Challenges

Reflections on the A-Z Challenge 2019 Edition

Slightly later than planned, but here’s my reflections on this years A-Z in April Challenge.

This was my sixth year taking part and it was my easiest A-Z in April in years. I think that was down to the topic. I love the MCU and its characters, so I found it really easy to write about them. In fact, I found it so easy that I got all my posts written and scheduled before the end of the second week of April! I haven’t been that organised during this challenge for years.

My favourite posts to write were all the ones in the Iron Man fam; Pepper Potts, Rhodey, Happy Hogan, Harley Keener and, of course, Tony Stark. I had so much fun pouring all my thoughts and feelings about Tony Stark into that post and it’s a piece of writing that I’m proud of. I wrote and scheduled all my posts before seeing Avengers: Endgame so I feel like writing about my favourite characters was almost therapeutic as I was so anxious about what would happen to them in that film.

My post popular A-Z posts were the ones for Carol Danvers, Okoye and Goose. I guess people like strong women and an awesome cat!

I replied to all comments pretty quickly (for me anyway) though unfortunately I didn’t visit that many blogs at all. While I got all my posts scheduled ahead of time, day to day life stopped me finding the time to look around other people’s blogs. I’m even more grateful for the people who stopped by my blog, liked or commented on posts, and even hit that follow button as I did little to return the favour last month.

I feel like the last few years when I’ve written these reflection posts I’ve said, “I’m not sure if I’ll take part again next year” and I feel the same way once again. It’s just that as I take part in the A-Z Challenge again and again, I feel like I’m running out of themes of things I could write about – and enjoy writing about too. I think I enjoyed this years A-Z Challenge more than the last couple because my topic was something I am so enthusiastic about and get so much joy from. If I hadn’t written about my favourite characters from the MCU, I don’t know what I would’ve chosen to write about and if I had thought of something I doubt I’d have had as much fun writing it as I did with this theme.

I hope all of you who took part in the challenge had fun and a successful A-Z in April. Thanks to those who stopped by my blog and liked or commented – it always means a lot. For more information on the A-Z in April Challenge visit the website.

Advertisements

Bout of Books 25 TBR

Bout of Books is back! It’s a weeklong readathon that happens multiple times a year. This round begins at midnight on Monday 13 May and finishes 11:59pm on Sunday 19 May no matter what timezone you’re in.

Apparently readathons are my thing this year – or at least I’m trying to make them my thing. I was successful at the OWLs readathon last month, reading all the required books for my chosen career, and I’m currently in the middle of the Avengers Readathon. I’m lagging a bit on that readathon if I’m honest though. My current read Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi is good, but it’s slower paced than I thought it’d be so I can’t quite get into it at the minute. Hopefully having Bout of Books to look forward to will get me reading more again.

Viper by Bex Hogan
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Maybe This Time by Alois Hotschnig, translated by Tess Lewis
African Titanics by Abu Bakr Khaal, translated by Charis Bredin

Once again, I’ve got a mixture of YA and super short books on my readathon TBR.

Burn for Burn is the last book I need to read for the Avengers Readathon, and it sounds like a book that I’ll fly through. I’m loving the trend of YA books about teen girls standing up for themselves and/or getting revenge on those who’ve hurt them. Viper is a book that’s recently come into my life and I’ve wanted to read it ever since a friend showed off the cover on Twitter. I’m so bad at reading books I want to read as soon as I get them, so by the time I do read them I’m not so excited about them so they don’t have the same impact.

African Titanics and Maybe This Time are both barely over 100 pages so if I plan ahead, I could totally read each of them in one sitting. They’re for my Read the World project, Eritrea and Austria respectively, and Maybe This Time is a collection of short stories so they’re totally readable in one sitting.

I will probably not get a lot of reading done during the weekend of Bout of Books. On the Saturday I’m taking part in a 24-hour movie marathon to raise money for charity, so I think I’ll be somewhat sleep deprived and useless on the Sunday!

There’s my TBR for the next Bout of Books readathon. Wish me luck!

My Reel Women Movie Marathon for Charity

In two weeks’ time, on Saturday 18 May, I will be watching as many films directed by women I can in the space of 24 hours to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society.

