Reading books by Black authors for the Hogsmeade Mini Magical Readathon (#HogsmeadeReads2020)

Book Roast has organized another mini Magical Readathon, and it’s happening in June! This is a one week (22-28 June) readathon with reading prompts based on the shops in Hogsmeade (the town near Hogwarts in Harry Potter). You can find a link to the map of Hogsmeade that G made with all the reading prompts and everything else you need to know in this video on Book Roast.

I know this is Pride month, but Pride wouldn’t have happened without Black women. So, for this readathon, I decided to create a TBR of books written only by Black authors. The point of this is to normalize Black stories by Black authors. There are books written by Black authors that fit every single one of these prompts. Multiple books. Reading a book by a Black author doesn’t have to be the one book you read to fill the “read a book by a POC author” prompt in a readathon. If you don’t believe me, check out this Twitter thread list of almost 200 (or more?) books by Black authors for more inspiration. I guarantee you’ll find something amazing to read.

Because there are so many options, I decided to try to stick with books that were already on my TBR. I started there because I’m trying not to buy more books right now. But there were two prompts where I didn’t have books that fit: horror/thriller and steampunk. I don’t usually read those genres. So, I did a bit of searching and reminded myself of two books I’d seen before but never officially added to my TBR. Luckily, both were available to borrow at the library, and my readathon TBR was complete.

Below, I’ve listed each of the reading prompts from G’s Hogsmeade map along with a book from my TBR that is written by a Black author and fits the prompt.

Ten books in one week is a LOT of reading for me. I tried to pick books that were shorter, or that I think might be faster reads, but still think it’s going to be a challenge to read all these in one week.

Total page count for this TBR is 2866 pages. That means I’d have to read about 410 pages per day on average to read all these books in one week. I highly doubt that’s going to happen. But, as I said, (almost) all these books were already on my TBR. So, I plan to keep reading until I finish this stack of books, even if it takes me longer than this one week readathon.

Are you participating in the Hogsmeade Magical Readathon? If so, did you make a TBR? What are you reading? Let me know in the comments, or link me to your blog post or video so I can check it out.

April 2020: Reading (and #OWLsReadathon2020) Wrap Up

Turns out that “shelter-in-place” has been great for reading through my stash of hardcovers and paperbacks. I made a huge dent in my physical TBR stack this month. But don’t worry. There’s still a tower of books on my dresser. I’ll need a few more months of this to get through them all.

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April was the OWLs Magical Readathon, and I completed ten of the twelve subjects! I’m so excited because this gives me so many career options for NEWTs, later this year!

In the interest of keeping this post relatively short, I’ll just list what I read with a few brief comments on each book.

  • Ancient Runes – Wrong to Need You (Forbidden Hearts #2) by Alisha Rai – Solid middle book in this series. I loved the new characters and the bond between the sisters.
  • Arithmancy – Sourdough by Robin Sloan – I liked this more than I thought I would, mostly because it’s set in the San Francisco tech community, and I really bonded with the main character. The plot is a little weak, but I was so into the character and setting that I didn’t mind.
  • Astronomy – The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite – This one was a cozy story featuring embroidery as art, women in astronomy, and ladies in love.
  • Divination – Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Taki Soma, and Valentine De Landro – This volume offered some more insight into the world and the various tensions. The ending left me thinking there might be more? But I can’t seem to find anything about that on the internet.
  • History of Magic – The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson – Solid characters and world-building, but the plot meandered a bit. If you like modern-day witches, you’ll probably dig this series.
  • Muggle Studies – Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy – This is such a heartwarming story, and that Dolly Parton quote about figuring out who you are and doing it on purpose has been really resonating with me lately.
  • Potions – Saga Vol. 3 by by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples – Volume three continues to entertain, though this one seemed to be a little more “exposition” focused than the first two.
  • Transfiguration – Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston – If you’re looking for heat, you’re probably going to be disappointed. The hero and heroine don’t really get together until about 75% of the way through the book. But, if you love shifters and sister bonds, you probably won’t mind. The characters are great and the plot is fast paced and bonkers (in a good way).
  • Herbology – Marque and Reprisal by Elizabeth Moon – I really like this series. It’s written in a very traditional sci-fi / space opera style, which may turn some people off, but the plot and world-building is so good. I love the addition of Stella and Rafe in this book. Ky’s crew is really coming together, and she’s finding her footing as captain.
  • Charms – Other Minds by by Peter Godfrey-Smith – There is some really cool science in this book mixed in with a lot of anecdotal tales of swimming with octopus and cuttlefish. Enjoyed the exploration of a different evolution of consciousness.

