Showing posts with label Read-a-Thon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Read-a-Thon. Show all posts

Sunday, November 3, 2019

November TBR: A Pile of ARCs and Middle Grade Reads

Welcome to November! Remember how I had a ridiculous TBR in October? Well...apparently I've decided to do that to myself once again. This month, I'm working on whittling down my pile of ARCs because apparently everything I want to read was published in October. I'm also participating in a few read-a-thons, which should keep me rather busy.

First off...let's mention the read-a-thons. I will likely be revisiting some of these on the blog later this month as one is pretty involved and a few others I'll have to be adapting to as they get closer (i.e. I'm flying by the seat of my pants).


Believathon (November 1st - 30th)

This is a middle grade read-a-thon hosted by the fabulous Gavin Hetherington. It is my primary read-a-thon focus for the month. The goal is to read 1 middle grade per week or to complete the ten prompts and the group book, Frostheart by Jamie Littler.

I will be working on the prompts for this read-a-thon, doing most of my reading via audio. I will likely not be reading the group book as my library does not yet show it available in any form. But...I will continue checking through the month.

Triwizard Tournament (1st task: Nov. 11th - 17th; 2nd task: Nov. 25th - Dec. 1st)

This is quite the different read-a-thon, being designed around the ideas of the Goblet of Fire. It is hosted by Chapter Charms and occurs in three tasks, followed by the Yule Ball. Right now, I do know the requirements of the 1st task and have a book to fit that, but I won't know the 2nd task until I complete that 1st task.

The One Readathon to Rule Them All (November 17th - December 1st)

This is the third round of this readathon, this time based around a Harry Potter theme. It is a fairly complex read-a-thon with several prompts. I will be fully flying by the seat of my pants on this one. So...good luck to me.

Buzzword Readathon (November 18th - 24th)

The Buzzword Readathon is hosted by Kayla over at Books and Lala. She is one of my favorite booktubers. This round, the buzzword is numbers. Basically this means that any books containing a number (or the word number or 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) qualify. As of right now, I only have one qualifying book planned and I'm really setting that one to read for my Triwizard 1st task, so we'll see what happens. If nothing else, I'll live vicariously through others.

Dystopi-a-thon (November 23rd - 29th)

I just found out about this readathon today via Erica at The Broken Spine. There are prompts for this one and it looks like I'll have two reads that fit the requirements, but...again...flying by the seat of my pants.

Print Books

All but one of these books are ARCs. Dorothy & the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum is a book I'll be picking up to meet one of the prompts for Believathon. I was unable to find it in audio, so it landed in the print TBR unlike it's Believathon compatriots.

1. Cilka's Journey by Heather Morris

2. Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

3. Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

4. The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

5. The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

6. Athena's Choice by Adam Boostrom

7. Finding Henry Applebee by Celia Reynolds

8. The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy

9. Ivory Apples by Lisa Goldstein

10. Swede Hollow by Ola Laismo

11. The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls by Ursula Hegi

12. The Invisibles by Rachel Dacus

13. Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum


With the exception of the Backman book, all of these reads are middle grade level books meant for prompts and/or other participation in Believathon. The reading order for these is highly dependent on when they are available. I'm on a waiting list for a few of the selections.

1. And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

2. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

3. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

4. The BFG by Roald Dahl

5. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

6. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

7. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

8. The Giver by Lois Lowry

9. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

10. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

11. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

 Books I Have My Eyes On

As always, I reserve the right to somewhat alter my TBR. There are a few books that I have my eye on that I may just not be able to wait to read. The first I've already mentioned. Two of the others are being released this month. And the other two? Well...I already have them. I'm just trying to be good and hold off until I whittle my ARC pile to a more manageable size.

1. Voyage of the Frostheart by Jamie Littler

2. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

3. Thunderhead and The Toll by Neal Shusterman

4. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Are any of these reads catching your interest? Do you have any great middle grade reads that I don't have on my list and should look for? What books do you have your eye on?

Fingers crossed for a successful reading November. Happy reading to you!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

September TBR and Hogwarts House Battles

Happy September, everyone!

Since things went so well with last month's Harry Potter themed read-a-thon, I decided to go ahead and jump in on a second on for this month. This month, I'll be taking part in the Hogwarts House Battles, hosted by Katie of BookMarked.

For this read-a-thon, there are challenges for each of fifteen Hogwarts subjects. To complete each course, you must read a book that fits the prompt for that course. Participants are sorted by house and then will earn points toward their respective house with each book completed as well as points for the number of pages read.

