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.

Arithmancy

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.


Astronomy

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).

Herbology

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.

Potions

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.

Transfiguration

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? 

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