Sunday, September 15, 2019

50 Bookish Questions Tag (Part Two)

Welcome back for the second half of the 50 Bookish Questions Tag. If you missed my answers for the first half, you can find them here. Now, let's move on with more of my personal bookish information!


26. Do you like when books become movies?

This is such a mixed bag. In most cases, yes...I enjoy watching movies based on books. But sometimes they just can't translate the story to screen properly or they make too many alterations that wreck everything that felt lovely about the book. For me, it's just the rule that I have to read the book first.


27. Which book was ruined by its movie adaptation?

I'm sure if I think about this one for a while I could come up with some recent examples, but right now only one is burning a hole in my brain. Beowulf. It's an old story and it can be more difficult to read due to language, but it's still a decent tale. The movie though. UGH. So awful. So, so awful. The computer animation was just painful to watch and Angelina Jolie totally rubs me the wrong way. No. Bad movie.


28. Which movie has done a book justice?

Harry Potter. All of the movies did a pretty good job of staying true to the story. I wasn't as big of a fan of the last couple of movies as I was the middle (Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite book and also felt like one of the better movies in terms of the acting), but I still enjoyed the whole series.


29. Do you read newspapers?

Kind of. We don't subscribe, but two of the local papers send out a free condensed copy once a week. I thumb through those, which are primarily ads and the current events schedule. I use them to help me plan our family activities and I also do the Sudoku and crossword puzzles.


30. Do you read magazines?

I don't. I used to read a couple of magazines that I received in subscription form as part of a gift, but I'm too cheap to pay for them myself. Besides, I have plenty of books to keep me company, I probably don't really need magazines as well.


31. Do you prefer newspapers or magazines?

I actually prefer reading magazines, but what are you going to do? They tend to be more substantial and a little more optimistic and cheerful in terms of their content. Newspapers seem to focus more on negative events and, while I like knowing what's going on in the world, I don't really need additional blegh in my life.


32. Do you read while in bed?

Yep. This is where I do most of my reading. Having two little kids means that I don't really have "quiet time" during the day. Once they are safely tucked in bed, I can settle in and get involved in a good tale. This is a tricky situation though because sometimes it ends with me staying up WAY to late with a book.


33. Do you read while on the toilet?

Nope. I get approximately 3.56 seconds to use the bathroom before my youngest starts losing his mind because I'm not in the same room.


34. Do you read while in the car?

I can't really read physical books in the car without getting carsick. I also am too much involved in checking out the scenery when I'm in the passenger seat on a long trip. But...when it's just me and the boys in the car I do very often put on an audiobook. I don't subject the Farmer to my reads (he would NOT be interested most of the time), but the kids don't seem to mind.


35. Do you read while in the bath?

I don't get a relaxing bath very often (see question 33). However, when the stars align and I do have a nice soak, I occasionally take a book with me. It's not the most productive location for me since I'm not uber in love with our bathtub (I really want a jacuzzi style tub if we ever remodel or move) and I have a hard time staying cozy while not dipping my pages (or e-reader) in the water.


36. Are you a fast reader? / 37. Are you a slow reader?

I'm just going to combine these questions and save us all a little time and effort. I think I'm probably right in the middle of the road when it comes to reading speed. I do tend to read faster when I have a book I like.


38. Where is your favorite place to read?

I have a couple of places that are ideal...none of which I really get to do anymore. Reading in bed is nice, but it isn't always the best. I like to read on our enclosed porch or in my papasan chair in the living room. My favorite thing to do is set up the tent in the yard, put in the air mattress, and do some pseudo camp out reading.


39. Is it hard for you to concentrate when you read? / 40. Do you need a room to be silent while you read?

These two questions go hand in hand for me. I can get into a book pretty easily, but I get distracted by some sounds. I can't have music on that has any lyrics and I have a difficult time reading in a room that has a TV on. I've tried reading during sports broadcasts and I do okay, but I get terribly distracted. I'm best off if I'm just by myself in a nice quiet place or with others who are also being quiet doing their own thing.


