Tuesday, 1 October 2019

NEWTs Magical Readathon 2019 Wrap-Up

So the NEWTs readathon is now sadly over and this is my very late NEWTs wrap-up. This was the second part of the amazing magical readathon created by Book Roast on Youtube, and I'm already looking forward to the OWLs again next year. 

As I said in my NEWTs TBR, I had decided to be ambitious and chose the Alchemist career path which means I would need:

O - Ancient Runes
O - Arithmancy
O - Herbology
O - Potions
O - Transfiguration
E - Astronomy

This meant I needed to read 17 books in the month of August, and I'm happy to say I passed all my exams (and more!) as I read 20 books in August! I will say, a few things from my initial TBR got swapped around so I'll mention that in the prompts and why I changed them. So, without further ado, here are all of the exams I passed:

O - Ancient Runes
O - Arithmancy
O - Herbology
O - Potions
O - Transfiguration
E - Astronomy
E - Care of Magical Creatures
A - Defence Against the Dark Arts
 /  - Charms
 /  - History of Magic
 /  - Muggle Studies
 /  - Divination

I'm not going to go into lots of details for all the books I read or this blog post would be way too long, but I'll talk about how they fit the prompt and briefly what I thought about them. So here are all of the books I read:

Ancient Runes

A: Ehwaz (partnership) - a read recommended by a friend

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

This book has been recommended to me multiple times so it was about time I got around to this trilogy, and I'm so glad I did. This is a science fiction/dystopian novel set on Mars and was described to me as Game of Thrones meets The Hunger Games in space. It has some of the best characters I've ever read about and the storyline was fantastic. I highly recommend reading the whole trilogy because so much more happens in the later books.

E: Book written in the past tense

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

I read this book for a book written in the past tense and it's a fantasy inspired by feudal Japan. Unfortunately, I really didn't like this book. I loved the setting but everything else was lacklustre. The characters were all flat and the romance and magic literally came out of nowhere. I only read this last month and I've already forgotten so much about it because I didn't like it. However, I will give Renee Ahdieh books another chance as I've heard her other books are great.

O: Book that has been on your TBR for ages

Over to You by Roald Dahl

For this I read Over to You by Roald Dahl as I've owned the bind-up collection of his adult short stories for about 15 years and had only read half of them, so it was about time I picked it up! Unfortunately I didn't enjoy this as much as Kiss Kiss. This collection of short stories focused around pilots in WWII but I only enjoyed about two of the stories out of ten. Again though, I'll definitely be reading the other books in the bind-up and hopefully I'll enjoy those more.


A: Book that ends on an even page number

The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder

This book was 256 pages long and so fit the prompt to end on an even page number. This was a cute, short contemporary romance novel and it was just what I needed in this readathon to break up the long and serious books. It was pretty cheesy at times but overall I enjoyed this book and do recommend to fans of contemporary novels.

E: Read a standalone

Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) by L.C. Rosen

This is a standalone contemporary novel about a gay teenager called Jack who starts receiving love letters after starting a sex advice column. But the notes soon start to take a much darker turn. I absolutely loved this book and how sex-positive it was. The characters were funny and realistic, and the mystery was wonderful and dark.

O: A Book that's longer than 350 pages

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

As I said in my A for Ancient Runes prompt, I decided to read the Red Rising trilogy this month and this is the second book in that trilogy. It was 444 pages and so it fit this prompt. I won't say too much about this book as it is a sequel, but I loved this one even more than the first book. There's so much more political intrigue and a lot more time is spent at the different planets. I also couldn't believe the plot twist at the end.


A: A book with a moon on the cover or anywhere in the title

The Girl King by Mimi Yu

For this I read The Girl King by Mimi Yu which has a crescent moon on the cover to fit the prompt. This is an own-voices, asian-inspired fantasy following two sister princesses of the Empire. When their father declares their male cousin the next ruler it causes a betrayal that sets the two sisters down very different paths. I did like this book but I just found it to be quite forgettable. It was enjoyable enough but I don't think I'd be eager to continue the series as nothing really stood out to me.