In addition to all that, I also had the good luck to get my hands on a copy of The Last Emperox, the final book in John Scalzi’s Interdependency Series. This was a very action-packed and emotionally satisfying ending to the series, and that’s all I’m going to say about that because I don’t want to spoil anything.

And, just before falling asleep on the final day of the month, I decided to dig into a flash fiction anthology, Nevertheless She Persisted. The stories were written by some of the top names in SFF right now (Charlie Jane Anders, Brooke Bolander, Amal El-Mohtar, Maria Dahvana Headley, Kameron Hurley, Seanan McGuire, Nisi Shawl, Catherynne M. Valente, Carrie Vaughn, Jo Walton, Alyssa Wong). I picked this up because of the authors and because it’s being offered for free from Tor right now.

I also read a bunch of flash fiction written by my writing group because decided to publish a pandemic themed flash fiction anthology called Fever Dreams. The piece I wrote for that is called “The Howlers.” There are six stories in total. They’re all super short and explore what a hopeful post-COVID-19 world might look like. It’s available for free. You can even download an ebook version, if you don’t like reading in a browser.

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I did not buy or borrow any books this month. But, I think May will probably be a big haul month because I have a lot of ebooks coming off hold at the library, and it’s also my birthday month.

Currently Reading

Once the OWLs Readathon ended, I started The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst so that I can discuss it with my reading buddies L. and S. who are reading the series along with me.

There is going to be another round of Tome Topple in May. I don’t think I’m going to participate this time, though. All of my TBR Tomes are on my Kindle, and I’m really enjoying reading paper books right now. We’ll see. I may just start over with Poseidon’s Wake by Alastair Reynolds, which I abandoned at about 10% during the last Tome Topple.

How did your April reading go? Did you participate in the OWLs Readathon? Are you going to participate in Tome Topple? What are you reading? Let me know in the comments.

Reading list for the O. W. L.s Magical Readathon (#OWLsReadathon2020)

Yay! It’s time for the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon again! I love this readathon. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, or if you missed Book Roast’s announcement video, you can check that out here. The links to her awesome wizarding career guide and this year’s prompts for the O.W.L.s subjects are in the description box of that video, and can also be found on her website.

Last year I completed O.W.L.s in Charms, History of Magic, and Muggle Studies, then went for a career as a Writer during the N.E.W.T.s because that was my only option based on the O.W.L.s I completed (and also because that’s my actual career in real life).

When I first watched the announcement video, I had all these big plans. I was going to pick my career first and then figure out what O.W.L.s I needed to do for that career. I poured over the career options and decided to be a Wandmaker, or maybe a Metal Charmer. I planned my TBR. I had a whole blog post written, but I delayed posting it because it was still early in March.

Then the pandemic really got going.

You’d think, being stuck at home, I’d be reading lots of books. Nope. It took me over two weeks to finish the book I started reading at the beginning of the month (Ignite the Stars). It’s not the book’s fault. I think any book would have a hard time competing with the 24/7 news cycle of a pandemic. But, after a two weeks at home, I’ve finally managed to train myself to tune out the news so I can write or relax with a book.

I’m assuming our shelter-in-place order will continue for a few more weeks, possibly through the end of April. Since I’m home, I’ve decided to make an extra effort to read through my paperbacks and hardcovers before picking up my Kindle. Also, rather than trying to complete specific prompts, I made a stack of books from my paper TBR and am going to pick up whatever I feel like reading at the time and see how many I can complete before the end of the month.