41. Who gave you your love for reading?

You know, I'm not really sure. Both of my parents do read novels on occasion, but definitely no where near the amount that I read. They definitely got me started on reading since they read to me a lot when I was a child, but I don't know that they necessarily share the love for reading that I have.


42. What book is next on your list to read?

Well..that's pretty easy. My entire September TBR is already set. You can see it here. Right now I'm reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Trapeze by Leigh Ansell. I'm not sure what audiobook I'll pick next, but my next physical read is set to be The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler for my local book group.


43. When did you start to read chapter books?

Uh...somewhere around 6, maybe 7? The first chapter books I remember reading were the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, and the Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (Fudge series) by Judy Blume.


44. Who is your favorite children's book author?

I really enjoyed the books listed above, which I think is why I still remember reading them so well all these years later. I also very much enjoyed Madeleine L'Engle. A Wrinkle in Time and A Ring of Endless Light were among my favorites.


45. Which author would you most want to interview?

I would be AWFUL at this. I am not great with people in person unless I know them fairly well. I have some social anxiety issues and I tend to either trip over my own tongue, completely blank on something reasonable to say, or say something that makes little sense given the situation. I'm much better in writing when it comes to that. But...I have a lot of authors that I think are incredibly smart and talented. Right now, the one at the forefront of my mind is Margaret Atwood. I think she is brilliant and marvelous.


46. Which author do you think you would be friends with?

I honestly don't know. Authors I wouldn't mind being friends with include: John Green, Meg Elison, Cassandra Clare, Rainbow Rowell, Lauren Oliver, and Emily Lockhart.


47. What book have you reread the most?

Hands down, Jane Eyre. I've read it at least five times.


48. Which books do you consider "classics"?

This is a totally muddy answer, but to some degree it's based on publishing date. I'd say anything published before around 1950? Definitely those before 1900, but the ones between 1900 and 1950 would likely be on a case by case basis.


49. Which books do you think should be taught in every school?

This changes over time as I think that there are some fantastic and groundbreaking works being produced all the time. I think that there is still some merit in some of the classics, but I also think that there are important more modern reads. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is one that I think has been powerful most lately. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, 1984 by George Orwell, and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury are all fantastic reads to stress the importance of autonomy and political awareness. I know it's wildly divisive, but I find great merit in Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.


50. Which books should be banned from all schools?

I don't believe in banning books. That being said, I do think there needs to be some evaluation of the books selected for assignment in school as well as those stocked in the libraries. The books available need to be age appropriate and not overly explicit. By explicit, I mean excessively sexual, bordering on erotica. One or two scenes alluding to sexual interactions between the characters aren't a problem. Lolita in a high school library is.



Do you agree with any of my bookish opinions? Do you disagree? Based on what you've learned about me, are there any books you would recommend?

This is a book tag, but I'm doing it more for my own enjoyment than to pass it on to others. So...if you feel like doing this tag on your own, consider yourself tagged and enjoy!

Happy reading, everyone!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

50 Bookish Questions Tag (Part One)

It's time to break up the monotony that can develop from book review after book review. So...I've compiled myself a little stash of book tags that I can toss in for fun whenever I feel like I need something new around here. Because, why not!?

This particular book tag is 50 Bookish Questions. Because I have the feeling that it could potentially get long, I've broken it into two posts. I'm not sure of the origin of this tag, as I have seen it in several bookish locations (blogs and vlogs) on the internet. By the end of this, you'll know a bit more about my reading habits and the books I love as well as the books I love to hate.

Let's get started!!


1. What was the last book you read?


I failed to mention that the other reason I'm breaking this into two posts is because of the likelihood of questions with multiple answers. Because that's how I roll. In this case, I both read books and listen to audiobooks (a new adventure for me this year). Therefore, the last book I technically read was This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. However, the last book I finished was the audiobook of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.