E: Word "night" in the book title or series name

Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines

This is the first prompt where I deviated from my original TBR. I originally has Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor here, but I decided I probably wasn't going to be able to fit it in so I swapped it out for this book with 'Night' in the title instead. This was the first romance novel I've read by Abbi Glines and I have to say I didn't really enjoy it that much. The male love interest was somewhat abusive and got away with it 'because bad things were happening in his life' (even though the female love interest also had horrific things happen to her and she didn't act like a dick). I just couldn't root for these characters so it kind of spoiled the book for me in the end.

Care of Magical Creatures

A: Book title that starts with the letter A, for Aragog!
After the End by Amy Plum

I didn't need to pass any grades in this subject but decided to be over-ambitious and read a bit more so I passed the first two exams in this subject as well (plus I love the idea of Care of Magical Creatures). For this prompt I read After the End by Amy Plum, which I'd heard of years ago and the premise really intrigued me. It follows Juneau who lives in a post-apocalyptic remote area of Alsaka following WWIII. But when her clan goes missing and she goes out in search of them she discovers that WWIII never actually happened and the world outside of her clan still exists. I thought I would love this book but unfortunately it fell really flat for me. I loved the first 100 pages or so but as soon as governments go involved and the whole love interest started I just stopped caring as much. Even though this is a duology, I doubt I'll be picking up the next book.

E: Book under 300 pages.

I Hate Fairyland by Skottie Young

For this prompt, I decided to pick a Graphic Novel that was 128 pages. I'd heard really good things about this series and I wasn't disappointed by the first volume. Don't let the cover fool you, this is full of dark humour, gore, and swearing. This follows Gert, who came to fairyland as a six-year-old girl and was given a quest to complete before she could go home. Thirty years later and she's still there (in a six-year-old's body) and struggling to complete the task she was set. I loved the humour and would definitely like to continue with this series (even though I know Skottie Young has stopped making these half-way through!).

Defence Against the Dark Arts

A: Book that's black under the dust jacket

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Again, I didn't need this subject for my career but I did it anyway! I only own about 6 hardcover books as the majority of my books are paperback, however, I know that the US hardcover edition of this book is black under the dust jacket. This is obviously a re-read but I haven't read it since 2010 so it was about time I gave it a read again. Naturally, I adored it just as much as I did when I first read it (and finished my re-read of the trilogy in September).


A: Mandrake! Quick, put your headphones on! Listen to an audiobook.

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

For this, I listened to the sequel to Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. These books seem to be very polarising but I really love them. This trilogy is a murder mystery/thriller that alternates between a mystery in the past and a mystery in the present and how they connect. Definitely looking forward to the final book!

E: Read a book between 350-390 pages

Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan

This book was 352 pages so it definitely fit the prompt. Unfortunately I really didn't like this book. Dear Amy is a thriller that follows a woman who writes an advice column and she receives a letter from a girl that went missing 20 years previously. At the same time in the present day, another girl has just gone missing. I think the main reason I didn't like this book was purely because it hit a lot of triggers for my anxiety. Also, I expected it to be a certain type of thriller but it just wasn't that. I would say to give it a try if the plot appeals to you but I can't say I recommend it.

O: Read a book with a flower on the cover.

The Body Finder by Kimberley Derting

In all honesty, this book has kind of blurred with Dear Amy as they were about similar things, except in this book the main character had a supernatural ability. Having said that, I did enjoy this book a bit more than Dear Amy, however, I still only found it okay and I won't be continuing with the series.


A: Polyjuice Potion: read your friend's favourite book.
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

This is one of my friend's favourite books purely because she loves Carrie Fisher and Star Wars. Personally, I like Carrie Fisher and I find Star Wars films to be good but I'm not a hardcore fan. I ended up giving this book 3 stars because I loved the anecdotes about Carrie Fisher's life, however, I found a lot of the book felt disjointed and I also wasn't too interested in her poetry, unfortunately! If you're a fan of Star Wars, you'll probably enjoy this book though!

