books

N.E.W.T.’s Magical Readathon 2019

The N.E.W.T.’s Magical Readathon is the brainchild of Gi at BookRoast on YouTube. The N.E.W.T.’s are the next exams/readathon after the O.W.L.’s which took place a few months ago.

The basic premise is that each Hogwarts subject has three prompts one to get an Acceptable in the subject, one to get Exceeded Expectations and one to get an Outstanding grade in that subject, and you have to read the books/prompts in order so read the Exceeded Expectations book after the Acceptable book etc. This readathon lasts the entirety of August so it gives you plenty of time to try and cram in as many N.E.W.T.’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.

After taking part in the O.W.L.’s readathon in April and successfully reading all the books/completing all the exams I need to be a Ministry Worker in the Department of International Magical Cooperation, I now need to achieve Acceptable in five subjects – Charms, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Muggle Studies, Potions and Transfiguration – and achieve Acceptable, Exceeded Expectations and Outstanding in History of Magic. That means if I want to be qualified for my dream magical career, I need to read eight books during the readathon. That’s doable for me. I think.

Charms: Acceptable – Read a book you think has a gorgeous cover
A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney
I adore this cover! I read this book’s prologue a couple of months ago on a plane and was intrigued but for some reason I didn’t continue reading it then – story of my life!

Defence Against the Dark Arts: Acceptable – Read a book that’s black under the dustjacket
This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab
I had to go through my various unread hardbacks to find one that’s black under the dustjacket. I remember starting This Savage Song when I first got it but the story didn’t really grab me so hopefully I’m more into it now.

Muggle Studies: Acceptable – Cover that includes a photo element
Where She Went by Gayle Foreman OR Night, Again edited by Linh Dinh
I read If I Stay way back in 2014 and downloaded the sequel onto my kindle straightaway but never read it. The film adaptation of If I Stay is currently available on Amazon Prime Video so I’ll probably watch that before August so I’m not going into Where She Went completely blind because I remember nothing from the first book. Night, Again is a collection of short stories from Vietnam so would be my one and only read for the Read the World Project during the N.E.W.T.’s.

Potions: Acceptable – Read a friend’s favourite book
The Runaway Jury by John Grisham
This is one of my friend Nistasha’s favourite John Grisham books and she even sent me a copy! At over 500 pages it’s a bit of a chunky one for a readathon but with rumours that Tome Topple will be happening in August as well I should be able to get through it.

Transfiguration: Acceptable – Read a book with LGBTQIA+ representation
Golden Boy Abigail Tarttelin by OR Birthday by Meredith Russo
The main character in Golden Boy is intersex and this book has been on my shelves for years so this readathon might be the perfect time to read it. Birthday is a book I got recently in a subscription box and I don’t know what the LGBTQIA+ representation is in it; I just know it has that tag on Goodreads.

History of Magic: Acceptable – Read a fantasy
To Best the Boys by Mary Webber OR Ruined by Amy Tintera OR Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
It turns out I have a lot of unread fantasy on my shelves and all of these are from subscription boxes over the years. I’m not sure which one I’ll read as I have no strong feelings towards any of them at the minute, so I’ probably pick up whichever is shortest. If you have any suggestions let me know or I might just end up doing a Twitter poll to decide.

History of Magic: Exceeded Expectations – Read a book with a map in it
Flashfall by Jenny Moyer
After going through all the unread books I have that I thought might have a map in it, this is the only one that did!

History of Magic: Outstanding – Reread a favourite/read a classic
The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman
I‘m currently rereading the His Dark Materials series via audiobook from my library so hopefully The Amber Spyglass will be available to borrow and read in August. The series was one of my childhood favourites and it’s been over 15 years since I read them. If the audiobook isn’t available, I’ll have to have a rethink as I don’t often reread books – even my favourites! There’s a lot of classics available to borrow on audio from my library though so I’m sure I’ll be able to get one of them if needed.

That’s my TBR for the N.E.W.T.’s Magical Readathon and my TBR for the month of August to be honest. I can read eight books in a month and this looks like it’ll be a good mixture of genres to keep me entertained. There are a couple of contemporary books which I always fly through and a lot of these are books that have been on my TBR for the longest time so it would give me an extra buzz if I did finally read them. I will keep track of my progress on Twitter and will probably do a thread like I did for my O.W.L.’s.

Are you taking part in the N.E.W.T.’s Magical Readathon? If you are, I hope the exams for your chosen career path isn’t too taxing and you have a successful month of reading.

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.

