Magical Readathon / April TBR

Today is 1st April. April Fool’s Day, Easter Sunday and the eve of the Magical Readathon. The Magical Readathon is a readathon which runs from the 2nd to the 29th April and was thought up by booktuber Book Roast (the readathon announcement video can be found here). It is inspired by the Harry Potter OWLs (a set of wizarding exams akin to the GCSEs held in most English schools) whereby each OWL subject is a reading challenge and, in order to pass the exam, one must read a book which aligns with that reading challenge. There can be no doubling up on challenges. A pass grade, or Acceptable, level OWL will be achieved when two books are read. To achieve the highest grade in OWLs (Outstanding) at least 5 books must be read. Being the Hermione I am, I’m going to attempt to read 12 books – one for every subject on the list:

OWLS:

Ancient Runes (read a book with a symbol on the cover) – The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Arithmancy (read a book with a number on the cover or in the title) – The Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin

Astronomy (read a science fiction novel) – The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Care of Magical Creatures (read a book with mythical creatures in or on the cover) – The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Charms (read a fantasy novel) – The Young Elites by Mary Lu

Defence against the Dark Arts (read a book about/featuring a secret society or club) – The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Divination (read a book featuring prophecies) – Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

Herbology (read a book with a nature-related word in the title) – The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

History of Magic (read an historical fiction novel) – My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi meadows

Muggle Studies (read a muggle non-fiction book) – The Pigeon Tunnel by John Le Carré (audiobook)

Potions (read a book about/with alchemy) – Perfume by Patrick Süskind

Transfiguration (read a book that deals with transfiguration/shape-shifting or similar, or a book with a cat on the cover) – Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (audiobook)

So those are the books I am going to be reading in April. It will be a challenge to read them all, but I am hopeful. I have a decent mix of hardbacks, paperbacks and audiobooks to get me through the month, with a wide range of genres and topics to cover. The readathon itself sounds like a lot of fun and is probably one of the more creative ones I have come across recently, so I am looking forward to getting stuck in and completing my OWLs this year.

For more information about the OWLs and the pass grades, you can read the Hogwarts info letter here.

 

Advertisements

Mini-Review Monday: Read-O-Rama Wrap Up

Today’s Mini-Review Monday is going to be a little longer than normal. This is because last week was the Read-O-Rama readathon and I read a lot of books. You can find reviews of the first two books I read in last week’s Mini-Review Monday. Today, I’m going to cover the rest. I nearly managed to meet the goal of reading seven books in seven days but, while I did start the seventh, I did not actually finish it until the weekend, when the readathon was over. I still managed to complete the six other challenges, however.

For the most part, the final five book I read were pretty good. There were a couple which were more in the middle for me, but the other three really caught my attention. Strangely, most of the books I read this week touched on the theme of death, from being stuck in a world where everyone is dying around you to a world where immortality has been achieved and the power to wield death has been given to a select group of people. It certainly made for an interesting week of reading, and you can find out more about the books I read below.

For reference, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

 

Everland by Wendy Spinale

Everland is a re-telling of Peter Pan, set in an alternate, dystopian world where London has been ravaged by bombs and by a lethal disease. In the aftermath of the war, it has lost its London name and become Everland, home to a group of surviving orphan boys, a 12-year old girl called Bella, and their leader Pete. Gwen, on the run with her two siblings, gets drawn into the world of the Lost Boys when one of her siblings gets kidnapped by Hook, leader of the invading forces.

Even after finishing the book, I am still not quite sure what to make of it. While there were a few obvious similarities to Peter Pan, for instance the characters and a few choice phrases, most of them felt a bit far-reaching or forced, as if the novel wanted to go one way but, because this was a re-telling, it had to fit to a certain path. In particular, a scene about Gwen being a ‘mother’ to the Lost Boys because she was the only older female and they needed a woman to soften them up just did not sit right with me and I felt like it was only included because that was what Wendy’s role was in the original. The writing, while not overly complicated, allowed the book to progress at a fast pace, while still allowing for character development and allowing the reader to invest in the story.  I did enjoy the book, but I feel like it would have been a lot stronger if it had been written as its own being, rather than a re-telling.

Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26085520-everland

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Everland-Everland-Book-1-Wendy-Spinale/9780545836944/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

I went into Given to the Sea with a touch of trepidation, having seen a number of mixed reviews about the book. Coming out of it, I can see why. Given to the Sea is a book set in a world which fears the sea, treating it as a place of death and destruction after a tsunami destroyed the land in the far past. One such society, in order to keep the sea at bay, sacrifices a single girl to the sea after she has birthed a daughter who, in time will also be sacrificed. The book follows one of those girls, Khosa, as she tries to escape her fate.

Having read the book, I think I can see what the author was trying to do, using the story to explore themes of destiny, beliefs as well as an exploration of rape and a woman’s freedom to make choices in the fantasy setting. These latter two points were part of the main reason I find myself unable to properly enjoy this book. This feeds into two main sources of frustration. The first is the men in the book – only one or two of them could be considered half-way decent. The others just treated women appallingly – the crown prince, in particular, was awful – an adulterer who offered an award to whoever could get Khosa pregnant, by any means necessary.

On the other side were the women – there were three of them: Khosa, Dara and Dissa, all of whose lives were dictated by the men in them. Dara, for me, was the biggest disappointment. She was the most interesting, and my favourite character, for most of the book. Then her story just gets suffocated by the fact she has a crush on someone which she believes is unrequited. She had such potential, and then that happened.

Despite that, there is no denying that the writing was incredible – the world felt alive and the characters, for all their many flaws, were, unfortunately, very realistic. I was also really curious as to how the story would end. So, while it was a difficult and frustrating read, the strong writing and the emotions it carried did hold it above water.

Rating: 3/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25314447-given-to-the-sea

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Given-Sea-Mindy-Mcginnis/9780399544620/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

The prize for the most beautiful book I have read this year goes to The Language of Thorns – the hardcover of which had a gloriously designed cover with an interior filled with stunning illustrations. The book itself is my third Leigh Bardugo book of the year, and yet all three are very different. This particular book is a set of fairy tales from the Grisha-verse; each one adapted from, or had similarities to, a fairy tale in this universe (for example one tells the origins of Ulla, a sea-witch based off of Ursula and The Little Mermaid).

The tales in the book are varied, and I read one a night before bed. Bardugo did an excellent job of capturing the essence and feel of a fairy tale while also adding in her own twists and renditions of the events that played out, taking on the tales in a way that was unexpected. It was almost as if you could feel the magic taking place as you read (helped, no doubt, by the illustrations). I did feel slightly disappointed that the LGBTQA+ representation was not as strong or as prominent as I had believed it to be, based on the images, and I did struggle to fully connect or invest in some of the stories. That being said, I did enjoy the fact that the main characters in each tale are outcasts, or not traditionally pretty, or are somehow different to the rest of the society they live in. Some of the tales could have been longer while the final one could have been a bit shorter and, perhaps, a little clearer. For those who have not ready any of Bardugo’s previous novels, this book is perfectly accessible – the only real links to the series are the locations. The Language of Thorns is a magical book and I can see many a people returning to it again and again.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34076952-the-language-of-thorns

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Language-Thorns-Leigh-Bardugo/9781510104419/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

One of the books that had been most recommended to me in the last few months is How to Stop Time by Matt Haig. This book explores the concept of immortality and the purpose of life through the perspective of one man – Tom Hazard. Tom is an Alba, a human who develops and grows old at a fraction of the speed of normal human beings. As a result, he’s been alive for centuries, wandering the Earth, searching for his long-lost daughter and trying to find meaning.

While it did take me a while to get into the book, once I did it was fascinating to read about Hazard’s life through flashbacks to his younger years against his life in the present day, all the while everything was tinted with a touch of melancholy. Haig does a really good job of getting the emotion into his words, regardless of what is being discussed at the time, and, as you read the book, you end up experiencing a whole range of them. The whole discussion of the purpose of life, or living, was really compelling and I found myself thinking about the book long after having finished it. The only let-down for me was how swift the ending occurred – there was a gentle, but quickening, build up then all of a sudden the climactic scenes occurred and were over with in a few pages. It almost felt like it could do with being a touch longer.

Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36218250-how-to-stop-time

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/How-Stop-Time-Matt-Haig/9781782118640/?a_aid=rosienreads

Scythe by Neal Shusterman (narrated by Greg Tremblay)

This was easily my favourite book of the readathon. Scythe had me hooked from the get go – the concept was so fascinating, I just had to read more. It is set in a world which has achieved immortality. In order to avoid over-population, the Scythe-dom was created – a group of people with the mission to glean (or kill) a certain number of people each year. In this society, two people – Rowan and Citra – are chosen to be trained as Scythes.

While the novel is slow with regards to the action, a lot of time is spent establishing the world and very little time passes before you learn something new, and there is so much to take in. What interested me most was the different methods the Scythes have in choosing those they intend to glean. The slower pace is also necessary to establish Rowan and Citra’s places in the world, and the conflicts which face them later on. The writing really captured the world and the characters, solidifying them with apparent ease, something which was only highlighted through the narrator who made the audiobook one I had to fight to stop listening to. It is rare for me to finish a book in the series and immediately want to reach for the second one. This book is one of those rarities and I cannot wait to read the sequel, Thunderhead.

Rating: 5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34612183-scythe

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Scythe/9781442472426/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

Mini-Review Monday: Mortal Engines, Wonder Woman: Warbringer and A Discovery of Witches

Last week saw the start of Read-O-Rama, a seven-day readathon running from 3rd March to the 9th March. With the seven days of reading came seven days of challenges and, while I know the chances of me reading seven books and completing all the challenges are slim, I am going to give it my best shot. So far, I have read two of the books, both of which were fairly equal in my overall enjoyment of them – a trend I hope continues for the rest of the readathon.

Prior to the readathon, and to March, I finished off the audiobook which I had been listening to throughout February, which meant I could start the readathon with a fresh audiobook (alas, I did start another paperback which is currently on hold until the 10th March).

For reference, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

The first book I read for the readathon fulfilled the challenge of reading a borrowed book. Mortal Engines is being adapted for film, with the intended release date of December 2018. As I had not yet read it, despite being a well-loved book of many of my friends, I took this opportunity to venture in.

Mortal Engines is a dystopian novel set in the far future, long after a man called Quirke invented mobile cities, and the world became a mad-max-esque playground (or hunting ground) for moving cities and towns as they hunt and consume each other. It starts in the traction city of London as an apprentice historian meets his hero and the girl who wants to see that hero dead. From there is a massive, crazy chase to uncover the truth and save the world.

One of my favourite things about Mortal Engines is that, despite being a children’s novel, Philip Reeve really does not hold back. Everything in this book is pushed to the limit, from the madness of the hungry towns to the death count (I’m pretty sure it’s on par with Game of Thrones). It’s also a novel that can be read by all ages. There’s very little, beyond the slightly simpler writing and a few childish turns of phrase, which indicate this is a book for younger readers. The only downsides for me really were that Tom, the main character, felt a bit 2D, it was a bit slower paced at the start and a couple of places felt a bit confused. Otherwise, though, I really liked the story. I look forward to seeing it on the big screen.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/287861.Mortal_Engines

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Mortal-Engines-Philip-Reeve/9781407152134/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

The second book I read for Read-O-Rama fulfilled the challenge for reading a book with ‘rama’ somewhere in the name. Wonder Woman: Warbringer contained those letters and so was one of the few books I could read for this challenge.

Wonder Woman has always been one of my favourite super-heroes – an amazon warrior dedicated to her mission of peace, so when I discovered Leigh Bardugo had written a book about her, I could not wait to read it. The story is a simple quest – Diana must deliver the Warbringer, descendent of Helen of Troy, to Helen’s resting place before she causes a world war to break out. To do so, however, Diana must leave the island on which she was raised and enter the world of mortals for the first time. This is a book about Wonder Woman when she was just Diana Prince.