2. Was it a good one?

Well...obviously, since question 1 had two answers, there will be two answers for the next few questions. Hang in there. It will all work out in the end.

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger was magnificent and I really enjoyed it. I wound up giving it 5 stars.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen wasn't my favorite book of hers, but it wasn't bad either. I rated it at 3.5 stars.


3. What made it good?

This Tender Land was a very emotional read. The characters are believable and dynamic and the writing is just honest. There was very obviously a lot of research that went into the writing and I could tell that the author really deeply cared about his writing of the story. I appreciated the historical aspects of the book and I truly became invested in the characters as I read. It was oh so good.

Sense and Sensibility is a characteristic Austen novel. Her characters are snappy and full of personality. There are cads and there are scandals. There is a lot of discussion of wealth and privilege and I rolled my eyes several times at the ridiculousness of the people in the upper crust, particularly Elinor and Marianne's horrid brother. It was entertaining and enjoyable. The audio was totally the way to go, especially given how stiff the language can be at some points.


4. Would you recommend it to other people?

I would recommend This Tender Land to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. This is NOT one of Krueger's typical thriller/suspense type novels, so be aware of that before jumping in. This is a historical fiction saga type read.

Sense and Sensibility will definitely not be for everyone. Read this one if you enjoy classics, particularly those of Victorian England. As mentioned earlier, the language can be a little thick and sloggy, but if you're attuned to that kind of writing, you will enjoy this one just fine.


5. How often do you read?

I read every day. I try to listen to audiobooks while I get ready for the day as well as while I do housework (this one is totally kid dependent) or on any long drives. As for physical books, I sometimes read during nap time for the boys and I typically read before I go to bed. I've been not so great at that lately since I seem to keep dozing off in the middle of my book. Apparently, the kids are wearing me out during the day.


6. Do you like to read?

Yes. Very much so. I'm not a huge fan of academic type reading, but I'm now past those years so I choose what I want to read and what I want to ignore. This ability makes me a voracious reader.


7. What was the last bad book you read?

The answer to this depends on what you determine to be a bad book, I suppose. I've had a small handful of 2-star reads this year, but I wouldn't necessarily call them bad. They just didn't quite do it for me. I did have one 1-star read that totally ticked me off and one DNF. We'll stick with those ones, I suppose.


I gave Things That Fall From the Sky by Selta Ahava 1 star and I made it a little over half way through Before Us Like a Land of Dreams by Karin Anderson before I bailed and put it in the DNF stack.


8. What made you dislike it?

Things That Fall From the Sky was a book that I pushed myself through. It had promise, but NOTHING. HAPPENED. I kept wanting it to go somewhere and it just didn't. The ending cemented this journey of nothingness and I just got seriously angry with it. This was one of those books I wanted to throw against the wall.

Before Us Like a Land of Dreams was almost a stream of consciousness type of writing and I couldn't focus. It felt like a lot of rambling. I couldn't get a handle on the characters, I didn't find myself caring about anything happening, and I just felt like I was wasting my time. So...I quit. I don't do that often (I think there are 3 books on my DNF shelf in Goodreads), so it says something about how frustrated I felt with this book.


9. Do you wish to be a writer?

I consider myself to be a kind of writer. I write on the blog and I occasionally write pieces of fiction for myself. In time I would like to be able to put something together that could maybe head towards some kind of publication, but right now that isn't something I feel overly motivated to pursue.


10. Has any book ever influenced you greatly?

I could say yes to this about MANY books that I've read over time. There are books that mark specific moments in my life and books that have given me insight on both myself and the world around me. As for books that I think about currently and books that make me maybe think a bit more critically about my life, I'd have to say that The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood has been at the forefront. This is partially because her sequel The Testaments was just released and I've been anticipating it for quite some time, but also because I think it applies well to the current political climate and the potential for things to change in a negative way if the citizenry does not remain vigilant.