Women’s History Month TBR and the Indieathon TBR

This TBR post is basically going to be one big month-long TBR but a subset of these books will be relevant to my Indieathon TBR. March is Women’s History Month and because I became aware of this sooner rather than later, I plan to focus on reading books by women this month. Each year I read a pretty equal split between male and female authors, but I always find it interesting to take a proper look as to what’s on my shelves.

Also in March is the Indieathon, which is a week-long readathon where the aim is to read books from independent publishers. This readathon is hosted by Ninja Book Box and it runs from Friday 8th to Friday 15th March.

In this big TBR post there will be far more books than I could possibly read during a month (though saying that I am going to making some long train journeys for work this month so that’ll give me more reading time than normal) and I’ll note which books are from independent publishers so those are the ones I might read during the Indieathon.

I have many unread books that are written by women but not so many unread books that are from independent publishers but, surprisingly to me, most of the books on this TBR are indie books.

Burning Cities by Kai Aareleid (translated by Adam Cullen), published by Peter Owen Publishers.
Mere Chances by Veronika Simoniti (translated by Nada Grošelj), published by Dalkey Archive Press.
A Fortune Foretold by Agneta Pleijel (translated by Marlaine Delargy), published by Other Press.
Soviet Milk by Nora Ikstena (translated by Margita Gailitis), published by Peirene Press.
The Red Beach Hut by Lynn Michell, published by Linen Press
Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and other lies curated by Scarlett Curtis, published by Penguin
A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney, published by Titan Books

The first four indie books on my TBR this month are all for my Read the World Project. I have, at my last count, 149 countries left to read so it’d be nice if this month could give me a push with my international reading.

Set in the Estonian city of Tartu, Burning Cities follows two generations of the Unger family from the Second World War to the twenty-first century. Mere Chances is a collection of short stories that are said to be strange and about characters who are struggling to maintain their identities. Soviet Milk is about the affects of Soviet rule on one person, how a woman strives to become a doctor but outside forces stop her and even deprive her of her relationship with her daughter. A Fortune Foretold is a coming of age story about a young girl in 1950s Sweden who uses fortune-telling and prophesies to make sense of the world around her. The last indie book on my TBR is one I received from Ninja Book Box’s Summer Reading box last year; The Red Beach Hut is about the friendship between an eight-year-old boy and a man who takes refuge in a red beach hut.

I’m not sure which indie books are the ones I’ll read during the Indieathon specifically, as I’ve said before I’m very much a mood reader, but these books are both from independent publishers and by women, so I hope to read them this month.

All the books mentioned so far feel like they are serious reads so I’ve also picked up Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and other lies it’s a collection of essays and writings from lots of different women from different walks of life, so it’s something I can deep in and out of easily. The last book on my ridiculously ambitious TBR is A Blade So Black. I thought it’d be a good idea to throw some YA in here and this is an urban fantasy story inspired by Alice in Wonderland and with a black protagonist.

These are all the books I’d like to read this month. Are you focussing on reading books by female authors this month? Or are you taking part in the Indieathon? There’s going to be Twitter chats and Instagram challenges so I hope they help me to keep on track. Whish me luck! If I read five of these books that’ll be good for me.

Books of 2019

Here are all the books I read this year. I’m taking it a bit easier this year and haven’t signed up for any challenges. Instead I’m going to be focussing on my Read the World Project and trying to get my physical TBR down a fair bit. You can find out more about what I’m reading on my Twitter and Goodreads.

Without further ado, here’s what I read in 2019! Any titles with asterisks are rereads and if it has a link, that goes to my review.

January:
Butterfly: From Refugee to Olympian, My Story of Rescue, Hope and Triumph – Yusra Mardini
The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven
My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante
Under the Tripoli Sky – Kamal Ben Hameda
Every Man Is A Race – Mia Couto

February:
– Made You Up – Francesca Zappia
The Memory of Love – Aminatta Forna
Allah is not Obliged – Ahmadou Kourouma
Safe as Houses – Simone van der Vlugt
– Let’s Talk About Love – Claire Kann
Crimson – Niviaq Korneliussen

March:
Burning Cities – Kai Aareleid
Soviet Milk – Nora Ikstena
A Fortune Foretold – Agneta Pleijel
– Leah on the Offbeat – Becky Albertalli
Secret Son – Laila Lalami
Letters from Burma – Aung San Suu Kyi
Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi

April:
– Old Man Hawkeye Vol. 1: An Eye for an Eye – Ethan Sacks, Marco Checchetto and Andres Mossa
– Old Man Hawkeye Vol. 2: The Whole World Blind – Ethan Sacks, Marco Checchetto, Francesco Mobili and Ibraim Roberson
Augstown – Kei Miller
– Genuine Fraud – E. Lockhart
– Slaughterhouse 5 – Kurt Vonnegut
The Angel’s Game – Carlos Ruiz Zafón
– The Red Beach Hut – Lynn Michell

May:
Trout, Belly Up – Rodrigo Fuentes
– Becoming – Michelle Obama
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealeb
Frankenstein in Baghdad – Ahmed Saadawi

June:
A Girl Called Shameless – Laura Steven
– The Dry – Jane Harper
The Howling Miller – Arto Paasilinna
– Red Sister – Mark Lawrence
Maybe This Time – Alois Hotschnig
Devoted – Jennifer Mathieu
Raised from the Ground – José Saramago
– All We Could Have Been – T.E. Carter
Mere Chances – Veronica Simoniti
– Lies We Tell Ourselves – Robin Talley
Marriage of a Thousand Lies – SJ Sindu
– The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm: Tales from Alagaësia – Christopher Paolini

July:
– Northern Lights – Phillip Pullman*
This Time Will Be Different – Misa Sugiura
– The Subtle Knife – Phillip Pullman*
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

August:
– This Savage Song – Victoria Schwab
Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic, and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman – Malidoma Patrice Somé
– Forest of a Thousand Lanterns – Julie C. Dao
– Flashfall – Jenny Moyer
A Blade So Black – L.L. McKinney
– Hawkeye Vol. 5: All-New Hawkeye – Jeff Lemire and Ramón Pérez*
The Runaway Jury – John Grisham
– Hawkeye Vol. 6: Hawkeyes – Jeff Lemire and Ramón Pérez
– Birthday – Meredith Russo
– The Amber Spyglass – Phillip Pullman*
African Titanics – Abu Bakr Khaal

September:
Celestial Bodies – Jokah Alharthi
Breath, Eyes, Memory – Edwidge Danticat
Roger Federer & Rafael Nadal: The Lives and Careers of Two Tennis Legends – Sebastián Fest
Internment – Samira Ahmed
– Burn for Burn – Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

October:
– Nemesis – Brendan Reichs
Shadows on the Tundra – Dalia Grinkevičiūtė
– The Murder Complex – Lindsay Cummings
Sherwood – Megan Spooner

November:
The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After – Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Wiel
Fear and His Servant – Mirjana Novaković
The Polished Hoe – Austin Clarke

Currently reading:
– In the Distance with You – Carla Guelfenbein

Books read: 68/52
Books reviewed: 42/26

My Reading in 2018 and Goals for 2019

Slightly later than usual (but it’s still the first half of January so it’s all good) but here’s where I look back on what and how I read in 2018 and my reading plans for 2019. In 2018 I read 72 books which beat my goal of 52 books and I reviewed 55 of them which was way better than my goal of reviewing 26 of them. You can find all the books I read here, and I posted my Top Ten books of 2018 earlier this month here.

I had a fair few reading challenges and goals for 2018 and I completed most of them. I continued to put £1 in a jar for every book I read so that gave me £72 to put in the bank at the end of the year which was a nice bonus. I continued with my Read the World Project and 31 of the books I read in 2018 were for that project.

I signed up for three reading challenges in 2018 because I love being overconfident! They were the Beat the Backlist Challenge which even though the majority of what I read was backlist, I’d always forget to put reviews on Amazon and/or link the reviews on the host’s site, so I didn’t really complete that challenge in that sense though I did surpass my target of 30 back list books. Then there was the A-Z Reading Challenge and the Monthly Motif Challenge – I completed both of those which I was really happy about.

I tried to get my TBR down to 50 books – I say “tried” but I’m not sure I really did. I acquired 53 books in 2018, from buying them myself, gifts or subscription boxes, and I read 28 of them. The other books I read were a mixture of books I owned pre-2018 and books from the library – I really embraced the library and borrowing audiobooks from there this year. I didn’t really get my TBR down at all; I started 2018 with 100 books on my TBR and finished it with 100 books on my TBR so at least it didn’t grow any bigger! It was a bit of a bummer though because looking at the numbers it did nothing about the unread books I own even though I did read a lot. Oh well! Maybe I’m destined to have piles of books around me!

It wasn’t a goal, but I do like to keep track of who’s writing what I’m writing. I always aim to have an equal split between male and female authors and I couldn’t have gotten a more even split in 2018 if I’d tried!

Now for my reading goals in 2019.