There is so much to take away and like about this book. Leigh Bardugo is a novelist who has yet to disappoint me and she shines again here bringing the warrior princess to life. While the main story-line is a fairly linear A to B story, the heart of the novel is the characters and the theme of female empowerment and friendship. While romance is touched upon, it is only a very minor part of the novel and only serves to help to distract from a twist later on in the book. More important are the friendships between the female characters and, to a lesser extent, the male ones, as it is these which are the driving forces for the story.

While I do feel like Bardugo missed out on a great opportunity to bring Diana’s bisexuality a bit more into the fore, the diversity in the book is great, especially with all the main characters. The writing is up to Bardugo’s usual excellent standard and I found I kept coming back to the book.

Rating: 4/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/287861.Mortal_Engines

The Book Depository*: https://www.bookdepository.com/Wonder-Woman–Warbringer–DC-Icons-Series-/9780141387376/?a_aid=rosienreads

 

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (narrated by Jennifer Ikeda)

I first read A Discovery of Witches in 2016 as a paperback and loved it – it is the first in a trilogy which merges a history with the supernatural. The main character is a witch, Diana Bishop, who has turned away from her powers, instead focusing her energy on studying history (she’s an established academic who has reached tenure). Her life is changed when she inadvertently withdraws an old, mystical manuscript from the Ashmolean and finds herself caught up in the schemes of the supernatural world. The book does veer on the romantic, something which is more noticeable in the audiobook, and part of the reason why the book dropped a full star in rating since when I first read it.

One main difference in paperbacks and audiobook is that in the former you can easily skim over the parts which don’t interest you. This is much less possible in audiobooks. With A Discovery of Witches, the beginning and end of the book revolves around Diana Bishop’s search for answers, her struggles with controlling her magic and her conflicts with the other members of the supernatural world. The middle is predominantly about her relationship with Matthew (a vampire) and, when listening to the audiobook, just went on and on, to the point where I nearly DnF’d this book. Fortunately, my intense dislike for DnFing books got me through and the ending was just what I remembered from my first time reading, with the story picking up and everything from the start of the novel coming together.

So, while I still enjoyed the book, it was let down by the slow-paced middle where very little of interest (to me) happens. I am in two minds about continuing the trilogy as a result. It’s a brilliantly written series which feels realistic and has an interesting story-line. I just don’t want to read two more books where that story-line gets shunted aside for Diana and Matthew’s relationship.

Rating: 3.5/5

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35114285-a-discovery-of-witches

Amazon.co.uk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Discovery-Witches-Souls-Trilogy-Book/dp/B004NU711Y/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0

 

*I receive a small commission when purchases are made through the Book Depository links.

Winter Biannual Bibliothon 2018 – Wrap Up

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

Rating: 4/5

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

Rating: 3.5/5

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

Rating: 4.5/5

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

Rating: 4.5/5

Length: 21 hours and 26 minutes

Pages Read: 552 pages

Winter Biannual Bibliothon 2018 – TBR

The Biannual Bibliothon is pretty much what the name suggests – a readathon which takes place twice a year. Each readathon is a week long and is hosted by a number of booktubers on the Biannual Bibliothon YouTube account, and there are both video and reading challenges for the week. This year’s Winter Biannual Bibliothon runs from the 20th to the 26th January – a full seven days which I will spend reading (and doing the things I cannot really avoid – like work).

I decided to take part in this year’s Winter Biannual Bibliothon for one simple reason – I wanted an excuse to read. With the fast-moving pace of life today, particularly with regards to social media, it’s very difficult to step away, slow down and read. There is also something strangely relaxing about sitting down reading and knowing that somewhere a stranger is doing the same thing, for the same reason.

While I won’t be taking part in the video challenges, I will be attempting the reading ones. There are seven in total and it is possible to double-up on some of them if you’re not able to read them all. I am going to have a different book for each challenge although, as it’s unlikely I’ll get to them all, I have selected some that will easily double-up with other challenges. I have also added the rule that all the books, with the exception of the group book, must be books I already own but have not read.