For additional points, participants can complete the House books and can complete the weekly challenges (one hosted by each house).

House Group Books
Read House Title Author

Ravenclaw House of Salt and Sorrows Erin A. Craig

Slytherin Wilder Girls Rory Power

Griffindor With the Fire on High Elizabeth Acevedo

Hufflepuff The Revolution of Birdie Randolph Brandy Colbert

I am a Ravenclaw, so of course the only house book I can't seem to locate to get my hands on to borrow is House of Salt and Sorrows. This has started me off with a bit of frustration, but I'm going to attempt to read Wilder Girls and With the Fire on High to at least snag some of the group book points.

As for the class challenges, you can use the group books as part of them and you can use one book for multiple challenges. But we all know that Ravenclaws are notorious overachievers, so I have set my TBR for one book per challenge. We'll see how many I can accomplish this way. If all else fails, some of my books would qualify for more than one challenge in a pinch.

Along with the house books, I'm squeezing in my book club read for the month and the ARCs I have on my list to finish reading for September. I've tracked down a few audio books to meet some of the challenges and do potentially have some "on deck" to substitute in should I finish the three I currently have planned.

HHB Class Challenges
Read Course Challenge Requirement Title Author

Alchemy New Forms Read a recommendation from a friend The Beginner’s Goodbye Anne Tyler

Ancient Runes Ancients Read a classic novel Sense and Sensibility (audio) Jane Austen

Apparition Teleportation Only read this book in public An Ocean of Minutes Thea Lim

Arithmancy Numbers Read a book with a number in the title The Ten Thousand Doors of January Alix E. Harrow

Astronomy Reading Under the Stars Only read this book at night Trapeze Leigh Ansell

Care of MC The Beasts Read a book with an animal on the cover Maternal Instinct Rebecca Bowyer

Charms Something New and Unexpected Read a new-to-you book This Tender Land William Kent Krueger

Defence DA Can’t Last Read a book you previously put down All the Light We Cannot See (audio) Anthony Doerr

Divination The Future Read a predicted 5-star read With the Fire on High Elizebeth Acevedo

Flying Fly High Read your most anticipated book The Memory Thief Lauren Mansy

Herbology Caring Read a book that means a lot to you Talking as Fast as I Can Lauren Graham

Hx of Magic Historical Read a book from another generation Murder on the Orient Express (Audio) Agatha Christie

Muggle Studies Blending In Read a hyped book Wilder Girls Rory Power

Potions Mixing Read a genre you wouldn’t usually pick up Conclusion Peter Robertson

Transfiguration Change Read the last book you bought Wild Beauty Anna-Marie McLemore
0.0% if that weren't enough...I also have a small pile of extraneous and backup books. This includes an early October ARC I couldn't fit into any other categories not already occupied by an ARC, a book I have from the library that I didn't get in time for NEWTs, a book to qualify for the 5-Star Love Read-a-Thon later this month, and a book I need to finish for my current round of the Deal Me In Challenge.

 I am nothing if not a constant ball of reading crazy.'s to September! Let's see how far I can get down this pile of nineteen reads!

Sunday, September 1, 2019

August (and NEWTs!) Reading Wrap Up

August seemed to go by in a flash! Fall is steadily on its way here and while I typically love the arrival of September and the eminent approach of autumn, I am terribly sad to see summer go this year. It must be a factor of now being a Minnesotan and knowing full well that the next six months or so are not going to be so pleasant for enjoying the outdoors.

I am currently getting started with taking part in two month-long read-a-thons for September. I will be participating most heavily in the Hogwarts House Battles, but I will also be tagging along somewhat for Sequel September. I'll be discussing my upcoming reading plans for those (along with a few other) read-a-thons in my next post. But now, it's time to review how I did for August and my ridiculously grand plans for the NEWTs Magical Readathon.


I will say, apparently if I get a fire under my butt and have a big goal (especially one that has to do with a participatory read-a-thon), I can really get quite a lot of reading done! Despite having family activities and Darian visiting for two weeks out of the month, August was my best reading month yet!

I read a total of 13 books in the month: 3 full audiobooks, 9 print reads, and 1 combination audio/print. That's the first time I've combined audio and a print version and it worked really well. I'll have to try that more.

I read a total of 4,078 pages during the month, for an average of 131.5 pages per day. This broke both records for the year.

With all of that reading, I passed my highest ever recorded reading year, with a total of 70 books read so far. I'm incredibly happy with that and it ensures that this year's Book of the Year Bracket Challenge will be a really good one. There are already so many fantastic reads that will be playing a part.