11. Do you read fan-fiction?

Nope. This hasn't ever been my thing. Though I don't mind reading fiction about fan fiction (Rainbow Rowell in particular).


12. Do you write fan-fiction?

Nope. Not even sure where I would start on something like that. My mind doesn't quite work that way.


13. What is your favorite book?

I have way too many "favorites" to list here. Maybe I'll have to do a tag on that at a later date. For now, I'll leave three of my favorites from 2019 here.



14. What is your least favorite book?


NO. No, no, NO. I had to read this for a history course in undergrad and I could not get myself through it. This is the one and only time I actually used Cliff's Notes for an assignment. Thankfully, I think my professor took a little pity on me. He could tell I hadn't finished the book, but tried to B.S. my way through my term paper. He gave me a B...a small miracle. I occasionally think I should give this book another try, but NOPE.


15. Do you prefer physical books or reading on a device?

I like both. I think they both have their merit. I like being able to hold a book in my hand and I love having a pile of bookshelves...there's something comforting about that. But I enjoy the practicality of an e-reader and the fact that it allows me to take a bunch of books with me wherever I go while also allowing me to read in the dark.


16. When did you learn to read?

I was reading books to myself by age 4. I don't know at what point I was able to sight read individual words, but that was about when I was able to sit myself down and make it through a full book alone.


17. What is your favorite book you had to read in school?


Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is one of my absolute favorite books of all time. I don't think I loved it as much on the first reading as I do now. I've read this at least five times and I could easily stand to pick it up again soon. Jane is a fantastic literary character and I love her.


18. What is your favorite book series?


If you haven't read these you're missing out. Seriously. Harry Potter is the most imaginative and wonderful series ever. It just makes me oh so happy. I need to sit down at some point and reread all of these as well.


19. Who is your favorite author?

Like my favorite books, identifying a favorite author is also super difficult. It honestly depends on genre and does change over time. For a small sampling of authors who have not been prior mentioned in this post, authors I really enjoy include:


 Cassandra Clare, E. Lockhart, Jodi Picoult


 Philippa Gregory, Stieg Larsson, John Green


20. What is your favorite genre?

My reading taste tends to change from year to year, so my enjoyment of a particular genre may be out of control one year and then more or less nonexistent the next. It comes and goes in waves. This year, I am really enjoying fantasy and I am reviving my crazy obsession with magical realism.


21. Who is your favorite character in a book series?

There are too many options here again. Gah. I enjoy quirky and independent females the most, I think. I've already mentioned Jane Eyre. I also love Hermione from Harry Potter. Two additional ladies in my list: Alice from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and Ruby from the Ruby Oliver series by E. Lockhart.


22. Has a book ever transported you somewhere else?

Regularly. I could give you another list. But I won't.


23. Which book do you wish had a sequel?


The Library at Mount Char  by Scott Hawkins. I want this SOOOOO much.


24. Which book do you wish DIDN'T have a sequel?


How about I wish it just had a different sequel? The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth needed a wrap up, but this book just TICKED. ME. OFF. The ending was garbage.


25. How long does it take you to read a book?

This depends on the length of the book and whether it is a physical format or an audio. Based on my handy-dandy spreadsheet though, this year I am taking an average of 6 days to read a book. That includes both formats. When separated by format, I am taking an average of 5 days per physical book (print or e-book) and 9 days per audiobook. (And yes, I added an additional section in my spreadsheet just now to figure that out.)


Well...that's part one of the 50 Bookish Questions. Did you find any good books to add to your TBR? Do we share any similar reading tastes or opinions? I'll be posting the second half in the next couple of days, so keep your eyes peeled for more personal bookish knowledge!

Happy reading!



Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Book Review: The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins



Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and are not influenced by the author, publisher, or other related entity.


Synopsis:



Breakdown Review:

The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins is an adult fiction read in the magical realism subgenre and I adored it. Seriously...I am SUCH a sucker for magical realism. I love living vicariously through books, I tell you.

