moment. I appreciate something about all of these, after all. A duology is lovely because if you liked the first book, there is more, but you don’t have to commit to thousands of pages to get the full story. Trilogies are classics, especially in the fantasy genre, quartets have the added bonus of being just a bit longer. And beasts… well, if I love a series, it’s always good to know there’s a lot more to look forward to. On the other hand, some series do go a little too far or it can take ages for the next book to come out.

In the end, I went not with my favorite type of series (because I couldn’t decide) but instead chose by team leader. After looking at their Twitter accounts, Mel from The Book Moo spoke to me the most, so Quartets is the team I’m reading for. Simple as that.

The prompts

Now for the nitty gritty. My favorite part of any readathon is the prompts. They push me to pick up books that I otherwise wouldn’t have – not because I don’t want to read them someday, but because there’s always something shiny grabbing my attention instead. Which is how I got into this whole 100-unfinished-series mess in the first place…
You can double up in this readathon, but one book counts for a maximum of two prompts.

My tentative TBR

Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender

FIRST IN A SERIES: Kacen Callender – Queen of the Conquered

This book was just nominated for a World Fantasy Award, a prize that usually goes to books I end up loving. It also works nicely for my personal challenge of discovering 10 new-to-me Black authors. And the premise sounds fantastic. Caribbean-inspired fantasy for fans of V.E. Schwab and Marlon James? That sounds both impossible and awesome. I’m here for it!

SEQUEL: Laini Taylor – Days of Blood and StarlightAnnouncing Laini Taylor's 10th Anniversary Editions | Hodderscape

It took me two reads to fully appreciate the first book in this trilogy, but now I’m all in. I want to learn more about this world of Seraphim and Chimaera, I want to see how this ages old war could possibly be resolved, and of course whether protagonist Karou can find some happiness for herself in this brutal world.

GATHERING DUST ON YOUR SHELF: Mishell Baker – Impostor Syndrome

I don’t know why I’ve waiting so long to read this book. I read the first two volumes pretty soon after they came out and was absolutely blown away. Borderline doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it should, especially for an SFF book with mental health representation. I can’t wait to find out how double-amputee Millie’s story ends and finally finish the trilogy.

Wundersmith (novel) | Nevermoor Wiki | FandomGLOSSY COVER: Jessica Townsend – Wundersmith

I adored the first book in the Nevermoor series which I read during my holiday in February. The quirky world of Nevermoor is exactly the kind of book I need right now. It’s full of fun and joy and lovely friendships. Plus Hollowpox, the third book, comes out in August, so this is the perfect time to catch up.

Blood of Elves (The Witcher, Band 1): Amazon.de: Sapkowski ...RECOMMENDED BY A FRIEND: Andrzej Sapkowski – Blood of Elves

I read the first two Witcher books in preparation for the Netflix show and they were so much better than I had expected. It helped that I had Henry Cavill in my head as Geralt of Rivia, but both the writing and stories surprised me.  I am excited and a bit daunted to read this book. But I also need more Geralt in my life, so here we go. A friend from work recommended this series and without that recommendation, I might have just watched the show and never picked up the books.

FANTASY: N. K. Jemisin – The Stone Sky

I lovede first two books in this Hugo Award-winning trilogy to piecesand I saved the last book on purpose. First of all, this apocalyptic world is something you need to savor, so the timing has to be right. Secondly, I know it’s going to blow my mind, so I’ve been saving it for a bad day. My days aren’t all that bad at the moment, but I’ve been itching to finally finish the series and get answers to all my burning questions.

READ WITH A SNACK: Ursula K. LeGuin – Tehanu

This is the freebie prompt because you can eat a snack with any book (and I am determined to snack while reading more than just this one). I’ve been doing quite well this year in finally catching up on the Earthsea books and this is the one I’ve been most looking forward to, simply because it is so divisive. It’s won lots of awards and many people love it. But some seem to absolutely loathe it – I am interested to find out what that is all about.

ANIMAL ON THE COVER: Susan Cooper – The Dark is Rising

I just started this series this year because it’s one of those classics that a part of me feels like I should have read. I liked the first book well enough but it felt very much like only the beginning of something much bigger. This second volume is the most acclaimed, so I am excited to dive in and find out for myself how this reimagining of Arthurian legend goes.

