Final Biannual Bibliothon TBR

Hello readers! Like many, I was sad to hear that the upcoming round of the Biannual Bibliothon will be the last, but I am determined to make it great! This round of the readathon will span 9 days starting on July 11th. As usual, my TBR is not set in stone and is very likely to change. I’m doing my best to pick mainly books that I already own because my list of owned and unread books is getting so long that I’m starting to feel itchy. The rules are that you can double up on challenges, but tripling up is discouraged.

The first challenge is to read the group book, which is Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I don’t own this book, and I’m hoping to get the audiobook from Overdrive, but we’ll see.

The next challenge is to read an adult book. I’ve been reading a lot more adult books lately, so I don’t think I’ll have too much trouble with this. I plan on picking up Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, or Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren. Both of these books are ARCs that I picked up at the American Library Association Annual Conference, and I am very excited about both of them.

The third challenge is to read a graphic novel. I have quite a few, including some I picked up at ALA, so I will probably read one of those. I currently own a new Buffy comic book, Umbrella Academy, which I have been meaning to get to for years, Nimona, which I tell myself I’m going to read for almost every readathon, and Paper Girls, which is supposed to be really good. I also might end up re-reading Hyperbole and a Half because that’s always a fun time.

The next reading challenge is to read a book based on the cover. I have a few books that I know very little about and have picked up over the years just because I liked the cover. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly and The Musician’s Daughter by Susanne Dunlap have been on my shelf the longest. I also have Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill, which I recently bought partly based on a bookseller’s recommendation, but mostly because the cover is gorgeous. Then there are a few other books I picked up from ALA because the covers were pretty, but I don’t feel like sorting through that stack, so I’ll go into more depth if I end up picking any of them.

For a book that you were excited for but never got to, I’m really hoping to pick up West by Edith Pattou, but in order to do that, I really need to finish my re-read of East before the start of the bibliothon. East was one of my favorite childhood books, so I was thrilled when the sequel was announced. I actually won a signed copy of West, but I still haven’t gotten around to it because I really wanted to re-read the first book. I’ve really been struggling with reading physical books lately, and have only been reading about one a month, so hopefully I can push through on East in time for the bibliothon.

Next up is a host’s 5-star read. For this challenge, I am either going to read Scythe by Neal Shusterman, A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee, or The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. I own all three of these in audiobook format and I could go for any of them, but I’m leaning towards Mackenzie Lee.

Next up is an author you’ve never read from before. For this challenge, I am going to double up and either use Aurora Rising, because I have never read anything by Jay Kristoff, or use whichever of the three books I pick for the host’s 5-star, because I’ve never read any of those authors.

Next to last is a predicted 5-star read. This is another good one to double up on, so I’m planning on using whichever of the two books I pick for the adult genre challenge.

And finally, the last challenge is a free choice. This is kind of a weird “challenge” because you can choose anything, and with the doubling up rule, it basically ends up not existing as a challenge. So I’ll double this challenge up with either the cover challenge or the graphic novel challenge.

There you have it – my very loose reading plans for the biannual bibliothon. Let me know if you plan to participate and what’s on your TBR. Happy reading!

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June Wrap-up 2019

Hello readers! I’m back for my June wrap-up and this month I’m on time!

I started out the month really well with Skyward by Brandon Sanderson. I had such a good time with this book. It’s only my third Sanderson, but it was really great. It has a lot of the same world-building strength that Mistborn has, but it’s Sci-fi and young adult, so it also brings something new to the table. I loved learning about this world, and having Sanderson shoot down every single theory I had. The characters were so well developed, and had very distinct personalities. There’s also one character that I would talk about forever because they are the most wonderful, funny, and loyal character ever and I love them so much, but I don’t want to spoil anything, and even the character’s name is kind of a spoiler.

Next, I re-read Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody. I got the chance to meet Amanda Foody and get finished copies of both Ace of Shades and King of Fools, and I got them signed. I read the ARC for Ace of Shades back when it first came out, and I really liked it, but I did think that there were some places where the feelings came across as telly instead of showy. Upon re-read, it definitely seems like a lot of these places were fixed in the final version, so I’m glad I gave it another go. I really love this world and this magic system, and I am so excited to dive back in with King of Fools when I get the chance.