It's a cute story with a few quirky characters. It's one of those that fits perfectly into the trope of small town Southern magical realism and it's a book that provides all the feels in a wonderfully fantastic way. Within just a few pages, I was sucked right into the comfort, the coziness of Hawkins's setting and the writing reminded me of a Sarah Addison Allen novel (which is what I seem to use as my magical realism benchmark). I was quite blatantly hooked early on.

The title of the book is apt, but still feels a little misleading given the actual plot of the book. Sarah Dove--the actual book charmer--does function prominently in the development of the narrative, but I felt that Grace's story was more of the focus. Because of this, the plot was a little different than I expected, with less focus on Sarah that I really wanted based on the title, but it worked all the same. The narrative was interesting and the characters were fun and real. I very much liked the character of Travis Parker as well as Sarah herself. I had less enjoyment with the character of Grace, but this was easily explained by the fact that she is not meant to be a likable character for a good portion of the book. Hawkins clearly did well in writing her since I didn't take a shine to her for quite a while. There was a balance of emotion within the writing and not everything was generated with a shiny exterior. I appreciated that and felt that Hawkins left quite a bit in her development of the characters and the town that I wanted to continue to explore.

Overall, The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins was a very charming, cozy, and cute read. I loved the characters and...noting that there are some unfinished stories and that the author does have a prequel of sorts for this book already...I will be hoping for a sequel. I am longing for more!


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

September TBR and Hogwarts House Battles

Happy September, everyone!

Since things went so well with last month's Harry Potter themed read-a-thon, I decided to go ahead and jump in on a second on for this month. This month, I'll be taking part in the Hogwarts House Battles, hosted by Katie of BookMarked.

For this read-a-thon, there are challenges for each of fifteen Hogwarts subjects. To complete each course, you must read a book that fits the prompt for that course. Participants are sorted by house and then will earn points toward their respective house with each book completed as well as points for the number of pages read.

For additional points, participants can complete the House books and can complete the weekly challenges (one hosted by each house).


House Group Books
Read House Title Author

Ravenclaw House of Salt and Sorrows Erin A. Craig

Slytherin Wilder Girls Rory Power

Griffindor With the Fire on High Elizabeth Acevedo

Hufflepuff The Revolution of Birdie Randolph Brandy Colbert

I am a Ravenclaw, so of course the only house book I can't seem to locate to get my hands on to borrow is House of Salt and Sorrows. This has started me off with a bit of frustration, but I'm going to attempt to read Wilder Girls and With the Fire on High to at least snag some of the group book points.

As for the class challenges, you can use the group books as part of them and you can use one book for multiple challenges. But we all know that Ravenclaws are notorious overachievers, so I have set my TBR for one book per challenge. We'll see how many I can accomplish this way. If all else fails, some of my books would qualify for more than one challenge in a pinch.

Along with the house books, I'm squeezing in my book club read for the month and the ARCs I have on my list to finish reading for September. I've tracked down a few audio books to meet some of the challenges and do potentially have some "on deck" to substitute in should I finish the three I currently have planned.

HHB Class Challenges
Read Course Challenge Requirement Title Author

Alchemy New Forms Read a recommendation from a friend The Beginner’s Goodbye Anne Tyler

Ancient Runes Ancients Read a classic novel Sense and Sensibility (audio) Jane Austen

Apparition Teleportation Only read this book in public An Ocean of Minutes Thea Lim

Arithmancy Numbers Read a book with a number in the title The Ten Thousand Doors of January Alix E. Harrow

Astronomy Reading Under the Stars Only read this book at night Trapeze Leigh Ansell

Care of MC The Beasts Read a book with an animal on the cover Maternal Instinct Rebecca Bowyer

Charms Something New and Unexpected Read a new-to-you book This Tender Land William Kent Krueger