So this is my tentative TBR for the month of August. Knowing myself, I will probably replace at least one of these books with something else – Muse of Nightmares is staring at me with sad puppy eyes right now and Network Effect is calling my name! We’ll see how well I do in the beginning of August. Some of these books are quite big but if I get through them fast enough, I may even add a second book for some of the prompts. I do have two weeks off work in August, so there should be plenty of time for reading. I can’t wait for the Twitter reading sprints, the Instagram photo challenges (I won’t participate because I’m rubbish at taking pretty pictures but I love looking at other people’s photos), and all the other ways to connect to this community.

If you’re participating as well, leave a link to your post. I love seeing what other people are choosing for the reading prompts.

O.W.L.s Magical Readathon 2020 – Wrap-Up

The OWLs readathon is officially over and it has been a blast once again! For my chosen career of Trader of Magical Tomes, I only had to read four books, plus an additional one for the extra class to become a merpeople linguist.

 

General Thoughts

Just like last year, this readathon was so much fun and has such positive energy that it’s difficult not to get swept up in it. I was happy to immerse myself in this make-believe world that lets us pretend we’re taking Hogwarts classes by reading books. But I do have to say I wasn’t quite as engaged as last year… The fact that we’re going through a pandemic may have contributed to that. I’m not super worried about myself but it’s a global crisis that definitely takes up a lot of brain space every day.

Also, the Hugo Award finalists were announced earlier than I had expected. Usually, they come out around Easter but this time, it happened a week earlier, giving me more time to catch up on my reading. That worked out really well for this readathon as some of the finalists fit perfectly into the reading prompts.

O.W.L.s passed

I was pretty sure I could manage to pass all my OWLs but as we reached the middle of April and I was nearly done, I got a little more ambitious. So I did read one book for each class and then I added a few more books to the list, some that fit the prompts, others just because I had the time.

Total books read 17
Total pages read 4237
OWLs achieved 12

The books

Ancient Runes – A Book with a Heart on the cover or title

For this I chose a recent release by a formerly unknown to me author, Hearts of Oak by Eddie Robson. It turned out to be a super weird but also very fun ride. We follow a renowned architect in a city that’s all about buidling, rebuilding, tearing down to rebuild, and not much else. We also follow the king and his talking cat advisor. The king doesn’t do much kingly stuff and really just wants people to like him. But strange things are starting to happen and even though strange seems to be the norm here, this kind of strange makes Iona the architect go out and investigate. And discover some even crazier shit. (272 pages)


Arithmancy – Read something outside your favorite genre

Reading outside of my favorite genres is both hard and easy. On the one hand, I’m open for new experiences and I’ll try any kind of book at least once. On the other hand, I do know what usually doesn’t work for me. Poetry is one such thing that I rarely like. If I do like it, I will love it forever, but more often than not, I just don’t get poetry. My favorite author of all time, Catherynne M. Valente has written a little poetry collection called Oracles: A Pilgrimage which I did end up liking quite a bit. The poetry as such didn’t work for me (I do like rhymes, even if that may sound childish) but the story those poems told were really good. It’s about what modern day oracles would look like and how they would spend their days. Each poem is about the oracle of a different, modern-day city and while I wasn’t a fan of the poems as such, they painted vivid pictures of places and women who could – for all we know – be the oracles of our time. (84 pages)

Coincidentally, I picked up a book I had tried to read several times previously and never managed to finish. In fact, I had never gotten past the first chapter, so even though it’s science fiction (a genre I love), you could say that book was way out of my comfort zone. I’m talking about Neuromancer by William Gibson, that classic work of cyberpunk that got an entire subgenre started. While I thought reading it was rewarding in some ways, it definitely wasn’t a well written book. But I’m glad I did read it as it gives me a greater understanding of part of the genre I love. (297 pages)