I’ve listed each of the O.W.L.s subjects reading prompts below, along with a book from my paper TBR that fits the prompt:

  • Ancient Runes (heart on the cover or in the title) <–Wrong to Need You (Forbidden Hearts #2) by Alisha Rai
  • Arithmancy (read something outside your favorite genre) <– Sourdough by Robin Sloan
  • Astronomy (read majority of the book when it’s dark outside) <– TBD (this one will probably be on Kindle)
  • Care of Magical Creatures (creature with a beak on the cover) <– Woven in Moonlight by by Isabel Ibañez
  • Charms (white cover) <– Other Minds by by Peter Godfrey-Smith
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts (book set at sea/coast) <– TBD (I didn’t have a good paperback for this prompt, so I may have to go with something on my Kindle)
  • Divination (use a random number generator to pick your book) <– Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Taki Soma, and Valentine De Landro
  • Herbology (title starts with an M) <– Marque and Reprisal by Elizabeth Moon
  • History of Magic (book featuring witches / wizards) <– The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson
  • Muggle Studies (contemporary genre) <– Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  • Potions (book under 150 pages) <– Saga Vol. 3 by by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  • Transfiguration (book that includes shapeshifting) <– Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston

I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to track my progress, yet. I don’t want to overpromise and not deliver. I’ll probably post about my book selections on this blog, and probably also on Twitter and Instagram. I may also do a reading vlog. I’m definitely going to wear the Harry Potter socks I got for Christmas all month long. Maybe I’ll do a readathon specific BuJo spread. Oh! And if you didn’t notice in the TBR photo above, I’m planning to use the awesome bookmarks I ordered from Book Roast last year (which look like they are currently sold out). Can you tell I’m excited?

The only problem with all these lofty reading goals for April is that I’m also planning on participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. And I will be continuing to post weekly episodes of my Modern Fae serial novella, Rogue Assassins, for subscribers. But, keeping busy with fun projects seems to be working for me right now.

Are you participating in the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon? If so, did you make a TBR? What are you reading? What career are you going for? Let me know in the comments, or link me to your blog post or video so I can check it out.

Winter Magical Readathon — Chapter 5

I am almost done with Silver in the Wood. I think I’ll be able to finish it today, and then I’ll be all caught up and ready to start my reading for the final chapter of the Winter Magical Readathon! And that’s good because I got three new prompts this week!

Chapter 5 started with a party, and I chose dancing, because of course I did. If this was a real party, I’d be one of the first ones on the dance floor. The next day there was some helping of Neville with the Mandrogas. Then, because I followed the spiders in Chapter 4, I ended up with a rooster as my weapon of choice. And, I got my first prompt: “Read a book with a bird, winged creature or feathers on the cover!”

After scrolling through my Goodreads shelves and squinting at all the covers looking for wings and/or feathers, I came up with a couple of options. One is The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas. The other is The Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst. I’ve been meaning to read The Burning Sky forever, but I’m not ready to start a new series right now. My plan for 2020 is to finish a bunch of series that I’ve started reading. Since The Reluctant Queen is book 2 in a series I want to finish in 2020, I think I’ll go with that one. It’s also shorter. by over 100 pages.

Armed with my rooster, I headed to Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom to find out how she died and (because I didn’t go to Nearly Headless Nick’s Death Day party) to tell her an embarrassing story to cheer her up. If you want my embarrassing story, click here for my tweet per the #MakingMyrtleLaugh prompt.

Then, because I never learned in an earlier chapter that I speak Parseltongue, I ended up with another reading prompt. This one was to “Read the first book you think about!” Of course, (predictably) as soon as someone says “think of a book,” my mind goes blank. It’s like, books? What are books? Then I thought of one. The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas! This is one I’ve been meaning to get to since it came out in September. It’s book four in the gender flipped Sherlock Holmes retelling that I love. Makes sense that it would be the first one to come to mind.

I was kind of hoping that would be it for reading prompts. But, I hadn’t even made it to the Chamber of Secrets, yet. So, me and my trusty (sleeping) rooster continued. I turned right, immobilized the pixies, and found Ginny. In order to wake my rooster and fight the basilisk, I got another reading prompt. This one was “Read a book that starts with an R (for rooster).” For this one, I’m going with The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai.