Defence DA Can’t Last Read a book you previously put down All the Light We Cannot See (audio) Anthony Doerr

Divination The Future Read a predicted 5-star read With the Fire on High Elizebeth Acevedo

Flying Fly High Read your most anticipated book The Memory Thief Lauren Mansy

Herbology Caring Read a book that means a lot to you Talking as Fast as I Can Lauren Graham

Hx of Magic Historical Read a book from another generation Murder on the Orient Express (Audio) Agatha Christie

Muggle Studies Blending In Read a hyped book Wilder Girls Rory Power

Potions Mixing Read a genre you wouldn’t usually pick up Conclusion Peter Robertson

Transfiguration Change Read the last book you bought Wild Beauty Anna-Marie McLemore
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And...as if that weren't enough...I also have a small pile of extraneous and backup books. This includes an early October ARC I couldn't fit into any other categories not already occupied by an ARC, a book I have from the library that I didn't get in time for NEWTs, a book to qualify for the 5-Star Love Read-a-Thon later this month, and a book I need to finish for my current round of the Deal Me In Challenge.


 I am nothing if not a constant ball of reading crazy.

So...here's to September! Let's see how far I can get down this pile of nineteen reads!


Sunday, September 1, 2019

August (and NEWTs!) Reading Wrap Up

August seemed to go by in a flash! Fall is steadily on its way here and while I typically love the arrival of September and the eminent approach of autumn, I am terribly sad to see summer go this year. It must be a factor of now being a Minnesotan and knowing full well that the next six months or so are not going to be so pleasant for enjoying the outdoors.

I am currently getting started with taking part in two month-long read-a-thons for September. I will be participating most heavily in the Hogwarts House Battles, but I will also be tagging along somewhat for Sequel September. I'll be discussing my upcoming reading plans for those (along with a few other) read-a-thons in my next post. But now, it's time to review how I did for August and my ridiculously grand plans for the NEWTs Magical Readathon.

Stats

I will say, apparently if I get a fire under my butt and have a big goal (especially one that has to do with a participatory read-a-thon), I can really get quite a lot of reading done! Despite having family activities and Darian visiting for two weeks out of the month, August was my best reading month yet!



I read a total of 13 books in the month: 3 full audiobooks, 9 print reads, and 1 combination audio/print. That's the first time I've combined audio and a print version and it worked really well. I'll have to try that more.



I read a total of 4,078 pages during the month, for an average of 131.5 pages per day. This broke both records for the year.


With all of that reading, I passed my highest ever recorded reading year, with a total of 70 books read so far. I'm incredibly happy with that and it ensures that this year's Book of the Year Bracket Challenge will be a really good one. There are already so many fantastic reads that will be playing a part.


The only record that remains unbroken is the total pages read for the year. I am just shy of breaking the 2014 record of 23,392 with 23,133 pages read so far in 2019. Needless to say, that record will be surpassed this month. Without a doubt, 2019 is my best reading year in a decade.


With those 70 books tallied, I have also surpassed my Goodreads Reading Goal for the year. I had set it back at 64 books back in January, expecting that I might be able to eek out a completion. Apparently, I will have to set my sights higher for 2020!


Books Read

I obviously read quite a few books in August, but the ratings for the books I did read were fairly well distributed. I did have some very good reads, but there were also a few stragglers in the group.

DNF : 0 books
1-star: 0 books
2-star: 2 books
3-star: 2 books
3.5 star: 1 book
4-star: 3 books
4.5 star: 2 books
5 star: 3 books

I read 7 ARCs in the month as well as 1 Goodreads Giveaway novel. The remaining 5 reads were: a classic, a book I had been excitedly waiting on, a book club read, a book that had been on my TBR for a long time, and a reread. 

There were 3 contemporaries, 2 magical realism reads, 2 classics, 2 YA reads, 1 fantasy, 1 mystery, 1 historical fiction, and 1 book written as a novel in prose form. 

