August/NEWTs Readathon Wrap Up

Guys, I did it! I read my nine books for the NEWTs readathon! I’m now a qualified Curse Breaker if someone wants to hire me! Haha, in all seriousness though, I surprised myself there. I can be quite the procrastinator and nineteen days into the month I had only read one book. But I think I’m just so stubborn when it comes to finishing a book challenge (and I really can’t do anything in life without an imminent deadline that I’ll almost certainly miss) that with ten days left of the readathon I just read like hell and did it! And some great books I read too:

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali – Sabina Khan

A YA contemporary that I couldn’t stop reading. On my latest trip to Gay’s the Word in London, I saw this book in three separate sections of the shop! How could I say no? My interest was fully piqued. Moved into action by the deaths of numerous openly gay people in Bangladesh, Khan has fictionalised an American Bangladeshi coming out story. It’s heartbreaking and well as heartwarming. Learning about cultures different from your own is always fascinating and I loved how the simple parts of a culture were also present: food and clothes etc. Whilst I thought the end was a breakneck change from the start, I still enjoyed the journey.

The Easter Rising: A Guide To Dublin In 1916 – Conor Kostick, Lorcan Collins

A book that I stole from my dad and has been on my shelf for years! It’s no secret that I love Ireland. If you didn’t know that about me then, hi my name’s Sarah and I most definitely prefer my Irish heritage to my British. I traveled to Dublin in 2016 on one of our many trips to the capital city. This one was pretty special though. We went at Easter, an April that marked 100 years since the Easter Rising. The rebel’s goal? To demand an Irish Republic separate from the British, in simple terms: freedom. This book takes you on a tour of Dublin through all the significant buildings and landmarks of the Rising. It also introduces you to all the keep players. Very informative and has lovely little human anecdotes to compliment the facts. Also, the writers curate an actual walking tour in Dublin if you’re ever there!

The Mermaid’s Voice Returns In This One – Amanda Lovelace

The last book in this poetry series and I’m honestly gutted. These collections have been amazing and are books I’ll keep coming to again and again. They are not for the faint-hearted. But if you want to get uncomfortable and become a better ally or friend or if you want to work through your own demons then read this. It’s quite honestly perfect. Poems will leave you hollow inside whilst others will steal a smile from your lips. To do both in consecutive pages is a real talent.

The Testament of Mary – Colm Tóibín

I love a good recommendation from a friend. Occasionally they can come with a lot of pressure because what if you don’t like it? Is the friendship over? Fortunately, I won’t find out today as I loved this book. It takes a look at Mary’s life after the crucifixion of Jesus. And damn, this Mary is cool, why does nobody talk about her? She’s strong willed but quietly so. She’s empty after the loss of her family. However she doesn’t believe her son did these miraculous things so she’s finding it very hard to consider him the messiah. Mad right? Just read it.

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit – Jeanette Winterson

I was supposed to read this book in uni. I wish I had. A lot of the books I chose to read this month had heavy themes of religion. Which is odd as I am an atheist. However, each is uniquely critical of certain aspects of religion. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not actually anti-religion. If it works for you that’s cool. But what these books I’ve read show is how people twist the definition of god with power. They’re not a synonym; at least they shouldn’t be. People abuse the bible and what they think is a good way to live simply so they can have power. In this particular book we’re focusing a lot on homosexuality. Knowing it’s a semi-autobiographical text wounded me a little. I’ll simply never be able to understand why people must try to oppress other people’s right to be authentically themselves.

Women Talking – Miriam Toews

For two years in a Mennonite colony, hundreds of women were drugged and attacked in the night. They were told they were being violated by demons who had come to punish them for their sins. In actual fact they were being raped by a group of men from the colony. This is a real thing that happened. This book is a fictionalised tale of the women’s response and how they fought for their freedom back. It was narrated really interestingly through the minutes of a meeting of eight women from two families. Their friendships and rivalries will restore your faith in the human spirit.

After Dark – Haruki Murakami

I loved this book. I’m not sure it’s going to be for everyone. If you love heavily plotted books with explicit, explained endings then don’t read this. If you like something just a bit bizarre but fascinating then read it. Set in a Japanese city, it explores what happens on the streets when the last train ends and before the first one begins. I think I just really felt affinity with the night people because I’ve always been a night person. I can pin point the moment when I was fourteen and messaging a boy I liked on msn; since then I’ve been staying up past four am. The night is quiet and full of magic. I don’t know, I just liked it.

Neverseen – Shannon Messenger

I’m really getting into this series and I love seeing the characters grow as the books go on. The blossoming moments of friendship are some of my favourite parts of the novel. I don’t read many series so it’s hard to tell you anything about this that isn’t a spoiler (this is the fourth book to the Keeper of the Lost Cities series). However, I enjoyed the change of location for this book as well as the new characters. And that’s all I’ll say..

