Fantasy Adventure-A-Thon TBR

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Hello readers! I’ve decided to participate in the Fantasy Adventure-A-Thon created by Novel Thoughts. This is a choose your own adventure style readathon taking place from March 25th through March 31st. I will be playing for team Mermaid. I haven’t completely committed to a TBR yet. I have a longer version, with a different book for each challenge, and then a shorter version where some of the books are counted for more than one challenge.

Fellowship – Read the group book:

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Cliff – Read a book with a nature word in the title:

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

or

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

Toad – Read a book with green on the cover:

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner

Fate – Read a book set in the past:

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Adventure – Read the first book in a series:

Three Dark Crowns by Kendara Blake

can also count ACOTAR, ADSOM, or Diviners

Potions – Read a book while drinking a drink:

Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst

or

any other book already on my TBR

 

Let me know if you’re participating and what team you’re on! Happy reading!

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Books That Changed My Mind – Re-Readathon 2019 Day 1

Hello readers! Welcome to the very first day of the Re-Readathon for 2019! The Re-Readathon is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – a readathon all about re-reading books. I’ve gone over the challenges  and my TBR, so go ahead and check out those posts to get caught up. Today’s theme is game changing books!

I love this theme. You might remember that it was also my challenge for the day I was an instagram host for the Biannual Bibliothon. I used to be a very picky reader and I would make use of blanket statements like “I only read…” and “I never like reading…” which was close minded of me. Luckily, I have changed my ways, and there are some books that helped me get to where I am now.

The Prophecy of the Stones by Flavia Bujor

I used to hate fantasy. I didn’t even read Harry Potter for the first time until I was 16. I remember reading a few low fantasy books as a kid and thinking, yeah, these are okay, but I’m not really into fantasy. Then, the book club I was in with my closest friends and all out moms picked The Prophecy of the Stones as our book for the month. I was reluctant to read it, not only because it was fantasy, but because it was over 300 pages long. For my 10 year old self who grew up reading and writing primarily in french, 300 pages seemed like way too much to tackle in a month. BOY WAS I WRONG! I fell in love with this story. I’m kind of scared to re-read this book at this point because it was so many years ago, but I remember how moved I was by the friendships and how exciting the adventure was.

East by Edith Pattou

East is by no means a high fantasy story, but I was still a bit skeptical about fantasy when I read it for the first time. I was also still not used to reading longer books. At the time, I read mostly historical fiction and mystery, all under 250 pages. So East was a game changer for me in much the same way that the previous book on this list was. In fact, they kind of worked in tandem to break me of my fantasy ban. But East was also a game changer in another way. I used to hate re-reading books. I was of the opinion that once was enough and I couldn’t possibly get anything out of another read. Jump ahead in time to the summer between my Sophomore and Junior year of college. I was thinking more and more about re-reading books, and had been considering re-reading Harry Potter for some time, but just hadn’t taken the first step yet. I was working as an intern at a museum. My mom had recently started using a Kindle Fire, and gave me her old Kindle. I switched it over to my amazon account, and was looking for something to read during my commute and at lunch. I’m not really sure what made me pick up East on ebook, but it felt just as magical, if not more so, reading it for the second time. I have since become a big re-reader and I am so happy that this book helped me see the error of my ways!