That led me to the end of the story with a total of NINE prompts for the whole readathon! Woah. Luckily, there’s no real fixed end date. So I have as long as I’d like to read these three books. I think I’m going to try to get them done by next Sunday, though. We’ll see. I may not start any of them until the first of the New Year because I want to finish The Barefoot Bandit before I start any new books. I also have book 3 in my own series coming out at the end of January, and I have to finish the interior layout files and proof read it one last time.

I think I may do one final Winter Magical Readathon wrap-up post once I’ve finished reading all these books. So, stay tuned for that, if you’re curious. I’ve also got a bunch of end of year posts planned. I’m going to do posts on my favorite reads of 2019, my most disappointing reads of 2019, my 2019 reading stats, my 2020 reading goals, and (probably) another “Top 5” summary of the Powell’s Books staff top five lists, whenever those come out.

Let me know in the comments what you’re reading for these prompts (or whichever prompts you got in this chapter) and how many total prompts you ended up with for this readathon. Happy reading!

Winter Magical Readathon — Chapter 4

I finally completed the first two chapters of the Winter Magical Readathon! I finished reading The Starless Sea for my chapter one prompt (and I loved it). I also finished reading There There (another really good book) for the first of my two chapter two prompts (“book with an orange cover”) and Jean Grey, Vol. 1: Nightmare Fuel for the second (“read a comic, manga, or graphic novel”).

Lucky for me, I just found and borrowed the audiobook of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them from my library, so I can get to work on my chapter three reading prompt (“read a book published in 2001”). Fantastic Beasts is pretty short, so I should be able to finish that in a couple of long walks. Which means I’m almost caught up! Hooray!

Winter Magical Readathon reading for chapters one through three…

That (plus the fact that it’s Sunday) also means it’s time to find out what chapter four has in store for me… The short answer is spiders plus two more reading prompts. Yep. #IFollowedThe Spiders.

First up, since I didn’t join Hermione’s book club (what a bummer, I totally would have joined if I’d chosen that path), I ended up with a prompt to “read a book that starts with the letter S, for Slytherin.” My mom just sent me Spaceside by Michael Mammay for Christmas, so that was the first book that came to mind. But, then I remembered that Saga also starts with an “S” and volume two (which was one of my options for my chapter two prompt) would be a fast read. Alternatively, I have Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh on my Kindle. That one is a novella and would also be a fast read.

Some options for my chapter four reading prompts…

I’m thinking I might go with Saga, Vol. 2 for the Slytherin prompt because the other two books will also work for the second prompt I got for chapter four. See, I decided not to go with the Pollyjuice potion, and I didn’t already have the diary, so I had to go fish it out of the toilet (yuck!). That landed me with the prompt to “read a book that has been written by an author who’s last name starts with either T, M or R.” So, Silver in the Wood (Tesh) and Spaceside (Mammay) will both also work for this prompt.

Right now, I think I’m going to go for a walk and listen to some Fantastic Beasts. Then I’ll probably do a little non-Magical Readathon reading. I’d like to make some progress on The Barefoot Bandit because I hate ending the year with partially finished books. I was really hoping that it would qualify for one of these prompts, but so far it hasn’t been an option. Maybe next week…

Once I finish with Fantastic Beasts, I’ll probably start reading volume two of Saga and see what I feel like after that. I think it will depend on how close we are to next Sunday by the time I finish. Until then, happy holidays and happy reading! Wishing you all a warm beverage and an excellent book!

Winter Magical Readathon — Chapter 3

I’m still not done with my Chapter 1 & 2 prompts. I figured out that I messed up reading Chapter 2 and the comic book prompt was actually part of Chapter 2, not Chapter 3. So, I went back and read Chapter 3 for real this time (and fixed my previous post).

First choice in Chapter 3? Breakfast. Even though I love toast, I don’t really like eggs all that much. So, I went with the corn flakes. Of course, just the mere thought of toast got me craving some. There may have been a pause to go make myself second breakfast before returning to the readathon text.