The only record that remains unbroken is the total pages read for the year. I am just shy of breaking the 2014 record of 23,392 with 23,133 pages read so far in 2019. Needless to say, that record will be surpassed this month. Without a doubt, 2019 is my best reading year in a decade.

With those 70 books tallied, I have also surpassed my Goodreads Reading Goal for the year. I had set it back at 64 books back in January, expecting that I might be able to eek out a completion. Apparently, I will have to set my sights higher for 2020!

Books Read

I obviously read quite a few books in August, but the ratings for the books I did read were fairly well distributed. I did have some very good reads, but there were also a few stragglers in the group.

DNF : 0 books
1-star: 0 books
2-star: 2 books
3-star: 2 books
3.5 star: 1 book
4-star: 3 books
4.5 star: 2 books
5 star: 3 books

I read 7 ARCs in the month as well as 1 Goodreads Giveaway novel. The remaining 5 reads were: a classic, a book I had been excitedly waiting on, a book club read, a book that had been on my TBR for a long time, and a reread. 

There were 3 contemporaries, 2 magical realism reads, 2 classics, 2 YA reads, 1 fantasy, 1 mystery, 1 historical fiction, and 1 book written as a novel in prose form. 

A total of 6 of the books were intended for a YA audience (with one potentially being regarded as middle grade by some) and the remainder were adult reads. Seven were diverse reads of in some shape or another and 1 was a translated work.

Now...let's get down to looking at each book individually for some mini-reviews as well as how they factored in to my NEWTs.

The Gillespie County Fair by Marc Hess was a Goodreads win that I received a few months back. It had patiently been waiting it's turn. As a book I deemed as having a beautiful cover, it satisfied the requirement for my NEWTs Charms level A read. Unfortunately, this one was an underwhelming read for me. The narrative drug along a bit and never really caught my interest. There was a lot of distraction in the story and the characters were terribly unlikable. Sometimes that's nice, but not when you really have no one in the book that you want to root for. The writing was decent, and that likely saved this one from a DNF. I wound up giving it a paltry 2 stars.

I had been looking forward to the quirkiness of The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot for a couple of months. This is a novel based entirely in prose and I received it as an ARC. I quite liked the development. It was imaginative and very original with a decent YA story about a young girl who becomes obsessed with taxidermy after the death of her mother. I'll be doing a full review of this one later this month, but I enjoyed the read for the most part. The only major issue was that the ending didn't stick as powerfully as I would have liked, so I did downgrade somewhat and ended up giving it 3.5 stars. Since the title starts with A (disregarding the "The"), this fulfilled the requirement for my NEWTs level A in Care of Magical Creatures.

I loved Nina George's The Little Paris Bookshop, so I was eager to get my hands on The Book of Dreams as soon as I heard of it. I had to go on a bit of a waitlist, but I was able to finally get in as an audiobook last month. That allowed me to utilize it for my Herbology level A read. It was moving and beautiful with all of George's talent weaving through the pages. This one will also be getting a full review soon, but it was painful and wonderful all at the same time. Her characters are so well-built. As is my tendency, though...I struggled with the ending. Regardless, this is a solid and gorgeous 4-star read.

The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins was a fantastic magical realism read that reminded me strongly of Sarah Addison Allen's writing and small town creations. It was cute and homey with a wonderful mishmash of characters. This is one of those books where you just want to live in the town the author creates. I enjoyed it very much and really hope that she writes a sequel, there is plenty of room for stories that carry on from this one, not to mention a whole town full of characters who could tell their own tales. I gave this 4.5 stars, used it to meet my E level in Herbology, and deemed it a "hugable" read.

Welcome to my favorite read of the entire month. 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons was magic. It is a beautiful and heart-wrenching YA read. I just loved it so very much. The writing was smooth and comfortable without being overly cutesy and the characters were independent and dynamic, yet worked incredibly well together. This was a great read, gave me an A level in Arithmancy, and received my first 5-star rating of the month.

Anne of Green Gables was on my 2019 TBR as meeting my color requirement for a book with "green" in the title. However, it also fit into my NEWTs as it met the A level Potions requirement of being a friend's favorite book (thank you Annie!). I listened to this one on audio and just simply adored it. It stands the test of time and is still a magical book after reaching over 100 years since its original publication. I consider it a YA read, though many consider it middle grade. I will concede that it works well for that age group as well. Regardless...I still enjoyed it very much as an adult and gave it my second 5-star rating of the month.