The next book I read was for my in person book club at one of my local indie bookstores. I read Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo. Now normally I wouldn’t pick up a YA contemporary romance centered around Kpop, but I’m glad I did. This book is actually inspired by Roman Holiday, one of my favorite movies ever. It’s a great modern take on a classic story and I really liked what the author did with it. If you like YA contemporary romance, Hong Kong, Kpop, or Roman Holiday, then you will probably like this book.

Next I picked up Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley. As always, Agatha Raisin books are a solid 4-star read for me. Great cozy mystery.

After that, I FINALLY picked up Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst. I am obsessed with Audrey Coulthurst’s debut Of Fire and Stars, a YA fantasy featuring a female-female romance, elemental magic, and an assassination plot. Inkmistress is a prequel set in a neighboring kingdom. I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about this book, but it seems to boil down to, it’s a fun read, but it doesn’t feel like it takes place in the same world. I went into this book with that in mind, and spent the whole time trying to figure out how a magic system could have changed so much over the years. Listen, I get that it feels like a different world, but it’s all explained at the end, so just don’t worry about it too much. The characters are completely wonderful, the magic and religion is super neat, and I am always here for a fantasy with LGBTQ+ relationships. Also, Hal is the perfect man.

The next book I read in June was Undying by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. This is the sequel to Unearthed, which I read back in January of 2018. The first book ended on a major cliffhanger, so I was highly anticipating this sequel. It did not disappoint. I spent the better part of a year perfecting my theory as to who the Undying were and how they came to be, and let’s just say, I was mostly right. This book has a great fast-paced plot, but is definitely not as character focused. I also would have liked the ending to be a bit longer so that I could have a bit more time to take in how all the loose ends were tied up, but overall, this was a really fun duology.

Okay, so I totally failed at my goal to read a classic this month, but I did read a non-fiction book, which should count for something. I read How to Be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery and I cried on public transportation. Each chapter is an incredibly touching story about what animals can teach us. There are some sad parts, but man is it worth it. I’ve already got The Soul of an Octopus because I love the way Sy Montgomery writes about animals and I can’t wait to read more.

I then read the next two novellas in the Ghosts of the Shadowmarket series. I am loving these characters and can’t wait to see more of them in The Last Hours. Anna Lightwood is especially fun. I also really like Sister Amelia and I hope she comes back at some point.

The last book I read in the month of June was A Script for Danger, the next book in The Nancy Drew Diaries. I always enjoy these books and this one was no exception.

I also read a handful of romance novels this month, but like I explained in my last wrap-up, I can’t quite remember which ones I read in May and which ones I read in June, so I will be combining my romance wrap-up. Check back soon if you’re interested in that!

Until then, happy reading!

 

Mid-Year Goals Check-in

Hello readers! At the start of 2019, I set a bunch of reading goals for myself, so let’s see how I’m doing.

My first goal was to do a check-in mid-year to see how I was doing with my goals and re-evaluate the effectiveness of some of them if needed. Great, I’m doing that now!

Goal the second was my Goodreads reading challenge to read 100 books by the end of the year. I’ve read 59 so far, so I’m also doing fairly well there.

I wanted to try to read at least one classic and one adult fiction novel per month. I haven’t met this goal every month, but I read multiple classics and multiple adult fiction novels in some months, so it does kind of average out. I want to keep this goal, because I have been enjoying the challenge!

I also said I wanted to read more non-fiction and set myself a goal of reading 5 non-fic books by the end of the year. I’m part-way through my first one. I’m going to step this goal back to 3 and see if I can manage that a little better. I’d like to have at least finished the first one by the end of the summer.

In addition to classics, adult, and non-fiction, I wanted to try to read more adult high fantasy. I’ve read two books so far, and have enjoyed them, and I have a lot more on my TBR, so this might actually become one of my most read genres eventually.

My next goal was to start doing romance wrap-ups, which I have been doing. I missed the one for May, but I’m planning on doing a combined May/June post. I definitely want to keep doing these posts because it really helps me to think about romance as a genre, what makes a good romance novel, what tropes are fun, and which tropes are problematic, etc.

My (almost) last goal was to participate more in the online book community. I’ve done this some by guest-hosting 2 readathons. What I’ve done a lot more of is participating in my local real-life book community. I’ve been attending a lot more author events, I went to independent bookstore day, I volunteered at a book festival, I now have a weekly volunteer gig at a used bookstore that raises money for the library, and I even joined a book club. Getting out of the house to go hang out with bookish people has done wonders for my anxiety, and I’ve also gotten a lot of new books to read!

