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.

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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!

March Wrap-Up 2019

Hello readers! I had a weird reading month. I picked up a lot of books, and finished comparatively few of them. I’m still making good progress on my goodreads challenge, I’ve just been in a weird reading mood and sometimes would rather re-watch My Little Pony than finish a book I started.

The first book I read this month was The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. This was my first Sanderson and my first adult high fantasy and I am really happy to say that I liked it! I have a few small issues with it, like the romance was pretty weak and it probably would have been better to just not have it at all, but overall this was a great book and I am so excited to continue with this series.

Something really cool happened this month. I got approved for an early copy of A Dangerous Collaboration the newest Veronica Speedwell novel. I am obsessed with these books and they just get better and better! I really can’t recommend these books enough. A Dangerous Collaboration follows Veronica as she accompanies Stoker’s older brother, Tiberius, to a remote island off the coast of Cornwall. She has been promised some rare glasswing butterflies in exchange for her company, but more than one person at this house party seems to have an ulterior motive. It’s creepy and delightful and everything I could have wanted out of the next book in this series.

Next, the Re-Readathon happened. I had some pretty ambitious plans for this readathon, and I ended up only reading one book: Geekerella by Ashley Poston. It was just as good the second time, if not better. I am so glad I re-read this book because The Princess and the Fangirl just came out, and I am so ready for it! I’m a little bummed that I didn’t manage to re-read more books, but I am a mood reader, and I just wasn’t in the mood for what I put on my TBR. Instead, I picked up Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, fell in love with this world, these characters, and this story, and so immediately picked up the sequel, Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow. These books have been very hyped and for good reason. It’s like all the best parts of Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson, and A Series of Unfortunate Events, but also completely different and totally wonderful (or wunderful?) in its own way. I hit a bit of a reading slump after finishing these books because all I wanted was to go back to Nevermoor with Morrigan and Jupiter.

Luckily, I managed to kick my slump because I had a bit of a deadline to motivate me. I knew I wanted to read at least the first book in Libba Bray’s Diviners series before I met her at NoVa Teen Book Festival. So I read The Diviners as my first book in the Fantasy Adventure-a-thon. This was a book that I couldn’t read right before bed because it’s pretty spooky and I am easily scared. But that just tells you how good Libba Bray’s writing is. She paints the setting so vividly and pays attention to even the tiniest of details, so I just couldn’t help but be totally creeped out. It was such a good book! And then I met Libba Bray, she signed my book, and we had a nice long conversation about pasta and Toni Morrison, so we’re basically best friends now.

The last book I managed to squeeze in this month was A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab. This wasn’t a new forever favorite for me, but it was still an enjoyable fantasy novel and I do really like the magic system.

Check back soon for my romance wrap-up, and until then, happy reading!

 

Monthly Goals Check-in

Read at least one classic: I started a couple, but didn’t finish any. I’ll keep trying.

Read at least one adult novel: The Final EmpireA Dangerous Collaboration, and A Darker Shade of Magic

Read at least two already owned books: The Diviners and A Darker Shade of Magic. I guess I could also count Geekerella, but my intention with this goal was to read books I own and haven’t read before.

 

Adventure-A-Thon Midweek Update

Hello readers! We’re a little over halfway through the Fantasy Adventure-A-Thon and I thought I would do a quick little update. I have significantly pared down my reading list. For one thing, I have never read seven books in one week, and I’m not about to start now, especially when all seven that I picked are on the longer side (if they were all middle grade, it might be a different story). For another, I have kind of a lot going on this week compared to the past few months. I started a new volunteer job, and I’m working a book festival this weekend. So I’m down to three books that cover all seven challenges: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab,  The Diviners by Libba Bray, and Sherwood by Meagan Spooner.

I have already finished with The Diviners. I really liked it, and part of me wants to immediately continue with the series, but the other part of me is still really creeped out by the first book and having strange dreams about ghosts and serial killers. This book works really well for this readathon because it works for several challenges. It takes place in the 1920s, so that covers Fate, it is the first in a series, so that’s Adventure, and it has quite a few plot twists, so that’s Bewilder.

I’m currently reading, and very close to finishing, A Darker Shade of Magic. I’m liking this book, but not quite as much as I want to like it. Part of me feels like I am enjoying it mostly because it reminds me of other things I like. For example, the protagonist’s name is Kell, which reminds me of Mistborn, and White London reminds me a lot of Narnia when it’s under the White Witch’s control. Anyway, this is the group book, so that covers Fellowship, and we can go ahead and count it for Potions too because I’ve had a drink with me the entire time I’ve been reading this book.

Lastly, I’ll read Sherwood by Meagan Spooner this weekend to cover Cliff, a book with a nature word in the title, and Toad, a book with green on the cover.

Wish me luck for the rest of the readathon, and happy reading!Fantasy+Adventureathon+Map

Fantasy Adventure-A-Thon TBR

Fantasy+Adventureathon+Map

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!

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!