#FFFeb Readathon and TBR

Hi everyone,

February is a very exciting month! As well as participating in the incredible story-driven readathon the Pondathon, I will also be joining with the #FFFeb. This readathon is run by Charlotte (@darashirazi on Twitter) and involves trying to read all (or mostly!) sapphic books in February! Charlotte has created 9 challenges to read and so I’ve created my TBR around those. To see what I’m reading, or to get some wonderful sapphic recs, check out my #FFFeb TBR below! And if you want to join in with the fun, follow @darashirazi on Twitter to find out more.

Challenge 1: Book by a Black author

A Blade so Black by L.L. McKinney

Any series called ‘The Nightmare-Verse’ sounds exactly my cup of tea. Add to that it’s an Alice in Wonderland retelling? Where Alice fights monsters? Plus that killer cover?! I am so excited to read this one!!

Challenge 2: Book set outside of North America

All the Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

I’ve heard really awesome things about this book from a fellow book blogger whom I highly trust to recommend great reads. This combines fabulism, Irish history, & mental health and promises to be one of my favourite books of the year (we’ll see if my prediction comes true…)

Challenge 3: Book with a lesbian mc & li

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

I feel like this was THE sapphic romance of 2019 and therefore I feel rather guilty I still haven’t read it. So FFFeb seems like the perfect time to jump into this enemies to lovers, high school cheerleader romance!

Challenge 4: Book with a bi mc

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

I got this book for Christmas and have been dying to read it! That cover is already so menacing, this is a dark Red Riding Hood retelling with a virus outbreak and a murderous Red Riding Hood.

Challenge 5: Book with a pan mc

The Library of the Unwritten by A.K Larkwood

A pansexual librarian who has to hunt down escaped characters from old manuscripts, whilst getting in the middle of a war between heaven and hell. YES PLEASE.

Challenge 6: Book with a polyamorous romance

I am ashamed to say I have not managed to get hold of a book that fits this challenge! If anyone has any recs they would like to give me, PLEASE DO!

Challenge 7: Book without a romance

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

So I believe this kind of has a romance, but it’s really not the main focus. And I’ll be honest, pretty much all of the f/f books I’ve got or found at the library seem to have a romance, so I decided to just roll with a book where the romance is very much not the focus! Hence this science fiction, political intrigue novel with murder and aliens.

Challenge 8: Book by an author you’ve never tried before

The Outside by Ada Hoffmann

Another adult science fiction, The Outside combines energy technology and space tech disasters, with AI gods and killer angels. This book also has Own Voices autism rep which is amazing!

Challenge 9: Read an ownvoices book

Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner

Killer mermaids lure warriors to their deaths every year – so one town decides to send women instead of men to try and fight the lure of the mermaids and get rid of the threat once and for all. Battle trained girls + mermaids + f/f romance = amazing novel.

Additional reads

And if I manage to finish all of the above, I also have the following books on my shelf just waiting to be read!

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

Amelia Westlake by Erin Gough

Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Let’s Call it a Doomsday by Katie Henry

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The Seep by Chana Porter

The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

As I’m on Team Varian for the Pondathon, it does bring a further challenge to reading a mix of genres – so I may end up not completing all of the FFFeb challenges, or swapping some of the additional books around with my current Challenge TBR. Either way, I plan to read all sapphic books in February and I cannot wait!

In addition to this readathon, I’ll also be doing a FFFeb Instagram challenge – basically whereby I challenge myself to post everyday to celebrate all my sapphic books. So do give me a follow if you’d like to see: sapphic books in wild gardens, cutesy wallpaper backgrounds, or bee lights.

Are you participating in FFFeb? Let me know what’s on your TBR in the comments!

August + NEWTS readathon wrap up

Hello all!

I feel like I haven’t done a wrap-up in so long, but I’ve actually only missed July – unfortunately mental health took an awful dip at the end of July and I didn’t feel up to writing a massive wrap up post, but back now for my August wrap up which includes the NEWTS readathon I participated in! Whilst I didn’t quite manage to qualify for my Librarian career, after a very rough start to the month with my health, my reading and blogging did pick up again and I’ve had some awesome posts and news this month!

August highs and lows

  • I had my first author interview with the wonderful Gabhi Martins about the new anthology she edited Keep Faith. Keep Faith is a very personal and touching look at how faith and queerness intersect and I’m so happy I got the chance to talk to Gabhi about it – her enthusiasm and excitement is absolutely incredible.
  • I also ran my first giveaway – although I can’t say I feel it went particularly well. I wonder if perhaps the way to enter wasn’t clear enough or was too difficult to enter? The giveaway was for Keep Faith which I was so excited for, and it’s such a great project that I do feel I really let Gabhi and the team of wonderful authors down. The good news is the giveaway is still running until Wednesday – so if you’d like to enter, please comment on this post! I would also be interested in hearing any tips you might have on how to run successful giveaways!
  • In the last week of August, I also got the wonderful news that I will be participating in my first blog tour! This is so exciting, it’s for The Never Tilting World, and the tour is run by Caffeine Book Tours. I can’t wait to read this book – watch out for this tour in October!
  • I failed my Librarian studies in the NEWTs readathon. I’m so upset with myself. Unfortunately with such a rough start to the month, I lost a fair bit of time I needed to get through all my reads.
  • I went to YAFanFest, an event run by Australian independent publisher Allen and Unwin. This was my first bookish event here in Australia and it was so fun – authors Garth Nix, Amie Kaufman, Wai Chim, Ellie Marney and Astrid Scholte were all there to talk about their writing processes. I also picked up quite a few great books there which I can’t wait to read!