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

This one is a little different, because I wasn’t really being close minded, I was just having anxiety. I have never been great with supernatural, paranormal stuff. I was a very anxious kid, and am still a fairly anxious adult, but I at least know myself a bit better now. Some kid at camp made a joke about werewolves, and to this day, I get creeped out driving through the woods at night (I realize there are perfectly legitimate reasons to be creeped out by woods at night, but there’s a small part of my brain that is still worried about werewolves). One summer, a bunch of kids requested that we read ghost stories during story time, and I was screwed up for months after that. I had nightmares about movies that were supposed to be halloween comedies. I missed the whole Twilight craze because I was too scared of vampires. I eventually shook off most of these fears, but my uneasiness with ghosts of any sort stuck around longer than others. When The Name of the Star came out, I was a huge Maureen Johnson fangirl, and bought it before I even really knew what it was about. When I read the description, I thought, well, this doesn’t sound ideal, but how scary could it be? I mean, at that point Maureen Johnson wrote mostly contemporary romance. I am so glad I tricked myself into reading this, because it quickly turned into my favorite series for a time, and also I can now read things with ghosts without having anxiety attacks and nightmares. I still don’t do horror, but I can read things like The Graveyard Book, no problem.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I didn’t actually have to read that many classics in school. We read a few in middle school, and a few in my first two years of high school, but in my junior and senior year, I was in a program that required us to read more international literature than British or American classics, so I was never that well versed in much more than Shakespeare. The English teachers I had in the first two years of high school were awful and pretty much ruined all of the classics that I did read.I had never read a classic all the way through on my own. Then one day when I was home from college, I picked up my beautiful illustrated edition of Little Women and started reading, thinking I would probably put it down after a chapter or two. I read the whole thing that day. I still struggle a bit with classics, but I now know that there are some out there that I like, and I just have to find them.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

One thing that’s always been kind of a bummer about being queer is that a lot of the queer stories out there are not fun. For the longest time, I couldn’t find a book in the LGBTQ+ genre that didn’t make me sad. There were books about how hard it was to be queer, how hard it is to come out, a character being totally okay with their own queerness, but then their partner isn’t and either dies by suicide, or breaks up with the main character and decides to try to be straight. Listen, life can be really hard for queer people, but I am an escapist and want to not have to deal with real life, at least in such a direct way, when I’m reading a story. Side note, the lack of happy gay teens in YA when I was a teen made me seriously question myself. Like, if I’m not having a huge identity crisis and super sad love-life, am I really gay? Plus, I started reading a lot of fantasy, and boy is that a heteronormative genre! Well, Carry On changed that for me. Simon and Baz are just so completely ship-able and this story is so fun. I laughed, I cried, I swooned, I am so excited for the sequel this year. I finally got a story featuring characters that were just a bit more like me who didn’t feel like their whole lives were ruined because of their queerness. I still don’t read a ton of LGBTQ+ books, but I do seek out what I think of as the “happy gay” books.

Those are my biggest game changing books. Now, about the giveaway: I am going to be giving away a copy of Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. Unfortunately, I can only send it to the US and Canada, so other international readers and readathon participants, I am sorry. This is the first giveaway I have ever done, so I’m trying to keep it simple. If it goes well, I might be able to do more in the future, and maybe even open them up to the whole world!

If you would like to win a copy of Girls of Paper and Fire, all you have to do to enter is comment below and tell me what one of your game changing books is, and what it changed for you. If for whatever reason you can’t comment, then hop on over to my Twitter and tweet me about your game changer instead! This giveaway will be open until Midnight tonight (EST).

Make sure to check out the other hosts for today because each of them is running a giveaway too:

Shaegeeksout on Instagram

Elliot Brooks on Youtube

I can’t wait to hear about all of your bookish game-changers! I’ll pick my winner later this week. Until then, happy reading!

 

February Romance Wrap-Up 2019

Hello readers and welcome to my second ever Romance Wrap-Up. If you’re new here, I’m trying to not feel shame and embarrassment from reading romance and thus perpetuating the idea that women should feel ashamed for liking romance. I still feel super uncomfortable admitting that I read romance novels as much as I do, so to fix that, I am making myself talk about it more!

As far as I can tell, I only read two historical romance novels this month. I could have sworn there was a third one in there, and if I remember it, I will edit this later, but for now, here are the two HRs I read this month.

First up was a new series, and actually a new author, for me. I have heard some good things about Mary Balogh, so I picked up the first book in the Bedwyn Saga series. Each book follows a different sibling in the Bedwyn family. The first book, Slightly Married, follows Lord Aidan Bedwyn, the second son of a Duke who has always done the honorable thing and holds duty above all else. He meets Eve, who can’t resist helping anyone in need, and as such has amassed a heap of people who depend on her. Eve has hit hard times, but is determined to take care of all her dependents, and Aidan made a promise to her sister that he would look after her. This story was sappy and cheesy in all the best ways. I can’t wait to read more of this series.

