Wednesday, 1 May 2019

OWLs Magical Readathon 2019 Wrap-Up

So, the OWL's Magical Readathon is officially over now and I'm extremely happy to say that I passed all of the OWL exams and completed all the prompts to get 12 OWLs! Not only this but I actually managed to complete 15 books instead of the 12 needed. I did say I would take the Alchemist career path and I passed enough for that, but I may change this for the NEWTs depending on how busy I am when that readathon comes around in August.

Anyway, as I said I completed all 12 prompts and received an OWL in every subject, although what I read did differ slightly from my original TBR (which can be found here). I found that some books fit different prompts better than others in the end, and some books didn't end up fitting any prompts at all. So, without further ado, here is my OWL Readathon Wrap-up!

Ancient Runes - A Retelling
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Star Rating: 3.5 stars

This stayed true to my original TBR so I read the retelling To Kill a Kingdom. This wasn't the best retelling I've ever read but it was definitely one of the best Little Mermaid retellings. I really enjoyed it and ended up reading it in pretty much one sitting because of how fast-paced it was. This was a Little Mermaid retelling that followed a siren called Lira who is forced to become a human in order to kill a Prince. I really adored the twist on the villains in this book, it just felt really refreshing. Overall I gave this book a 3.5 stars. It was an enjoyable read and I'd recommend to anyone who enjoys retellings.

Arithmancy - A work written by more than one author
Fire with Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Star Rating: 3.5 stars

I actually ended up finishing Burn for Burn by these authors in March so I had to change this around and use the sequel for this prompt instead (thankfully it's still written by two authors!). This trilogy really ended up surprising me in a good way. It really felt like Pretty Little Liars meets Carrie overall, and those are both things that I love. I don't want to give anything away about the sequels but the books basically follow three girls who are out for revenge at a small island high school. There are just so many awesome twists and the writing made the books so easy to read and it felt so addictive that I had to have the next book on hand immediately. I will say that some aspects of the book fell a little flat and the majority of characters were somewhat unlikeable which is why I've only given it a 3.5 stars but I still highly recommend this series for people who are interested.

Astronomy - A book with Star in the title
Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
Star Rating: 4.5 stars

This book ended up staying the same as my original TBR although I did read two books with star in the title this month! I really love the Lunar Chronicles and this a collection of short stories set in that world so naturally I loved these. The short stories are set both before, after, and during the original series so I won't say too much about the story but it was incredibly interesting to see more backstory about Cress, Winter, and Scarlet's family. It's made me really want to re-read the rest of the series again though!

Care of Magical Creatures - A book with a land animal on the cover
Tiger Thief by Michaela Clarke
Star Rating: 2.5 stars

Again, this book stayed the same and it was quite a quick read as it's a children's book. I will say I didn't enjoy this as much as I hoped. This book follows a young boy called Sharat who has a white tiger and is part of a circus troup. When his tiger is stolen during a performance he has to partner with djinns and other unexpected people in order to get her back. While I loved the imagery in this book I was very aware it wasn't an own voices novel so I don't know how good the representation was in this fantasy world. I also just felt like the story was quite repetitive and predictable. I also wanted far more of the tiger than we actually got which was a little disappointing. Overall I just feel like this book wasn't quite for me. 

Charms - Read an adult book
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
Star Rating: 3.5 stars

So, originally I had Bloodwitch for this prompt as I thought the Witchlands series was adult but it was actually YA so I changed this prompt to Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. I'd watched the film of this book years ago and really loved it so I felt like it was time to finally pick up this book. It was very well written and definitely feels like it would be a great book to study in more detail. I will say that it did feel slightly lacklustre purely because I already knew the 'twist' from the film and also the writing was difficult to get used to to begin with. This will definitely appeal to fans of A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess or The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks.

Defence Against the Dark Arts - A title that starts with an R
Radio Silence by Alice Oseman
Star Rating: 5 stars

This prompt ended up changing from Rebel Heart by Moira Young(which I did also read), mostly because I didn't know how I would feel about the Dustlands series, so I had a backup book in place, just in case. The first Alice Oseman book I read was Solitaire about four years ago and, to be honest, I really didn't enjoy it. However, in the last year I've read I Was Born for This and also Heartstopper both by Alice Oseman and I absolutely loved them both and ended up giving them 5 stars. I'd heard amazing things about this book and I wasn't disappointed. This is a UK YA novel that follows Frances who is doing her A-Levels and what happens when she meets the creator of her favourite podcast. It really highlights the pressures put on teenagers that they must be academic to be successful and the difference that parenting can have on a person. I really wish I'd read this as a teenager and I think it would be super helpful for any young person (16-18) to read!