The NEWTS

WHAT A SHAME. I put so much effort into creating my TBR and then didn’t manage to qualify as a Librarian!

I did manage to get an O in the two exams I studied for which were Ancient Runes and History of Magic, but then I got too caught up in some library books and didn’t manage to read anything for the last exam I needed, Defence Against the Dark Arts. But I had good fun, and I guess that’s what matters in the end…..right…..?!

Book haul

The Dragon Republic – R.F Kuang

A Girl Called Shameless – Laura Steven

Wilder Girls – Rory Power

Spin the Dawn – Elizabeth Lim

A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J Maas (YAFanFest haul)

The Suprising Power of a Good Dumpling – Wai Chim (YAFanFest haul)

Sabriel – Garth Nix (YAFanFest haul)

When the Ground is Hard – Malla Nuun (YAFanFest haul)

Impostors – Scott Westerfeld (YAFanFest giftbag freebie)

Keep Faith – edited by Gabhi Martins (eARC)

The Astonishing Colour of After – Emily XR Pan (Library)

Internment – Samira Ahmed (Library)

When Michael Met Mina – Randa Abdel-Fattah (Library)

A Very Large Expanse of Sea – Tahereh Mafi (Library)

Books I read

The Afterward – E.K Johnston (full review here!)

We Contain Multitudes – Sarah Henstra (full review here!)

How to be Remy Cameron – Julian Winters

The Kingdom – Jess Rothenberg (full review here!)

Descendant of the Crane – Joan He (full review here!)

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

Keep Faith – Gabhi Martins

The Astonishing Colour of After – Emily XR Pan

And that’s it for the month of August! In September, I have to look forward to: MY BIRTHDAY! Yes I turn the grand old age of 26 (hoooooo boy it’s rough going into ‘late twenties’) but I’ll likely get quite a few books from various friends and family which is exciting! I also am going on a trip to Noosa to celebrate, and it will be SO AMAZING to have a few days off work to lie on a beach. I can’t wait to relax – and it also means 4 days of non-stop reading which will be so fun.

I hope you all had a great August – and that you were more sucessful than me if you participated in the NEWTs readathon!

Paws out,
Rach + Draco

Magical Readathon – NEWTs TBR

It is time for one of the best readathon’s of the year! I participated in the Magical Readathon OWLs back in April and absolutely loved it. For those who don’t know, the Magical Readathon, hosted by G from Book Roast, are based on the Harry Potter universe exam systems – OWLs (Ordinary Wizarding Levels) and NEWTs (Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests). For each subject you can study at Hogwarts, there are reading prompts. At NEWTs level, each subject has three prompts, one for each ‘grade’: A – Acceptable; E – Exceeds Expectations; O – Outstanding. It’s quite a complicated system, so to find out more, you can watch the announcement video here.

To further add to the awesomeness, there is a complete careers guide to wizarding careers including a description of the profession alongside required OWL and NEWT subjects and grades required to qualify. And if you’re following the rules and playing both the OWLs and NEWTs, you can only sit NEWTs in subjects which you sat at OWLs.

Back in April, I decided to go for the Librarian career path (mainly because it seemed do-able and I was visiting home for most of April and wouldn’t have much time, but also because books). That required OWLs in Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, Defence Against the Dark Arts, History of Magic and Transfigurations. I also completed the Potions OWL as well. This means I have six subjects I can sit for my NEWTs. To qualify as a Librarian, I need an Outstanding in Ancient Runes and an E in History of Magic and Defence Against the Dark Arts – meaning I need to read at least 7 books to qualify! Totally achievable! But as I am a perfectionist, I will of course be going for O’s in all exams I sit (so aiming for 9 books in August).

So without further ado, here’s my TBR for the NEWTs readathon.

Ancient Runes

Acceptable: Ehwaz (partnership) – a read recommended by a friend
The Afterward by E.K Johnston

This book was recommended to me by Dahlia at LGBTQReads, and was actually the first book I chose in their patreon subscription service I signed up for whereby Dahlia helps me pick a book each month. High fantasy, female knights, quests, I am totally sold on this book and am very excited to read it!

Exceeds Expectations: Book written in past tense
We Contain Multitudes by Sarah Henstra

This book is told via letters written between Jonathon and Adam, as they complete a penpal assignment for their English class. Dealing with topics like bullying and homophobia, the two boys become friends and more. This sounded like such a cool concept with the letter-format so I’m really excited to see how it plays out!