Astronomy – read a book (mostly) at night

This prompt was like a little gift to me. My audiobook choice for this was Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibanez. Because I always listen to audiobooks before going to bed, the prompt practically fulfilled itself. The story was a lovely take on the YA revolution. A decoy condesa is sent to marry the king but really, she’s spying for her own people who plan an uprising to take back the kingdom that used to be theirs. But this is not about warfare or dangerous spy missions, it’s first and foremost about the people. All the characters in this book – no matter whose side they are on – felt so real and believable that it poses the question whether a bloody revolution is really the right way to go. I loved how this YA book keeps some of the usual YA tropes but at the same time doesn’t shy away from asking difficult questions and giving the protagonist impossible choices to make. (384 pages)


Care of Magical Creatures – A Book with a Beak on the Cover

Another short book that packs a punch was Nghi Vo’s The Empress of Salt and Fortune which features a hoopoe on the cover, on which you will find the beak required by the reading prompt. This is the story of a young girl who has to marry the emperor against her will. It is told by her former handmaiden Rabbit and most of what makes this book so wonderful happens between the lines. We’re not actually witnessing the empress’s story, but Rabit is retelling it to us long after the events. That doesn’t mean it’s any less powerful or less of an emotional gut-punch though. I was deeply impressed with how much can be told with so few words and how much I ended up caring. (112 pages)


Charms – a (predominately) white cover

I’ve been meaning to read the Little Mermaid retelling The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember forever and now I finally got to it. While it’s clearly a feminist take on the fairy tale and features a lovely F/F romance, there were maybe too many ideas for the amount of pages. Nothing got really fleshed out enough, there wasn’t enough time to fully engage with all the characters, and the ending almost seemed a bit too easy. But I did really enjoy what we got to see of the world building, I loved that the focus wasn’t just a mermaid’s crush but that it was about her whole society and what’s wrong with it. Oh, and also Loki, trickster god, makes a few appearances. Maybe not the deepest retelling, but defeinitely recommended. (214 pages)


Defense Against the Dark Arts – A book set on the sea (coast)

I was so sure choosing an Earthsea book for this prompt would be perfect because Earthsea is set on an archipelago… so lots of little islands with enormous amounts of coast. However, this second book in the Earthsea cycle turned out to be set in a desert! That was a bit of a bummer but the book ended up being so amazing that I didn’t even care. I only liked A Wizard of Earthsea but I loved The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. LeGuin. And there are a few chapters at the end that involve the ocean. (180 pages)

But I didn’t feel right counting this as my only DADA book, so I went ahead and chose another book that is set on the coast from the very beginning. This is how I started Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper, the first in The Dark is Rising series.
It was a cute children’s book that had great summer holiday atmosphere but it also felt like a small story that would lead up to something epic. So it wasn’t super great but it made me want to continue the series very much! (224 pages)


Divination – Random TBR pick

I turned my boyfriend into the random number generator required for this prompt and he chose (unknowingly) Prosper’s Demon by K. J. Parker. As my first Parker book, I must say I’m hooked. It’s about an exorcist who hunts down demon-like creatures but keeps meeting one particular one over and over again. He has to rethink if maybe demons can’t be bargained with after all instead of just being exorcised right away.
What made this book so great wasn’t as much the content as the voice. The protagonist who doesn’t even have a name, tells this tale with such humor, much cussing, and so straightforward that I had to giggle a lot. The rather dark plot (demon possession is no joke) juxtaposed with the hilarious voice made this a perfect quick read. (112 pages)


Herbology – A book that starts with the letter M

There’s always another secret. Never has that Brandon Sanderson quote been so true as with this novella Mistborn: Secret History. I can’t really tell you anything about it because it would spoiler the entire Mistborn trilogy but I can tell you to go pick that trilogy up, devour it, and then make sure to come back to this novella. It goes kind of behind the scenes and shows us a very different perspective of the events that happened in the main trilogy. There are plenty of secrets to discover and there are also hints tying the greater Cosmere together.
Reading Sanderson is an adventure and no matter where you start, you’re in for a treat. (160 pages)


History of Magic – A Book featuring Witches/Wizards

Sarah Gailey‘s latest novel When We Were Magic features six young witches who are the best of friends. When protagonist Alexis accidentally kills a boy by exploding his penis (yeah, seriously), she and her five best friends come together and try to solve the problem. The book itself is mostly about getting to know them and see the beautiful dynamics between these six very different, very magical girls. It was a delight to read!
Be aware though, that this is not a murder mystery book or even a trying-to-get-away-with-murder book. The focus is really the relationship between the girls and their surroundings and it is much more engaging than I’m making it sound. Do pick it up! (352 pages)