E: House ingredient: book with a cover in your Hogwart's house colour.
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
I ended up swapping Strange the Dreamer for this book, as I needed a book with a blue cover but I wanted to swap a few books around so I definitely got everything read. I bought this on a whim because I'd heard it was a literary classic and I really didn't know too much about the plot. This turned out to be so moving and powerful, and it impacted me far more than I thought it would.  It's also aged really well as I couldn't tell it had been written in the 60's. This book follows a mentally disabled man, called Charlie, whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. However, when Algernon starts to deteriorate, he has to wonder what will happen to him. As I said, this book is very moving and I highly recommend it!

O: Book that starts with a Prologue.

The Trials for Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Again, I ended up swapping this book into my TBR as it also has a Prologue. This is a middle-grade fantasy novel following Morrigan Crow who is told she is a cursed child who will die on her eleventh birthday. However, as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor. This was a really fun children's book although I didn't find it as whimsical and enjoyable as I was hoping (although I think my expectations were probably a bit too high!). I still gave it a 4 stars and I'll definitely be continuing with the series.


A: Read a book with LGBTQA+ representation.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

I ended up switching The Art of Being Normal for this book as I was able to borrow Red, White and Royal Blue on Scribd, and I'd been really wanting to read it. This book has a bisexual and a gay character and so definitely fits the prompt. This is a romance novel set in an alternate version of our world where the Prince of England and the 'First Son' of the President of the United States have a hate-to-love relationship. This was just a really enjoyable and heart-warming read. 

E: Read a book that is not a first in the series.

Morning Star by Pierce Brown

This book stayed the same as my TBR and it is the third book in the Red Rising trilogy. As I've already explained the first two books above, I won't say much more except that I loved this trilogy and highly recommend it to sci-fi lovers.

O: McGonagall does not mess around! Read a book over 500 pages.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

And the final book I read in August was Strange the Dreamer, which is 536 pages. I ended up swapping the Republic of Thieves out (which I'm actually now currently reading), mostly because it was too long to read after all these other books! Strange the Dreamer is a book I've heard so, so many things about and I love Laini Taylor's writing so I was eager to get to this duology. This book is a fantasy novel that follows Lazlo Strange who is researching the lost city of Weep and why its' name disappeared from existence. As always with Taylor's books, this was beautifully written and, while I do think it's almost an acquired taste, I do recommend this to any fantasy readers.

So, those are all the books I read for the NEWTs Magical Readathon! Let me know what you think of any of the books mentioned above and, if you participated, how did you do? 

Friday, 19 July 2019

NEWTs Magical Readathon TBR 2019

This is the second part of the amazing magical readathon created by Book Roast on Youtube. 

The first part of the readathon happened in April this year and the idea is that you can take any of the subjects in the NEWTs readathon that you completed in the OWLs readathon. This year Gi has gone all out and not only created reading prompts for each subject but has also created wizarding careers to choose from. If you want more information then I'll leave her explanation video here so you can check those out as she explains it far better than I could! You can also find all the reading prompts and career paths in that video too.

The NEWTs readathon starts on August 1st and lasts the whole month (until August 31st) and during this time everyone will be taking their 'NEWT Examinations'. In my OWLs I managed to pass every subject which means I could take any of the subjects I want and attempt to complete them all. However, there are 33 prompts so I'm definitely going to narrow it down to a more do-able TBR! I've still decided to be ambitious and chose the Alchemist career path which means I will need:

O - Ancient Runes
O - Arithmancy
O - Herbology
O - Potions
O - Transfiguration
E - Astronomy

This means I will need to read 17 books in the month of August, which feels very do-able as I've been reading around 20 books a month lately. If I surpass the above then I'll also try to fit in other subjects as well but we'll see how it goes! (Also, note that you have to complete the prompts in order so you can get the NEWT, e.g. you have to complete the Acceptable, then Exceeds Expectations, and finally Outstanding).

So, without further ado, here are the prompts and my TBR for the NEWTs Magical Readathon.

Ancient Runes
A: Ehwaz (partnership) - A read recommended by a friend
Red Rising by Pierce Brown - A book I keep being told to read!