The second romance I read this month was a long anticipated new release. The Ravenels series by Lisa Kleypas is one of the first series I picked up when I first started reading historical romance. Lisa Kleypas unfortunately sometimes has some scenes that are a bit cringey, particularly in her earlier works, so I am reluctant to call her my favorite romance author. However, I am always so deeply invested in the characters she creates, so she has rightfully earned her place as second favorite. Her newest book, Devil’s Daughter, follows West Ravenel and Phoebe (Daughter of Sebastien and Evie from the Wallflowers series). They were super cute together and I have been so invested in West’s transformation since the beginning of this series, so I adored this book.

Overall, it was a pretty good month for romance reads, even though I only read a couple. Let me know if you have any historical romance recommendations, or if there are other sub-genres of romance I should check out. Happy reading!

Re-Readathon 2019 TB

Hello readers! I announced last month that I would be helping to host the Re-Readathon, a readathon dedicated entirely to re-reading, from March 10th through March 16th. There are seven different challenges for this readathon. If you want to participate, you can make use of the challenges, but you don’t have to. Re-read at your own pace and to your own liking. I will be trying to complete all 7 challenges, and I have designed my TBR so that there is one book for each challenge. We’ll see how my reading goes throughout the week, but I might have to double or even triple up on a few challenges.

Without further ado, here are the challenges and the books I am hoping to read:

A Game Changer

East by Edith Pattou

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I’ve talked about this book quite a lot on my instagram, and even a couple times here. Before I read East, I wasn’t really into fantasy and I was overwhelmed by any book that was much longer than 200 pages. Then I read East based on a friend’s recommendation, and it opened up entire new worlds for me. The sequel to this came out last fall, and I have been dying to read it, but wanted to reread the first one first.

Give a Book a Second Chance

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Like EastIce is also a retelling of East of the Sun and West of the Moon. I love this fairytale, and I have loved several retellings of it, but I HATED this book. I can’t entirely remember all the reasons I hated it, so I’m going to give it another chance.

Old Favorite

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I remember reading this book right before starting high school. Ally Carter has always been one of my favorite authors for fun and funny, action-packed reads. I’m excited to go back to where it all began.

Unpopular Book

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This challenge can be taken a few different ways. You can choose a book that isn’t well loved, is under-rated, or maybe just not that many people have heard of it. I first read Aurelia almost exactly 10 years ago. I remember loving it, but I have never met or talked to anyone else who has read it. It seems to be decently popular on Goodreads, but I think it’s still obscure enough to count as my unpopular book.

Popular Book

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This is the fairytale retelling that everyone and their mom has read. I didn’t get around to reading Ella Enchanted until a couple years ago, but I liked it, so I want to do a quick re-read.

Childhood Favorite

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I have too many childhood favorites to count, but I like to go back to my Madeline stories every once in a while because I find it super comforting. I also wanted to throw in a super easy read.

New Favorite

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If you’ve sensed a bit of a trend with the books I’m picking, that’s because I’m working on something that hopefully you’ll get to see soon. Since I’m re-reading for the readathon anyway, I thought I would use the opportunity to tackle some re-reads that I need to use for this project. Anyway, Geekerella is a great retelling of Cinderella. It’s super cute and nerdy and gives me so many squishy feelings. I read it for the first time last summer, and I’m pumped to read it again.

 

That’s it for my Re-Readathon TBR. Make sure to check back here on March 10th for the first day of the readathon, and check out my post about the readathon for more information on other hosts and giveaways. See you on March 10th, and until then, happy reading!

February Wrap-Up 2019

Hello readers! Another month has come and gone, so it’s time for another wrap-up. I read 13 books this month. As I did last month, I will be doing a separate romance wrap-up to talk about the historical romance novels I read in February, so stay on the lookout for that.