Let me back track and explain a little bit. I’m a writer over at Jumpcut Online and as a team we’ve decided to spend the month of May each doing different film or gaming-related things to raise money for different charities that mean a lot to us. You can find out more about what each person is doing here.

The charity I’m raising money for is Alzheimer’s Society as it’s a disease that’s affected my family a lot. My granddad died of vascular dementia and my gran is currently living with Alzheimer’s and my mum is her primary carer. The disease affects everyone in different ways so I want to raise money so research can be done and hopefully treatments can be made.

As you may have noticed if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll have seen I have been taking part in the #52FilmsbyWomen challenge for the past four years now. The challenge is to make more of an effort to watch films that are directed by women as generally speaking they don’t get as much of a budget or promotion compared to films made by men. As I enjoy discovering new female directors and their films, I thought my way to raise money for charity would be to have 24 hours dedicated to women filmmakers and their films.

I’ve compiled a list of 65 different films directed by women, all of them are films I’ve not seen before, from Netflix, Amazon Prime, the BFI Player and my own DVD collection that will be the films people can choose from. Because that’s the fun part for everyone, not just me. You can choose what I watch! From that list I’ll be choosing films at random (probably with the help of a random number generator) to put in Twitter polls for people then to choose what I watch – so make sure you follow me on Twitter. But if you donate money you can pick what I watch from that list! So, if there’s a favourite film of yours there, or even one you know is terrible and you want me to watch it, if you donate you can make me watch it.

It would be incredible if you could donate and support me in this crazy movie-filled adventure! Any amount of money would be greatly appreciated and if you could share the word that would be wonderful. All the important links are below.

My JustGiving page where there’s more information on my chosen charity and how to donate.
My Letterboxd list of films directed by women that I could end up watching.
My Twitter where I’ll be tweeting my thoughts on what I’m watching and the polls where people can choose what I watch.

Avengers Readathon 2019 TBR

Even though I’m already in the middle of the OWLs Magical Readathon (you can check up on my progress on Twitter) I happened to spot on Twitter last night another readathon that was very much my brand. The Perks of Being Noura is hosting an Avengers themed readathon from 14 April to 14 May. Needless to say, as soon as I saw the hashtag I knew I had to take part.

For the Avengers Readathon you can choose up to two profiles. There are 18 different SHIELD profiles, each designed after a different Avengers character, and they each have between three and nine assignments/challenges that you fit each book to. There’s more information on the readathon, including a google doc with all the different characters and their prompts, here.

Choosing a character was the hard part for me. Should I choose my favourite character, or should I be more pragmatic about it and choose a character that had fewer prompts, or where there’s a character profile that I could definitely complete? There is the option to skip no more than two of the assignments from a chosen profile, so there is some wiggle room if needed. Also, it’s totally fine to cross over your Avengers Readathon TBR with any other readathon TBRs you might currently be participating in at the same time – so in my case that’d be the OWLs.

After looking through my TBR and all the prompts (I had a colour coded spreadsheet and everything) I figured out the character profile I would focus on and that’s Ant-Man! Ant-Man had three assignments and then you had to pick one assignment from any other character profile.

Ant-Man’s Suit: Book with red on the cover
The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
This is a very red cover and it’s one on my OWLs TBR and one I will definitely be reading this month as I need that OWL for my chosen career path.

Ant-thony: A book with 100 pages or less
Trout, Belly Up by Rodrigo Fuentes, translated by Ellen Jones
This is the one book I have that’s under 100 pages! It’s a collection of interconnected short stories that comes in at 97 pages.

Ant-Man & the Wasp: Book with multiple points of view or buddy read a book
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
This book is from three characters points of view. It is a contemporary story where three girls plan to get revenge on the boys who have hurt them.

From Loki’s profile – God of Mischief: Retelling
Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, translated by Jonathan Wright
Another one from my OWLs and as this has been at the top of my TBR since the start of this year, including it on this readathon’s TBR as well means I’ll definitely be reading it.

Now if I manage to read all of them (which I should as two of them are for the OWLs readathon anyway), the second character I’ve chosen is Hawkeye aka my ultimate fave. Hawkeye has just three assignments on his profile.

Hawkeye: Heists and Espionage
Hawkeye: Avenging Archer by Jim McCann, David López, Duane Swierczynski, Manuel Garcia and Paco Diaz
This graphic novel is a collection of four different story arc, and they feature super spy Mockingbird so that totally counts for espionage.