My decision to go with corn flakes and toast with jam (both IRL and in the text) landed me in Herbology class. After planting Mandragoras, I had three options for my evening activity: dueling club, Nearly Headless Nick’s party, or Quidditch practice. If this were really me, I’d definitely go with Quidditch. I agree with Wood. We should totally be practicing daily.

And that, my friends, is how I ended up with the Chapter 3 prompt of reading a book published in 2001. There are two books published in 2001 that I’ve shelved on Goodreads, but haven’t read yet. I’ve been meaning to read both of them forever, but one (Kushiel’s Dart) is over 900 pages long. The other, Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, I had in paperback and just unhauled it.

So, now I’m stuck. I tried searching the Googles and tried to find another option, but I couldn’t find anything appealing other than Quidditch Through The Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It turns out that both were published in 2001, and I’ve never read them. I may go with one of them since they are both Harry Potter books, and it’s a good excuse to watch the Fantastic Beasts movie after I’ve read the book, right? The only problem is, I don’t own either of those books and my local library doesn’t have them, either. See? Stuck.

I suppose I don’t need to worry about this at the moment because, as I said at the beginning, I’m still working on my Chapter 1 & 2 prompts. As of right now, my Winter Magical Readathon TBR looks like this:

Winter Magical Readathon TBR for chapters one through three…

If you have any thoughts on other (short) books published in 2001, let me know in the comments. Did anyone else get that prompt? What book did you choose? And who else is excited for the feast next week?

Winter Magical Readathon — Chapter 2

One downside of starting Book Roast’s Winter Magical Readathon with a 500 page book is that I’m not done with it yet! I am currently not quite halfway through reading The Starless Sea to complete my chapter one prompt.

But… I really wanted to see what happens next in the Magical Readathon choose your own adventure version of Chamber of Secrets. So I decided to peek ahead. That’s not cheating, right? I hope it’s not.

For chapter 2, I woke up at the Burrow and stuck with Ron. That landed me with a somewhat challenging reading prompt: “Read a book with an orange cover (or the word “orange” in the title).” I didn’t think I had a lot of books on my TBR with an orange cover, but, it turned out I had three to choose from. I went with There There by Tommy Orange because, in addition to the cover being orange, it’s less than 300 pages long and the author’s name is Orange.

Then, for the next choice in that chapter, I decided to deviate from the book a bit. When I couldn’t get through to platform 9 and 3/4, I probably would have tried to convince Ron to wait for his parents. Luckily, my good behavior landed me with an excellent reading prompt: “Read a comic book, manga, picture book or a graphic novel.”

I haven’t decide yet which of three comics I’m going to read for this prompt. I have 3 that I’ve been meaning to read all year. Jean Grey, Vol. 1: Nightmare Fuel, Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch, and Saga, Vol. 2 (so I can finally get started on finishing Saga). If you have thoughts on which I should go with for this prompt, let me know in the comments.

Comics on my TBR…

Hopefully, I will finish The Starless Sea this week and then read There There and the comic relatively quickly. Then it’s on to Chapter 3. I’m pretty sure there’s no chance that I’ll be all caught up by next weekend.

Are you participating in this year’s Winter Magical Readathon? How are you doing? Which prompts have you been getting? Let me know in the comments!

UPDATE (12/17): Apparently I messed up. This is just Chapter 2 and not Chapter 3. I’ve corrected this post to reflect that.

Winter Magical Readathon!

It’s the first day of December and time to start Book Roast’s Winter Magical Readathon! I’m so excited! I just read “Chapter One” and got my reading prompt. I was going to share it here, but I don’t want to spoil the story if you haven’t started it, yet.

While I won’t say which path I chose through Chapter One, I will say that my prompt was to read a book on my TBR that’s over 500 pages! Yikes! What a way to start a readathon!

Luckily, I was just about to start reading The Starless Sea which is 498 pages long in hardcover. That’s close enough, right?

Are you participating in this year’s Winter Magical Readathon? Let me know in the comments, and tell me which prompt you got!

