Monstrous Design

Magical Readathon: Orilium – The Novice Path

The Magical Readathon is the brainchild of Gi at BookRoast on YouTube and this edition of the month-long readathon will take place in September. Previously it was a readathon based on the exams in the Harry Potter universe but now Gi has truly outdone herself and created a whole new world with its own history, magic, university, and people. Her video announcing the prompts for this readathon and how this world works is fantastic and that along with all the documents she’s made to support this world will answer any questions you may have.

As this is a whole new world, this readathon is like an introduction to it all. Instead of being thrown straight into the university exams, this readathon is based on the journey to the Orilium Academy. There are seven prompts on that journey but you only have to complete two of them in order to successfully reach the Academy but naturally you can try and complete them all. As the Magical Readathon has a no doubling up rule that means you have to read two books to “pass” this readathon.

There are also prompts to help build your character who will be attending the Academy next year when the next Magical Readathon happens in April. You don’t have to complete the character prompts in September, they can be used to build another TBR later this year, as long as you’ve completed the character prompts by April 2021.

So, onto my TBR. As usual I’ve found books that match up for each of the prompts and the character prompts so either I have a lot of choice or I can push myself and try and read ten books in September. Not sure how likely that is when I’m lucky to read four books in a month at the minute.

The Novice Path Entrance: Read a book with a map
Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn
This has a map on the end pages so that totally counts in my mind. Plus this is the first book in a series and if I read this book, the sequel can fit another prompt.

Ashtorn Tree: A book that keeps tempting you or is at the top of your TBR
Beka Lamb by Zee Edgell
This is one of my most recent purchases and it’s a coming-of-age story about a 14-year-old Belizean girl. Like with past Magical Readathon TBR’s, I’m trying to have a mix of Read the World Project books and YA/fantasy that’ll give me a varied TBR.

The Mist of Solitude: Read a standalone
The Purple Violet of Oshaantu by Neshani Andreas
All I know about this book is that it’s about a woman, who was an unhappy wife, and after her husband dies, she’s expected to weep and not talk ill of the dead but she refuses. Thus, making her a pariah in her village.

Ruin of the Skye: Read a book that features ghosts, a haunted house or supernatural elements
It’s Behind You by Kathryn Foxfield
This is the only book that even has a mention of ghosts in the blurb. I’m not sure if the ghost is actually real as the premise is a spooky reality TV show.

Obsidian Falls: Read a thriller or mystery
Dr Mabuse by Norbert Jacques
I’m pretty sure this falls under the mystery umbrella as the titular character is a criminal and maybe even a super-villain – it’s listed as a mystery on Goodreads anyway. I’m not really sure but it was first published in 1921 and the character was apparently the embodiment of the rising Nazi Party.

Tower of Rumination: Read a 5-star prediction
Hawkeye: Freefall by Matthew Rosenberg and Otto Schmidt
It’s always a good idea to have a comic on a readathon TBR and as Clint Barton is one of my favourite characters ever, there’s a very good chance I’ll end up loving this comic.

Orilium Academy Arc: Read a book with a school setting
Weeding the Flowerbeds by Sarah Mkhonza
This is a memoir about Mkhonza’s childhood at a boarding school where growing up is takes place under strict hostel rules in the seventies.

Character prompts

Background – Wilding: Read a book that’s largely set in a forest/outside
An African in Greenland by Tété-Michel Kpomassie
This has been on my TBR loads of times so maybe this’ll finally be the time I read it. The title pretty much explains it and I think a lot of this book will be set outside as it follows Kpomassie’s journey to Greenland and his experiences there.

Province – Kerador: Read a book in an ongoing series
Monstrous Design by Kat Dunn
And here’s that sequel I mentioned. I don’t really read series and often when I do, they’re finished so these are the only books I have for a series where there’s books still to be published. Not sure if it’s going to be a trilogy or more.

Heritage – Elf: Moon or stars on the cover or in the title or, Human: Read a contemporary or non-fiction book
Cadence of the Moon by Oscar Núñez Olivas OR Milena & Other Social Reforms by Olja Knežević
As I don’t know if I fancy being an elf or a human, I’ve got a couple of books to choose from. Cadence of the Moon is about a serial killer in Costa Rica (this could also fit Obsidian Falls prompt if I change my mind) while Milena & Other Social Reforms (which I have as an ebook) is about a young woman who lands the job of being the president’s interpreter.

Are your taking part in the Magical Readathon next month? I hope to be sharing my progress on Twitter as an extra motivational tool.

