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.

My TBR for the #TomeTopple Readathon

Round ten of Tome Topple starts on 7 February (officially begins at 00:00 in your timezone), and it’s time for me to decide which tomes I want to topple this time around. As I mentioned in my post on series I want to finish this year, I have several books I’ve been saving just for this event. Unfortunately, I doubt I’m going to get through all of them before 11:59pm on 20 February.

I started by narrowing my list of eligible books and coming up with the following options.

I’d originally planned to finish the Throne of Glass series during the first Tome Topple of 2020. That would mean reading Empire of Storms (704 pages), Tower of Dawn (668 pages), and Kingdom of Ash (984 pages!). I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, but… I have a lot of writing and editing to do in February, and, in addition to these being fantasy novels, there’s a Fae aspect to this series. Since the projects I’m currently working on are in my Modern Fae series, I think I’m going to have to save the remaining Throne of Glass books for a future Tome Topple.

That leaves me with option two: reading Poseidon’s Wake (609 pages) and Our Dark Duet (533 pages). I like this option because and neither of these books are likely to interfere with what I’m writing (one is sci-fi, the other is fantasy but with monsters). Also, I can get Our Dark Duet on audiobook from my library (even though I already have the ebook on my Kindle). Listening to it on audiobook, and/or being able to switch back and forth between ebook and audio, will help me to maximize my reading time. Being able to listen to one of my books on audiobook will also help me check off more squares on this round’s bingo card.

The bingo card is new this round, and I love it. Each book you read can only be used to check off two squares (max) on the bingo card. The yellow circles around “read 1 tome” and “tome from a series” can be checked off by reading either book on my TBR. I get to check off the box with the pinkish circle around “adult tome” if I read Poseidon’s Wake. And, I can check off the box with the blue circle around “tome audiobook” if I listen to Our Dark Duet, on audiobook. If I read both books, that will mean I get to check off 4 categories in total, which will just barely qualify me for “Scholar” status.

I’m not sure if I should also be trying for an actual bingo, or not. If I wanted to try for a bingo, I’d need to also read one of the following: the “tome that has been on my TBR longest” (that’s The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss), or “the tome on my TBR with the most pages” (that’s Reamde by Neal Stephenson), or a “tome for Black History Month” (the only one on my TBR that’s over 500 pages is Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi). If I finish Poseidon’s Wake and Our Dark Duet, maybe I’ll do a Twitter poll asking folks to vote on which one of these three I should read. If you have thoughts on which one I should prioritize, let me know in the comments.

Are you participating in Tome Topple this round? What’s on your Tome Topple TBR?

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!

Progress Report: O. W. L.s Magical Readathon (#OWLsReadathon2019)

I’m use this blog post to keep track of progress on my O. W. L.s for the Magical Readathon.

For each of the prompts below, I’ll add a thumbnail of the book I’m reading (that links to Goodreads) and update my reading status throughout the month. I’ll also color code the prompts to correspond with the prompt status. Green will mean done. Orange is in-progress. Normal text color (I think this is grey?) means that I haven’t started yet.

Completed:

Charms (age-line: read an adult book) –>

 

History of Magic (published at least 10 years ago) –>

 

Muggle Studies (contemporary) –>

 

Not Started:

Ancient Runes (retelling) –>

 

Arithmancy (work written by more than one author) –>

 

Astronomy (“star” in the title) –>

 

Care of Magical Creatures (land animal on the cover) –>

 

Defense Against the Dark Arts (Reducto: starts with an “R”) –>

 

Divination (set in the future) –>

 

Herbology (plant on the cover) –>

 

Potions (next ingredient: sequel) –>

 

Transfiguration (sprayed edges or red cover) –>

 

Reading list for the O. W. L.s Magical Readathon (#OWLsReadathon2019)

There’s an awesome Harry Potter themed readathon coming up in April! You can check out the original video and get all the details here. It’s modeled off the twelve main subjects tested on during the Hogwarts O. W. L. exams in the Harry Potter books. Oh man, this is so geeky and so cool. I love it! I’m so excited that I dropped everything to make a TBR. (Good thing I’m up extra early this morning…)

Readathons are a super fun way to bust through unread ebooks I’ve been collecting on my Kindle. So, I tried to limit myself to create my TBR from just those books and the books on my first half of 2019 TBR. I also found out that the next round of Tome Topple is coming up in April as well. So, I tried to pick a mix of short books that I can read quickly and books over 500 pages that qualify for Tome Topple.

Here’s what I came up with for my TBR:

The link in the photo above goes to my Magical Readathon Goodreads shelf so you can get more details on these books and/or add them to your own TBR.

Here’s the detail on the prompts, what they translate to, and what book I picked for each:

Of these, Leviathan Wakes, Our Dark Duet, and The Queen of the Tearling all qualify for Tome Topple. So, I’ll be saving those to read during the Tome Topple dates, which should be announced soon.

I probably won’t do all these tasks, and I don’t plan to attack them in any particular order. I’m not going after a specific wizarding career, yet. Instead, I’m going to keep it casual and use this as a general TBR for April.

Let me know in the comments if you plan on participating in this readathon (or in the April Tome Topple), and let me know what’s on your TBR, especially if you’re also planning to read any of these books next month!