August 2019: Reading Wrap Up

So, there are four months left in the year, and I’ve already met my Goodreads Reading Challenge Goal!

I have the N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon to thank for that. I read TEN books in August. That’s just nuts as far as my usual number of books consumed in a month goes. It would be more understandable if reading was all I did in August, but it wasn’t. I also wrote over 30k words to finish the first draft of book three in my Modern Fae series! Talk about a productive month. Wow.

Are you ready for an epic reading summary? Buckle up, because here we go…

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What I read in August:

Before I could get started on my Readathon goals, I had to finish up reading all the Hugo best novel finalists. Rather than rehash that all in this post, if you want my thoughts on Raven Stratagem, Revenant Gun, and Spinning Silver, check out my previous post where I stack rank the best novel finalists, forecast the winner, and stubbornly choose one of the least popular of the bunch as a favorite.

I also finished reading through Draw Your Day, which I bought hoping it would spark some inspiration for me to add doodling to my journaling. I definitely found it inspiring, but also a little overwhelming. I put it down feeling pretty convinced that I was so not ready for that level of doodling. But then I took Fran Wilde’s Journaling for Creativity class and was reminded that “it’s okay to be messy” in your journal. I’m a perfectionist. This is a hard lesson for me to learn, but I’m working on letting go a bit. It’s a process. Maybe in the future I’ll get brave and post some of my own drawings from the day…

With all my unfinished business out of the way, I moved onto my N.E.W.T.s reading. If you read my N.E.W.T.s TBR blog, then you’ll notice that I made a few switches and substitutions in order to accomplish my tasks. But, I did it! Not only did I achieve the grades I needed to become an official (magical) writer/journalist, I ended up getting higher grades in Muggle Studies and Charms than I needed. So, maybe I can try for a second (side-gig) wizarding career next time the O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s readathons come around.

I started off with the History of Magic prompts.

I’d meant to read Our Dark Duet for the “read a fantasy” prompt, but it’s really long, and I wasn’t feeling like reading it. Plus, when it came time to get started, I realized that I really needed to read The Last Unicorn to check off one of my Read Harder Challenge tasks. I also wanted to pass it on to my brother-in-law and niece. So, I switched things up. I can see why this book is a classic. It wasn’t my favorite, but I enjoyed it, and I feel like it’s probably aged better than some other fantasy books of its era. You never know what you’re going to get when you dive into a beloved classic of the genre.

Next up, I finally started The Queen of Blood. I’ve had this book on my Kindle since March 2017. No joke. I just checked Amazon to be sure. The series is now complete, and I own all three of the books. I liked this first one enough that I’ll definitely be continuing with the rest. So, I suppose it’s a good thing I bought them when they were on sale, huh? I thought this was a great twist on the “magical wood” trope and a great twist on fairies and sprites. If I’d known that this book included a section set in a magical academy, I may have picked it up a lot sooner. Plus the main character wasn’t the standard fantasy assassin character so popular in that era of YA fantasy books. She’s nowhere near the best in the school, but she’s determined, has a strong sense of ethics, and works hard. Definitely my sort of heroine. So, if you’re looking for a YA fantasy with great world-building and actual consequences for going up against the dangerous elements in the world, definitely check out this series.

As much as I wanted to complete the final task in History of Magic (“reread a favorite”), I decided I needed to move on to Muggle Studies if I wanted to finish all the tasks needed for my career.

This is where I made another substitution to my plan. My hold on the audiobook version of Burnout became available, so I needed to figure out if I could use it for any of my tasks. I decided to use it for the “book set in our real world” task. It’s nonfiction, so I think it qualifies. This book was great. If you struggle with managing stress, I definitely recommend checking out this book. I learned so much, and it debunked some harmful myths and conventional thinking about stress that I really needed to hear. So, yeah. Great book. I highly recommend it.

At the same time as I was listening to Burnout on audio, I was reading You’d Be Mine on Kindle. This is a YA contemporary romance set in the country music scene, and it’s just so much fun. It definitely deals with some heavy themes, so check out the content warnings if that might be an issue for you. Otherwise, if you liked the movie Walk the Line and/or A Star is Born, but would have enjoyed a “happily ever after” ending, you should definitely check out this book.