E: A Book written in the past tense
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

O: Book that has been on your TBR for ages
Over to You by Roald Dahl - This is one book in the bind-up I have that I still haven't read yet and it's been over 10 years since I bought this collection.

A: Book that ends on an even page number
The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder - 282 pages.

E: Read a standalone
Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by Lev A.C. Rosen

O: Read a book that's longer than 350 pages
Golden Son by Pierce Brown - 444 pages.

A: A book with a moon on the cover or anywhere in the title
The Girl King by Mimi Yu - A crescent moon is visible on both the cover and the spine.

E: Word "night" in the book title or series name
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

A: Mandrake! Quick, put your headphones on! Listen to an audiobook (or read a book with green on the cover)
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Stephen L. Brusatte or I may pick up an audiobook if I'm able to!

E: Read a book between 350-390 pages
Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan - 352 pages.

O: Read a book with a flower on the cover
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

A: Polyjuice Potion: Read your friend's favourite book
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher - I have the ebook of this so I'll be reading it on my Kobo.

E: House ingredient: Read a book with a cover in your Hogwart's house colour (Blue for me!)
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor - Blue for Ravenclaw!

O: Book that starts with a prologue
All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth

A: Read a book with LGBTQA+ representation
The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson - I believe this has trans representation.

E: Read a book that is not a first in the series
Morning Star by Pierce Brown - The third book in the Red Rising trilogy.

O: McGonagall does not mess around! Read a book over 500 pages
The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch - 722 pages.

So these are the 17 books I'm hoping to read for the readathon. It's a pretty ambitious TBR but I'm feeling confident right now. I might switch out some books if I need to, but this is it for now. Let me know if you've read any of the books above and what you thought of them. Also, if you're participating in the readathon feel free to link your TBR below!

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag 2019

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag is one of my favourite tags to do each year and I always look forward to June/July to do this! This is an original tag was created by Chami so all credit goes to her (readslikewildfire). Basically, the tag goes through all of the books you've read so far this year and what we're most excited about for the rest of the year. I've actually managed to read 92 books so far this year  already (at the time of writing this post), which I'm really happy about. 

I'm going to try not repeat myself too much with these so hopefully there'll be no books mentioned twice. I'm also going to try and not mention any books that are re-reads so that I can talk about some new books instead. If you want to see all the books I've read so far this year you can click hereHere we go:

1. Best book you've read so far in 2018

I've read so many amazing books so far this year so I'm going to pick two books for this. It would have to be either Vicious by V.E. Schwab or The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. Vicious was a huge surprise to me because I've read other Victoria Schwab books in the past and have found them fine, but they were ever my favourites. This book on the other hand was everything I wanted and I adored it. The characters are all complex and it basically follows Victor and Eli, who start out as college roommates, who discover how to gain Extraordinary abilities, and go from friends to enemies almost overnight.

The Lies of Locke Lamora is a high fantasy novel (and probably one of the best I've ever read), that follows Locke and a gang of con artists who are attempting their biggest con yet, but a bloody coup threatens to destroy everything and everyone in their lives. The plot twists and intrigue in this book were just fantastic. The city itself felt like a character and the flashbacks that linked to the present were unbelievably well done. Highly recommend to any fantasy lover (don't be intimidated by its size!).

Honorary mentions: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant and Confessions by Kanae Minato

2. Best sequel you've read so far
For this I'd have to go with Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray, which is the third book in The Diviners series. This is a paranormal/historical fiction series that follows Evie, in 1920s America, who has a supernatural ability and is determined to keep it a secret after it gets her into a lot of trouble. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol, Evie realises her gift could help catch a serial killer. I adore this series; it's so thrilling and fast-paced and I just can't wait for the final book to be released.

3. New release you haven't read yet, but want to
For now, I think either Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by Lev A.C. Rosen or A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. I've heard great things about both of these books and I'm very excited to get to them. 

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
Definitely Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. I don't know too much about the plot but I love Leigh Bardugo's other books and this is her first adult fiction book so I'm very excited to see what it's like.