A total of 6 of the books were intended for a YA audience (with one potentially being regarded as middle grade by some) and the remainder were adult reads. Seven were diverse reads of in some shape or another and 1 was a translated work.

Now...let's get down to looking at each book individually for some mini-reviews as well as how they factored in to my NEWTs.


The Gillespie County Fair by Marc Hess was a Goodreads win that I received a few months back. It had patiently been waiting it's turn. As a book I deemed as having a beautiful cover, it satisfied the requirement for my NEWTs Charms level A read. Unfortunately, this one was an underwhelming read for me. The narrative drug along a bit and never really caught my interest. There was a lot of distraction in the story and the characters were terribly unlikable. Sometimes that's nice, but not when you really have no one in the book that you want to root for. The writing was decent, and that likely saved this one from a DNF. I wound up giving it a paltry 2 stars.



I had been looking forward to the quirkiness of The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot for a couple of months. This is a novel based entirely in prose and I received it as an ARC. I quite liked the development. It was imaginative and very original with a decent YA story about a young girl who becomes obsessed with taxidermy after the death of her mother. I'll be doing a full review of this one later this month, but I enjoyed the read for the most part. The only major issue was that the ending didn't stick as powerfully as I would have liked, so I did downgrade somewhat and ended up giving it 3.5 stars. Since the title starts with A (disregarding the "The"), this fulfilled the requirement for my NEWTs level A in Care of Magical Creatures.


I loved Nina George's The Little Paris Bookshop, so I was eager to get my hands on The Book of Dreams as soon as I heard of it. I had to go on a bit of a waitlist, but I was able to finally get in as an audiobook last month. That allowed me to utilize it for my Herbology level A read. It was moving and beautiful with all of George's talent weaving through the pages. This one will also be getting a full review soon, but it was painful and wonderful all at the same time. Her characters are so well-built. As is my tendency, though...I struggled with the ending. Regardless, this is a solid and gorgeous 4-star read.



The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins was a fantastic magical realism read that reminded me strongly of Sarah Addison Allen's writing and small town creations. It was cute and homey with a wonderful mishmash of characters. This is one of those books where you just want to live in the town the author creates. I enjoyed it very much and really hope that she writes a sequel, there is plenty of room for stories that carry on from this one, not to mention a whole town full of characters who could tell their own tales. I gave this 4.5 stars, used it to meet my E level in Herbology, and deemed it a "hugable" read.



Welcome to my favorite read of the entire month. 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons was magic. It is a beautiful and heart-wrenching YA read. I just loved it so very much. The writing was smooth and comfortable without being overly cutesy and the characters were independent and dynamic, yet worked incredibly well together. This was a great read, gave me an A level in Arithmancy, and received my first 5-star rating of the month.



Anne of Green Gables was on my 2019 TBR as meeting my color requirement for a book with "green" in the title. However, it also fit into my NEWTs as it met the A level Potions requirement of being a friend's favorite book (thank you Annie!). I listened to this one on audio and just simply adored it. It stands the test of time and is still a magical book after reaching over 100 years since its original publication. I consider it a YA read, though many consider it middle grade. I will concede that it works well for that age group as well. Regardless...I still enjoyed it very much as an adult and gave it my second 5-star rating of the month.



I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was to receive an ARC of Philippa Gregory's latest novel, Tidelands. It's the first book in her new The Fairmile series. I have been a big fan of her Tudor and Plantaganet novels for many years, so this was one of those books that made me jump up and down with anticipation. The writing style is still much the same as her other novels, but the approach to the narrative is different that the other of her books I have read, with a commoner being the primary character rather than focusing directly on a figure in the monarchy. Still, it remained a very good read and I am looking forward to picking up the next in the series when she gets it out for publication. I gave it 4.5 stars and used it to get my E in Potions.


