Last week was the Winter Biannual Bibliothon, a reading challenge in which the goal is to read as many books as you can in seven days. The readathon also consists of a few social media challenges, which I didn’t take part in, and some reading ones, which I did. You can find the list of reading challenges and the books I chose for them in my bibliothon TBR post.
In total, I managed to complete six of the seven reading challenges with ‘Read a book under 200 pages’ being the only one I did not quite manage, despite it being one of the ones which should have been easier to complete. Most of the challenges were achieved by doubling up as well. While I did manage to start six books during the bibliothon week, I was only able to finish four of them, mini-reviews for which are below.
I thoroughly enjoyed the week and the fact it gave me a chance to pick up books I probably would not have read otherwise. On the whole I stuck to my TBR, only swapping out The Winner’s Curse for Before the Devil Breaks You as my sequel as I wanted an audiobook for the week. This ended up being for the best as Before the Devil Breaks You ended up being one of my favourite books of the bibliothon. I cannot wait until the next readathon, be it the Biannual Bibliothon or otherwise.
Now, onto the books I read and finished. For reference, the way I rate is as follows:
1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
My first book of the Winter Biannual Bibliothon was the Penguin Clothbound Classics edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, both of which were including in this binding (the binding also included a rather-long introduction and the original manuscript version of Alice’s Adventure’s Under Ground, neither of which I read). I had not actually read any print versions of this book prior to the bibliothon so going into the Alice stories were an adventure. They were as barmy as I expected, with a lot of nostalgic familiarity with relation to the various adaptions and retellings I have seen and read. It was a fun book and it’s easy to see why it’s so debated with regards to meaning – I’m half-tempted to read it again to see what more I can uncover from it!
Challenge: Read a Book That Was Mentioned in Another Book/Movie/Show
Pages Read: 242
Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
Otherworld was the group book for the bibliothon and was also my second read of the week. The book is set in a world where virtual reality is at the forefront of gaming and technology; the graphics are almost life-like and players spent hours inside the game. Behind that though a new technology is being developed, one which puts your very life on the line as you play. I did not know what to expect going into Otherworld but, on the whole, I’m pretty pleased with the story I got. It was fast-paced with regular developments to the stakes and to the world itself as we discover what is going on alongside Simon, the main character, as he tries to find his best friend who is trapped in the VR world. Unfortunately, the story is heavily let down by the fact Simon is simply so unlikeable that I ended up not really caring for him at all, and the other characters were not developed enough to counteract that. There were also a couple of points where the story felt confused. On the whole, however, it was a fun, gripping read that explored the terrifying potential of virtual reality, it is just unfortunate about the characters.
Challenge: Read the Group Book and Read a Book You’ve Never Heard of Before
Pages Read: 355
Nation by Terry Pratchett
Prior to picking up Nation, I had not read any of Terry Pratchett’s books which were not set in the Discworld. As such, I went in not really knowing what to expect. What I got was something magical. Nation is a children’s book, but it can easily be read by any adult and it would be a rare adult who read this book and did not get anything from it. Nation is an exploration of identity, belief and what it is that makes a nation. It follows Mau who returns to his homeland to find it demolished by a tsunami. Slowly, he starts rebuilding with the help of Daphne, a girl ship-wrecked in the same tsunami. Of course, this book is written in Pratchett’s usual wacky style, which only makes the story even more delightful.
Challenge: Read a Backlist Title
Pages Read: 410
Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray (narrated by January LaVoy)
One of my favourite series is The Diviners by Libba Bray – it is fun, spooky and completely gripping. When I found out that the third book in the series was out, I immediately downloaded the audiobook and it was everything I could hope it could be. I loved being back with the Diviners, despite them being put through so much in this novel. Bray does not hold back at all, and each of our favourites ends up with challenges to face. Numerous topics are tackled in this book as well, including sexual assault, racism and politics. January LaVoy is a fantastic narrator and I cannot imagine this series being read by anyone else; there is enthusiasm in her narration while also capturing the tone of every scene perfectly. This book would have received 5 stars if not for three reasons: for the most part I found Mabel’s story line a little dull, it did feel more of a set up to the final book than a contained story and there were too many epilogues for my liking. None of those, however, will do anything in the slightest to stop me from reading the fourth book. If you haven’t read this series, I highly recommend it, especially if you’re into historical fiction (this is set in the 20s) with a strong supernatural flare.
Challenge: Read a Sequel and Read a Book About Mental Illness
Length: 21 hours and 26 minutes
Pages Read: 552 pages