5. Biggest disappointment
I've read a few disappointing books this year already sadly, but I think this has to go to The Young Elites by Marie Lu. I found the Legend trilogy relatively enjoyable when I read it a few years ago and I'd heard this trilogy was so much better as it followed teenagers with 'super powers'. However, I found the plot to be so dull and predictable, and none of the characters felt three dimensional to me. Everything about the book just felt very meh and I was so sad because I was sure I was going to enjoy it! However, I will still be reading Warcross by Marie Lu to give her books another chance. 

Honorary mentions for other disappointing reads are: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi and The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.

6. Biggest surprise
I think I'm actually going to go with two books for this one as I had two very good surprises this year. First up was A Blade so Black by L.L. McKinney. I bought this book on a whim (mostly because it was buy one book and get one half price), but afterwards I only heard bad things about it. I was very dubious (and if I'm honest, I was prepared to dislike this book) when I picked it up. However, I ended up LOVING this book and read it in pretty much one sitting. This is an own voices retelling of Alice in Wonderland with a black female lead and I loved every second of it. Not only does it do an interesting and unique take on Wonderland and the Hatter, it also explores modern-day issues in America (such as police shootings and what it means to be black in relation to the police). I really loved this and do highly recommend picking it up.
Next was Blood Red Road by Moira Young. This is the first book in a dystopian trilogy that was published in 2011 (during the YA dytopian phase). The book follows Saba who has spent her whole life in Silverlake, a dried-up wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms. The Wrecker civilization has long been destroyed, leaving only landfills for Saba and her family to scavenge from. That's fine by her, as long as her beloved twin brother Lugh is around. But when four cloaked horsemen capture Lugh, Saba's world is shattered, and she embarks on a quest to get him back.

Because of when it was published, I was a bit dubious when I went into this, that it would be exactly like other dystopians published at this time. I'm so glad I was wrong. I was also doubtful that I would enjoy this because of the writing style, which is written as though the main character is talking (e.g she sed it was enuff). But I soon got past this and completely understand why the author made that choice. I found this whole trilogy addicting and interesting, as well as unlike anything I've ever read before.

7. Favourite new author (Debut or new to you)

I've read 63 new to me authors so far this year and for this I'm going with Scott Lynch, Holly Bourne, or Elizabeth Acevedo. All of these authors are fantastic and I will 100% be reading more books from all of them. Scott Lynch has written the Gentleman Bastards series; Holly Bourne has written the Am I Normal Yet? trilogy; and Elizabeth Acevedo wrote The Poet X (I usually don't tend to like poetry but this was a book written in verse and I absolutely loved it!).

8. Newest fictional crush

Meh, I don't usually get these to be honest! Genuinely can't think of any stand-out love interests in any of the books.

9. Newest favourite character
I think I'll have to go with Iseult and Aeduan from the The Witchlands series by Susan Dennard. They are both so unique and I adore the magic of both of these characters (also my new favourite ship). 

10. Book that made you cry

None yet this year! I came close in The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch and Lost & Found by Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, but none have really hit me that hard yet this year.

11. Book that made you happy

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman and The Extinction Trials by S.M. Wilson. Both of these were just such enjoyable reads that I really needed when I picked them up. Radio Silence is a contemporary, while The Extinction Trials is effectively Jurassic Park meets the Hunger Games and it was just so fun.

12. Favourite book to film adaptation you saw this year

I haven't seen any yet this year!

13. Favourite review you've written this year

I actually haven't written any full reviews this year!

14. Most beautiful book you've bought so far this year (or received)
This has got to be The Girl King by Mimi Yu. This was totally a cover buy, I'm not going to lie.

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

SO MANY BOOKS. I have a very large TBR Pile which I love but for the sake of this list I think I'll limit it to the top five books I want to read this year:

1.  The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Stephen Brusatte
2. Jade City by Fonda Lee
3. Needful Things by Stephen King
4. Ink by Alice Broadway
5. Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch (currently reading)

Hope you enjoyed this tag! Let me know if you've done this tag and if you've read any of these books, what you thought of them! :)