Muggle Studies – A book from a muggle’s perspective

I was initially going to read something else for this prompt but then the Hugo Award finalists were announced and this one fit so well that I snuck it in there. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire is about two engineered twins who were separated at birth, Roger and Dodger (yeah, I know…). One of them is a math genius, the other a language prodigy, but only together do they feel whole.
This is the story of them growing up – over and over – and trying to save the world from falling under the control of the Big Bad. It had some cool ideas, the execution was sadly flawed. But I did like the characters and especially the book within a book. Can’t wait for that to come out as Seanan actually ended up writing it. (528 pages)

The Hugo finalists were a goldmine for this prompt. I also picked up the Lodestar nominated Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer and was delighted by it. It’s about a young girl who’s on the run with her mother, hiding from her stalker father. Only staying in each place for a few months at the most, she has a hard time making friends IRL. But there’s Catnet and her wonderful group of internet friends. And a lovable AI that absolutely stole my heart from the get go.
This was such a heartwarming tale of friendship but it had plenty of action and great characters. There is also so much representation and diversity in this book – I wish more YA novels were like this. (288 pages)


Potions – A Book under 150 pages

chose Ruthanna Emrys’ The Litany of Earth for this because the series was nominated for a Mythopoeic Award and I tend to love those books. Never having read Lovecraft, I’m sure I missed a lot of things here, but I can tell you that Emrys created brilliant atmosphere in this short story and made me want to read more. There seems to be this whole secret society thing going on, with alien races living among us humans, and with big prophecies foretelling the end of the world. I will hopefully start Winter Tide, the first novel in the series, very soon. (48 pages)

And again, because I had the time and the Hugo finalists were just announced, I threw another short book onto the list and caught up with The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark. I had been meaning to read this anyway and I’m glad I finally did.
This exorcism story set in alternate 1912 Egypt was wonderful and much funnier than I had expected. It had atmosphere, great mythology and worldbuilding and a plot that you can fly through. Who knew that a haunted tram car could lead to such fun investigations and a fantastic showdown? (130 pages)


Transfiguration – A book that features shapeshifters

If I’d known I would be reading another Seanan McGuire book so soon, I wouldn’t have picked A Local Habitation, the second in the October Daye series. But it was one of the few books where I was sure there would be shapeshifters and it also works well for my Read-the-Sequel challenge.
Toby Daye is sent to a County stuck between two rival Counties to check out why Sylvester (her liege’s) niece hasn’t been calling anymore. It turns out her tech company has some serious trouble that Toby and her assistant Quentyn are there to investigate.
While certain twists in this book were super predictable, others surprised me and it was another fun Urban Fantasy book. Not quite as good as the first but good enough for me to continue reading the series. (400 pages)


Extracurricular activities

These are the books I read in addition to the O.W.L.s :

Sabaa Tahir – A Torch Against the Night

It was okay but definitely lacked the edge of my seat thrill from the first book. The unnecessary love square was resolved at least (or let’s say, it was shrunk to your standard love triangle again) and some minor plot points were moved forward. I will read the third book in this series, but I’m not in a hurry. (452 pages)

Mark Lawrence – Red Sister (unfinished)

I’m only three quarters of the way through this book but if I had finished it, it could have been a candidate for Astronomy as I’m listening to the audiobook mostly in the evenings. It’s a pretty cool world with one of the most interesting protagonists I’ve met. But the beginning of the book was much stronger than the middle part. I’m curious to see if the ending will be as epic as I hope.


And with this, the OWLs Readathon has ended and I am now in full Hugo reading mode. I look forward to the NEWTs in August but until then, it’s rather nice to pick books by mood again instead of readathon prompts. 🙂

O.W.L.s Magical Readathon 2020 – Check-In

So, there’s still a pandemic going on and many people all over the world are practicing social distancing in whichever way they can. For me, it means working from home and going outside only when necessary (grocery shopping, taking a walk so my blood pressure doesn’t plummet too low). It also means not commuting to and from work everyday which, in turn, leads to a lot more reading time. Which works really well when there’s a readathon going on. 🙂

For all the info about G’s Magical Readathon, head to her Booktube Channel.