I am mildly frustrated by this one, though not because of the book itself. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty was my local book club's pick for an August read. It was actually quite a fantastic book, but a couple of days before book club was set to take place, I realized that we had scheduled a piglet delivery for the evening of the meeting. Sometimes farm life really gets in the way of my reading plans! So...I missed book club. I was terribly sad about missing out on the discussion, but the book was good, so at least I didn't suffer through a crummy read just to miss out. It was a solid 4 stars and helped me round out my Herbology reads, by giving me an O.



After Alice was a spur of the moment substitution once I discovered I couldn't get an audio read of anything else I had originally planned on. I love Alice in Wonderland retellings and had enjoyed Maguire's Wicked, so I figured it was a solid bet. It was an odd little read with quite the pretentious writing tone. It was decent for a retelling, but I didn't find it as original as his prior works, which was a bit of a disappointment. It just ended up being okay for me. I gave it a 3 star rating, checked off my A level in History of Magic, and carried on.


Sometimes a cute cover will fail you. Sometimes the premise will lead you astray. In the case of The Multiplication of Elmer Whit, it felt like I had been duped by both. It sounded like such a cute and unique story, and really it was, but the execution just didn't wow me. I felt like it needed some further revision and editorial guidance. It just wasn't ready to go out into the world yet. Kipp's writing is decent and she clearly has imaginative ideas, but I just struggled to make my way through Elmer. Though I really wanted to like it, I struggled not to DNF, and eventually gave it only 2 stars. I checked off my requirement for an E in Care of Magical Creatures, and hoped that there would be better to follow.



And there was. I first fond Rebekah Crane earlier this year via an audiobook of her The Upside of Falling Down in Prime Reading. I liked her writing style and found the story to be a good and comfortable read. I was very happy to get myself an ARC of her Postcards for a Songbird. A tale of two sisters told from one sister's point of view, this was an adorable YA read with some mystery and heartbreak wrapped in. I continued to enjoyed Crane's writing and the narrative moved nice and easy. I read this one in just two days and found it to be a nice redemption read. It wound up getting 4 stars and let me take an O in Care of Magical Creatures.

Oh, George Orwell. The man did write some darned good dystopian novels before they were really a genre to be reckoned with. I had originally read Animal Farm back in high school (as so many do), but it was one of those books I just felt needed a reread. When I needed a short book for my E in Charms, this one fit the bill just right. It's still a powerful read, though the particular political parallels may not be as easy to identify with the current landscape. The overall message is still loud and clear though. I gave it a solid 3-star rating.



My final read of the month was one of the best. I combined audio and print to complete Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. I had read her Delirium trilogy a few years back and enjoyed that, but this contemporary YA read was something different. Just the same, it was something wonderful. It was sad and annoying and encouraging and everything all at once. I combined the audio with the text because I wanted to read it faster and didn't have the ability to fit the audio into my daily schedule as easily as the print. It worked out to be a great way to read this book, getting the combination of a voice to hear in my head and my own reading imagination. I enjoyed this so very much. It rounded out the end of my month with a fabulous 5 stars and let me take an O in Potions.


NEWTs:

With 13 reads, I was able to complete NEWTs in six of my nine OWL eligible courses. 

Final Grades: Eligible Professions:
Arithmancy A Herbologist
Astronomy
Magizoologist
Care of Mag. Creatures O Potioneer
Charms E Wandmaker
Divination

Herbology O
Hx of Magic A
Muggle Studies

Potions O

Based on the combination of these levels, I was able to gain eligibility for four magical professions: Herbologist, Potioneer, Wandmaker, and my original goal of Magizoologist. I had a fantastic time participating in the NEWTs, loved how much ingenuity and creativity went into the creation of the read-a-thon, and very much look forward to participating in both Magical Read-a-Thons (OWLs in April and NEWTs in August) next year.


And there you have it, PHEW!, my 13 books of August. I don't know if September will be as prolific, but I do have big plans for it. I'll spell (pun somewhat intended...you'll see) that all out for you next time. Until then...HAPPY READING!

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