As for the other books, I started the month off by reading the sequel to Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. This book is called The Vanishing Stair and was one of my most highly anticipated releases of the year. I have been a huge Maureen Johnson fan for close to 10 years and her new series does not disappoint. I absolutely loved Truly Devious when I read it last year, and the sequel is possibly even better. I am eagerly anticipating book #3.

I’m trying to try genres that I haven’t tried much in the past, so next I picked up a graphic novel, Nancy Drew: The Palace of Wisdom by Kelly Thompson. I was excited to experience a modern version of Nancy Drew as she is one of my favorite characters, but sadly, the portrayal of the classic detective in this graphic novel was very disappointing. Nancy acted nothing like the original Nancy Drew. She treated her friends poorly, kept information to herself when it could have helped keep people she cared about safe, and was overall a little too careless. I probably would have liked this story much more if it had been marketed as anything other than Nancy Drew.

Then I read what was another highly anticipated release for this year, 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne. I was (and still am) kind of obsessed with The Hating Game, so I was really excited to read something new from this author. Again, unfortunately, I was disappointed. I liked the book in general, but when we got to the part of the story that happens in basically every romance where it was clear to literally everyone that our two main characters like each other, but there is an obstacle keeping them from being together, well, I was super unclear on what that obstacle was. I feel like a good 100 or so pages of angst could have been removed because the characters were being stubborn for no reason.

I’m only now seeing that there’s no wonder I fell into a bit of a reading slump mid-month, because my next read was also disappointing. I read Caraval by Stephanie Garber last year, and I thought it was okay. The characters kind of annoyed me, and the world-building was unclear at times, but the ending set up the sequel in a way that had me really excited to read it. So this month, I read Legendary expecting a much better story. Much like with the first book, I found this book only okay. I didn’t have a good enough understanding of the world and the magic system to really understand the stakes. I think I would have liked this book a lot better if we could have gotten some of Dante’s point of view. That said, I really like the ending and feel a bit like I’ve been tricked into reading the third and final book in this trilogy. *Sigh*

Finally, after picking up and putting down a whole slew of different books, I checked out Cress by Marissa Meyer from the library. I have been loving this series. These books are quickly becoming some of my favorite fairytale retellings ever. Each main character is so unique but also so completely loveable. It should come as no surprise that immediately after finishing Cress, I picked up the final book of the series, Winter. Both were amazing, and I am working on collecting my own copies of this series so I can re-read it in part or in whole whenever I what.

Then, I finally got off the waitlist for The Hollow of Fear by Sherry Thomas, which is the third book in her Lady Sherlock series. I talk about this series all the time, and I will probably keep talking about it, because this was probably my favorite book so far. This series re-imagines Sherlock Holmes as a fallen woman named Charlotte Holmes, who has a knack for solving puzzles and mysteries, and will do anything she can to take care of her beloved sisters and her handful of close friends. She also has a huge sweet-tooth, so be prepared for enticing descriptions of french pastry.

After finishing all that currently exists of the Lady Sherlock series, I found I was still in the mood for mysteries. I still am, in fact, as you might have gathered from my post on some of my favorite mystery stories. Based on a recommendation from SarawithoutanH, I picked up the first book in the Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourne. I was annoyed with this book at first. It took the two main characters, Veronica and Stoker, until halfway through the book to even try to start solving the mystery. However, by the end of the book, I had grown to enjoy the banter between Veronica and Stoker, and the ending set up the rest of the series really nicely. I know first books in a mystery series can sometimes be rough, much like the first season of a TV show is often shaky, so I was willing to give it another chance. By the end of the second book, I was sold. Veronica is spunky, hilarious, and also such a good friend. Stoker is my favorite kind of grump – the kind that even though the world has chewed him up and spit him out and he can’t help but be cynical about everything, he still loves his friends and his dogs, and is really just a fluff-ball on the inside. Together, they make the perfect team. It also helps that they are both biologists, so they frequently say things that have me going “OMG SO TRUE!” I have now finished the third book and I just want more. Luckily the fourth book comes out in March.