I made one final goal for myself at the end of January to read at least two books I already own each month. Some months have been better than others. I definitely want to keep this goal because I really don’t want to turn into one of those people who buys every book and then never reads any of them. I also might need to update my posts on the unread books I own. So look out for that post, and until then, happy reading!

May Wrap-up 2019

Hello readers! Please excuse my very late May wrap-up. We have a new dog, and I’ve been getting basically nothing done.

I started the month coming off of the Magical Readathon, so I took it easy at first and read a couple more Nancy Drew Diaries books. First I read Once Upon a Thriller, and then Sabotage at Willow Woods. The books in this series are pretty consistently 4-star reads for me. They are pretty good, feel totally authentic to the characters, and I would definitely recommend them to middle-grade readers looking for some fun mysteries.

Next up, I scrambled to read my new book club book in less than 2 days because I am a procrastinator extraordinaire when it comes to book club. The book was The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf. This story follows Melati, a teen in Kuala Lumpur in 1969, who struggles with undiagnosed OCD. She thinks she has an evil djinn inside her head telling her that she must do its bidding in order to keep her loved ones safe. When race riots break out throughout the city, Mel does everything she can to reunite with her mother and help her new friends. This book is a lot heavier than anything I would normally pick for myself, but I thought it had a great representation of OCD, and I learned a lot about Malaysia in the 1960s that I didn’t know before.

After that, I went back to some easier reads, and picked up the next few Nancy Drew Diaries books: The Secret at Mystic LakeThe Phantom of NantucketThe Magician’s Secret, and The Clue at Black Creek Farm. Again, these were all 4-star reads for me.

Still in the mood for mysteries, but looking for something a little more mature, I went for the next book in the Agatha Raisin series by M. C. Beaton, Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener. Much like the Nancy Drew Diaries, these books are enjoyable and fairly well written, and are typically a 4-star read for me. Agatha only gets better with time, so I’m happy that my library carries quite a few books in the series.

My last book of the month was Cast Long Shadows, the second novella in the Ghosts of the Shadowmarket series by Cassandra Clare. These novellas provide interesting information and context for the rest of the Shadowhunters world, but this one is nothing special on its own.

I also read 5 or 6 romance novels in May, but I’ve completely lost track of when I read which books and have started to confuse them with my June reads, so I’ll probably do a combined May/June romance wrap-up.

Some hauls and event wrap-ups might be coming soon! Until then, happy reading!

 

Monthly Goals Check-in

Read at least one classic: nothing

Read at least one adult novel: Agatha Raisin

Read at least two already owned books: nothing

bad month for my goals, oh well.

Independent Bookstore Day Recap and Haul

Hello readers! I’m trying out something new today based on some feedback I got on instagram. April 27th was Independent Bookstore Day. Here in DC, there are so many local indie bookstores that I had trouble deciding what to do. I wanted to hit up some of my favorites, visit some of the ones I haven’t been to before, and maybe even try the full DC bookstore crawl. In the end, I realized that my anxiety needed me to take it a lot more slowly than that. I have been making progress on dealing with my anxiety since I started therapy again last fall, and it’s going pretty well. When I started, I was at the point of feeling full blown panic every time I broke from my routine. Now I can leave the house, go to a new place, meet new people, and still feel anxiety, but not have it turn into an awful panic spiral. But visiting 12+ crowded bookstores all on the same day sounded, well, not at all fun. So I reassessed, and decided to go to just my favorite bookstore – One More Page Books. I’ve been to OMP a bunch of times before. I know the booksellers there, I’m familiar with the layout of the store, the parking situation, the drive to get there. The wild card here was the potential for it to be super crowded, which I was willing to deal with.

I made the right choice, because I had lots of fun. One More Page had lots of fun events going on all day long. There was the Book Seller Bake Off, where each of the booksellers baked a dessert and brought it in for everyone to sample. The cake-pops won, but I didn’t try anything because I’m paranoid about my food allergies.

There was also Battle of the Books. Each of the booksellers picked one of their favorite books to represent, and whoever sold the most copies won. I was convinced to pick up Fierce FairytalesRed-Tails in Love, and Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of DeathFierce Fairytales is a collection of feminist poems inspired by classic fairytales. I’m not a big poetry person, but I’m always trying to challenge myself and try new things, and I thought this would be the perfect book for that, since I already love fairytales. I already talked about Agatha Raisin in my April wrap-up. I borrowed the book from the library, and loved it, so it went into the pile too. Red-Tails in Love is the story of birdwatchers in Central Park and how they followed a pair of nesting hawks over several years. If you know me, you know I am terrible at reading non-fiction, but I challenged myself to read 5 non-fiction books by the end of the year, and if anything is going to keep me interested, it’s birds.