Ronin: Debut book
Viper by Bex Hogan
I got this in a subscription box very recently and I’d like to read it sooner rather than later so this works out perfectly.

Master Marksman: Book with an archer protagonist
West Coast Avengers Vol. 1: Best Coast by Kelly Thompson, Stefano Caselli and Tríona Farrell
Another one that’s also on my OWLs TBR and as it features both Clint Barton and Kate Bishop, I’ve got two archer protagonists.

I better get reading! I’ll probably start a Twitter thread to track my progress and like everyone else I’ll be using the #AvengersReadathon19 on Twitter and anywhere else. Are you taking part in the Avengers Readathon? I’m glad I heard about it when I did because it starts today! I’m currently reading a book for my OWLs that’s not mentioned here, but I think my next read will be The Angel’s Game – two birds, one stone and all that!

O.W.L.’s Magical Readathon 2019

The O.W.L.’s Magical Readathon is the invention of Gi at Book Roast on YouTube. It’s a challenge I heard about last year, but I wasn’t aware of it in time to take part – this year I’m more prepared! The challenge is based on the Hogwarts examinations in the Harry Potter series but you neither have had to have read the Harry Potter books or be a Harry Potter fan to take part.

The basic premise is that each Hogwarts subject has its own prompt, you read a book that fits that prompt and then you’ve achieved an O.W.L. in that subject. This readathon lasts the entirety of April so it gives you plenty of time to try and cram in as many O.W.L.’s as possible. For more information on the readathon see Gi’s announcement video. It’s clear she puts in a lot of work into this challenge, she makes study guides and a career guide that has information on lots of magical careers and the subjects you need to study in order to be able to progress in that career.

The career I’ve chosen is Ministry Worker with the idea that I’d specialise to be able to join the Department of International Magical Cooperation after taking my N.E.W.T.’s in August. That means I’ll need O.W.L.’s in Charms, Defence Against the Dark Arts, History of Magic, Potions, Transfiguration and Muggle Studies – meaning my aim is to read six books for this challenge.

I’ve had a look at my bookshelves and theoretically I would be able to get 11 out of 12 O.W.L.’s based on the books on my TBR. Below are the books I plan to read to get my O.W.L.’s for my Ministry Worker job, but also the books for the other O.W.L.’s in case I do better than expected and can fit in a couple more books during the month.

Ancient Runes – Retelling
Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi
As the title suggests it’s a Frankenstein retelling. This is a book I’ve been wanting to read for ages so even though it doesn’t fit with my chosen career path, if I finish the O.W.L.’s/books I have to read, this will be my priority.

Arithmancy – Work written by more than one author
Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam edited by Linh Dinh
A collection of short stories from Vietnamese writers.

Astronomy – “Star” in the title
This is the one subject I don’t have a book that would fit so any careers that needed an Astronomy O.W.L. was automatically ignored.

Care of Magical Creatures – Land animal on the cover
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
Technically I think this could also work for retelling (though you’re not allowed to use the same book for multiple prompts) as it’s inspired by the Evil Queen in Snow White I think? It’s a book I got from a subscription box a while ago and I’m pretty sure it’s the only book I’ve got with an animal on the cover.

Charms – Age-line: read an adult work
Augustown by Kei Miller
I actually tend to read mostly adult books so the way I chose this book was to find one of the shorter adult books I have – at just over 200 pages, Augustown was the winner.

Defence Against the Dark Arts – Reducto: title starts with a “R”
The Red Beach Hut by Lynn Michell
This is the only book I’ve got that has a title that begins with the letter R. I was pleased I found a book as Defence Against the Dark Arts is a subject needed for many career paths.

Divination – Set in the future
Old Man Hawkeye Vol. 1: An Eye for an Eye by Ethan Sacks, Marco Checchetto and Andres Mossa
Comics are totally allowed for this readathon which is great. I recently bought a bunch of Hawkeye-related comics and this one is set in an apocalyptic future where nearly all of the superheroes are dead.

Herbology – Plant on the cover
West Coast Avengers Vol. 1: Best Coast by Kelly Thompson, Stefano Caselli and Tríona Farrell
Another one from my Hawkey-binge-buy as he’s a part of this team. It has some palm trees on the front which totally counts as a plant.