Divination - A book set in the future
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Star Rating: 4 stars

Again, I swapped this from Raging Star by Moira Young (which I still managed to read) to the first book in this trilogy, Blood Red Road. When I first started this book I was really dubious as to whether or not I would enjoy it purely because of the writing style. It's written in the same way that the characters talk with no speech parks and minimal punctuation so, to begin with, I found it quite jarring. However, after about 20 pages I barely noticed it at all and it made complete sense to the story. The book follows Saba, who has never left the area around her home before, and her journey to rescue her twin brother after he is kidnapped. This was probably one of the most unique dystopians I've ever read and I ended up really enjoying the entire trilogy (although I know a lot of people just prefer this first book). I really do recommend this book even if you think you've read too many dystopian novels; I really feel like this one is different enough to stand out from the other more 'typical' YA dystopians.

Herbology - A book with a plant on the cover
The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
Star Rating: 4 stars

For Herbology I ended up changing my book from Sightwitch (which I still read), mostly because that cover didn't really have much of a plant on the cover so I wanted to make sure I definitely passed the prompt (mostly for my own satisfaction more than anything!). So, in the end, I picked up The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman which I ended up loving. It felt like a cross between The Raven Cycle and Stranger Things. The book follows Violet Saunders who is uprooted from the city and doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York. The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either—her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid. The atmosphere and relationships in this book were just so well done and I highly recommend picking this up.

History of Magic - A book published at least 10 years ago
Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with The Merry Men and Other Tales and Fables by Robert Louis Stevenson
Star Rating: 3 stars

So the book for this prompt ended up staying the same and I chose a classic to read for a book published at least 10 years ago. This was a re-read for me but I hadn't read this book in about 12 years so I'd forgotten a lot of the other stories. This book included six short stories written by Robert Louis Stevenson and I would say that I enjoyed about half of them. Two of them I really struggled with as they were written in 'old English' Scottish dialect which was hard to decipher at times. However, I really liked: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Will o' the Mill, and Markheim. 

Muggle Studies - A contemporary
To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin
Star Rating: 4 stars

As I said earlier, because I read Burn for Burn in March, I had to swap some books around to fill this prompt so I changed it to To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin. I first heard about this book from Chelsea (ChelseaDollingReads) who talked about how much she enjoyed this book so I decided to pick it up. This a contemporary book following Savannah who is having to cope with her overbearing mother alone after her sister moves away to college. What she doesn't count on is that her mother's obsession with weight has only grown deeper since her appearance on an extreme weight-loss showand now Savvy's mom is pressuring her even harder to be constantly mindful of what she eats. Savannah is plus size and her mother went on a weight loss TV show in order to become thin. I will say this might be triggering for anyone with an eating disorder, but I felt like this was just a super enjoyable, fluffy read, with a few more serious undertones here and there. I really, really enjoyed it considering it's not my usual genre.

Potions - A sequel

Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Star Rating: 3 stars

So because I used Fire with Fire for Arithmancy, I decided to move Ashes to Ashes to this prompt instead, which is the sequel to that book. As I've already said, this series really surprised me, however, I will say I was a bit disappointed with the very ending of this trilogy; it felt too rushed and the epilogue felt like it undid a lot of the story that had happened unfortunately.

Transfiguration - A book with sprayed edges or red cover

Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard
Star Rating: 4 stars

As I said above, I moved Bloodwitch because it isn't an adult novel, however, the cover is still mostly red so I swapped it out and used Blood Red Road for Divination instead. I started reading The Witchlands series in March and now that I've read Bloodwitch I've caught up on the series so far. These books follow Safi and Iseult and how their powers end up shaping the world around them. For me, I feel like this is a pretty solid 4 star fantasy series and I adore the characters. I feel like the characterisation is a lot more important in these books than the worldbuilding, but that's not to say that the worldbuilding feels as though it falls flat. I know a lot of people didn't like Truthwitch (the first book), but personally I feel like this is a really well done fantasy series that's worth a read!

Other books read this month that weren't used for the readathon:
Sightwitch by Susan Dennard - 3.5 stars
Rebel Heart by Moira Young - 4 stars
Raging Star by Moira Young - 4 stars

So, those were the books I read for this readathon and all of the OWLs I passed! Let me knowif you took part and feel free to share your blogs/videos with me! As I said in my TBR post, this amazing readathon was created by Book Roast on Youtube. The readathon took place between April 1st and April 30th. To see her announcement video explaining the readathon in more detail you can click here. You can also find all the reading prompts and career paths in that video too. Keep an eye out for August when the NEWT Readathon will start!