Speaking of birds, I also picked up a book that I have been eyeing since early this year. It’s called The Field Guide to the Dumb Birds of North America. It’s amazing and hilarious. All of the birds are renamed to reflect their true selves, and have an accompanying illustration. My current favorite is the European Shartling. Check it out, and get it for any friend who likes birds.

One More Page was also running a pet scavenger hunt. There were pictures of pets hidden all throughout the store. If you found one, you could take a picture with your phone and once you had found them all, you could pick from the prize box. I was doing pretty terribly at the scavenger hunt until I teamed up with a 3-year old, who luckily didn’t realize that I was the only one benefitting from the partnership. Anyway, we (she) eventually found all the pets and we each got a prize. I took home a slightly damaged, but still beautiful, MinaLima edition of The Little Mermaid.

Lastly, I picked up several books that are on my immediate TBR or that I’ve already read, and know that I want to re-read:

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows – I don’t know much about this book other than it’s a historical fantasy re-imagining of Lady Jane Grey’s story, and everyone keeps telling me that it’s amazing and I need to read it. I also read The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand, and loved that, so I have a pretty good feeling about this one.

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer – the sequel to Renegades, and one of my favorite reads of the year so far.

Undying by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner – the sequel to Unearthed, which is like Indiana Jones in space.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer – a Beauty and the Beast retelling that everyone is raving about, so of course I need to read it and also have it for my retelling collection.

The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu – the first book in the new Eldest Curses series which follows Alec and Magnus as they get up to typical shadowhunter/warlock mischief.

Anyway, that’s all for my recap of Independent Bookstore Day. Let me know if you like this type of post or want to see more event recaps or hauls. Happy reading!

April and OWLs Magical Readathon Wrap-up 2019

Hello readers! In April, I participated in the OWLs Magical Readathon. This readathon is themed around the OWL exams from Harry Potter. There are 12 subjects, and one prompt for each subject. There’s also a really neat Wizarding Careers booklet, so you can decide which OWLs to do depending on which career you want. I went ahead and took all 12 OWLs, so I didn’t read much outside of this challenge in April.

First up, I read Sherwood by Meagan Spooner for the Ancient Runes challenge, which was to read a re-telling. I had every intention of reading this book for the Fantasy Adventure-a-thon at the end of last month, but I barely read any of it, and decided to take it back up for my first OWLs challenge. This book is a retelling of Robin Hood. Robin of Locksley is dead, and Marian decides to fill his role and protect the people of Nottingham. I was kind of confused by this book at first, because I was under the impression that it was fantasy. I thought that Robin was still alive and was using the magic in the ring to communicate to Marian. Thinking that, I was totally rooting for the wrong ships. I ended up reading some spoilers for the end of the book because I was so confused about where the plot was going. But there is no magic in this story, and once I knew where the plot was headed, I was totally on board for the ride. All in all, I didn’t love this book quite as much as Hunted, but it’s still a great retelling.

Next up, I read Rebel Angels by Libba Bray for my Defense Against the Dark Arts challenge which was to read a book starting with the letter R. Rebel Angels is the second book in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy. I am not totally in love with this trilogy, but I like it enough to keep reading it. I love Libba Bray, but you can tell this is some of her earlier work.

The next challenge I completed was Divination, which was to read a book set in the future. I chose Wires and Nerve, a graphic novel sequel to the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. The storyline was enjoyable, but I would rather see these characters in a traditional novel format.

Then, if you follow me on instagram, and you were watching my stories, then you followed along with my intense 24-ish hours of trying to read this entire book before a bookclub meeting that I wanted to go to. The book was The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. I really enjoyed this book, even though I read it so quickly. And luckily, there are flowers on the cover, so I could also count it towards my Herbology reading challenge to read a book with plants on the cover. I had a few nitpicks with this book, mostly that certain plot elements were set up and then there was no follow-through, but I expect a lot of the loose ends will be addressed in the sequel. This book also falls into the “burry your gays” trope (meaning that all of the openly queer characters are killed off). I think a lot of my issues with this book can be chalked up to the author’s first time writing fantasy, so I’m not too upset about it, and I will definitely be picking up the sequel.