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2021

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to do this tag and to do a check in of my reading this year so far as I have been pretty much in a sixth month reading slump. But this tag is like a booktube/book blogger stapple so thought I’d check in and see just how my reading has been this year.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2020
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
I just loved this book a lot. The characters, their relationships, how everything comes together, it’s all so good. I would highly recommend the audiobook too, it was excellent.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
I liked Shadow and Bone well enough but then I loved Siege and Storm. Was everything I’d want in a sequel; adds new and great characters, gives old ones more development, more action and drama – it’s just so good!

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
Monstrous Design by Kat Dunn
I did something which I have not done in a long, long time – bought the sequel even though I’ve yet to read the first book. Yes, I’ve not read Dangerous Remedy but I got that in a subscription box last year and then they were doing a special edition of the sequel so I ordered that so then hopefully when I finally read this series, they’ll match and both look pretty.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
Beka Lamb by Zee Edgell
I’m so bad at keeping up with new releases and technically this isn’t a new release as it was originally published in 1982 but there’s a new edition being released at the end of July that I already have on preorder. It will be my read for Belize in my Read the World Project.

5. Biggest disappointment
The Good Life Elsewhere by Vladimir Lorchenkov
I haven’t really had any disappointing books so far this year (guess that’s the perks of not reading a lot) but I did find The Good Life Elsewhere very odd. Just it wasn’t what I expected based on how it was described and it was a very odd book with some really dark humour.

6. Biggest surprise
In Praise of Love and Children by Beryl Gilroy
Again, haven’t really read enough to be truly surprised by a book but I did enjoy In Praise of Love and Children more than I thought I would. It was a really engaging immigrant story and it was set in a time of UK history I had vague knowledge of so I found that interesting too.

7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)
Besides Leigh Bardugo (who I had read before this year) I haven’t read multiple books by the same author so far in 2021. I did like Uršuľa Kovalyk’s writing style in The Equestrienne and I was very impressed by how Svetlana Alexievich wrote non-fiction so I wouldn’t be opposed to checking out more of their work.

8. Newest fictional crush and 9. Newest favourite character.
Sturmhond aka Nikolai Lantsov – Grisha’verse by Leigh Bardugo
I’ve not yet read King of Scars and Rule of Wolves but from his first appearance as Sturmhond in Siege and Storm I absolutely loved Nikolai and he became my favourite character in the original trilogy. I don’t know if he is a fiction crush, as I don’t have them often, but he is a new favourite and he’s so charming and funny and a perfect scoundrel while also being a great tactician.

10. Book that made you cry.
The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich
This didn’t make me proper cry or anything but I did feel myself get really say or get a sort of pain in my chest as I listened to the audiobook. It was just really vivid in its descriptions of the brutality and reality of war.

11. Book that made you happy.
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
While Crooked Kingdom does have it’s sad or bittersweet moments, I just really enjoyed how everything came together and the final reveal of the con was exceptional. Having characters from the original Grisha trilogy was a huge bonus too.

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
The Beast Player and The Beast Warrior by Nahoko Uehasi
You’re getting two for this answer. I saw The Beast Warrior when browsing a Waterstone and immediately fell in love with the cover. After realising it was a sequel (book two in a duology I believe) I had to pick up the first book which was also stunning so I came home from Waterstones with these two beautiful books that I’ve yet to read.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
All of them? I’m pretty sure I say that every year I do this tag. I want to focus on my Read the World Project. There are a few books I’ve started but only read a few pages or maybe a chapter or two (told you in a big slump) so they’re probably going to be my priority. There’s  by Ali Al Saeed, How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by Saša Stanišić and The Madwoman of Serrano by Dina Salústio to name a few.

Now for some reading stats. I want to read 52 books this year and I’m current at 20 so I’m 5 books behind schedule which isn’t terrible and I do think if I actually pick a book up instead of watching a load of TV shows, I’ll soon get back on track.

I think the pandemic reading slump is hitting me now rather than last year like it seemed to hit a lot of people. Maybe now things are starting to open up a bit that’s what’s occupying my brain whereas before when there was very little to do I could focus on reading. Who knows!

Thanks to the Grisha’verse books I’ve read this year my most read genre is fantasy followed by short story collections and historical fiction. I’ve read more books by women than men (just) which I’m happy with but feel that might become more equal as I think I have more books by men on my TBR than women – or at least more books on my Read the World Project TBR are by men.