The last book I read this month was The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell. This was a super cute middle-grade novel about a wizard boy named Xar who is selfish and arrogant and honestly reminds me a lot of Peter Pan, and a warrior girl named Wish who is clumsy and weird and has a pet spoon. Wizards and warriors are sworn enemies, and our two main characters are each the children of the leaders of each side. They meet, hijinks ensue, David Tennant narrates the audiobook, so it would be hard not to enjoy. Xar annoyed the heck out of me, and I sympathized with his raven guardian a lot. I loved Wish, she is my favorite.

That’s it for my February reading wrap-up. March is likely to be a fun reading month, so stay tuned, and happy reading!

Monthly Goals Check-in

Read at least one classic: I kind of forgot I was doing this. Oops.

Read at least one adult novel: The Hollow of Fear, 99 Percent Mine, and all three Veronica Speedwell books

Read at least two already owned books: I started like three different ones and haven’t finished any of them.

Favorite Mystery Novels by Sub-genre

 

Hello readers! I am a bit obsessed with mysteries. I have always really liked them, and even went through a phase when I was around 9 or 10 when I would barely read anything but mysteries. As such, I like to think that I am sufficiently qualified to give you some mystery recommendations. Since I have been reading them for so long, I might as well break it down by different genres. But first:

How to write a good mystery (according to Emma)

Like I said, I have read a lot of mysteries, which means I have read a lot of BAD mysteries. I’ve come to realize that most of my favorites have certain commonalities. So if you are just getting into reading mysteries and want to know more about what to look for, or you want to know what types of books I like so you can make some recommendations, here are my favorite parts of a well-written mystery story.

Clues

Mysteries aren’t any fun if I don’t feel like I’m trying to solve it too. I want to be given information. Something I see a lot in mysteries is a detective character who is a genius and refuses to reveal almost anything of what they know even to the reader. Then we spend the whole book being frustrated that we don’t know anything until the very end. I hate that. I want to feel like I could have put it all together on my own if only I had been smart enough.

Scoobies

This term, taken from Buffy which in turn was taken from Scooby Doo, refers to the central team of characters. I know there are lots of lone detective books out there, but I love a good friendship, so when our main character has a cast of friends with weird but useful talents, I am here for it. Oftentimes, when I say that I like mysteries, people recommend thrillers to me. Thrillers are okay, but I don’t like the feeling of not knowing who you can trust. It puts me on edge in a way that I don’t find fun. I understand why people like it, but I would much rather have a reliable scooby gang to depend on.

Little Reveals

This one goes along with the clues. A mystery isn’t about just answering one question, so we shouldn’t just be waiting until the very end for the one big answer to the one big question (usually whodunit). We don’t just want to know who, but when, how, why, who else was involved, how long did it take to plan, etc. I always feel so much more engaged with the story when some of the questions are answered along the way, especially if they give rise to new questions!

Big Reveal

My favorite big reveals are the ones that I don’t really see coming until they’re right in front of me, and then I feel like an idiot for not figuring it out. I am in love with the feeling of solving a mystery seconds before the main character, and that’s basically what I am always looking for whenever I read a mystery.

Slow Burn Romance

This is by no means necessary to include in a mystery, but I’ve noticed that pretty much all my favorites include a romantic plotline that burns so slowly and is so rewarding when it finally pays off. This is also true in my favorite crime-solving TV shows.

Okay, onto the recommendations.

Children’s- Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene

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Listen, I would have thought that I would find Nancy’s aptitude at literally everything she does to be infuriating, but I actually find it completely charming. Nancy is a good friend, a loving daughter, and a super-sleuth who has a wealth of knowledge on a variety of subjects. Not every single book is perfect, but even the less good ones are still fun. Writing this is making me want to go pick up some Nancy Drew.

Classic – Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

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To be fair, I haven’t actually read that many classic mysteries, but A Study in Scarlet was something I thoroughly enjoyed before I even started liking classics. The plot is really well constructed, and it’s the first Sherlock Holmes book, so all the characters are introduced really well.