General Thoughts

Last year, I took my OWLs in July to be ready for the NEWTs in August. This year, I was better prepared and can actually participate when everyone else is doing the readathon. And, guys, it is so much fun! I love everything about this, but especially the Careers Guidebook and the fact that all the reading prompts go so well with their assigned classes.

O.W.L.s passed

I did pick a lot of shorter books for this readathon because I wanted to make sure I could pass all the classes. In some cases, it’s also a coincidence that the books I chose were rather short. But to make up for it (and because I’m a Ravenclaw), I read more than one book for some of the prompts.

Total books read 13
Total pages read 3122
OWLs passed 11

The books

I’m almost done with all the OWLs, people!
But guess what my face looked like when I picked up my DADA book (prompt: set at the sea or coast) and it turned out the book takes place in a desert! I thought with a book in the Earthsea Cycle, I couldn’t go wrong, but except for the last chapters, the setting is really as far from the ocean as you can get. So I threw in another book with an actual coastal setting because otherwise, it would feel like cheating.

If I’ve published a review already, the link can be found below. The rest are either still to come or I won’t write one because reviewing very short books or stories is not something I’m good at.

Finished

  • Ancient Runes: Eddie Robson – Hearts of Oak
  • Arithmancy: Catherynne M. Valente – Oracles: A Pilgrimage
  • Astronomy: Isabel Ibanez – Woven in Moonlight
  • Care of Magical Creatures: Nghi Vo – The Empress of Salt and Fortune
  • Charms: Julia Ember – The Seafarer’s Kiss
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts 1: Ursula K. LeGuin – The Tombs of Atuan
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts 2: Susan Cooper – Over Sea, Under Stone (review to come)
  • Divination: K. J. Parker – Prosper’s Demon
  • Herbology: Brandon Sanderson – Mistborn: Secret History
  • History of Magic: Sarah Gailey – When We Were Magic
  • Muggle Studies: Seanan McGuire – Middlegame (review to come)
  • Potions: Rutahna Emrys – The Litany of Earth

While I enjoyed all of the books I read for the OWLs, there were a few that stood out. The Tombs of Atuan swept me off my feet by surprise, When We Were Magic was heartwarming despite being about a murder, and Mistborn: Secret History actually managed to deliver another surprising twist in what is already a twist-filled series.

Still to read

  • Transfiguration: Seanan McGuire – A Local Habitation
  • Potions 2: P. Djèlí Clark – The Haunting of Tram Car 015
  • Muggle Studies 2: Naomi Kritzer – Catfishing on CatNet

I’m currently reading the three books above and I can already tell that The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is a blast. I did not expect it to be this amusing but it’s got a really good mix of science fiction ideas, social commentary, supernatural detective work, and humor.
Catfishing on CatNet is also quite lovely so far. It depends very much on the solution to a mystery in the book whether I’ll end up loving it or just liking it. But it’s a very good read so far.
I’ve just started A Local Habitation and it makes me think yet again, that this what Seanan McGuire is best at. Urban Fantasy with Fae and a snarky protagonist.

Extracurricular Activities

Because I was doing so well with the OWLs, I felt that I could ease off a little and also read books that don’t fit any reading prompt, aren’t for a challenge and aren’t currently up for an award I have to vote on. So I picked up these two just for fun:

  • Sabaa Tahir – A Torch Against the Night
  • Mark Lawrence – Red Sister (currently reading)

Let’s go, Ravenclaw! We have almost two weeks left. Let’s grab that House Cup!

BookQuest Vol. 1 – Wrap-Up

This wrap-up is coming to you a bit late because I’m actually on holiday and won’t be writing new posts, so I had to spread out all the reviews I had already prepared. BookQuest Vol. 1 was my super fun start into 2020. This is still a very new readathon and the hosts are working out some technical quirks, but it was a lot of fun to participate and I can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store for us with the next one.

The Quest

The first thing you had to do was choose which team you would be joining. I picked the Knights of the Kingdom because the quest descriptions were really funny and the prompts fit several books I had been wanting to read anyway.

