OWLs readathon wrap-up

Happy weekend everyone!

Last month, I participated in my first ever readathon, and what a way to start! This was the OWLs readathon, run by @MagicalReadthn. This readathon is based on the Harry Potter series, and the exams you sit at Hogwarts. It happens twice a year, OWLs in April and NEWTs in August.

For each subject ‘exam’, there is a reading prompt; you read a book following the prompt, you pass the exam. In addition, there was an amazing list of careers designed with qualifications you are required to get for each career in the Harry Potter world. As I was visiting family in Scotland for most of April and didn’t have a huge amount of time for reading, I decided to go for a career which didn’t have a huge list of subjects to study for and that was….Librarian!

For the Librarian career, I needed to sit Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Defence Against the Dark Arts, History of Magic and Transfigurations. I managed to complete a prompt for all of these, plus a bonus exam, Potions (because I am a Slytherin at heart).

My reads:

Ancient Runes prompt: A retelling

For this I read the amazing A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. This is a fantastic retelling of Beauty and the Beast. The two main characters are so well written. Prince Rhen was put under a curse so that he turns into a terrible monster each season. Harper, a girl with
cerebral palsy, finds herself kidnapped from her world (our world) and taken to Rhen’s realm, so he can try to make her fall in love him. Rhen is written absolutely brilliantly, he suffers so much pain at seeing the damage he has wrought on his empire when he turns into the beast. Then there’s Harper who is such a strong, female character, who won’t tolerate Rhen’s attempts to make her fall in love – instead she wants to take on the witch who put the curse on him. This is such a great read, a shout out needs to go to Gray as well, Rhen’s bodyguard. I’d love another book telling his story. Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Arithmancy prompt: a work written by two or more authors

For this prompt, I chose Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman, after a number of recommendations on Twitter. This is a very interesting read, I’ve never read anything like it before. It’s a sci-fi YA novel written entirely from instant messages, email transcripts, video recordings, military transcipts and more. It did take me a while to get into the style, but once the story started ramping up, it was a really good read. There were so many twists and turns and I was guessing right until the end. I loved the growth of the relationship between the two main characters as well. I do recommend not reading this one on an e-reader though, as it seemed to mess up a lot of the formatting. Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Defence Against the Dark Arts prompt: Reducto – title starts with ‘R’

For DADA, I went with The Raven Tower, one of the few hard copy books I took over to Scotland for my visit. I forced myself through car sickness to continue reading this which I think says a lot about how great it was. The Raven Tower is a fantasy novel about gods and birds and rocks and honestly, it is so damn good. It’s told in the second person which is SO effective. It follows two different timelines, one with the narrator telling us about how the world began, and the other following a character called Eolo as they try to work out who killed the previous ruler. Another fantastic read! Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

History of Magic prompt: published 10 or more years ago

For HoM, my mum recommended a short novella she’d read recently, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. This was very different to my usual reads, but was a really haunting and creepy tale about two sisters. I didn’t quite connect with this book because I just couldn’t find anything redeemable about any of the characters, I found them all rather awful people. But the setting and atmosphere of the book is deliciously weird and wonderful. Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Transfigurations prompt: sprayed edges or red cover

Whilst I was in Scotland, I spotted Eve of Man by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher on a shelf because the cover was GLOWING. It’s a shiny gold, checkered pattern with black sprayed edges and it just looked amazing. The premise for this sounded so up my street, girls stop being born and humanity pretty much breaks down. Until, one day, 50 years since the last girl was born, another is born. She is called Eve. We follow Eve as she begins to be ‘matched’ with a series of boys to begin procreating. I thought this would be a really great, Handmaids Tale-esque book, but instead I was really disappointed. The characters had no depth for me and I just couldn’t really root for any of them. The pacing of the book felt off, it’s very slow to start with no action until the later half of the book and the romance felt very lacking. I know there are lots of people who have really enjoyed this book though, so do give it a try! Final rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Potions prompt: sequel

For Potions, I did slightly bend the rules – they asked for a sequel, and I went with Before Mars by Emma Newman, which whilst set in the same universe as her other books, isn’t technically a ‘sequel’. This was my first foray into Emma’s work, and I am so glad I chose to jump into her world. Before Mars is absolutely amazing, it’s the third in her Planetfall series, a series of four novels set around space travel. Before Mars follows Anna as she travels to Mars, seemingly to paint on the planet for her wealthy employer. When she gets there however, she finds a note warning her about another member of the crew…in her own handwriting. This is a beautifully descriptive, psychological sci-fi novel. The book is very emotive, I really liked Anna as a character as she battles trying to work out if she’s crazy or if there is something wrong. The mental health representation was done so realistically and was written so well, and I know this is something Emma writes about quite a lot so I can’t wait to read the other novels in this series. Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

And that’s it for the OWLs readathon wrap-up. This readathon is back in August, where I will be studying for my Librarian NEWTs. Let me know if any of these books are on your TBR!

Paws out from Draco and I

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