Here is my TBR for the Winter Biannual Bibliothon:

  1. Read the group book: OTHERWORLD by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller

As I don’t already own this book, I have reserved it from the library (although, at time of writing, it has still to arrive). I did consider buying it for the challenge but, in an attempt to save money, I thought it might be a good excuse to support the local library. I just hope it gets to the library in time.

 

  1. Read a sequel: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

I had a few books which I could have picked for this challenge but, unfortunately, most of them were quite long. I read the first book in this series about a year ago and, while I enjoyed the first book, I was not motivated enough at the time to pick up the second. I thought this challenge would provide me with the incentive to give this series another go. This book is also a potential double-up with challenge 7.

 

  1. Read a book you’ve never heard of before: Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

This was the hardest challenge to fulfil to start with as, by only using books I already own, nothing actually fit the bill, so I decided to change it slightly. Instead of reading a book I’ve never heard of before, I decided to read a book I had never heard of when the book entered my possession, something which instantly opened up options. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while and, since it also fits with challenge 7, it seemed like a good time to read it.

 

  1. Read a book about mental illness: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Sadly, this was also a challenge for me as I struggled to find any books I owned but had not yet read which were specifically about mental health. After much searching through blurbs and reviews, I decided to include Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine for this challenge. I do have a couple of non-fiction options as well, should I change my mind during the bibliothon.

 

  1. Read a book that was mentioned in another book/movie/show etc.: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll.

For this challenge, I went with a classic. There has to be at least one book/movie/show in which Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland is mentioned and, I am ashamed to say, I have not read any of Lewis Carroll’s writing. The copy I have also includes Through the Looking-Glass, so I’m also using this book as a potential double-up for challenge 2 as well as challenge 7. Based on some arguments and discussions around this book, it could also work as a double-up for challenge 4, although I’m less inclined to use it for that.

 

  1. Read a book under 200 pages: How to Think Like Sherlock by Daniel Smith

This was a relatively easy choice as I only own one book which I have not read which is less than 200 pages long. That book is How to Think Like Sherlock, a non-fiction book which came in a book subscription box. As such, this book could also work as a double-up to challenge 3, along with challenge 7. It seems like a quick, fun read and so should be a useful book in this week-long readathon.

 

  1. Read a backlist title: Nation by Terry Pratchett

Of all the challenges, challenge 7 was the easiest to select a book for but, for the same reasons, was also one of the hardest. For the purpose of the challenge, a backlist title is one which was published before 2017; at least half, if not more, of the books on my TBR bookcase were published before 2017. As such, this challenge is the one I will most likely be doubling up on but, should I get to it, Nation is book the book of choice. It’s hard to go wrong with some Terry Pratchett.

So, there we have it, the books I have set out for my week of reading. I am not expecting to read them all, but I will at least attempt to complete all the challenges through doubling-up. I am also not confining myself to this particular TBR. The purpose of the readathon is to read and to enjoy yourself while you’re reading. If I’m not feeling a book, I’ll swap it out with another one to ensure maximum reading entertainment. Regardless, I’m looking forward to tackling my TBR and getting into a good book.

Bring on the Bibliothon!

 

The Books I Read in December 2017

2017 has come and gone. For the duration of the year, I was taking part in the Goodreads challenge, with the goal of reading 100 books in the year. By the end of November, this goal was beginning to look more like a lost cause. But, thanks to a massive push in December, during which I read 17 books, I managed to meet the goal of reading 100 books in 2017 with a day to spare.

The 17 books I read were a mixed bunch, both in the type of book as well as in my rating. I read some brilliant books, but also some that I am unlikely to pick up again. The highlight of the month was easily The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. I love Agatha Christie’s books yet had not ever got around to reading the book which is considered her masterpiece. A programme on the television (Agatha Christie Vs. Hercule Poirot) prompted me to buy the book and read it. I went in blind and absolutely loved the story. If you do ever want to pick up this book, don’t read anything about it beforehand; it’s the best way to enjoy it fully.