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life – Hector Garcia Puigcerver, Francesc Miralles

A solid 3.5 book for me I think. I found it very slow to get into, often getting overwhelmed with references to other works instead of making its own point. I enjoyed the parts about finding your ikigai or your passion/reason for existing/etc., and it was quite inspiring and renewed my own goals for my own life. But ultimately the endless focus on being 100 years old put me off. Getting to that age is amazing but it’s not what makes a happy life and I don’t think ‘being old’ is what we should be aiming for. Life is fleeting and we don’t know when it’s gonna end so I’d say don’t even plan for your golden years, just live the ones you have right now.

And that’s it! I’m moving into September with five books left on my yearly Goodreads challenge! Let’s go 📚

Under A Dome – Of Monsters And Men

June/July Wrap Up

Bit late on the uptake here, what’s new. I apologise. Haven’t written much recently. Easing in with a wrap up. You might be wondering where June’s wrap up even was? There wasn’t one. I read one book in the entire month of June. Oops. Let’s start with that one:

Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher

I actually really enjoyed this book. Fisher has a way of bringing to life the most absurd anecdotes with a biting self-deprecation. Her life is one hundred percent different than mine but I think that’s part of the fun. Getting a look into this supposedly glamorous Hollywood landscape was cool.

In July, I had a slow start but made it up by reading seven (YEAH, SEVEN) books in the last week as part of The Reading Rush. I also got myself a three month cheaper membership to Audible and have become an audiobook fanatic. Here’s the eleven books I got through in July! (We’ll keep it short.)

Keeper of the Lost Cities – Shannon Messenger

Recommended by Regan at Peruse Project, I’ve started listening to this series through audible. The sense of community and adventure if excellent so far. Can’t wait to keep going.

From a Low and Quiet Sea – Donal Ryan

Some parts of this I loved and some parts I didn’t. When I read the back of this book it sounded like three very different people where going to find their words collide. If that happens in the last ten pages I don’t think it counts. More like three short stories where I hated one.

The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One – Amanda Lovelace

The second collection I’ve read my Lovelace and again it ripped me apart, blew me away and comforted my soul. Go and red her poetry. RIGHT NOW.

Exile – Shannon Messenger

Second audiobook in the series, love Keefe.

Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin

A reread from uni. If you haven’t read this, please do immediately. It’s fast-paced, sarcastic and relentless. It’s a San Franciscan soap opera with heavy LGBTQ themes, what more do you need to know?

If Cats Disappeared From The World – Genki Kawamura

A charming little story about discovering what is important to you at the end of your life. Touches on grief in a realistic way and well as moments of loneliness.

Felicity – Mary Oliver

Some love poetry by Oliver and I was there for it. Give it a read, not much more to say!

George’s Marvellous Medicine – Roald Dahl

Quick little read to push my readathon numbers up! Always meant to read it. Enjoyed it. Liked how his stories actually cover serious topics like neglect and mild emotional abuse.

Rubyfruit Jungle – Rita Mae Brown

Had this lesbian classic on my tbr for years. Whilst it is that, it’s so much more. There’s harrowing moments of sexism, poverty, homophobia. Not a light book but manages to make you laugh all the same.

Everblaze – Shannon Messenger

Third audiobook in the series, think they’re getting even better!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J K Rowling

Nothing realllly needs to be said about this one other than I actually finally got round to reading my illustrated edition. The artwork is honestly lovely and adds that little extra to the story. Got me feeling so Fall as well! Okay, turns out I had lots to say about that one!

Phew, we got there eventually. Was quite nice to have a super productive month after such a shocking June. June was my downfall last year and I just didn’t read anything for months after that so I was worried history was repeating itself! I think I’ve managed to push through now and will be spending the last few days of August cramming in my book for the NEWTs Readathon!

Happy Reading!

Vulture, Vulture – Of Monsters and Men

 

The NEWTs Readathon

So I’m officially done with the Reading Rush for this year! I did pretty well, I hit my goals. I’ll do a full wrap up next week of the books I got through. But today I want to talk about readathons. This was not the first readathon I’ve ever been a part of but I would say it was my first successful one! I really enjoyed the motivation it gave me to pick up a book. Every chance I got (breaks in work, waiting for my tea to cook, when I’d normally binge Netflix) I had a book in my hand. The sheer quantity of extra minutes I had a book in front of me lead to of course, inevitably, more pages read.

I was in a bit of a reading rut in June and I was worried I’d spend four months reading nothing. This is exactly what I did last year so it was a real worry! Therefore, for me, the readathon came at the perfect time. The momentum I felt immediately after those seven days was electric and I want to keep it going. I’m still fourteen books off my target for the year but because of last week’s boost I’m now aiming to not just achieve that goal but smash past it.

Serendipitously, I stumbled across a video on YouTube. It was a girl I’ve never seen before talking about a readathon her friend started last year. It’s called the NEWTs Readathon. Yes, it’s Harry Potter themed. Do you even need anymore information or shall we all just sign up now? So this readathon is more complicated than any I’ve heard before but the detail is truly astounding. The amount of time and creativity put into this challenge and community is truly excellent.

So what do you need to know? Lemme try and simplify this.

– G created it over on her YouTube channel Book Roast.

– It’s the second part in a two-part yearly readathon.

– The first part was back in April and was called the OWLs Readathon.

– You don’t need to have done that to take part in the NEWTs. Just jump in.