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was to receive an ARC of Philippa Gregory's latest novel, Tidelands. It's the first book in her new The Fairmile series. I have been a big fan of her Tudor and Plantaganet novels for many years, so this was one of those books that made me jump up and down with anticipation. The writing style is still much the same as her other novels, but the approach to the narrative is different that the other of her books I have read, with a commoner being the primary character rather than focusing directly on a figure in the monarchy. Still, it remained a very good read and I am looking forward to picking up the next in the series when she gets it out for publication. I gave it 4.5 stars and used it to get my E in Potions.

I am mildly frustrated by this one, though not because of the book itself. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty was my local book club's pick for an August read. It was actually quite a fantastic book, but a couple of days before book club was set to take place, I realized that we had scheduled a piglet delivery for the evening of the meeting. Sometimes farm life really gets in the way of my reading plans! So...I missed book club. I was terribly sad about missing out on the discussion, but the book was good, so at least I didn't suffer through a crummy read just to miss out. It was a solid 4 stars and helped me round out my Herbology reads, by giving me an O.

After Alice was a spur of the moment substitution once I discovered I couldn't get an audio read of anything else I had originally planned on. I love Alice in Wonderland retellings and had enjoyed Maguire's Wicked, so I figured it was a solid bet. It was an odd little read with quite the pretentious writing tone. It was decent for a retelling, but I didn't find it as original as his prior works, which was a bit of a disappointment. It just ended up being okay for me. I gave it a 3 star rating, checked off my A level in History of Magic, and carried on.

Sometimes a cute cover will fail you. Sometimes the premise will lead you astray. In the case of The Multiplication of Elmer Whit, it felt like I had been duped by both. It sounded like such a cute and unique story, and really it was, but the execution just didn't wow me. I felt like it needed some further revision and editorial guidance. It just wasn't ready to go out into the world yet. Kipp's writing is decent and she clearly has imaginative ideas, but I just struggled to make my way through Elmer. Though I really wanted to like it, I struggled not to DNF, and eventually gave it only 2 stars. I checked off my requirement for an E in Care of Magical Creatures, and hoped that there would be better to follow.

And there was. I first fond Rebekah Crane earlier this year via an audiobook of her The Upside of Falling Down in Prime Reading. I liked her writing style and found the story to be a good and comfortable read. I was very happy to get myself an ARC of her Postcards for a Songbird. A tale of two sisters told from one sister's point of view, this was an adorable YA read with some mystery and heartbreak wrapped in. I continued to enjoyed Crane's writing and the narrative moved nice and easy. I read this one in just two days and found it to be a nice redemption read. It wound up getting 4 stars and let me take an O in Care of Magical Creatures.

Oh, George Orwell. The man did write some darned good dystopian novels before they were really a genre to be reckoned with. I had originally read Animal Farm back in high school (as so many do), but it was one of those books I just felt needed a reread. When I needed a short book for my E in Charms, this one fit the bill just right. It's still a powerful read, though the particular political parallels may not be as easy to identify with the current landscape. The overall message is still loud and clear though. I gave it a solid 3-star rating.

My final read of the month was one of the best. I combined audio and print to complete Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. I had read her Delirium trilogy a few years back and enjoyed that, but this contemporary YA read was something different. Just the same, it was something wonderful. It was sad and annoying and encouraging and everything all at once. I combined the audio with the text because I wanted to read it faster and didn't have the ability to fit the audio into my daily schedule as easily as the print. It worked out to be a great way to read this book, getting the combination of a voice to hear in my head and my own reading imagination. I enjoyed this so very much. It rounded out the end of my month with a fabulous 5 stars and let me take an O in Potions.


With 13 reads, I was able to complete NEWTs in six of my nine OWL eligible courses. 

Final Grades: Eligible Professions:
Arithmancy A Herbologist
Care of Mag. Creatures O Potioneer
Charms E Wandmaker

Herbology O
Hx of Magic A
Muggle Studies

Potions O

Based on the combination of these levels, I was able to gain eligibility for four magical professions: Herbologist, Potioneer, Wandmaker, and my original goal of Magizoologist. I had a fantastic time participating in the NEWTs, loved how much ingenuity and creativity went into the creation of the read-a-thon, and very much look forward to participating in both Magical Read-a-Thons (OWLs in April and NEWTs in August) next year.

And there you have it, PHEW!, my 13 books of August. I don't know if September will be as prolific, but I do have big plans for it. I'll spell (pun somewhat'll see) that all out for you next time. Until then...HAPPY READING!

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