Since I only needed to finish You’d Be Mine in order to get the grade I needed for my wizarding career, I decided to stop there and move on to my last subject, Charms, before time ran out.

  • Charms –> O
    • Read a book that you think has a gorgeous cover <– The Gilded Wolves
    • Read a comic, graphic novel, manga, or book under 150 pages <– Sailor Moon
    • Spongify: softening charm – read a paperback <– Revenant Gun

I basically read these tasks in reverse order because I decided I could use Revenant Gun to fulfill the Spongify task after I moved The Last Unicorn over to “read a fantasy” under History of Magic. I needed Revenant Gun for my Hugos reading, but I knew it wouldn’t count unless I got the other two done as well. Luckily, the manga I chose was a fast read.

I used to watch the Sailor Moon cartoon as a teen. While I really liked the show, I wasn’t a major fan and don’t really consider myself part of that fandom. There’s a lot about the world and characters that I don’t understand or remember. So, when I needed to find a manga for the Read Harder Challenge, I decided to try to get my hands on some Sailor Moon. I could have picked any one of a number of comics I have in my TBR stack to complete this task for the N.E.W.T.s Readathon, but when you’re trying to complete two reading challenges at the same time, you look for options that will help you cross off a task in each with one book. That’s why I decided to read Sailor Moon Vol. 1 for this task. It was fun, but a little confusing. I’m considering passing this on to one of my “niblings” (new word for “nieces and nephews” that I picked up from listening to Galactic Suburbia) to see if I can get them past the concept of reading a book “backwards” to get them hooked on the awesome Sailor Guardians.

Finally, more or less at the same time as I was wrapping up reading Sailor Moon, I finished The Gilded Wolves. This the fourth book I’ve read by Roshani Chokshi, and probably my favorite of bunch. Even thought this is a slightly different sub-genre of fantasy than her other stuff, there are still plenty of what I consider to be her trademark descriptions. While I love how creative she is in the way that she describes things (she makes associations that are unexpected but really work), my brain has a tendency to skim long descriptive paragraphs, especially when it’s been trained by an author that there won’t be any relevant plot details embedded in there. I’d thought there might be more of those embedded plot details in this book because this is a treasure hunt heist mystery story like Indiana Jones or National Treasure, but nope. I feel like it was missing a lot of the double-crosses and fakes and “that was my plan all along” sorts of things I expected to see in this sort of story. But I loved the characters. It definitely has that “found family” crew of misfits feel.

I just want to say, the Magical Readathons are excellent readathons. If you missed this one, you should definitely check out the next one. I really hope she does the “Christmas at Hogwarts” one again in December. I’m definitely in if she does.

Before I get to my “Inbox” summary for the month, here’s an update on my other 2019 reading challenge…

Read Harder Challenge Status:

Tasks completed this month:

  • Task #12: A book in which an animal or inanimate object is a point-of-view character (The Last Unicorn)
  • Task #11: A book of manga (Sailor Moon)

Total tasks completed: 17

Total tasks remaining: 7

I have four months left, so that means I’m ahead of schedule on this challenge! Hooray! And, I managed to find a book that I think I might enjoy reading for the “written in prison” task, and it’s available on Kindle from my library. So, I may actually finish all 24 tasks this year. Shocking.

I should also mention one other thing that I’ve been reading. It’s serial fiction that an author friend of mine is writing and illustrating. The story is contemporary fantasy that starts in the “real world” with glimpses into what’s going on in the fantasy world, and hints at a lot more magic and adventure to come. You can check it out here and sign up to read episodes for free. There’s a new one every Friday. Here’s a little behind the scenes scoop for you… My husband and I were actually models for the image from episode ten. He definitely improved our hair, though.

And that’s it! That’s what I read in August. Phew.