Outstanding: Book that has been on your TBR for ages
How to be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters

How to be Remy Cameron is one of my most anticipated books publishing in the later half of 2019 and I somehow was lucky enough to be approved for an eARC on NetGalley (still don’t know how this happened!!) All about labels and identity, this book sounds like it will be a perfect YA coming-of-age novel.

History of Magic

Acceptable: Read a fantasy
The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

I eagerly awaited arrival of this book for almost 2 months after I first ordered it with my bookshop, but it FINALLY arrived last week and I can’t wait to read it – set in a world where happy ever after isn’t just a dream, it’s enforced, this book sounds super creepy and dark and I can’t wait to read it!

Exceeds expectations: Read a book that contains a map
Descendent of the Crane by Joan He

This is a book I’ve had since it released back in April but I haven’t managed to read it yet. It has such a gorgeous cover and also includes a detailed map so of course I had to pick it for this prompt!

Outstanding: Tom Riddle’s diary: fond memory – reread a favourite
The Song of Achilles – Madeleine Miller

I have been meaning to reread The Song of Achilles since I finished it the first time. I always feel a little weird rereading books, especially when my TBR has so many unread books on it, which it has definitely has had the past few months. So I was extremely happy to see this prompt because it gives me a chance to break my heart again rereading The Song of Achilles.

Defence Against the Dark Arts

Acceptable: Book that’s black under the dust jacket
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I was casually wandering a bookshop for a completely unrelated to me reason (present buying) and I came across this GORGEOUS collector’s edition copy of The Hate U Give with a stunning black cover, edges and under the dust jacket. I’ve been meaning to read this book for forever, so of course when I saw this goddess of a book in the shop, I had to buy it.

Exceeds expectations: Gilderoy’s memory charm – first book you remember from your TBR
Reverie by Ryan La Sala

This was such a funny prompt, the first time I saw it during the NEWTs announcement video, I immediately blanked on every single book that was on my TBR. Second time I read it, when actually preparing my TBR for this readathon, I was more successful and thought of Reverie by Ryan La Sala. This book has been at the forefront of my mind since I heard about it, I’m sure partly due to Ryan’s incredible tweets which make me laugh several times a week. This book is just so so so gay and I cannot wait.

Outstanding: Cornish pixie! Swat it away with a book from an English author or set in England.
A Girl Called Shameless by Laura Steven

This was actually the prompt I struggled most to find one for, who knew I had so few books on my shelf by English authors or set in England. However, I very recently finished The Exact Opposite of Okay and it became one of my all-time favourite books, so I ordered the sequel straight away. I have all my fingers crossed that the book arrives before the end of August because I don’t know what I’ll read if it doesn’t! This book looks to be a continuation of the amazing, feminist, hilarity that was The Exact Opposite of Okay.

That’s it for what I’ll call my achievable TBR. Despite having no faith in my ability, I have also prepared a TBR for the other three exams I can sit if I end up having time to do so. I won’t go into as much detail for each of these books, but here’s the rest of the the exams, prompts and books I might read during August.

Arithmancy

Acceptable: Book that ends on an even page number – Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

Exceeds Expectations: Read a standalone – The Outside by Ada Hoffman

Outstanding: Book that’s longer than 350pp – The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Potions

Acceptable: Polyjuice potion: read your friend’s favourite book – The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Exceeds expectations: House ingrediant: book with a cover in your Hogwarts house colour – Boys Will Be Boys by Clementine Ford

Outstanding: Book that starts with a Prologue – The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad

Transfigurations

Acceptable: Read a book with LGBTIQA+ rep – Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

Exceeds expectations: Read a book that’s not a first in the series – The Kingdom of Copper by S.K Chakraborty

Outstanding: McGonagall does not mess around. Read a book over 500 pages – The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Link me below to all your TBRs for what sounds like an absolutely amazing readathon! I can’t wait to see what you’re reading in August.

Paws out,
Rach + Draco

The Book Junkie Trials TBR

Hello fellow scribes!

And mages, outlaws and bards.

So last night I was lying in bed and The Book Junkie Trials appeared on my Twitter feed, and I am shocked I had not realised this readathon was a thing before now. Because it is SO COOL.

For anyone who doesn’t know, The Book Junkie Trials are a month long readathon based around RPG-style quests. You complete a personality quiz to determine your ‘class’ (Scribe, Mage, Bard or Outlaw) and you are given a map for your quest – each class has a different map. The map shows a large kindgom with various places you need to visit to complete your quest; each place has a different reading prompt.

So I spent today frantically searching on bookshelves and TBR to find books to fulfil my Scribe Quest, and the other prompts in the (unlikely) event that I am able to complete them all! Given that I have another 5 books I have to read in July that I couldn’t find a way to fit into this prompt list, I suspect I’ll only finish my official Scribe quest, and perhaps one other class.

But for now, here is my entirely unachievable July TBR for the Book Junkie Trials!

And for the scribe quest in particular, here is my cat and some terrible sparkles because I got excited in Gimp. Tah dah! (This list is achievable!)

Let me know if you’re joining in the fun, and what your TBR is!

#GOSCRIBES

Paws out,
Rach + Draco

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