Middle Grade – Sammy Keyes by Wendelin Van Draanen

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I pretty much grew up on Sammy Keyes. As soon as I would open one of these books, you pretty much couldn’t tear me away until I was done. I would have to bring several of them with me on short vacations because I would tear through them (and I was a much slower reader back then). These books are fun, funny, and suspenseful. I initially only read as far as book 13 (or maybe 14?), because I thought I had “outgrown” them. Then I realized that was stupid and went back to finish the series a few years ago. They hold up and were really fun even as an adult.

Young Adult – Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

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I’ve been a huge Maureen Johnson fan for close to 10 years. She’s written in a variety of different genres, but she is so good at mystery that I can’t wait for more from her! Truly Devious is a series that follows Stevie Bell, future detective (hopefully), who starts the year at a new school, Ellingham Academy, with the intent to solve the decades-old murder that occurred the first year the school was open. Maureen Johnson knows how to use just the right amount of tension, humor, romance, teenage angst, and flashbacks. These books are honestly some of the best things I’ve read in years.

Adult, Historical – Lady Sherlock by Sherry Thomas

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If you’ve ever wondered what it would have been like if Sherlock Holmes were a woman, look no further! This is one of my favorite retellings/reimaginings of the Sherlock Holmes stories that has ever existed. I think people are reluctant to pick these up because the author has written a lot of romance novels, but that doesn’t mean that she can’t write a good mystery. I will say that the first one starts off kind of bizarrely, but once you get a good sense of the characters and we settle a bit more firmly into Charlotte Holmes’ perspective, the story really picks up. This is one of those books that I feel like I need to re-read so that I can pay more attention to all the significant details woven in throughout the story. These books have everything I loved about the original Sherlock Holmes, and so much more. Plus, if you like a slow-burn romance, boy does this series have one.

Adult, Contemporary – Veronica Mars

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If you thought Veronica Mars was only a TV Show and movie, then you are seriously missing out. The two books in this series take place after the events of the movie, and feel just like watching an episode of Veronica Mars.

Honorable Mentions:

American Girl History Mysteries

I would devour these as a kid and I only decided not to put them in my top list because they are out of print. But if you like reading children’s literature, you should check out the children’s mystery section of your local library, because they probably have a few of these still.

Death Comes to Pemberly by P. D. James

This turns into a bit more of a courtroom drama than a mystery, but it’s still a really good time.

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale

I have some nitpicks about the ending of this one, but otherwise, I absolutely adored it. Shannon Hale is one of my favorites ever. This book also has some really funny moments.

Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter

Not strictly a mystery series, but there are some mysteries throughout. These books are a great example of how friendships in books make my heart melt.

 

What are some of your favorite mysteries? I will also gladly take TV show recommendations that fit with what I like. See you next time, and until then, happy reading!

Rereadathon Announcement

Hello readers! I am here today to announce a readathon that I will be a part of: the Rereadathon! This readathon will be taking place from Sunday, March 10th through Saturday, March 16th. There are seven reading challenges, seven blog hosts, seven instagram hosts, and seven booktube hosts. I will be your blog host for Day 1, on March 10th.

Here are the different reading challenges:

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1. Giving a book a second chance

2. A recent favorite

3. An old favorite

4. A game changing book

5. An unpopular book

6. A childhood favorite

7. A popular book

On each of the days, the hosts will be posting about one of the challenges, which will be the theme for that day. Each host will also be running a giveaway, so make sure to check all three hosts on each of the seven days to see how you can enter the giveaways.

This readathon is meant to be low-key, so feel free to double or triple up on challenges. If you want to try for all seven with seven different books, great! But if you don’t have that kind of time or energy, then you can just treat this as a time to dedicate to rereading instead of picking up new releases.

For more information on each of the challenge days and all of the hosts, check out this Google Doc.

Also, make sure to follow the Rereadathon Twitter (@ReReadAThon2019) for updates, announcements, and reading sprints.

See you again on March 10th to talk about some game changing books, and until then, happy reading!