Inbox

What I bought & borrowed:

Heart on Fire went on sale, and (sucker that I am) I bought it. This is the third book in Amanda Bouchet’s adult fantasy romance Kingmaker Chronicles series. I’ve only read the first book, and I didn’t love it. The way the hero pursued the heroine felt straight out of an old-school fantasy romance and maybe wouldn’t be good if you aren’t a fan of aggressive alpha males and not entirely explicit consent (I’m not). That said, I bought book two when it was on sale, and I’m willing to give the series another shot because lots of people love it. I figured, if I’m going to read book two, I might as well have book three on hand and ready to go. Could I have got this from the library? Yes. Should I have probably not spent the money on this? Also, yes. I’m a series completest, and I’m a sucker for the cheap ebooks. What can I say?

I’m also in the process of harvesting another batch of books from my library. Since technically those are going to be downloaded in September (and this post is too long already), you’ll have to wait for next month’s edition of “Inbox” to see what I got. I will hint that there’s at least one literary fiction book in there that was recommended by my friend “L,” plus a sci-fi romance novel that looks very promising, and a handful of new releases by authors who’ve written other books I’ve loved.

For possibly the first time this year, I don’t have any books that I feel like I have to read in September. I’d like to read at least one of my Read Harder Challenge books, but that’s it. I’m really looking forward to just picking up whatever sounds good at the moment. I made a “TBR Bingo” tracker for my BuJo just to remind me that there are still books on my TBR that I want to read before the end of the year. So, I may try to knock off a few of those squares. But I’m looking forward to a “wild card reading” month for once!

On that note, I will sign off for now. Until next time, happy reading!

Reading List for the N. E. W. T.s Magical Readathon (#NEWTsReadathon2019)

I love these Harry Potter themed Readathons! You may remember that I did the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon back in April and the Christmas at Hogwarts one back in December. Well, now in August it’s time for N.E.W.T.s!

These are all hosted by Book Roast. You can check out her YouTube channel here, and the video that describes what the heck I’m talking about with this N.E.W.T.s thing is here.

I only managed to complete three O.W.L.s back in April, and I chose not to focus on a particular career. But, I finally checked the career manual and discovered to my delight that the three O.W.L.s I completed will qualify me for a career as a journalist or writer so long as I pass my required N.E.W.T.s. Seriously, this is so perfect, I can’t believe I didn’t plan it!

The O.W.L.s I completed in April were:

  • Charms
  • Muggle Studies
  • History of Magic

I need to complete the following N. E. W. T.s with at the specified achievement level in August in order to be qualified for my career as a writer or journalist:

  • “E” in History of Magic
  • “A” in Muggle Studies
  • “A” in subject of my choice (I’m sticking with Charms)

Using the prompts sheet, that means I need to complete (at least) the following tasks in August:

  • Read a fantasy (to get my “A” in History of Magic) <– Our Dark Duet
  • Read a book that includes a map (to get my “E” in History of Magic) <– The Queen of Blood
  • Cover that includes an actual photo element (to receive my “A” in Muggle Studies) <– You’d Be Mine
  • Read a book that you think has a gorgeous cover (to receive my “A” in Charms) <– The Gilded Wolves

Since I’m an over-achiever (or maybe just an over-committer), I might as well shoot for the “O” level in my three subjects. Right? Right. If I do that, it will add the following tasks to my readathon goal:

  • Tom Riddle’s Diary: fond memory – reread a favorite or read a classic (to get my “O” in History of Magic) <– The Rowan
  • Book set in our real world (to get my “E” in Muggle Studies) <– A Prince on Paper
  • Book written by a person of color (to get my “O” in Muggle Studies) <– Radio Silence
  • Read a comic, graphic novel, manga, or book under 150 pages (to get my “E” in Charms) <– Sailor Moon
  • Spongify: softening charm – read a paperback (to get my “O” in Charms) <– The Last Unicorn

Instead of a progress report blog post (like I did for the O. W. L.s), this time I think I’ll probably start a thread on Twitter to update progress along the way. So, make sure you’re following me over there if you want progress updates, or if you’re also participating in this challenge.

If you are participating in this Magical Readathon, let me know in the comments. And, if you are, what career are you working toward? Send me a link to your TBR.