– If you did the OWLs you will have picked subjects to ‘take’ and then ‘sit exams for’.

– The exams are simply a book prompt. One book per prompt. The more books you read the higher your grades end up being in the subject.

– For example, if I did prompt 1 in Charms I would have received an A (for Acceptable). However, if I’d done prompts 1-3 I would have received an O (for Outstanding). There’s also E in the middle (for Exceeds Expectations). Get it? Well neither did I at this point. Let’s confuse you more!

– So, journeying through to August, we’ve arrived at the NEWTs. It’s a MONTH LONG readathon. I know, how amazing.

– Have a look at the magical careers PDF and choose your career! Each career will tell you the NEWT subjects you need to acquire.

– If you sat OWLs you now use your ‘grades’ to see if you have good enough scores to progress to the NEWT level. If you don’t, I guess you need to choose a new career. However, this is also for fun so do it anyway!

– If, like me, you haven’t completed the OWLs readathon, then it’s a bloody free-for-all isn’t it!

– I’ve literally just chosen my career and will now take the NEWT subjects it requires, to the grade it requires.

Sooooo, did you follow that? I hope so. I definitely could be doing it wrong. But that’s my interpretation. I’ll leave the videos down below for you and you can try and decipher it for yourself!

Either way, I think it sounds super unique and interesting. I love that it’s a month because it’s still a big challenge but it’s more manageable that last week. The Reading Rush is fun because it’s a very concentrated, intense week. But like, I also enjoy watching movies, vegging in the evening after a long day at work, seeing other humans and like, you know, having time to sleep etc. But a month? Almost too easy.

I’ve chosen Curse Breaker. I’m required to read a total of nine books for the month (which is still a lot more than my normal monthly total, so it’s not like actually easy. I was joking before). I’ve decided to not set a TBR this time (I know, gasp!) as I’m very much a mood reader. I’ve got a list of my prompts though and each time I finish a book I’ll move on with the next one! Here’s my prompts as an example for you:

O in Ancient Runes

– book recommended by a friend

– book written in the past tense

– book that has been on your tbr for ages

O in Arithmancy

– book that ends on an even page number

– a standalone

– book that’s longer than 350 pages

E in Defence Against the Dark Arts

– book that’s black under the dust jacket

– first book that you remember just now from your tbr

A in Charms

– a book that you think has a gorgeous cover

And there you have it! Now it’s your turn.

NEWTs Explanation Video: https://youtu.be/Rq7vFHcngYs

Book Roast’s NEWTs TBR Video:

Happy NEWTs everyone!

Harry Potter Inspired ASMR – Hogwarts Library (This is an ASMR YouTube Channel I found a few years ago. The videos are incredibly relaxing and are perfect background noise for your hours of reading!)

Reading Rush TBR

So it’s that time of year again: The Booktubeathon! The Reading Rush! That’s right, this year Ariel has teamed up with Raeleen and rebranded the readathon to include all reading social media communities. There is a new website with forums to engage in and badges to win. I’ll also be going to the Liverpool Read In at 6pm on the 25th if anyone local wants to join. It’s at the Waterstones café and the idea is to meet other readers and just have a nice hang out.

As always, there is seven book challenges. You can pick one book to cover each challenge or one to cover several; what you do with the challenges is totally up to you! Usually the seventh challenge is to read seven books but they’ve decided to put that as a bonus eighth challenge this year to alleviate some of the pressure people used to feel. Fair enough, I’m still going to try for it cos I’m mad. So what I’ve decided to do is pick three main books that cover all seven challenges for me. I’ll read these first. I’ve then selected an addition four (which also tick off at least one challenge) that I’ll move on to if I finish those first three. If I manage to read all seven books I’ll have covered all seven main challenges and then the bonus eighth challenge. However, say I only read 5 books (which is already a lot, I know) I’ll still have covered all seven challenges already. Make sense? Simple? Not a clue what I’m talking about? Okay, well here’s the challenges and then I’ll tell you my tbr and hopefully it’ll make more sense!

The Challenges

1. Read a book with purple on the cover.

2. Read a book in the same spot the entire time.

3. Read a book you meant to read last year.

4. Read an author’s first book.

5. Read a book with a non-human main character.

6. Pick a book that has five or more words in the title.

7. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation.

My TBR

(Challenges covered in brackets).

The Main Three

Everblaze – Shannon Messenger (1,5,2)

Tales of the City – Armistead Maupin (7,4,3)

The Bricks That Built The Houses – Kate Tempest (1,4,6)

The Bonus Four

Rubyfruit Jungle – Rita Mae Brown (4)

Felicity – Mary Oliver (2)

The Woman Warrior – Maxine Hong Kingston (3)

If Cats Disappeared From The World – Genki Kawamura (6)

Danny’s TBR

The Catcher In The Rye – JD Salinger (3,4,6)

George’s Marvellous Medicine – Roald Dahl (1,2)

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams (5,6,7)

Carrie – Stephen King (4,7)

And that’s it! Are you doing the Reading Rush? What’s your TBR?

Happy Reading!

Nintendo Game – Alessia Cara