Each group had to finish seven quests, including reading the group book, The Guinevere Deception. I loved the texts that came with each reading prompt, there was even a map that showed these quests (book with an animal companion was the quest at the stables, book with a weapon on the cover was in the armory, etc.). A lot of love went into this readathon! Even though some technical bugs had to be fixed mid-readathon, Chris was always quick to respond to bug reports and usually fixed the problem within a few days. Now that all of that programming is already done, I can only imagine the next readathon will run much more smoothly and maybe even add some new functions.

My shelf

During this readathon, I managed to read nine books, although one of them was a graphic novel and two were actually novellas. But still, considering that my other reads were all rather hefty, I’m very proud of my success.

As you can see, I could have read more but I’m very happy with my result. Here are my readathon books:

  • Andrzej Sapkowski – Sword of Destiny
  • Benjanun Sriduangkaew – Winterglass (re-read)
  • Benjanun Sriduangkaew – Mirrorstrike
  • Brandon Sanderson – Starsight
  • Marissa Meyer – Archenemies
  • Maggie Stiefvater – Call Down the Hawk
  • Kiersten White – The Guinevere Deception (review to come)
  • Jeff Smith – Bone Vol. 3 (review to come)
  • Tessa Gratton – The Queens of Innis Lear (not finished yet)

MY RESULTS

In total, I read almost 3000 pages, which is not as crazy as it sounds. Two of my books were audiobooks so I could listen while doing other things – folding laundry, doing dishes… it’s all so much more fun when someone’s telling you a great story. And I was quite lucky with the books I’ve chosen. Not all of them were instant favorites but they were at least all good.

The fact that updating your books (pages or percent read) helped level up your character also motivated me a lot! I ended up as a Level 7 Knight of the Kingdom:

All things considered, this was a great readathon! I can’t wait to see what Chris and Ellie come up with for the next one and I’ll definitely be joining again. And yeah, I know I said I wouldn’t do too many readathons this year but come on! 🙂

BookQuest Readathon – Sign-Up

What better way to start a new reading year than with a readathon? My motivation is still super high and I want to get a head start on my reading in 2020 so when I stumbled upon this amazing-looking readathon, I knew I had to participate. BookQuest runs from January 5th through January 25th, which makes it even better. I like readathons that take more than a week because it’s just easier to organize my reading around my other activities if the time frame is longer.

The organizers at The Paper Tavern seem to have put a lot of effort into this readathon. There is a bounty board, there will be a possibility to level  up and check up on our reading stats and it all just sounds wonderful and exciting.  I can’t wait to get started!

This readathon’s quest is to defeat a scary dragon, which you can do by joining either the Mages of the Guild or the Knights of the Kingdom team. Depending on which team you choose, you get different reading prompts for a total of seven books. That includes the group read, The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White (which fits well into my 2020 Retellings Challenge, yay!).

Normally, I would immediately go for the team that has magic – because magic is awesome – but for this readathon, I have decided to join the Knights of the Kingdom, led by Sir Chris the Dullhead. I mean, how could I resist. 🙂

Naturally, I already thought about what I am going to read for these prompts. Knowing myself, I may change my mind on some of these choices but I like having a TBR prepared so I don’t have to stress about finding books when the readathon is already underway.

The readathon allows for single books to count toward several prompts but as I want to read as much as possible, I picked one book per prompt.

Pick out a Weapon: Andrzej Sapkowski – Sword of Destiny
Meet With the King: Benjanun Sriduangkaew – Winterglass (re-read)
Get Fitted for Armor: Brandon Sanderson – Starsight
Visit the Stablemaster: C. A. Fletcher – A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World
Defeat Your Sparring Partner: Shelby Mahurin – Serpent & Dove
Sign Up for the Joust: Elizabeth Lim – Spin the Dawn
Study the Code of Chivalry: Kiersten White – The Guinevere Deception

I look forward to checking out those books. Maybe, if I’m really fast with the first quests, I’ll switch up my TBR for some bigger books. I already started reading Starsight but since one book can cover several prompts, I don’t think this readathon will be super strict about that.

Are you joining as well? If so, what team will you support and which books will you read? Let me know in the comments!

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.