I’m keeping it super simple this year. I haven’t signed up for any reading challenges and I don’t plan to. I’m setting my reading goal at 52 books again and that I’ll review at least 26 of them. I think it’s good to at least set some achievable goals.

I’m going to continue to put £1 in a jar for every book I read as it’s a nice little financial boost at the end of the year, and I will once again aim to get down to 50 unread books on my TBR. It’s kind of a tradition at this point to say that so I might as well continue. It would be good if I could keep an equal split of male and female authors though I don’t mind if there’s more women authors as I do tend to read more books by women. Also, I’m thinking about tracking the split between white authors and authors of colour, I’d hope that at least 25% of the books I read are by non-white authors.

I think my main reading goal for 2019 is to focus on my Read the World Project. From the outset I wanted to read a book from every country in the world before I was 30. That’s in 2 years and 9 months-ish and I have about 150 countries left to read so I need to read about 50 books from around the world this year in order to make a dent. I own 14 books that are for this project and I’m definitely going to be getting more from the library, even in physical or audio form.

There’s my reading goals for 2019. Do you have any reading goals for the year? Or are you being a bit more relaxed about reading this year? I’d love to know about your reading goals and any tricks you might have to help achieve them.

BOOK BLOGGER HOP: If you could travel back in time to purchase the first printing of a specific novel, what book would that be?

It’s been a while (about a year to be honest) since I’ve last done one of these, but they are fun. The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly feature hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, to find bookish blogs and to learn more about the bloggers themselves. You can find more info on the feature here.

This week’s question is: If you could travel back in time to purchase the first printing of a specific novel, what book would that be?

Now that’s a good question! I’m not too fussed about covers and editions (though I do prefer all books in a series to match) but, if I could, I think I’d want to get a first edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. It’s my favourite book in the trilogy and I think it would feel really special having that book sitting pride of place on my shelf.

Is there any book you’d want a first edition of?

Sci-Fi Month is here!

IMAGE CREDIT: PHOTO by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash. QUOTE from The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

November is Sci-Fi Month. I’ve seen talk about Sci-Fi Month on the twittersphere in previous years, but I’ve never been prepared enough to take part – this year is different though! Hosted by Dear Geek Place and imyril Sci-Fi Month is for celebrating all things sci-fi. That’s books, comics, films, TV shows – anything! It’s an excuse to catch up on the sci-fi things you’ve been meaning to get around to watching/reading and it’s a chance to meet fellow sci-fi fans.

There’s no requirements or goals to take part in Sci-Fi Month which I really like as sometimes too much pressure from challenges can put me off taking part. See imyril’s blog for more information on Sci-Fi Month and follow @SciFiMonth on Twitter and use the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth to take part in all the chats.

I had a look at my physical TBR, and I don’t actually have many sci-fi books on there. In fact, I just have four, Brilliance by Marcus Sakey, Dune by Frank Herbert, Area 51 by Bob Meyer, and The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers.

My two main bookish aims will be to read The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (funnily enough a recent #NinjaBookSwap gift from Dear Geek Place) and Dune. There’s going to be a readalong of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet during Sci-Fi Month which is always a helpful incentive – more info on the readalong is here. I have a physical copy of Dune but as that’s huge and intimidating, I used one of my Audible credits to purchase the audiobook. It’s a long audiobook at 21 hours but I should be able to listen to and complete it during the month on my walk to and from work every day (generally I can listen to at least an hour of an audiobook each working day).

When it comes to films, I’m going to make watching sci-fi films a priority in November. I really like science-fiction films, I like how they can be futuristic or bleak, can be action-packed or more thoughtful. There are so many subgenres of science-fiction which means there’s so many different stories to tell.

I’ve had a look through my watchlists on both Netflix and Amazon Prime and here’s just some of the sci-fi film I’d saved: The Discovery, Next Gen, The Beyond, Mute, Hardcore Henry, Arq, The Zero Theorem, Gattaca, Approaching the Unknown, The Colony, Psychokinesis, Stasis, Advantageous, Beyond, and Guardians. (Yes, there’s a film called Beyond and a different film called The Beyond – one’s on Netflix and the other’s on Prime and I’m intrigued)

Some of these have been on my watch list for ages so I’m not entirely sure what first drew me to them but that’ll make watching them even more fun.

If you fancy checking out the sci-fi books and films I’ve reviewed before on my blog click here.

Let me know if you are going to take part in Sci-Fi Month, I think it’s going to be a cool experience and I love it when events like this give me the push to finally read or watch something I’ve been meaning to read or watch for ages. Also, let me know what some of your favourite sci-fi books and films are, I’m always looking for recommendations.