History of Magic – Published at least 10 years ago
Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut
It’s a classic so it’s definitely over 10 years old. Plus it’s pretty short which is always helpful for a readathon.

Muggle studies – Contemporary
Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
I received this in a subscription box a while back and know nothing about it except it’s the shortest contemporary book I have on my TBR. I read We Were Liars years ago and sped through it so hopefully the same thing will happen with this book.

Potions – Next ingredient: sequel
Old Man Hawkeye Vol. 2: The Whole World Blind by Ethan Sacks, Marco Checchetto, Francesco Mobili and Ibraim Roberson
I don’t actually have many sequels (because I’m terrible at reading series) so my recent comic book purchases have definitely come in handy here.

Transfiguration – Sprayed edges or red cover
The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
This is the longest book on this TBR but it’s one of the only books I have that has a red cover. There’s rumours that the Tome Topple Readathon will happen in April so as The Angel’s Game is over 500 pages, that’ll hopefully give me an extra push to read it.

So, this is my TBR for the O.W.L.’s Magical Readathon and pretty much my TBR for the whole month of April. Are you taking part in the readathon and if you are which O.W.L.’s are you focusing on? In August there’s the N.E.W.T.’s readathon which you use to build on what you achieve in this readathon, so I hope I manage to read all the books I need to be able to apply for a job at the Ministry of Magic.

The Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge – 2019 Edition

It’ll soon be April and that means it’ll soon be time for the A-Z in April Blogging Challenge! The challenge is to post on your blog every day in April bar Sundays. Once you forget about the Sundays, that gives you 26 days in April which matches with the 26 letters of the alphabet. So on the 1st April you write about something beginning with the letter A, on the 2nd something beginning with the letter B and so on and so forth.

After feeling like the challenge became a bit of an effort (and not in a fun way) for me last year, I was unsure whether or not I’d take part again this year. But after thinking about it, I’ve thought of a theme I know I’ll enjoy writing about and the A to Z in April Challenge is like a tradition on my blog now and it’d feel weird not doing it.

This year all my posts in the challenge will be about my favourite characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe! Each day will be about a character whose name (first or last) starts with the corresponding letter. I’ve figured out which character is going to be with which letter, though I will say in the case of a couple of them, they’re not necessarily my favourite but their names fit with what I needed. That being said, they will all be characters I like to varying degrees.

For a previous A to Z in April Challenge I blogged about my favourite characters in general and mentioned a few MCU characters there. I’m going to try and avoid mentioning them again this year so it’ll be something completely new.

I’ll still be posting my usual book and film reviews in April they’ll just be a lot of MCU characters making an appearance too. Do you think your favourites will be featured next month?

If you want to find out more about the A to Z in April Challenge visit the website (there’s still time to sign up!) and you can see what I’ve written about for the challenge on previous years here.

Thoughts on… a Month of Photographing My Life

I meant to write about this months ago but then life got in the way so now it’s the perfect post to take up a day of blogmas!

In September I decided to take a photo every day of the month of things in my life and share it on my Instagram. It was an interesting experience to say the least and I learnt some things about myself and my life.

When I started this self-inflicted challenge, I did think about maybe trying to taking and sharing a photo each day for the whole of 2019. Soon I realised that my life isn’t interesting enough for that and I struggled to take a somewhat interesting photo every day for just 30 days. I work 9-5 every week day so most of my photos during the week were of what I saw on my walk to or from work, or when I wandered around town on my lunch break. Then on the weekends I didn’t always do anything interesting, or even leave my flat sometimes to be honest! I’m a big fan of the lazy weekend.

Having to take and share a photo of something each day did make me a bit more aware of my surroundings. I took a photo of a clock tower I hadn’t noticed before even though I’d walked past it like a hundred times. I also paid more attention to the flowers and wildlife I’d normally walk straight past leading to some cute and pretty pictures if I do say so myself.

I think my photography skills did improve a bit through this experience. I begun to get better at framing things and I did use filters and edit photos on Instagram but I think I started to learn how to bring out the best in a photo through editing instead of turning it into something completely fake.

Maybe next year I’ll do a month of photography again, or maybe just the odd week now and then. It was a fun and interesting experience, but as I say my everyday life isn’t that exciting so it was a bit difficult at times.