Then, for the Charms challenge to read an adult novel, I finally read The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson. This is the second book in the Mistborn series, and boy was it good! Apparently, a lot of people don’t like this book as much because they say the plot moves much more slowly, but I was on the edge of my seat pretty much the entire time. The ending was amazing, and I am so amped to read The Hero of Ages.

Next, I read Libba Bray’s Lair of Dreams for the Potions challenge to read a sequel. This is the second book in the Diviners series, and I loved it even more than the first. We got so much more character development, the villain was amazing, and much like in the first book, the imagery is so vivid that I felt like I was watching a movie instead of reading a book.

For Muggle Studies (read a contemporary), I read Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death. If you like cozy mysteries, the English countryside, quiche, and unlikeable characters that just need some love to help them be better, then this book is for you. Anna Bright, author of the upcoming debut, The Beholder, recommended this book, and it was just what I needed. I immediately picked up the second book, Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet and used it for my Care of Magical Creatures OWL – read a book with a land animal on the cover. I now have the third book checked out from the library, and I see myself binging on the entire series at some point, so thanks Anna!

For History of Magic, the challenge was to read a book published at least 10 years ago, so I picked up the third Anne of Green Gables book, Anne of the Island. This series is so soothing. I don’t want to spoil anything, even though this is a classic, so many of you probably already know how certain events play out. I won’t give away any details, but I was so happy with the ending of this book. I actually teared up.

Transfiguration was the hardest challenge for me, because I don’t own any books with sprayed edges. Alternatively, you could read a book with a red cover, which was my plan, but all of my red books are on the heftier side, and I didn’t leave myself that much time to complete this challenge. So, I headed over to Overdrive, and checked out a copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that happened to have a mostly red cover. I listened to this audiobook fairly quickly. It was interesting to see the differences between the book and the movie, and I am definitely interested in reading the next book in the series.

For Arithmancy, I had to read a book written by more than one author, so I finally got around to reading Son of the Dawn by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan. This is the first novella in the Ghosts of the Shadow Market series. It was good. My heart squeezed for little Jace.

For my very last challenge, Astronomy (read a book with “star” in the title), I read The Curse of the Arctic Star by Carolyn Keene. This is the first book in the Nancy Drew Diaries series, which is a modern, middle-grade take on Nancy Drew. I loved this book. It has a lot of the same feel as classic Nancy Drew, but it’s in the first person, which for me makes it a bit more fun. And even though the target audience for this book is meant to be younger people, Nancy is still in her late-teens, so it feels like something anyone could enjoy. At this point, I had completed all 12 of my OWLs, so I went ahead and read the second book in this series, Strangers on a Train. I also really enjoyed this book, and I have been bingeing on this series ever since.

Because I was so focused on the OWLs readathon, I didn’t read any romance this month, so there won’t be a romance wrap-up. I’ll be back soon with a recap of Independent Bookstore Day! Until then, happy reading!

 

Monthly Goals Check-in

Read at least one classic: Anne of the Island, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Read at least one adult novel: The Well of Ascension and both Agatha Raisin books

Read at least two already owned books: The Belles, and Son of the Dawn. I also own Sherwood and Lair of Dreams, but those are very recent acquisitions, so I won’t count them.

March Romance Wrap-Up 2019

Hello readers! Welcome to my third romance wrap-up! I think this series is working, and I’m actually feeling less and less embarrassed about my romance-reading habits. This month, I read 5 romance books, all by the same author.

Last month, I started the Bedwyn Saga by Mary Balogh, and I liked the first book. So this month, I decided to continue with the series, and ended up finishing it. Overall, it was pretty fun. I did get a little sick of the fake-engaged/fake-married trope, which featured in all but the last book in the series. None of the books were as steamy as Lisa Kleypas, or as funny as Tessa Dare, but I did get pretty invested in all of the characters and wanted to see a happy ending for all of them.

I’m going to keep this post short instead of talking about each of the books separately, because honestly they’re all pretty similar to each other. I don’t think I’ve discovered a new favorite romance author, but I’ll probable pick up another one of her series if my library has them.

If you are curious about this series, or my thoughts on romance in general, and want to know more, feel free to hit me up on Twitter or Instagram, because I am always happy to talk books! Otherwise, happy reading!