That wasn’t the only book I enjoyed in December, however. There were plenty of others, which you can see below in the complete list of the books I read, along with their ratings. For reference, the way I rate is as follows:

1-Unable to Finish ; 2-Did not enjoy ; 3-Liked ; 4-Really Liked ; 5-Loved

 

Audiobook

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens – 3.5/5

Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger – 3.5/5

Kindle

Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss – 4.5/5

The Forever Ship by Francesca Haig – 4.5/5

The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason – 3/5

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie – 5/5

Hardback

The Truth by Terry Pratchett – 4/5

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell – 4/5

Everless by Sara Holland – 4.5/5

Paperback

Return to the Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz – 4/5

Northern Lights by Philip Pullman – 4/5

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman – 3.5/5

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman – 3/5

World Mythology in Bite-Sized Chunks by Mark Daniels – 1.5/5

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells – 4/5

Rise of the Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz – 3.5/5

Feminism: A Very Short Introduction by Margaret Walters – 3/5

 

17 books. That, for me, is an achievement for a single month’s reading and I’m beyond happy to have completed my challenge to read 100 books. This year, in 2018, I am going to repeat the challenge. While it was difficult to do, particularly given the reading slumps I suffered during a couple of months, it was fun and led me to read a wide range of books, including some I probably would not have considered at the beginning of the year. Going into 2018, I am listening to the audiobook The Widow by Fiona Barton (read by Clare Corbett) and reading Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings. As for the rest of the year, I have no plans for what to read beyond just seeing what I’m in the mood for and enjoying every word (hopefully).

 

 

NaNoWriMo 2017 Update – Week 3 and the Beginning of Week 4

Writing Progress

The final week of NaNoWriMo is here and three days remain until the clock strikes midnight and the magic of November is over. It has been a while since my last update and that’s because I’ve been busy. The number of social commitments I’ve had this last week or so has meant that I have had five days where I have written nothing at all. Indeed, in the first half of Week 4, I have only managed to write 984 words.

Fortunately, the situation is not so dire as to be irretrievable. Thanks to a period of writing 2,000 words a day in Week 3, and a day in which I wrote over 6,000 words, I only need to write a minimum of 1,711 words a day in order to win. It is more than the daily average you need to win, but it’s not a horrendous amount of words and, as far as I’m concerned, I can still make it if I try. I might just have to suffer a couple of late nights.

Writing Inspiration

It’s hard to write of inspiration when I’ve just had a four day break from writing. That being said, a four day break may have been what I needed to refresh my mind and return to the pages with a cobweb-free head, and enough energy to charge onwards into the final few days.

One the main hurdles I’m facing at the moment is just being too tired to write, particularly after a long, cold day at work. It’s hard to find the motivation when you just want to be asleep under the duvet. While having naps may not be the best idea in the evening, letting yourself switch off for an hour or so after a busy day is vital for letting the brain get into the creative zone. Some people enjoy a walk, others a long, hot bath. For me, it varies. Often-times, I find that just watching an episode of a show will suffice. Once that hour is up, I am ready to make myself comfortable (often with a blanket if it’s one of those chillier days), get a cup of tea and start writing.

Writing Plans

Today, my push for victory begins. As I’ve said, I need to write a minimum of just over 1,700 words a day in order to win and win I intend to do. It is possible, even though I do have plenty of other things which need doing this week, and it is going to be my priority. To achieve this, I decided to look back on the days I wrote the most.

On a few, the words came from having no words at all. I started writing about something which I had experienced, such as a headache or being cold, and those ended up turning into more and more words, all perfectly relevant to the story. On others, I wrote in focused time periods, using the Pomodoro technique. I’d put on some background sound and write for 25 minutes, then took a break to do something completely different, before starting the 25 minutes again. This technique helped me write 6,000 words in one day. Other times, it was simply the goal and the story which got me to 2,000 – I decided to write that many words and so I did.

So, this week, I am going to do a combination of those. I am going to sit down to an empty page, and let either the story or my experiences guide me. I will write in sprints, with regular breaks for both eyes and brain, with the final goal of the day being 2,000 words. Some days I will succeed, other days I may fail but so long as I write more than 1,700 words a day, I should be okay.

Let the final days of NaNoWriMo begin.